The crowd becomes a sea of roiling bodies crashing into one another. On stage, roaring hooks collide with unstoppable ambition.
Melbourne-based metalcore band Thornhill is giving the fans what they want – the space to let their emotions go, says fan Ashleigh Kate.
“There’s huge sound, hectic energy and powerful presence. It’s freeing,” she says.
Thornhill’s passion for performance is indisputable. After releasing The Dark Pool in 2019, the five-piece comfortably established themselves in the local scene.
This year, set to take a major step into international recognition, the band signed a worldwide publishing deal with independent Native Tongues, and became finalists at British Heavy Music Awards, for Best International Breakthrough Band.
With more than 60 shows planned for the year, including a six-week, 35-show US tour, Thornhill was a force to be reckoned with in 2020.
Until the world stopped.
The coronavirus pandemic forced unprecedented lockdowns and regulations across the country, with Victoria hit the hardest.
Victoria’s live music industry typically hosts about 100,000 gigs a year, generating an estimated $1.42 billion.
But according to a National Live Music Office survey, more than 80 per cent of live music venues have closed for trading since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 78,000 gigs cancelled in Victoria alone.
Travel bans, venue closures and event cancellations crushed the industry overnight.
Thornhill experienced their first big hit in March as rock music Download Festival was cancelled.
Drummer Ben Maida says the band knew it was going to be bad.
“Receiving the call at 2am on the day of the Melbourne show that the festival had been cancelled, it was a nightmare,” he says.
Thornhill’s plans for 2020 crumbled. By June, a snowball effect of cancellations made it clear that performing couldn’t be the focus of the year.
Maida says the band have put in work to keep fans engaged, providing deep insights into production of their last album. “It’s important to keep momentum,” he says.
Over lockdown, they have released the full instrumentals, an album stream of isolated vocals, alternative artworks of the album cover and not-for-profit face masks for those in need.
They also took part in an Instagram live beer-pong tournament alongside 15 other bands to support the local scene.
Like many musicians, the pandemic has provided Thornhill with a creative break they didn’t know they needed. A unique moment to focus on future work.
We normally would never have this much time to write another album,” Maida says.
There will be an abundance of albums to come out in 2021, with release campaigns expected to be bigger than previously seen from upcoming artists.
Through all of the set-backs, Maida maintains his hope that the industry will quickly recover.
“I think we will be automatically playing bigger venues,” he says.
He expects music-lovers to prevail over potential regulations and higher costs of future shows.
At this stage, all Thornhill can do is continue to wait it out while the numbers decrease.
“The comeback once this is all over will be massive.”