Parkway Drive’s regular regional tour is always a great time. Catching one of the world’s biggest bands at venues like Wyong Young Centre, Cromer Heights, and in 2012 Penrith Panthers, fills you with not only national pride, but pride in the scene. So much faith is restored through this simple gesture of playing for kids who can’t always make it to the big shows. And what’s more impressive is how the lads in Parkway, (Byron Bay surfies turn international rock stars) actually enjoy playing these shows purely to benefit the fans, not for the cash.
Opening the Sydney leg of the Sick Summer tour was local support Northlane. Local superstars in their own right, the band faced a daunting crowd. Potentially the biggest they’ve played to yet, but if they were nervous or intimidated in any way, they didn’t show it. The guys rocked hard, belting out tunes from their debut album Discoveries. The performance was peppered with sound problems, minor issues that even the metal snobs seemed willing to overlook. Worthy of note was the frontman handing out flyers after the gig at the door. You have to fucking respect that. Where most young frontmen choose to wait in the wings and not be seen by patrons, he was putting in the legwork to get the shit jobs done. Northlane is a band to keep your eye on over the coming years; I can imagine them going gangbusters after another release or two.
Up next was main support for the whole tour Hand Of Mercy. These guys disappeared off the local radar while they toured through the US. HOM is the kind of band we’ve all seen countless times as main support, often headlining at a local nightclub, but this time was different. Having clearly learnt a thing or two while on the road abroad, the set these guys performed was nothing short of totally professional. Frontman Scott Bird no longer appeared in his standard black jeans and white T-shirt and seemed to be a lot more relaxed on the stage than previous performances I had seen. Playing tracks from their latest release The Fallout, Mr Nastytime was a smash amongst the swelling crowd, but nothing went down as well as Chump one of the best hardcore songs to come out of this Country. It was great to see how these guys have matured, seasoned experts now with a whole bunch of releases and tours under their belts.
I’ll admit, Parkway Drive over the years had found themselves less and less frequented on my iPod. They had always held a spot in my heart, but I honestly thought I had outgrown them. That has all changed after this show. Jeez, I forgot just how much these guys kick ass – hard, fast brutal metal. They played it all: Smoke em’ If You Got em; Carrion; Sleepwalkers; and, unless I’m mistaken (correct me if I’m wrong) but a track no one had previously heard. Despite the odd complaint (whine) from frontman Winston McCall about being exhausted, the pace rarely slowed. They had abandoned some of their antics, including backwards dive off the stage, and there was less banter with the crowd, but it was still the Parkway we all know and love. It was great to revert back to my fan-boy, awkward teenager stage in a room full of people who were experiencing the same thing.
The main thing, however, that was impossible to overlook was just how unaffected Parkway Drive are with their international celebrity. Being demanded to play Warped Tour and other festival juggernauts all over the world, but still here at Penrith Panthers rocking out as hard as ever for the people who got them to where they are today.
* Update: Sydney’s Caulfield opened the show rather, with Northlane following. Though due to the powers that be continently placing a bull screw somewhere between the Pacific Highway and the Motorway, I was delayed with a flat tire. Having said that the crowd was in great spirit upon my arrival suggesting the lads put on a rad show to kick off the night. In classic Caulfield style.