Northlane, Like Moths to Flames, In Hearts Wake, Oceans Ate Alaska, Evolution at Rickshaw Theatre

Wednesday 02nd, September 2015 / 18:20
By Brendan Lee
Northlane at Rickshaw Theatre. Photo: Timothy Nguyen

Northlane at Rickshaw Theatre.
Photo: Timothy Nguyen

August 5, 2015

VANCOUVER — Less than a year ago, the Australian metalcore giants Northlane were without a frontman. Their lead singer dropped out due to vocal issues, and the future of one of the world’s premiere up-and-coming metalcore bands was looking shaky. But a few months later, Marcus Bridge was victorious in an internationally run YouTube contest put on by the band to fill the vacancy and the huge shoes left behind by their beloved former lead singer.

Flash-forward to less than two weeks ago and the pace has once again ramped up with the release of Northlane’s new album, Node, featuring the debut of Marcus and the courageous unveiling of a very different sounding band. A week later, Node tops the Australian Recording Industry Association’s (ARIA) nation wide charts — and everybody loses their minds!

On August 5, before anyone could come even close to catching their breath, and two days after lifting their number one record over their heads, Northlane stampeded their way into the Rickshaw Theatre in Vancouver to begin the first night of their tour of North America. Needless to say, the band tore that stage apart.

The night’s ascent into brutality began with the Vancouver band Evolution’s inaugural performance. This electronic, instrumental metalcore mix of “djenty” goodness (yes that is a genre) was a stellar — albeit relatively mellow — preparation for what was about to come.

Next came the unbelievably talented (this is the understatement of the year) progressive metalcore outfit from the UK, Oceans Ate Alaska. With the authority and swagger of a band that could have easily headlined the show, they assaulted the Vancouver stage with a set technically dominant and unbelievably chaotic. Heading into this show, I was extremely interested to see if vocalist James Harrison could deliver his dynamic and wide range of singing/screaming styles in a live performance. Yup, he absolutely did.

In Hearts Wake took over the stage next, and just as lead vocalist Jake Taylor commanded, the crowd motherfucking bounced. The bands performance can be described as none other than just a whole darn lot of fun. Bouncy, groovy, heavy, and tight as a drum, the Aussie boys exceeded every high expectation I had for them. I would say they stole the show, if only Northlane wasn’t so damn hot right now.

The lead up to Northlane’s unreal finale was put on by the boys in Columbus, Ohio’s Like Moths to Flames. These guys certainly knew how to get the crowd on their feet, running in circles, and beating the crap out of each other. But unfortunately for the most part their performance came off as a little repetitive and over-done. The screams were great but the clean vocals felt tired. I wasn’t expecting them to be phenomenal, and they came off as just okay.

And then Northlane played. Oh my goodness.

I don’t want to say that their performance was perfect, because if I did I’d be lying. The mixing of the vocals seemed a little off and the flow from song to song needed of a bit of a polish. Even Marcus could have hit a few notes that he didn’t. But in terms of sheer emotion, masterful instrumentation, and powerful stage presence, the guys blew my freaking mind. Starting the show out at a break neck speed with the new single, “Obelisk,” the performance got better and better with each song played. The tracks from Node were just as heavy and just as great live as any of the ones they played from their first two releases. The performances of “Quantum Flux,” “Dream Awake,” and the mind-numbing rendition of “Weightless” were the highlights of the entire show.

And there was Marcus. Damn, that guy seemed like he had been doing this his entire life. He sang, yelled, and screamed every song in his own unique style, casting aside anyone doubting that the band would be nothing without their former sound. Those songs are not easy ones to sing by any means, and good gravy was he ever on point.

They got heavy, they got painfully emotional, and they grooved like no other band knows how.

And when all was said and done, it was obvious that the fans in the building were satisfied. As we all filed out into the streets, the enormous smile on Marcus’ face had spread through us all, mixing that feeling of joy tinged with a little bit of sadness that can only come with a great concert ending. Whoever said Northlane’s dead? They ain’t even close.

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