Gig Review: UNIFY Gathering 2020 @ Tarwin Lower, Victoria
What: UNIFY Gathering 2020
Where: Tarwin Lower, VIC
Date: January 9-12th, 2020
Review by Tay Lack
Photos by Cadman Rossignoli
After long anticipation, the weekend of the year has finally arrived. An absolutely perfect way to kick off 2020 - Punters from near and far come together to celebrate this years UNIFY Gathering festival in Victorias Tarwin Lower. There was rain, there was delays and there was uncertainty that the weekend could flow as well as it did; but this year, UNIFY's event organisers went above and beyond to make sure that everyone was safe, happy and ever band on the bill had their chance on the stage. Here’s my long awaited recap on my trip to UNIFY Gathering 2020.
Straight off the bat, taking focus to the people around me – the vibe is there and it’s something beautiful. What’s so magical about UNIFY is the community, not a single person is too shy to say hello! As we lined up In our cars to get into the campground, I stopped for a hot minute to take in the atmosphere – I knew this was going to be an unforgettable weekend in that moment alone. We set up our homes for the next 3 days, chucked on some tunes and before you know it – 50kmph winds hit the campsite, along with rain and a warning to actually take our tents down. Unfortunately this unexpected ordeal made a dent in the plans for Fridays lineup – a dent clearly not big enough to ruin the UNIFY spirit. It rained, we waited around for an announcement for when the bands were actually going to be starting. And just like that, after sorting out my flooded tent – I made my way to the circus stage for Aussie outfit Diamond Construct.
DIAMOND CONSTRUCT from NSW have never failed to put on a killer show. With raging energy from the get go – it was definitely a way to lighten the mood. Head man Kynan has unbelievable energy and never ceases to amaze me. I’ve seen the boys perform on other occasions, the first being their crowbar show with Chelsea Grin and Born of Osiris and I’m confident in saying that despite playing the same songs, they have definitely come a long way. Double credit for the crow surfing shark! (If you know, you know).
Unfortunately due to the weather a lot of the day was spent in the warmth of whatever coverage that wasn’t blown away by the wind. Northlane was moved to Saturday night and Silverstein was up before Architects.
Touching base on Architects show, as I mentioned, I've had the opportunity to see them live before. There was no doubt in my mind that there wasn’t going to be power behind the performance. Front man Sam Carter absolutely submerges the crowd in captivating storytelling, putting us all in their shoes – feeling the raw emotion of what this UK outfit has to share. Playing absolute bangers from their most recent record, the boys truly put on a production to never forget. The mosh was hard, the execution of audio was clean and I can confidently say that is the best performance I’ve seen from Architects to date. And thus a perfect way to close a Friday - to what seemed like a disaster but quickly redeemed itself.
Now, Saturday was MUCH better in terms of bands, clear time tables and being able to see who I actually wanted to see. With only very light rain but high spirits – the sun was out sun this is what UNIFY is all about.
First up was RESIDE band, I’ve never seen this outfit before but I’m glad to say I’m lucky I did. The bad was clean and sharp, performance was immersing and the crowd interaction was there. I really took away some motivation to look further into the band and actually save some of their tracks! It great to be able to discover new bands at festivals like this, and RESIDE truly opened Saturday in complete style and grace.
Up next on my list was one of my absolute favourite all time bands. Kublai Khan TX put on an absolute ripper of a performance. Playing some of their heaviest tracks like “the hammer” and the god-like riffs in “the truest love” not a single person in that arena was having a bad time. The pit was deadly but I didn’t expect any less from Kublai, an unforgettable performance.
We then follow through to Knocked Loose, Void of Vision and Stray From the Path. Who ever is the genius in deciding to tee these bands up in close proximity needs a pay rise. It was NON STOP energy for 3 sets worth of songs with these bands. There was a massive turn out for these bands, not one of them missing a beat. At this point I’m absolutely shocked at how well these bands are performing and the energy they’re producing for us. It’s truly something else.
Still in awe of the performance, I took a small break so I could come back and check out Tonight Alive, considering I’ve been a fan for quite some time – I was excited to finally see Jenna perform live. I was curious on the idea of the band being on the bill as “tonight alive and friends” but I was jut going to play it by ear.. tonight alive played some songs which were classics, fun to sing along too and the vibe was there – but in all honestly I was truly rooting for an amazing performance and it just wasn’t there. The band playing behind Jenna was absolutely fantastic – great quality, but it was really hard to see them past vocals that were slightly off key and over-sung. I’m not going to say I’m devastated that one if my favourite bands from my younger days didn’t amount to what i thought they would be - I’m just going to say that I’m glad I had the opportunity to review them and see them live finally after so many years. With friends being appearances from Hellions and WAAX band, I can say that they truly redeemed the performance.
Before this next set, we were blessed with a little surprise! The new Trophy Eyes single “figure eight” was debut and we were all in shock and overly satisfied, it was a great way to introduce the next band up. Up next was Polaris and boy, was that a show to remember.. I have never witnessed such energy from a crowd. Front man Jamie had all of unify gathering in the palm of his hand. Playing a great medium mix of old tracks and some new. This set also produced probably one of the largest walls of death I’ve ever seen, completely splitting almost the entire length of the arena. Overall as always, Polaris sound fantastic and the production was massive, there’s definitely big things coming from this outfit with their new record only Just around the corner.
Northlane surprised us by filling in the time before our Saturday headliner. Although this was a minor set back from Friday, they definitely didn’t let it affect them. Playing the heaviest from their new record Alien, these local boys didn’t fail to hype everyone in the arena. I’ve been Northlane play and they’re definitely consistent in their shows, it was refreshing to see them play there new stuff.
And last, the long awaited highly anticipated return of The Ghost Inside. The intro and return had me in tears. To think that a group of people who had such a major set back, not being able to play for four years – to come back and bring THAT level of energy to the stage, hitting every single beat and playing their music flawlessly? It’s impossible, but they did that. The story behind this band is truly touching, extremely motivating and one to share. The Ghost Inside closed unify off in nothing but grace. It was an absolutely unforgettable performance from this American outfit and I’ve never felt so happy and excited for a new era of TGI. New music is definitely In the works, and we are ALL beyond ready.
Thus closing the greatest weekend of the year, I’d like to personally thank the event organisers for making it happen despite the setbacks. It takes a lot to put on a weekend like this in general, let alone having to make snap decisions on the spot for the safety of punters and bands alike. if you are yet to attend a UNIFY festival, my advice is just do it. There’s honestly nothing like it, and I'm beyond excited to do this all again in 2021.