Gig Review: The Story So Far @ Factory Theatre

It’s quarter to seven and the Factory Theatre is already pop-punk galore. The crowd is littered with band t-shirts: Knuckle Puck, Neck Deep, and — the one we’re all lined here to see — The Story So Far.

The band, hailing from Walnut Creek, California, were last here in 2015, and this time they’re supported by Easy Life and Melbourne act, Slowly Slowly. Despite the somewhat small venue, the show hasn’t sold out — although that’s not to say the mosh pit is empty in any way. Standing at the very back on the elevated platform like the short person that I am, I can almost make out the curvature of every crowd surfer’s legs, but more so, see the bands as they take the stage.

Easy Life kicks off the show at 7:30 with a short half-hour. Their set unravels slowly — instruments are sometimes indistinguishable at first, and the songs are a little meandering and muddy, but nonetheless, our interest is piqued by the debut of a new single. The crowd sways obediently to a reverberating guitar riff while the drummer transitions fluently between toms and cymbals. When they reach their peaks, they’re exceptional, showing off a maturing sound and great crowd interaction.

Second act, Slowly Slowly eased into their set as vocalist Ben Stewart opens with a mellow solo, before being joined by the rest of the band halfway through. With a cohesion and sound reminiscent of much bigger outfits like Moose Blood and Brand New, never have I seen a band so young play with such quality and precision. This is made especially clear in the crowd pleaser ‘Alchemy’, featuring guitarist Albert Dean’s expert fingerwork. Slowly Slowly’s set is easily one of the most technically difficult, yet well-executed, I’ve seen — the ideal precursor for The Story So Far.

Finally, after bouts of yelling and whistling from the crowd, The Story So Far emerge. They don’t just appear — they explode, launching almost immediately into ‘Out of It’. And like clockwork, the crowd responds by throwing themselves forward towards the band. Interactions are brief, but they keep the crowd going with favourites from their self-titled and earlier albums, ‘What You Don’t See’ and ‘Under Soil and Dirt’. At one point between songs during a quick tune-up, guitarist Will Levy approaches the mic asking if anyone has a shoe to offer before promptly doing a shoey — much to everyone’s chanting satisfaction.

As each track goes by, it’s clear that they’re driven by powerful vocals, crunchy guitars and incredibly articulate and unapologetic drumming. After performing one encore song (‘High Regard’), the show wraps up abruptly, much to our dismay. “One more song!” a guy in front of me demands. “One more – ah crap”.  Nevertheless, it’s clear why The Story So Far are at the very front of the rising punk scene — their live performance is just as rich as their studio sound, ever-evolving and growing fiercer and fiercer.