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Controlled chaos: a peek inside UNIFY Gathering’s exceptional 2020 event

UNIFY, one of Australia’s biggest heavy music gatherings, was as loud as ever in 2020.

Now in its six incarnation, the South Gippsland campout called in the talents of Architects, Northlane, The Ghost Inside, Polaris, and plenty more this year. It was wild – for plenty more reasons than one.

Photos: April Josie

Despite a few weather scares, UNIFY 2020 went off without a hitch – a testament to the organisers. Here’s what you missed.

After an easygoing Thursday arrival, a good mood was in the air. DJs played late into the first night of the festival, a moment of relative quiet before the madness that was ready to unfold. Yes, Friday was a little chaotic.

Extreme winds and some rain meant a few bands had to be pushed back, and campers had to pack in their tents and gazebos temporarily. Despite it all the vibes were as strong as ever; the crowds, bands, and organisers collectively pushing through and ensuring everyone had the time of their lives. And that they did.

Dear Seattle, Diamond Construct, Tired Lion, Antagonist, and Silverstein all played on the smaller stage (which was undercover), but around 10pm the rain cooled off just long enough to host one act on the big stage – Architects. Nobody was ready to call it a day, and they played a set for the ages.

Saturday saw the organisers pull some expert-level stage Tetris, managing to get every band who had missed their Friday set a slot. Despite a small hurricane hitting the festival grounds the day before, every band on the lineup miraculously had their turn.

A few highlights included Kublai Khan’s set – which had been bumped to the main stage – as well as an explosive energy in the crowd for Knocked Loose. Despite a set on the smaller stage, Colombus also managed to start a riot.

Tonight Alive surprised the crowd with a few guest appearances, namely Maz from WAAX and Dre from Hellions. To say the crowd went wild wouldn’t be doing it justice.

To cap off what had been a rollercoaster of a day, Polaris and The Ghost Inside both treated Unify to world-class performances. The latter was especially poignant, given it was one of their only shows since a critical bus accident back in 2015 which saw drummer Andrew Tkaczyk lose a leg.

Vocalist Jonathan Vigil shared the band’s story between songs on the setlist. If anyone in the crowd hadn’t been aware of The Ghost Inside’s nightmarish – but no doubt incredible – last five years, that had changed by the time the curtains closed.