AU ABROAD

Live Review: Story of the Year + Sienna Skies + Sweet Apes - Metro Theatre, Sydney (27.06.14)

It's been nearly eleven years since Story of the Year released their debut album, Page Avenue, performing it live for the first time in Sydney at the Taste of Chaos festival in 2005. The question is, how has the album held up live for the past decade? Dave Roberts finds out.

The first time I saw Story of the Year live was back in 2008. It was an 18th birthday present from my friend, Matt. I remember the card – it had two post-it notes in it that read, "Good for one FREE beer" and "Good for one FREE Story of the Year ticket". Needless to say, the group of us who went to the gig, back in the day of circle-pits before people 'danced' in mosh pits like lunatics who wanted to maim everybody around them, had an absolute blast. Then the second time, in 2010, for their fourth album The Constant, was not just as good as the first but better. You see, as the years go by musicians come with more maturity and better-honed skills as they get older, honing their craft for their audience.

So it was no surprise that when I got the call to review their classic album Page Avenue, interview the band's lead singer and then head along to the concert, I was overjoyed. Not just because I had just gotten wonderful news, but because it gave me a chance to take some people with me who may not have seen this – and share the experiences I had, and maybe reminisce just slightly on my younger days. Oh, and it was at the stellar Metro Theatre, in Sydney’s CBD.

First on though, were the Sweet Apes. Now, despite obviously being rather young and relatively inexperienced (which was obvious in the way they all seemed a little nervous) these guys rocked. Okay, so some of the songs sounded pretty similar – but when you're dealing with a band who sounds like a combination of Paramore and Killswitch Engage – both amazing bands to take after mind you – you will get a bit of that. Honestly, their stage presence could have been better, and Paul, the drummer (according to the band's Facebook page) needs to loosen up a bit on the drums (smile a bit, mate!), but otherwise a solid performance from a very inexperienced band.

Also, one thing, which they did mention, was that they were giving their music away for free. Needless to say, this is how it should be done. Make your money from the merch and gigs, give the music away to get the people there to buy said merch and pay for the gigs. It's a win-win for everyone and it's probably the first I've seen of this new breed of musician coming out through the woodwork. So well done there.

Second up was Sienna Skies. These guys I've known for a while and they did their job. Like most metal/metalcore/whatevercore it all sounded pretty similar. You could really count in the breakdowns, and it only gave an excuse for the flailing imbeciles in the pit to do their thing. Were they solid? Very. Were they good? Extremely (with the exception that it was difficult to hear the mix). And despite the fact that I prefer to understand my vocals when I listen to my music, they seemed tight and were relatively good performers. But they were not without their share of trouble – and this is my first but for the review.

Whoever the moron was who decided it would be a good idea to throw his half-full beer can at the lead singer, I'll say this. You’re an idiot. Firstly, that's a serious hazard and a stupid thing to do. Unless it's Justin Bieber. But seriously, it is not a cool thing to do and if you think it is, please kindly go play on a highway and do the gene pool a favour. If that doesn't convince you, then here's the second reason – you're wasting beer. Clearly you were already half drunk (benefit of the doubt here, I'm sure a sober rational person wouldn't do that) so why waste something that you obviously enjoy? Even the lead singer had a go at him, but, and to the band's credit, turned it around into a half joke by the end of the set. Professional attitude.

But it wasn't too long before the main act took to the stage. Opening with "…And the Hero Will Drown" they blasted on the stage. Tearing through the first few songs before a short interlude of talking the band were jumping around the stage and showing us Sydneysiders exactly why Story of the Year are one of the biggest influences in modern metal music. They also played a few songs off some of their other albums and didn't play Page Avenue in order – which was a good idea mind you. However, despite how awesome the band was (and yes, they've only gotten better with age) here comes my second 'but' of the review.

Funnily enough, it's got something to do with drunk morons again, but this time it's when you’re on the railing, and Jerky McJerkoff behind you is crushing you against the railing, meanwhile having his arm over your head (because he’s taller than you are) and proceeds to constantly smash his elbow into the top of your head. The security guards just look at you like you're an idiot if you ask them to do something about it and meanwhile, your girlfriend is seriously considering getting out of the standing area because she too, is getting wailed on by one of his idiot mates. And when you turn around to ask him to stop it, he says 'Fuck off if you don’t like it'. Maybe it's just my age, or the fact I was sober, or maybe it's common decency, but if you are the kind that says that to someone else in the mosh pit you’re exactly the reason we have things like lock-out laws and anti-social behavioural laws. Be considerate – it's not that difficult, and if it is please go and join the beer-throwing guy on the highway.

Mind you, that did not completely spoil the night. Yes, I wound up climbing over the railing and standing up the back of the GA area, just after Ryan played sidewalks in the crowd, sitting next to me on the railing. I even got into the circle pit for a couple of songs which was a LOT more comfortable than standing on the railing due to the afore mentioned expletive. And it was from here that I watched the four of them (their usual bassist was unavailable, so the four of them played as a four-piece – which worked surprisingly well) wind down the set with "Stereo" – which made my night.

I managed to hear every single one of my favourite songs – including "Razorblades", "Dive Right In", "The Antidote" and of course the monumental "Until the Day I Die". Even a mash-up of Taking Back Sunday, The Used, MCR and Yellowcard which was note for note perfect. Between the playing on speaker stacks, flipping off amplifiers, jumping into the crowd, playing in the crowd and of course the meeting me after the gig, it was surely a night to remember. The band has not lost one single joule of energy from their performances, and if it’s possible, they’re getting better every year. Sure, the songs were released when I was 13, but they still mean so much to me. And seeing them live was just a reminder of how much they did back then too. And even though they ended with "Stereo" (which I’m certain they were not supposed to – after all it wasn't on their setlist), I feel it was a fitting end: 'Until the day I die, I'll spill my heart for you.'

I felt, honestly, like I had just opened up that card again on my 18th birthday, and cashed in my one free ticket. Just for a few hours, I was a teenager again – running around the room, jumping, singing my heart out to the songs I grew up on. And I’m certain everyone else in the room felt exactly the same.