Antiskeptic @ The Metro, Sydney (25/02/2012)
After three years in musical retirement, Melbourne rockers Antiskeptic are back on the stage and romping around Australia, and thankfully the quartet made Sydney one of their stop-overs on the recent ‘Back in the Game’ tour.
The ‘Skeppers’ brought no less than three support bands to celebrate with them. Opening the show was The Miracle Is Now, a new band started by former In Fiction front man Josh Burgan and the Adelaide rockers provided a nice, jovial sound full of bounce and light-heartedness, that began to thaw out the slowly-filling crowd. Next up were Perth quartet Emperors, who despite their lack of stage presence managed to finally get some noise from the crowd and the feet tapping. While they weren’t the most musically ear-catching or genre-bending group, they were extremely tight and played their hearts out, which had several punters heading for the merch desk after their set.
The final support for the night was a second Adelaide band in Move to Strike. Displaying plenty of enthusiasm, the group provided plenty or energy and took ownership of the performance space. However, I couldn’t help but find them sonically confusing with a myriad of musical ideas and themes. Despite this, what they lacked in a cohesive set list they more than made up for with an energy-filled live show.
After the lengthy run of supports, headliners Antiskeptic finally burst on to the stage following an atmospheric musical intro. Frontman Andrew Kitchen and drummer Nick Coppin looked ready to jump into a boxing ring as they walked on, and they genuinely appeared to be both ecstatic and humbled to be touring again. The band opened with a new track, Able to Sing, which teased the crowd with a sign of things to come (they subsequently promised a new album by the year’s end). Up next, in what became a very Aurora -centric set, was Nothing to Say, which got the extremely-receptive crowd jumping and hollering.
It was interesting to note that Kitchen, the lead songwriter and vocalist had given the bulk of his guitar work over to new axe-man Ryan Mclerie of House Vs Hurricane fame. Formerly a 3-piece, Kitchen seemed at home in a quartet, focusing on his vocals and allowing Mclerie to shoulder the at times complicated riffs. This actually worked very favourably for the band, who had a far fuller sound, and allowed Kitchen plenty of room to breathe and nail his vocals. New bassist Tavis Wardlaw was restrained on stage, but proved himself an adept player and a fantastic backing vocalist who didn’t miss a note.
The audience were eager to lap up the reunion show, and when Kitchen began Beautiful in White, the crowd instantly took over, singing the first few bars completely a-Capella and in full voice, without any further assistance from the frontman. It was an inspiring sight and the crowd didn’t miss a word or fail to sing at the top of their lungs. However, the highlight of the night would have to be a performance of the Aurora track Road and Travel. The piece was introduced by Kitchen, who had to hush the rowdy audience before explaining that a trip to Gallipoli to visit the graves of fallen soldiers had inspired him to write the song. Despite the sombre material, it appeared to energise and uplift the audience while dwelling on a tragic experience for a soldier and his family.
At the conclusion of the set, the band left the crowd exhausted, but still somehow begging for a second encore, which never came. That being said, it was disappointing that the set focused so heavily on the second album Aurora; it was a shame that they only managed one track from Memoirs of a Common Man and judging from the requests being yelled by fans that had to be ignored, there seemed to be plenty of material that was shelved for this tour.
It was still a great set, but could have been just that little bit better. Despite this, any cobwebs that may have collected over their three year retirement had well and truly been expunged, and the band played as well as at their peak to a very vocal and energetic audience. Prior to the gig, I was preparing myself for the possibility of seeing a zombie-outfit defying the call of the grave, but it is clear they have just as much enthusiasm and energy as they ever had. It just goes to show that sometimes a reunion can be a very good thing.
Intro/Able to Sing
Nothing to Say
Clear to Pass
Beautiful in White
Selling Your Time
Road & Travel
The Kids Aren’t Scared Anymore
Dancing on the Inside