UNIFY – A Heavy Music Gathering delivers just as much as it suggests: the metal heads, the ’90s post-emo, the still current emo, the rock ‘n rollers, the screamers, the prog heads… they’re all in one place.

Held in Tarwin Lower’s sports fields in South Gippsland, the festival grew this year from 5,000 to 7,500 and the same space catered for the increased numbers easily. There was some disorganization regarding helpers and information-giving volunteers, however; no-one seemed to know where the nearest bathrooms were for the farthest camping site.

Food stalls were some of the best choices I’ve seen at a festival, though, including Fish Taco and Toasta. A particular shout out to the Iced Coffee stand in the booze tent. Delicious, cheap and quickly made, plus the guy running the show was always happy and hospitable. Winner!

Bizarre weather threatened the gathering – overcast and windy the first day, the second with intervals of rain, which cleared up into a lovely evening – and I don’t think there was a gazebo or tarp still standing by the end of the festival. The destruction was perfectly fitting though, and did little to mar a fantastic few days.

Here’s our band-by-band account of UNIFY 2017.

UNIFY – A Heavy Music Gathering 2017

House Vs Hurricane

House vs Hurricane got back together especially for Unify 2017, and their audience was certainly excited to see them reformed. Boisterous lead singer Dan Casey owned the stage comfortably and kept the audience feeling lively.

Getaway Plan

That album, you know the one. With ‘Where the City Meets the Sea?’ Sing-a-longs galore.

LetLive

A particularly passionate performance, which concluded with a message to all – “Don’t disrespect women or think that they owe you anything. Anyone with an issue with it can see me afterwards. I weigh a buck and a half.”

Every Time I Die

Tightest band of the festival.

Northlane

Finished off the first night as if they were the headlining act. Confident and blew crowds away with their genre-blending music. All round nice guy and lead singer Marcus Bridge captivated audiences with little effort. Great way to finish up the first night of Unify.

Pagan

triple j Unearthed-winning band. Cracking performance for the newcomers and mutters following their set suggested they have a bunch of new fans. Happy birthday to the lead singer who, although tiny, can absolutely belt out a scream.

The Dirty Nil

Canadian, chewing gum like it’s no one’s business whilst shredding. Sounded like a band who would have had some hits in US sitcoms or high school movies. Clean, precise and a nice steer away from some very heavy music of the previous night. Light start for the morning.

Saviour

Huge presence of Saviour t-shirts throughout the festival, and anyone would have thought half of the Perth scene was there to support them. Huge, involved crowd and lead singer leaning over the barrier into the crowd was very well received. Female backup vocals was a nice change from rest of the lineup.

Deez Nuts

Bringing a taste of rap to the line up, Deez Nuts again had a big following. Crowd favourites.

Moose Blood

Personal favourite of the festival. Low key in comparison to many of the other bands on the line up, and very humbled to be playing on the Unify stage.

Trophy Eyes

Tried for the longest YouTube “YEAHH BOYY” with the crowd.

Luca Brasi

Tasmanian representative for the festival, and he let everyone know. Much of the crowd gave Luca Brasi a solid “Nice Gary” and his family and friends cheered on from side of stage.

Storm the Sky

Big chains and lyrics attached to his outfit, with ’90s films such as Cruel Intentions playing in the background – a definite touch of post-emo about this mob.

Bodyjar

Covering I Killed the Prom Queen on the Unify line up, much to the dismay of some of the younger crowd. Many used this time to prepare for the rest of the evening, but their final song ‘Not The Same’ really got punters screaming and dancing.

Thy Art is Murder

Roughest, most ungodly. Wrong wording considering someone threw a bible onto stage, and CJ said “it didn’t sit well, and it’s shit like the bible that rules the world – why we have paedophiles etc.” He then invited the crowd to light the bible on fire in the audience. As you do.

Violent Soho

“I left a bible up here, has anyone seen it?” as their opening line, classic. Old and new material was received very well, and perhaps a highlight, especially for those who hadn’t seen their live show before. Toilet paper rolls were thrown, air guitar was laid down and the boys rocked out.

Alexisonfire – The much-anticipated headline act delivered a stand out performance, constantly moving about the stage in a controlled chaos and bringing the most intense crowd surfing numbers of the whole festival.

Guy with the patch on his head…

Ran into this guy a few times, but this particular time he explained he was crowd surfing, got hauled over into the photo pit and was running out but cheering at the people behind him. On his way he ran into a speaker stack and bruised/cut up his eye, and some how came out with a rolled ankle too. You’re welcome for the codeine mate!

The verdict?

Unify is a group of people who are truly passionate about heavy music and enjoy the opportunity to let out some steam with others who feel similarly. Between the circle pits, the crowd surfing, the hardcore dance moves, nangs, beers and ciggies – the whole festival is about relief and letting go for a weekend.

It doesn’t matter if you’re normcore, emo or a punk, you’re welcomed with open arms. It’s a community of people who perhaps don’t find it easy to express their feelings, so an outlet like Unify allows them to do so without feeling intimidated, and does an excellent job of it, too.

I’ve never seen so many grown men in tears at a festival, or as many people lining up to get into First Aid as I did at Unify, but it was all in the service of an incredible time.