Sleep live at The Forum, London

Sleep
Conan
The Forum, London July 6th

sleep_live_london_review

There’s heavy and then there’s none more HEAVY. Tonight is a chest-beating display of heavy as bravado. Heavy as punishment. Volume so loud and intense you can feel your skull rattle and vibrate and your guts clench to withstand the impact. So good it hurts.

Liverpool doom merchants Conan get things off to a suitably oppressive start. They describe themselves as being as ‘heavy as interplanetary thunder amplified through the roaring black hole anus of Azathoth’, a fact that is hard to dispute when faced with the sonic sludge oozing from the stage. All you can do is submit and nod. Their job is done and the stage and crowd are perfectly in the zone to greet tonight’s headliners, Californian stoned doom legends Sleep.

Described as ‘the ultimate stoner rock band’, Sleep’s legendary status is well deserved. Having originally disbanded in ’95 when London Records, their major label paymasters at the time, refused to release their now legendary hour-long-one-song-drone workout ‘Dopesmoker’, their reputation continued to grow in their absence as guitarist Matt Pike concentrated on High On Fire. However, when the band reformed in 2009 to play an ATP Festival, they stepped effortlessly back into their towering doom boots as if no time had passed at all and tonight, the noise that they make is utterly earth shattering. Opening with two tracks from their legendary ‘Holy Mountain’ album – ‘Draugonaut’ and the title track, Pike, shirtless and wild, unleashes wave after wave of power in-front of a massive wall of amps, obviously enjoying every second of the colossal noise being created. The sound is incredible. Normally a heavy band’s sound can suffer in a venue this size, often reduced to a dull thud but not tonight, Sleep have more than enough power and amplification behind them to destroy.

Playing the first twenty minutes of their epic ‘Dopemoker’ track, the air fills with the pungent stench of weed as the crowd take their cue to fire up their pipes and spliffs and a few hundred stoners get deep within the zone as Sleep continue to pulverise and groove.

An epic gig. We’re lucky to have them back. Long may they continue to abuse our hearing.

James Sherry

Dropkick Murphys live at The Forum, London

Dropkick Murphys
(Teenage Bottle Rocket and Crowns)
London Forum,
18/1/13

Crowns’ jaunty folk suits the vibe of the evening perfectly, but although they deserve the applause from those present, the echo of a third-full Forum does their sound no favours. They’d probably sound great in a packed pub, so check them out at the Old Blue Last on Feb 20th. Go on, it’s free.

Entertaining antics abound during Teenage Bottlerocket’s set, mostly courtesy of the band themselves, the roadie in an Iron Maiden ‘Eddie’ mask urging the crowd to greater efforts, and the topless forty-something guy flailing his arms (and moobs) around in the impressively-sized pit. And the music? The cynical among us might dismiss the likes of ‘Radio’ and ‘Skate Or Die’ as mere Ramones rip-offs, but few bands channel da bruddas’ love of breakneck-speed, power chord driven melodies as well as the Wyoming quartet do tonight.

The Dropkick Murphys may be approaching their 20th anniversary as a band, but you can still rely on them to give it 100%, rock like bastards, and generally be the ultimate Friday/Saturday night band. Tonight they are nothing short of outstanding, barrelling through old (‘The Gauntlet’, ‘Worker’s Song’) and new (‘Burn’, ‘Going Out In Style’) with such tenacity and ferocity that not even two brief power outages can stop them.

It’s a beautiful sight to behold as both band and sold-out crowd fling themselves around the place with wild abandon, but an unexpected highlight comes courtesy of the mandolin-led ‘Rose Tattoo’. Released barely a month ago, it’s already a fan favourite, with bassist/vocalist Ken Casey almost drowned out by a 2,000-strong sweaty choir. It’s a genuinely poignant moment, and a fine riposte to those who would dismiss the Dropkicks as mere musical rabble rousers.

They’ve never been a ‘cool’ band, but the Dropkicks’ combination of Irish folk music, punk rock and raw honesty has got them further than they ever expected. Certainly, as a rip-roaring finale of ‘Skinhead on the MBTA’ heralds the usual mass stage invasion, it’s clear that no-one here cares about such a triviality – and nor should they.

Alex Gosman

Lucero live at the Windmill, Brixton

Lucero,
London Brixton Windmill,
28/11/12

These days, it seems that more and more of London’s venues are covered in corporate branding, so it’s comforting to arrive at the Brixton Windmill and find it still resolutely independent and reassuringly shabby. Certainly, Lucero seem to have adopted it as their home from home – this is the third visit for Ben Nichols’ crew, and tonight is the first of a four night stand.

Sweetheart Contract are Londoners, but their sound is steeped in Americana, with alt-country rhythms, twanging rockabilly bass and even a touch of harmonica in the mix. You could argue about authenticity, but the numerous folks tapping their feet along to the catchy ‘Summer Heist’ and ‘Honesty Is Comedy’ would rightfully ignore you. Singer/guitarist Dexy is blessed with the voice of an indie-pop angel, but sprinkles everything he sings with a touch of gritty defiance. Check them out – you won’t regret it.

Lucero arrive to a heroes’ welcome from a sold-out crowd, but neither crowd nor band seem quite as invigorated as they did five years ago at this very same venue. Still, it’s a cold Wednesday night outside, and old favourites ‘Sweet Little Thing’ and ‘Nights Like These’ are a fine tonic for weary souls, whilst a few tunes from recent album ‘Women & Work’ are lent a welcome ragged edge in the live setting. They play for nearly two hours (but for some reason ignore 2007’s superb ‘Rebels, Rogues…’ album), and by the end, it feels like we’re part of the congregation in some kind of alt-country chapel, with the preachers bashfully enjoying the devotion on display. Six old Memphis road-dogs they may be, but Lucero know – as ever – how to create a sense of occasion.

Alex Gosman

Vans Warped Tour UK 2012


10,000 music fans, 28 bands from 6 countries performing across 4 stages with 4,065 cans of Monster Energy Drink consumed, sums up the triumphant success that was 2012’s sold out Vans Warped Tour UK.

After soaking up the brilliant atmosphere for the early part of the event at London’s iconic Alexandra Palace, team Crossfire situated themselves in the main room to bring you back the info on performances from the Monster stages.

First off, we caught Breathe Carolina [3/5]. Now obviously this sort of electro/screamo vibe is not normally the kind of thing you would hear us raving about, but fair play to the duo, they really know how to work a crowd. The music maybe takes itself a little too seriously considering it is essentially just pop, but nonetheless, Breathe Carolina are widely adored by hyper-active fans.

Breathe Carolina

Following Breathe Carolina comes a completely different monster, UK born and bred metalcore titans, Architects [5/5]. Their thunderous blast beats and sub drops destroy the ear drums of a riff hungry crowd who respond with the biggest pits of the event so far. ‘Follow The Water’ and ‘These Colours Don’t Run’ are particular highlights of Architects’ set which ends with a union of voices screaming ‘You Fucking Pigs’ and the whole band surfing across the crowd.

Architects
On Stage With Architects
On Stage With Architects

3oh!3 [4/5] introduce themselves as a pop band, realistically that’s what they are, not typically a traditional Warped Tour artist. However, when you perform with such stage presence it doesn’t matter what genre you are tied to. ‘Don’t Trust Me’, ‘Starstrukk’ and ‘Punkbitch’ are all guilty pleasures to a crowd usually fed on punk and metal, but there really is no shame in enjoying these pop tarts when the bass is cranked up to such a dirty level.

Bringing the music back to the classic sound of Warped Tour, New Found Glory [3/5] bounce through an energetic set featuring all their hits with ‘My Friends Over You’ and a cover of Sixpence None The Richer’s ‘Kiss Me’ highlighting a charismatic performance. Showing professional brilliance, the band fought through technical difficulties to produce some of the most fun filled pits of the day. Even without being the biggest pop-punk fan, the infectious and uplifting sense of nostalgia was enough to get anyone involved.

After having been away from consciousness for a while, The Used [4/5] return to the UK with a commanding presence. ‘All That I’ve Got’ and ‘The Taste Of Ink’ are captivating and allow fans to reminisce the days when The Used were undoubtedly the king of emo. But it’s ‘Pretty Handsome Awkward’ that stands out of a polished set due to the punishing pit it creates.

Although known for being a bit hit and miss when it comes to live performances, Bring Me The Horizon [5/5] stole the show this time around at Warped. If the sound of screaming was deafening when the band walked on to the stage, words cannot describe the intensity when front man Oli Sykes appeared. It seems this generation’s metal poster boy left his demons behind for Bring Me’s set, as his presence was nothing short of iconic. Technically brilliant, impeccably tight, energetic across the stage and featuring surprisingly impressive clean vocals from Jona Weinhofen, this performance cements Bring Me The Horizon as the ones to beat in metal with new material from forthcoming album ‘Sempiternal’ sounding equally as brilliant as previous work.

Oli Sykes - Bring Me The Horizon
Oli Sykes
Bring Me The Horizon

Oddly enough, Lostprophets [3/5] appear a little out of place as headliners. Although their extensive and impressive history earns them this slot, they aren’t quite the buzz band they used to be. But ‘Shinobi vs Dragon Ninja’ brings utter destruction whilst ‘Rooftops’ holds the crowd firmly in the palm of Ian Watkin’s hand. When a set list is filled with classics such as ‘Can’t Catch Tomorrow’ and ‘Last Train Home’ you wonder why we ever doubted their dominance.

Ian Watkins - Lostprophets
Lostprophets
Vans Warped Tour UK Crowd

Words: Emma Wallace
Photos: Emma Wallace

August Burns Red Live In Photos


Back in late October one of the heaviest shows of the year graced London: headliners August Burns Red joined by two infamously brutal live acts, The Devil Wears Prada and Veil of Maya for a night of metalcore mayhem.

Naturally, Christian metallers August Burns Red destroyed the night with hard hitting tracks such as ‘Leveller’, ‘Internal Canon’ and ‘Empire’ blowing away the audience with sub-drops resounding in ear drums long after the show closed. We sent photographer Tim Easton to capture the night’s events. Here’s what he saw through the lens…
Photos: Tim Easton

Veil of May, Electric Ballroom
Veil of Maya
Veil of May, Electric Ballroom
Veil of Maya
Veil of Maya
The Devil Wears Prade, Camden
The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada
The Devil Wears Prada
August Burns Red
August Burns Red
August Burns Red
August Burns Red
August Burns Red

Must See Shows: November 2012

Our selection of ‘Must See Shows’ this month pretty much caters for everyone. Whether you are after big breakdowns, dark atmospherics or just straight forward rock anthems look no further than this list. Oh and November also features Warped Tour. Get in.

2:54
w/ Pins, Childhood, Deaf Club

02 – OXFORD The Jericho Tavern, 03 – BIRMINGHAM The Sunflower Lounge, 04 – BRIGHTON The Haunt, 06 GUILDFORD The Boileroom, 07 – LONDON XOYO, 08 – BRISTOL The Croft

If moody atmospherics spark interest in your head, look no further than 2:54. This indie duo are set to take off big time after comparisons to the likes of The XX and Alpines. This is definitely a case of catch them in an intimate setting whilst you still can.

CROSSFAITH
05 – GUILDFORD Boileroom, 08 – BOURNEMOUTH Soundcircus, 09 – BATH Komedia, 10 – LONDON Warped Tour

These venues really are to small to handle Crossfaith. If you saw them tear apart the UK earlier this year in support of Of Mice & Men you’ll know exactly what we are talking about. Mashing up a combination of The Prodigy and brutal breakdowns this Japanese band epitomize the meaning of ‘Must See Show’.

DEAF HAVANA
w/ Canterbury, There For Tomorrow

08 – COVENTRY Kasbah, 09 – LEEDS Met Uni, 10 – MANCHESTER Ritz, 11 – GLASGOW ABC, 12 – NEWCASTLE Academy, 14 – PORTSMOUTH Pyramids, 15 – NORWICH UEA, 16 – LONDON Shepherds Bush Empire

We picked Deaf Havana out as one of the highlights of Hevy Festival this summer due to their anthemic pop-rock tunes and seeing them in an enclosed environment will only top those brilliant festival performances. And after releasing a brilliant alternative version of ‘Fools & Worthless Liars’ last month, here’s hoping that they add in a few of their acoustic numbers to the set too.

PARKWAY DRIVE
w/ Emmure, The Word Alive, Structures

14 – BIRMINGHAM Ballroom, 15 – MANCHESTER Academy, 16 – LEEDS University, 17 – LONDON Roundhouse

Gracing the buzz chart and currently sitting in the ‘Album of the Week’ spot with ‘Atlas’, it’s no secret that we love Parkway Drive at Crossfire. If you have seen their latest DVD ‘Home Is For The Heartless’ you’ll know that if any ticket bearers are in for a treat with PWD’s live show.

POLAR
w/ TRC, Prowler

26 – NORWICH Waterfront Studio, 27 – READING Face Bar, 28 – BOURNEMOUTH Soundcircus, 28 – BRISTOL The Croft, 29 – PLYMOUTH The White Rabbit

Stating their influences as ‘Big beats. Strong booze. Loose morals. Good times.’ its clear to see that a Polar show is going to be wild. If you are heading to see them out of curiosity, don’t sit down or just stand, get involved otherwise front man Adam Woodford might just force you to himself…

THE ELIJAH
w/ Hello Mexico, Black Shapes

16 – LONDON The Underworld

For one night only post-rock newcomers The Elijah will be playing their epic debut album ‘I Loved I Hated I Destroyed I Created’ accompanied by the Niche London String Quartet. This show is will definitely be a spectacle to behold.

WARPED TOUR
10 – LONDON Alexandria Palace

Lostprophets, Bring Me The Horizon, New Found Glory, Less Than Jake , Man Overboard, The Story So Far , 3oh!3, The Acacia Strain, Awolnation, Architects, Breathe Carolina, Bury Tomorrow and many more all under one roof at London’s iconic Alexandria Palace. Need we say anymore?!

Pure Love Live at The Boileroom, Guildford

Pure Love 1 copyright Emma WallacePURE LOVE
w/ Sharks, Scholars

The Boileroom, Guildford
26/10/12

The tiny Boileroom is packed tonight, not just with people but with a heavy sense of curiosity and excitement. First up are Scholars, although relatively unknown they manage to gain the interest of the whole room. Tracks such as ‘Blinda Data‘ really show this bands capability and with an impressive live show, make a note of Scholars as a potential buzz band for 2013.

Sharks have a strong fan base in the venue tonight, it appears every other person is wearing one of their shirts. So you’d think they would captivate the crowd, however they make little impact. ‘Arcane Effigies‘ creates a small sing along, but they don’t have half the presence and movement of Scholars. Unfortunately the old-school punk look and gimmicks don’t pay off, this is a case of image over substance.

Pure Love 1 copyright Emma Wallace

There is a genuine sense of excitement as Frank Carter, Jim Carroll and band take to the stage. They don’t stay there long. Just after one track Frank parts the crowd and takes the show into the pit. He declares ‘Put your phones away, stop posting photos on instagram looking like your having fun, lets have some real fucking fun. Stop making digital memories, lets make some real ones,’ and instantly the Pure Love party starts.

Despite their full-length still to be released the majority of the crowd somehow seem to the know every track word for word. Song after song is a mass of dancing bodies with Frank screaming into faces of the audience and Jim performing on the shoulders of the rest. Frank crowd surfing over to the bar for a beer whilst the drum kit moves from the stage into the pit for ‘Riot’ seems perfectly natural in this chaotic bliss.

Carter’s initial speech of ‘Guildford you are about to have the best 45 minutes of your entire life,’ seemed a bit presumptuous to start with, annoyingly arrogant even. But hats off to him, he was right. This has to be one of the greatest shows to have ever hit this sweat box venue, and arguably one of the best shows of the year. With every single punter leaving the venue with a grin from ear to ear it’s clear Pure Love are more than just a little project, this band could really achieve something.

Words & Photos: Emma Wallace

Hildamay, Album Launch Show – The Garage, London

HILDAMAY
w/ Landscapes, Tu Amore, Black Shapes, Insurgents

The Garage, Islington
22nd October 2012

Hildamay have had a hell of a year already, the quintet from Kent had a busy summer wowing the likes of BBC Radio 1, Reading and Leeds festival as well as preparing the release of their debut album ‘Miles Away’. Now they’re back on the road ahead of that release and everyone here tonight is in for a real treat, plugging an exclusive-listening of the new tracks.

Insurgents picked the shortest straw and are up first. The trio from Watford perform like they have everything relying on it. It’s not until they bring out an additional two drums into the centre of the crowd to form a drum battle which see’s frontman Ant Giannaccini and bassist Bentley Levy bash away to a beat that their show becomes is three dimensional.

‘It’s like a twelve year old school disco,’ frontman Gareth Evans of Black Shapes tells the half empty venue. The result? Gareth resorts to joining the intimate crowd, performing majority of the set off the stage. On the plus side, the fans that are present have more space to hard-core dance and the opportunity to share the frontman’s microphone for numerous choruses. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t looking forward to the release of their new EP ‘In The Mourning Light‘ out later this month.

Tu Amore have a soulful, indie sort of sound to them stirring in drumbeats that bring the show alive. The four members from Peterborough seem to have established a sound that sets them apart with energy of a much heavier band. Up next is Landscapes who have the challenge of getting some kind of crowd engagement. ‘I can’t even see you!’ Complains vocalist Shaun. What welcomes them though are a small group of hard-core kids and the band seem far from impressed. The quartet from Somerset no doubt have the songs to put other British rising rock bands on the edge of their seat. Whether they stick to half-hearted shows such as tonight’s is another story.

Just after 10pm and the half empty venue turns into a tightly squeezed room eager for the headliners. Hildamay strike up ‘We Loved, We Lost’ and ‘This House Became Our Home’ plunging down a route of heavy rock, but what these clever lads have managed to do is put meaning into a genre that is known to be full of mosh-pit mayhem melodies. Their tunes are extremely rough round the edges but you can tell they’re genuinely heart-felt.

The band are truely passionate which shows in tonight’s performance, pushing through songs that are bounded together by fist pumping beats and gritty guitar riffs. Usually it’s the frontman that captures the attention but Hildamay are a band that have so much going for them as a whole. Recent single ‘Changing The Key’ even managed to turn the heads of those at Radio 1’s Rock Show gaining Track Of The Week status. Tonight’s live performance of that track certainly showed it was worthy of that title and what Hildamay are made of as a whole.

Words: Jenny Chu

Gallows Live at The Underworld, Camden

GALLOWS
w/ Feed The Rhino, Brotherhood of the Lake

London Camden Underworld
19th October 2012

Brotherhood Of The Lake’s recent ‘Desperation Is The English Way Vol. 1’ debut is a dark-hearted, brooding beast indeed – but whatever fuels their rage, they’re not shy to vent it live. The likes of ‘You’ll Never Dream’ are shot through with the kind of grit and determination that saw Andy Dufresne through to the end of that 500-yard sewage tunnel in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, and though their precise, Helmet-esque metallic attack falls on all too few ears, it’s a fine start to an evening that can only get louder and ever more chaotic.

A case in point: Feed The Rhino, who provide a lesson in how to utterly dominate a stage. The guitarists lurch around like a hardcore tag-team, whilst Lee Tobin is a larger than life frontman, less likely to exhort the crowd to greater efforts than to jump in and show them how it’s done. Oh, and they sound amazing – punishingly heavy, yet also anthemic, and with some killer grooves to boot. The closing ‘The Butcher’ heralds a wall of death worthy of a headline act, and amidst the ruckus, you can’t help but wonder if you’re witnessing the start of something big for Feed The Rhino.

All that remains is for Gallows to take any lingering ‘new guy on vocals’ doubts and smash them into dust before our eyes. Back in their natural environment – with no barriers getting in the way – that glorious sense of chaos is there from the off, with guitarist Lags and bassist Stu frequently to be seen rocking out in (or on top of) the maelstrom of a pit, and a steady stream of stagedivers eager to help out on backing vocals.

The new self-titled record is rightfully given a good airing, with ‘Depravers’, ‘Outsider Art’ and ‘Everybody Loves You…’ among the best things this band have ever done. Throughout, Wade cuts an imposing figure; having not only brought his own brand of fury to the Gallows table, but also – like the audience – taking his band’s older songs of discontent and doomed romance in as his own, and then blasting them out again with complete conviction.

‘Abandon Ship’? Tonight, they damn well torch the fucker, and make sushi out of the shark’s belly into the bargain. Gallows 2012, then – still as visceral as ever and, more importantly, still a band to believe in.

Words: Alex Gosman

Negative Approach Live at The Underworld

Negative Approach
w/ Blasted
The Underworld, Camden
15th October 2012

Boasting former members of Winnebago Deal and Do Me Bad Things amongst their ranks, Blasted’s high pedigree kicks off tonight’s proceedings in an incendiary manner. Their furious, two minute, hardcore rock n’roll songs are face-rippers delivered with a sweat soaked brilliance that bodes well for the future.

Detroit hardcore legends Negative Approach return to London for the third time since their 2006 Thurston Moore approved reunion, and despite a heckler calling them a ‘covers band’ (only two of the four original members remain) they are greeted with a suitable maelstrom not often seen on an autumnal Monday night.

Vocalist John Brannon’s face is a picture of hate and distain as he bellows through a set of classics that includes ‘Sick Of Talk’, ‘Ready To Fight’ and the pit enraging ‘Tied Down’. This band may be over thirty years old but they still play with a fire and conviction that would put their younger contemporaries to shame. Guitarist Chris Moore stands with his back to the seething crowd for the duration of a set, perspiration pouring from his brow. Like the bands original three year career, their set is short and sweet, climaxing in a rousing gang vocal of Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’.

Shows like these are largely based upon nostalgia or the term ‘heritage bands’, but for 45 minutes tonight, it was 1982 again in the Underworld. More bands should take a leaf out of NA’s reformation book.

Words: Miles Hackettt
Photo: Greg Wheeler