Parkway Drive Concert Review Mesa Amphitheater-Mesa AZ 10-01-23

Review and Photos by Maxwell Williamson

   The Monsters Of Oz Tour featuring Parkway Drive and special guests, Make Them Suffer, Northlane and The Amity Afflection respectively, came to Mesa, AZ to annihilate The Mesa Amphitheater; and annihilate they did!!!!

Parkway Drive

The First of October had arrived with temperatures that had finally dropped below triple digits, which is quite tolerable for the Phoenix metro area and Mesa, AZ.

The Mesa Amphitheater is a fantastic outdoor venue which is entirely general admission seating, with options of tiered level grass and a decent size floor for the chaos that was soon to be erupting. The Monsters Of OZ Tour could have been titled-The Great Downunder Tour, considering that all four bands on this bill hailed from Australia. This was definitely a full night of four killer Australian bands and these Aussies did not disappoint!

Make Them Suffer:

        Up first was Make Them Suffer out of Perth – they are a five piece metalcore ensemble with a nice mixture of heavy breakdowns, upbeat riffs, along with both clean and scream vocals. They ripped through a seven song set, acknowledging that their one and only job was to get the crowd ready for the madness that was about to come down the pike for the rest of the night. Make Them Suffer did just that, even though most of the crowd cheered when asked if it was their first time seeing Make Them Suffer, the band had no problem getting this mass of rowdies fired up. There was a good amount of energy flowing throughout their show, especially during their final song, “Doomswitch”, their latest single release. Before “Doomswitch” got underway, lead vocalist Sean Harmanis imparted to the audience that he had not seen a single crowd surfer thus far in their show; and followed that up by asking security: ”are you guys ready?I want to see 50 crowd surfers!”  The rowdy Mesa fans instantly began popping up from the crowd like a bunch of “Jack in the boxes” and started flowing towards the stage. A great way for an  opening act to set the tone for the night ahead!

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        After a brief stage switch up, Northlane, were the next band to hit the stage, this band is out of Sydney, New South Wales. The sun began to set right as the band was about to get started and that left the venue under the guise of a darkened sky which was perfect for the heavy dose of strobe lights that these guys were about to unleash on the Mesa audience! This band made an interesting departure from the typical band member entrance to the stage of – first the drummer enters, followed by the other musicians and then finally the singer. First off, singer Marcus Bridge entered alone into the darkness with an oscillating keyboard rhythm pulsating over the PA. Bridge took his place at his dimly lit microphone and began with his soothing and soft vocal intro to their song “Clarity”, which gave way to an eruption of sound by the entire band that was a complete 180-degree shift into high gear and immediately incited a massive circle pit forming on the floor!

Northlane put together a seven song set featuring songs off their two most recent albums, Alien and Obsidian respectively, both of which won awards in Australia for the Best Independent Heavy Album or EP at The Australian Independent Record Awards.

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The Amity Affliction:

  Next up on the bill were co-headliners The Amity Affliction out of Gympie, Queensland. A vastly popular Post Hardcore band with a large fan base was present on this night in Mesa, AZ, and the band’s popularity was confirmed by the ear-piercing uproar of screams by the fans when the band took to the stage. TAA played a heartfelt 11 song set on a dimly lit moody stage. Their set consisted of songs from five different albums with most of the songs coming off their latest release Not Without My Ghosts. Lead vocalist Joel Birch commanded the stage with authority, often standing tall on the speakers, just out of arm’s reach of the devoted fans below, as he orchestrated the boisterous sing along from the rambunctious fans. The set was worthy of a headline spot and surely set the bar high. There was no shortage of mayhem from the start to end of their set.

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Parkway Drive:

       The buzz in the air was notably different as the fans anxiously awaited while the stage hands worked hard to get things ready for tonight’s headliners, Parkway Drive out of Byron Bay, New South Wales. During the stage switch in preparation for Parkway Drive, the crowd participated in a playlist karaoke that was great fun! Finally, the lights dropped and the booming chant of …“PARKWAY, PARKWAY PARKWAY” erupted. Their powerful set began with the song “Glitch”, the first of a fifteen song set that lasted seventy minutes!   Parkway Drive has a reputation for intense shows overfilled with monumental energy, and it was quickly apparent why! Frontman Winston McCall piloted the stage with a ferocity that resonated with everyone in the audience!

Winston McCall

Lead guitarist Jeff Ling played through his melodic riffs with a massive smile on his face who was backed by bassist Jia O’Connor, rhythm guitarist Luke Kilpatrick, and Ben Gordon on drums. Together they sounded flawless while effortlessly slaying through several hits from six of their albums, including their latest release, Reverence, and going all the way back to their early works off their Horizons LP. Although the night air was mild in Arizona, PWD turned up the heat both literally and figuratively. The pyro display was such that it would surely have The Mesa Fire Department on edge! The spectacle of out of this world flames that shot out from all angles of the stage made for a great addition to an already extraordinary set!

Then, a much-needed break in pace for everyone to catch their breath, came late in the set when guitarist Luke Kilpatrick appeared with an acoustic guitar while Winston McCall took his place center stage perched at his microphone stand. This change of pace was well-received as the guys played an emotional rendition of their single “Darker Still”. The fans lit up the amphitheater with their cell phones and lighters for a truly breathtaking somber performance. Their acoustic calmness was very short lived though, as proclaimed by Winston;it was time to get back to or above, the energy level that was present earlier before the break”! As they played the fan favorite, “Bottomfeeder”, the crowd jumped up and down in unison, creating a colossal wave of fans that looked similar to wheat blowing in a field, all moving and swaying together in a singularly collective entity! Although their set had plenty of feats to be remembered, arguably the most entertaining part of the night was after the band left the stage and reemerged shortly later for their encore. 

Drummer Ben Gordon began the encore, completely bathed in white lights with an improbable groove infused solo that was punctuated with blistering chops. His drum kit was secured in the middle of a large metal device that could best be described as a large hamster wheel with a metal framed square within the wheel that encased the drummer. Mid-way into his solo, his drum contraption began to slowly rotate until it finally came to an absolute grinding halt, with Ben playing entirely upside down; talk about a head rush!

Ben Gordon

The rest of the band would rejoin him on stage and play the song “Crushed” all while Ben remained upside down with flames firing out from all around him on all sides; spectacular indeed! A sight like nothing I can recall seeing at any past shows! They would conclude their performance with their hit “Wild Eyes” with all members linking their arms at center stage as they led the crowd into a chant for the opening riff to “Wild Eyes”. The perfect way to cap off a phenomenal headline set of The Monsters Of OZ Tour.

  What can I say that hasn’t already been said?? These four bands are touring our country together far from their homes and having the time of their lives doing so! I would go again in a heartbeat, and I suggest everyone experience this tour if the chance arises. The energy, the visuals, the compassion, are all second to none! You will not leave regretting your choice to attend this FN amazing event!

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