There's only one way to start this. Tonight I witnessed, hands down, the best show by any Australian band....ever. Yes even over AC/DC. Fight me. Parkway Drive played to a sold out Riverstage in Brisbane, their biggest headline show to date. This is a small band from Byron Bay who have pushed the limits and worked their f'ing asses off to get to where they are. They've spent a lot of their time overseas playing some of the worlds biggest festivals, to some of the biggest crowds, Parkway are now home, on their own turf and they've brought their full European stage production with them. I am still getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
I admit, I got to the Riverstage late, missing out on photographing Thy Art Is Murder, but I have enough time to catch a portion of their set. Walking through the Botanical gardens, it's hard to not hear the crushing breakdowns these guys are delivering. I made my way to the top of the hill to see an already packed Riverstage throwing about for one of Australias heaviest acts. Vocalist CJs deadly growls shoot across the Riverstage, they're dirty and brutal and they compliment every riff that they sit over, it's no wonder the crowd are going mental.
Metal legends Killswitch Engage have a solid hour+ set before Parkway Drive. It's not often a support gets such a generous time slot, but Killswitch have every right to have the stage for that long. With a career spanning back to the late 90s. It's not even a Killswitch headline show and the crowd is still a sea of passionate fans in a frenzy for one of the worlds greatest metal bands.
It's difficult to not be impressed by the performance and energy Killswitch bring to the stage. There's no just standing around in your own little area. They move and they move a lot. Interacting with one another and more importantly, with the crowd. They're so comfortable with the stage and so incredibly tight, it's a lot to take in. Guitarist Adam D, as usual, sports his short shorts and pounces around the stage flailing his legs about and shaking his booty to the crowd. While bassist Mike stampedes across the stage manically staring down the crowd and throwing his bass all over the joint. Killswitch truly are one of the greats and even in a support slot they prove just that and it's safe to say the crowd agree.
The back curtain comes down, revealing Parkways full set up, including drummer Ben's one of a kind drum rig which down the path raises up, leans forward and turns in a 360 motion, much like Joey from Slipknot....but better (sorry Joey fans). The lighting rig is incredible, the front of the stage is lined with pyro mechanics. It's when the lights go down for 'Wishing Wells' intro that the pyro starts to show it's face. Loud bangs, strobes, smoke and sparks light up parts of the stage. The band take to the stage and 'Wishing Wells' kicks in, vocalist Winston raises the roof with "UNTIL I'M DONE!" and it's a frenzy. The crowd are rampant and the band is feeding off each and every bit of it.
They jump head first straight into 'Prey', 'Wishing Wells' succeeder on the brand new album Reverance and it feels as though the energy has only largened. 'Carrion', 'Vice Grip', 'Dedicated' and 'Absoloute Power' turn punters in a melting pot of brutality, while 'Cemetery Bloom' is the breather with Winston McCall flying solo for the first half of the song. "Everybody jump!" McCall demands of the crowd at the top of his lungs. "On the count of three, 1, 2 , 3 JUMP!" 'The Void' comes screaming out of the speakers as flames ignite, roaring from one end of the stage to the other. Either side of the stage eight more massive flames light Riverstage up. From here the pyro really starts to take it's place.
This where my claim to this being the greatest live Aussie show ever really comes into play. The production of this show is second to none. The time and effort that has gone into every little detail on that stage is mind blowing. The lighting rig is unlike anything I've ever seen, blinders that move in such a stunning motion and to every foreseeable angle, it just puts something else into the show. They truly are one of the hardest working Australian bands out there, if not are the hardest working.
Smashing through a list of their best work, they leave and head back for their encore. The beginning buddhist throat chant that opens 'Crushed' signals more pyro, this time lighting up the front and back floor of the stage. Kicking in, more flames appear, the drums are up in the air and turning and covered in fire. Basically there's fire everywhere at this point. Parkway end the show with 'Bottom Feeder' from their 2015 album Ire. And if all that pyro and lighting wasn't enough, the boys have set up fireworks on Brisbane River next to the Riverstage!
The weirdest part about the set tonight is the absence of anything from the Killing With a Smile era. But that in no way can even be a burden on such an incredible night. I'm in awe of what I've just seen. And I can easily say that makes the top 5 best concerts I've ever seen and I've seen a lot of concerts. I could go on about this show for hours, but do yourself a favour, youtube Parkway Drive Rock AM Ring 2018 and see a piece of what 8,000 people saw at the Riverstage. And crank the fuck out of it.
Photos (c) Dan Maynard Photography