​FAR AWAY STABLES (The Give It Back Tour) w/ Windwaker, Rumours, After Change & To Octavia @ Bendigo Hotel, July 2018

My anxiety can serve up the most stupid, irrational bullshit inside my head and tonight was certainly a testament to that. When I walked into the Bendigo Hotel in Collingwood, I was actually feeling quite positive as the front bar was buzzing with people around the pool table. I quickly recognised a few faces and immediately looked forward to the night ahead.

But unfortunately things quickly spiraled in a downward direction. The most annoying thing about having mental health issues is my inability to clearly explain why I’m feeling like this. It only takes one small trigger to set it off and then it’s like an endless loop of negative thoughts, feelings and emotions. I do get very hard on myself in social situations as I struggle between wanting to hide and wanting to put myself out there.

The same thoughts rush through my head like a freight train (What should I say? How can I break the ice? Should I go up to them and say hi? I don’t want to interrupt them). This then leads to social isolation, confusion, feeling lost and feeling uncertain about what to do. In between bands, I decided to get some air outside in the beer garden where it was much quieter and less distracting but of course it was freezing cold so I didn’t stay out for long.

Then I was blending in with the vacant bar behind the sound booth. Again I was torn between wanting company and wanting to be left alone. It was getting harder for me to cope as my anxiety levels steadily rose and I made a bee-line to the mens. I did try to re-group with deep breathing and some reassurance (Don’t let the anxiety win Michael. You’ve got this. Enjoy the bands. Enjoy your night).

I felt like people were ignoring me or excluding me but again this was my anxiety just flooding my head with lies. In the moment, it was pretty embarrassing as I really should have been enjoying my night. Instead I was being overcome with irrational fears, loneliness and worthlessness. The turning point came when Will King came over before his set and asked if I was doing okay. A few hugs later, I began to start feeling better again.

Sometimes all you need is that reminder that somebody does care to bring your head back to reality. Good thing too because I was contemplating leaving after Rumours set because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Severe anxiety and depression are both shit things to experience but I’m always determined to keep pushing through it no matter how tough it gets. The fact that I stuck around at tonight’s gig regardless of how I felt inside shows how strong and resilient I am against my mental illness. I won’t be defeated that easily.

TO OCTAVIA                                                                                                          “Can’t you see what I have become, now I found clarity? You played my heart like a marionette. I was at peace but I was blind You let your demons in. Now I am floating in a vast abyss.”

To Octavia are a five-piece Melodic Metalcore band based in Melbourne. I’ve heard quite a few promising things about this band but haven’t had the chance to check them out until tonight. Lead vocalist Matt Morris shines with huge passionate screams alongside Bassist and clean vocalist Merry Kirk-Holmes rocking his bright pink hair. They are certainly a band to watch this year. Check out their debut single “After All” on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwRikVmz9EU

AFTER CHANGE                                                                                                    “I’m feeling quite alone, so can you pick up the phone. I’m waiting for you, to talk again. ‘Cause when you’re not here and I’m lost inside my head. ‘Cause it doesn’t feel like home, when you’re not inside my bed.”

After Change are another band that I’ve heard of before but never actually seen live before. They are an Alternative Rock band from Adelaide with a strong focus on melody, emotional and heartfelt lyrics plus soaring clean vocals from lead vocalist Daniel Richards. The boys performed a few older tracks including “Hurricane” and “Heart & Home” plus a cover of “Smile Like You Mean It” by The Killers. They recently put out a music video for their new single “Built to Break” which you can check out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x24z4YlOsI

RUMOURS                                                                                                            Rumours were a last-minute addition to this lineup as Bukowski had pulled out. I remember picking up their EP “Lost Together” when it dropped back in December 2017 and was positively blown away by it. The band from Wagga Wagga was down a few members but thankfully were able to still put on a wonderful performance with Indey Salvestro from Windwaker filling in on bass. Be sure you check out the EP via their Bandcamp page here:  https://rumoursaus.bandcamp.com/

WINDWAKER                                                                                                        “I am not alone. We walk through the rain, It’s clouding up our senses. My heart is at a dead end, I’m lost with no direction. We all feel the pain, It’s beating our defenses. My heart is at a dead end, I’m lost with no direction.”

I’m honestly so glad that I was able to get my shit together mentally and see these boys play their set tonight. The Melbourne-based Experimental Alternative Rock band put on an entertaining performance as always even when poor Will’s microphone cut out (Thank god for Liam Guinane’s backup mic!). I swear that singing their songs always seems to help me overcome my own problems and for a moment I feel connected through their music. It’s such an awesome feeling.

The boys played a couple of new upcoming releases as well as mashing up “Take Me With You” with Bring Me The Horizon’s Can You Feel My Heart? The combination actually worked really well. Check out their latest single and music video “New Infinite” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTIcZlww1EQ

FAR AWAY STABLES                                                                                            “I can’t pretend that this noise doesn’t keep me awake. Crystal eyes turning opaque. But if i’m blind to myself and ignore the signals. Then mounds turn to mountains and days to decades. I can still see my shadows drag in the past. No matter how long I stare in the dark.”

Hard to believe but I think it’s been around 2 years since I last saw this Sydney-based Alternative Rock band play. It was such a pleasure seeing a few of the tracks from their album “Between Rage and Serenity” being performed live. Lead vocalist Brendan Sheargold is a delight to behold as his chaotic, emotional-filled vocal performance is concerned and bringing back that trusty black bullhorn was a great touch too. The band has recently had some lineup changes with the departure of Nick Palmer and Cameron Bury. Now we have Mark Williamson on guitar and Jess Rossiter on drums. You can check their album out here: https://farawaystables.bandcamp.com/

Setlist: Crystallize, Phantasm, Victim, Give It Back, Azalea, Caldera.

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