Foo Fighters once again prove themselves as the ultimate stadium offering in London

Words fae Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Foo Fighters are a dad rock quandary; for a band that have been going for 23 years and released 8 albums, they seem to have always been a greatest hits, stadium rock band. Apart from Wasting Light, no Foo Fighters album has been consistently brilliant, just focusing on churning out one or two big stadium hits with a few gems for a mixed setlist. It’s almost as if the whole reason Dave Grohl started the Foos was purely to fill out monolithic stadiums, which is why the band looked in such good shape as they stood before the thronging masses in London Olympic Stadium last night.

On what was a beautiful afternoon, it was one of those stadium gigs that turn into a miniature festival, with support coming from Starcrawler, a band who I didn’t see much of but the singer got into the crowd and tried kissing everybody or something? Pretty fucking weird, no thank you. After that was Slaves, a band who rely on the same drum beat over and over again, some lazy early punk riffs and looking like they could blend into a Free Tommy Robinson march. The Kills were okay, the sound was mixed poorly leading to Alison Mosshart’s vocal being washed out, with the guitar sound a bit scratchy, and their overall approach wasn’t enough to get the crowd going. All in all, you couldn’t help but wish you’d gotten Friday tickets and seen Wolf Alice and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.

However, none of that mattered as the sound cut, and a forever-sprightly Grohl sprinted out to the four corners of the stage & down the catwalk, rattling his signature Gibson, sending the sixty, maybe seventy thousand fans in attendance into a frenzy. As soon as the rest of the band ran out behind him and the first chug of All My Life broke out, you just know that this was a band designed to do this. There is no finer stadium band than the Foo Fighters, as they hold tens of thousands of people in the palms of their hands. I’d actually just like to sit on the stage for a Foos concert and watch the levels of musical hypnotism that go into a show, because I find it incredible how much audience participation you get from so many people.

Really, there’s not much to say regarding the setlist, whilst some of us went to sleep on Foo Fighters Night Two Eve dreaming of Stacked Actors and In Your Honour, on paper the setlist was a pretty standard offering, but it was the stadium rock delivery that made the show. Following on from that, the sight of tens of thousands of people all singing Learn to Fly and The Pretender is entertaining enough. Speaking of The Pretender, it was about seventy years long, but again, the extended bridges, Shiflett-based solos and Grohl-based shenanigannary are what makes the show. Really, there’s a couple of foibles I’m gonna bring up, because I’m a bastard, but overall, a night in with the Foo Fighters is never bad value for money, only serving to be a twinkle in your eye for the rest of time.

I don’t know what it was like for you further down the stadium, as we got there too late for golden circle tickets (at 5 in the fucking afternoon, three hours before the Foos came on), despite the fact that your hero (me) put in a valiant drive to get down to Stratford in time. Er, oh, yeah, the pits sucked to be honest. Too many people with cups of Pimms looking disappointingly at the sweaty thugs pushing each other about, causing them to shrink into less of a moshpit, more rush hour at Stratford tube station.

On top of this, we need to talk about the use of phones at gigs. Now, largely, I’m fine with all that jazz, you’re more than welcome to take a photo, much like I do, or another photo, for posterity and maybe a few likes on the ‘gram, but fuck me sidewards, do you REALLY need to take a ten minute long video of Dave Grohl just talking whilst gently picking a chord, then stood there, fucking frozen in time as we all sing My Hero? Anyway, I’d really like to extend my apologies to all the people who’ve taken videos of that, and have got me calling you cunts, but, you’re cunts. Alright, you’ve paid your ticket fee and you can do whatever you want, but fucking hell, I sort of actually paid to see the Foo Fighters, not try to see the Foo Fighters through your phone screen. What I’m saying is, staring with adoration at Dave Grohl will be replayed in your mind more than a video of Dave Grohl will.

Right, anyway, gripes aside, I mean, I’m still mad, but as you may know or may not care, I didn’t give Concrete and Gold the best review towards the end of last year. However, when brought to the live stage, something happens between the mixing desk, the rehearsal room and the live stage that makes the songs sound that little bit more special. The Sky is a Neighbourhood was obviously a highlight, but hearing La Dee Da and Sunday Rain performed live has given me a whole new appreciation for them, especially with Taylor Hawkins, a man I can only hope to be as handsome as smashing the kit like a pro whilst offering beautiful lead vocals. Same goes for Run, which was easily one of the best songs I’d heard in 2017.

It was good to Rope back on the setlist as well, especially with a monolithic bridge and a Hawkins drum solo, however, it would have been nice to see something like Arlandria or White Limo also making an appearance, but as Dave reminded us several times during the set, they only have a short amount of time to play all these songs, and that they’d happily play all night, but obviously, there’s a curfew. However, Grohl alone is estimated to be worth $280,000,000, so surely a £2,000,000 fine for playing until 3am is pocket change? No? Look man, I bought a t-shirt for twenty (20) pounds, the least you can do is indulge my manchild fantasies by playing all the songs I ask for.

Of course, they could easily deal with any curfew and song issues by not playing seven year bridges (I might be reviewing a full gig, but in actual reality, I am still stood in London Stadium, waiting for them to finish the extended bridge on Rope), but that wouldn’t be fun, would it? The whole appeal of a Foo Fighters show is the towering anthems, stadium hooks and on-stage banter as they go through the band intros. For a man who’s always rumoured to be quitting, Pat Smear looks like the happiest man on the earth on that stage, I don’t think I’ve ever not seen him smile, and every time I see his warming smile, my heart is warmed with it.

Another disappointment, and maybe now I’m asking for too much, this is the second Foo Fighters show I’ve been to where there’s been no special guests for the covers. A cover of Under My Wheels by Alice Cooper with Shiflett on vocals was tasty enough, and even though it could do with being retired, Queen’s Under Pressure with Hawkins on vocals and Grohl on the drums is always a treat. But when this is a band famous for bringing out every famous man and his dog, you can’t help but feel short changed when a re-animated Ronnie James Dio and Jimi Hendrix don’t come out to do a cover of It’s Raining Men. Sure, Alison Mosshart from The Kills came out for La Dee Da, but you knew she was on the track, and that she was fucking there five minutes ago, when really, you want an unknown quantity.

This really sounds like I’m complaining, and I guess maybe I am, because I’ve been spoilt by this band before, so thee expectations are high, but it was truly a wonderful show. There’s probably no better stadium band than the Foo Fighters, and I really do mean that. For the goofball antics, greatest hits setlists and general production of the stage show, there’s no evening quite like being stood in the middle of sixty thousand people as they all sing along with you. Alright, fuck, whilst I’m still here, nothing from Sonic Highways either. But if it was up to me, they’d open with Aurora and play a 25 minute long version of Colour And The Shape, so, I guess I’ll never be happy. I mean, I’ll never be happy generally, but, y’know.

It was however nice to see Wheels, slowed down and emotional-ed up, pretty sweet with a gentle night sky and planes flying overhead too. Whilst I’ve had a bee in my bonnet about a few missing elements from the setlist, having This Is A Call, Breakout and Monkey Wrench make an appearance is enough to keep anyone happy.

But, despite the fact that I had a few gripes, nothing else mattered when the first gentle plucks of Everlong rang through the stadium before the whole band kicked in for one last time. As people stood arm in arm, screaming “If everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again” to each other, that’s when you saw the true magic of rock and roll, bringing people together in an embrace as they all enjoyed the same thing. With notes ringing into the sky, dancing with the fireworks coming from the stage, you just couldn’t help but feel it was the perfect night out. Sure, I’ve had a few gripes, but that didn’t do anything to diminish the overall experience, watching the lights dance through the sky, listening to songs written purely for the stadium.

Black Foxxes flatten boxxes at the O2 Academy Islington

As we all know, I am a huge fan of Black Foxxes, however, as a legendary music journalist [citation needed], I never let my heart rule my head, so please believe me when I say that their show at O2 Academy Islington last night proved that they have the mettle and the music to become monolithic.

I also saw them on Tuesday at Mama Roux’s in Birmingham, which was a fantastic gig, and if you bump into Loz from While She Sleeps, you know that you’ve come to the right gig. However, as soon as the band took to the stage in Islington and the first bars of Breathe were strummed, you just knew that they were going to come out, all guns blazing. My oh my, Mark Holley’s tortured vocals at the end allowed you to feel such pain, but immense pleasure at the quality. Whilst Mark, Tristan and Ant work together as a well-oiled machine, one of the best members of that band is their sound engineer.

The O2 was full of fantastic Foxxes fans, as the bulging London crowd was able to take the lead during, can we call them classics(?), like Maple Summer and River, lifting the band and contributing to an all-round electric vibe. That being said, there were certain groups who just wouldn’t shut the fuck UP all night, talking about the price of fish during emotional sing songs like Take Me Home. I know they’ve paid their ticket fee and the band still make cash, but if you’re gonna just chunter on throughout the set, just stay in Spoons and get a Black Foxxes playlist on the go. A word on Take Me Home as well; I said in my review that it was a toss up between Flowers and Oh, It Had To Be You off Reiði for the best song, but after many listens and a few tears shot out, it’s Take Me Home. Apologies to anyone affected by this, please note that I am a talentless hack.

Foxxes have massively upped their game when it comes to production and stage presence. The ominous intro to Oh, It Had To Be You is incredible, whilst tracks like Sæla and Manic In Me are proper dancey pop bangers. Manic In Me was a huge sing along, whilst Sæla can’t help but plaster a smile on your face. There’s a lot of confidence on stage as well; not cockiness or overconfidence, but a band that’s found their groove, Mark is becoming more and more of an electric frontman, and laces every vocal with emotion, allowing you to feel what contributed to the writing of these songs.

Closing out the set, JOY is absolutely huge live, those big riffs and the screams of “COME CALL ME ERASABLE” fill out any space they’re in like some kind of rock n roll builder’s foam. Pines is the perfect way to end a set though; allowing for plenty of thunder to bring the night to an apocalyptic finish. The only complaint here is that the setlist wasn’t long enough, but, if they’d played the whole two albums and written a song on the night, I’d still be stood there at the end chanting “We want more!”. Again, whilst I might fawn over this band like they’re my first love, it’s with good reason; they’re one of Britain’s hottest and most enterprising bands. Stop what you’re doing, stop listening to me and listen to me when I say that you need to just go and listen to the records. Buy them (good!) stream them (also, good!) steal them (naughty!) or even Limewire them (lmao), just listen to the goddamn records.

Big shout out to Emily Isherwood and Bloody Knees for supporting as well, I’ve never enjoyed two support bands so much.

Gig Review: Bon Iver @ Eventim Apolo, London

by will sexton (@willshesleeps)

It’s not often you’ll find a gig review that starts off with the writer in question stressing how nervous he is yet here we are: I was nervous about tonight’s gig. Each to their own but I enjoy looking up setlists before I see bands in order to get super hyped, in addition to stopping myself getting disappointed when one of the deeper cuts I adore no doubt gets left out, inadvertently tainting the night.

So seeing Bon Iver was even more of a Russian roulette: the long-awaited first night they played in London this year (their first English gig since 2012) Bon Iver played their whole new album start to finish in one set, had an interval and then some big hits. The second night was their self-titled second album, an interval and, again, a handful of big hits. Yet nothing was the same order or guaranteed to be played, the only pattern was them going through their discography backwards, (hell they didn’t even play Skinny Love on the first night). So my favourite band of all time could actually not play some of my favourite songs and I could go home heartbroken.

Turns out I had no reason to be worried.

Bon Iver’s gig last night was, to put it simply, an utterly perfect piece of live music that I’ve ever seen. Everyone in the band was on point from start to finish but the gorgeous drumming and brass section definitely deserves to be commended for how impressive they were. Opening with Flume from their debut For Emma, Forever Ago, there was a sudden complete silence to let Justin Vernon fully unfold on stage to the sold-out Apollo theatre. The sound mixing was perfect, his voice soaring above and through the rafters, especially the chorus which went completely through me and I stood in awe and tears. 

Yet, somehow, the gig got even better: Bon Iver decided to play tracks from all their albums and, more importantly, Blood Bank EP, further cementing the point about the alt-rock outfit cycling back through their catalogue. The moment Beach Baby started was when I really transcended, ultimately coming down to the importance the song holds for me and has done for years so seeing that performed as beautifully as it was made it all the better. A speech about love followed it up making it all the more hard-hitting.

Unsuspecting gems came in the forms of the songs __45___, with the most gorgeous saxophone solo, Woods where Vernon really showed off his electronic technical ability with his vocoder and looping and Wolves (Act I and II) with the most epic, goosebumps ending of the whole show. Strobe lights, massive drums hits and raw emotion.

After waiting for 7 years to see my favourite band, I can finally say I’ve seen Bon Iver. The best musical experience. As the gig wound to an end, the band played 22 (OVER SOON), and through my last set of tears, I really felt that yes, the gig was over way too soon.

Gig Review: The Front Bottoms @ The Barras, Glasgow

words + photos by dominic cassidy (@lyre_of_apollo)

The Front Bottoms were back in Glasgow, on tour for their latest album: Going Grey. After the unconventionalness of their fourth LP, I was stressing to see what their show would be like – but thankfully they did not disappoint.

Preceding them were a set of solid support acts: psychedelic American outfit Brick + Mortar were the first to get the crowd prepped for the New Jersey rock boys who exploded onto the stage in ecstatic weirdness – and immediately pulled the crowd into their set. The main support for the night was Aussie lo-fi rockers the Smith Street Band – whose chill noises grooved over the crowd, sounding quite like old school Front Bottoms and setting up perfectly for the top billing.

The Front Bottoms, shrouded in shadow, kicked off the night, being met with ravenous applause from the Barrowlands crowd. The band opened with You Used To Say (Holy Fuck) to an explosive response. It really shows the band at their best – turning a song with electro inflections – and from an album that didn’t receive the most positive reviews – into a stripped down, absolutely interstellar opening for their set.

The band hit out with Help and Vacation Town next. These tracks with very little input from the band, turned the audience into a swirling mess of mosh pits and lyrics being thrown up to the band. I think this really speaks to the whole vibe of The Front Bottoms, being able to make songs with such affecting and often dour lyrics so relatable that the audience knows them verbatim.

As the show went on, the band hit some of the older tracks out with the likes of Swimming Pool and Be Nice To Me, among others. The band then finished off their set with Twin Size Mattress. It was these tracks that really showed the real vibe of the band – hitting out with music that they know the fans love. And in saying that, this comfort really lends itself to the band, you can see on stage how happy they are to be there.

After the wee “that’s us done” walk-off, the band were immediately called back for one more tune. Frontman Brian Sella monologued for a bit, talking to the crowd, and about Scotland – before getting right into it with 12 Feet Deep; with which the rest of the band faded back in, transitioning from Sella playing solo to the full band back on stage together. After this the ever fantastic Skeleton was wheeled out, followed by the last track of the night, Oceans. It seems like it gave some sense of narrative to the night as the band had opened with the first track off Going Grey. However it does seem like a kinda funny choice to make for the last track of the night – and even more, for the encore songs. Despite this, it still delivered a great performance for the crowd, showing off really well what the band can do.

The Front Bottoms is a band which easily inspire a sense of chillness as well as a sense of togetherness – encouraging you to rock out to a cracking band in a room full of people that are doing the same. Plain and simple: it’s just pretty cool.

Gig Review: Seaway W/ Woes, Lizzy Farrall & Remind Me Of Home @ Stereo

photos + words by gregor farquharson (@grgratlntc)

Love it or lump it, there’s no denying that pop punk is one of the most fun genres out there. Seaway hadn’t been over to Glasgow in a year so tonight felt like a kinda big deal. Bringing along three top-notch acts in the form of Remind Me Of Home, Lizzy Farrall, and Scotland’s pop-punk heavyweights, Woes, everything was in order for the night to be a rip-roaring success.

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Remind Me Of Home

First on the bill was the local support Remind Me Of Home. Being hit with what is often regarded as the graveyard shift for gigs (15 mins after doors), it was amazing to see the number of people that had turned up early to catch the set. The young band did well enough to make an impression, making them an act that is definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future.

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Lizzy Farrall

Lizzy Farrall was next, a different act to the rest of the bill, but certainly one of interest. Singing sad acoustic songs, the emotion captured on stage from the Manchester singer was something of beauty – truly a change of pace, it helped to keep the night varied but no less amazing.

 

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Woes

 

It’s no secret that Woes have made an impression on pop-punk fans both in Scotland as well as the rest of the UK. Known for their lively shows and raw passion for what they do, the band put on a headline-worthy performance. New song Real World sparked mosh pits in the crowd and the cover of Last Resort went down a treat. Charismatic both on and off the stage, 2018 is going to be a colossal year for an act that truly deserves it. 

 

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Seaway

 

After an exceptional bill, the crowd were 100% ready to see the headliner in Seaway. As soon as first song Best Mistake played, it unleashed what can only be described as utter mayhem throughout Stereo. Crowd surfs and stage dives galore, the set was a beautiful example of how fun the genre is. New songs London and Apartment proved to be just as good live as on record. Even playing older songs such as Your Best Friend and Shy Guys, the set tore the venue apart. Closing the set with the utterly beautiful Slam and Seaway classic Sabrina The Teenage Bitch, tonight’s gig was over.

While there’s no ignoring the bad stuff that is still prevalent in the genre, tonight served as a reminder of what pop-punk can achieve when it focusses on everyone having a good time. Fun as all hell, every act tonight put on an incredible show that was enough to reinforce why people who love pop-punk, well, love it.

Gig Review: Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters @ Clyde Auditorium

By Josh Adams (@jxshadams)

Photos by Jay Blakesberg

In the 1970s, no band were more hedonistic, heavy, and–dare I say–better than Led Zeppelin, and standing with his hands on his hips and his chest bared to crowds of tens of thousands at the front of the stage was their singer, Robert Plant.  The story of Led Zeppelin is one of triumph and tragedy, and emerging from the group’s initial end in 1980 due to the passing of drumming powerhouse John Bonham, came a more-scathed-than-not Plant.  After losing his voice, his friend, his son and nearly his own life in the span of five years, it’s a miracle he’s still making music and performing live to this date – a tenacity due in no small part to his diligence to test himself and explore new ideas previously unheard of in his solo discography.  His latest effort, Carry Fire, garnered strong reviews and continued the creative renaissance that began, ironically enough, shortly after the one-off Zeppelin reunion concert a decade ago now. But how would seeing a living legend in the flesh stack up against the dizzying, staggering heights of his own legacy?

Thankfully, Plant’s risk-taking paid off.  His refusal to shut up and play the hits, and instead manipulate and warp them into something entirely different, is well known, often leaving the suspense of what classics he would play on any given evening to fester in the minds of the audience before and during the concert, practically ensuring a rapturous response with any note that he and his unshakably professional band let out from the singer’s glory days.  That’s The Way, Misty Mountain Hop, What Is And What Should Never Be… the canon, and the pleasant surprise of transformation with which he presented it, seemed endless.  Gallows Pole, nobody’s favourite song from Led Zeppelin III, morphed into a country stomp that roused the Glasgow audience into hand-clapping fervour; Babe I’m Gonna Leave You sounded even more haunting than it did back in 1969, with extended flamenco-flecked ambient interludes that serve to emphasise, rather than detract from, the crushing hard rock chords that come hurtling through.

And somehow, his choice of solo material managed to keep up with the Zeppelin numbers. Rainbow from 2014’s Lullaby and… the Ceaseless Roar in particular sounded gargantuan in the Clyde Auditorium, its polyrhythmic percussion assault contrasting beautifully with the jangling indie-rock guitars and breezy melodies offered by the other side of the band.  My favourite moments from the show, however, came in the form of traditional folk cuts reimagined for a contemporary audience.  The blues classic Fixin’ To Die, for example, was contorted beyond recognition, with pulsing synthesisers and skittering drum machines battling against dissonant guitar solos that really pushed the expectations of the (predominantly white male) crowd to hear Black Dog bellowed out before them.  None of this would be particularly special if it wasn’t for the fact that Plant is now nearly in his 70s and is still refusing to bend to the cliches he made his name on; yet unlike a similar icon Bob Dylan he does so in a humorous, chatty, self-effacing way, regularly discussing the origins of songs whilst taking pot shots at himself.

After roughly an hour and a half of the most eclectic array of genres I’ve ever heard in one sitting (country to African music, blues to art rock, and beyond), The Sensational Space Shifters decided to turn everything up to eleven and end with WHOLE LOTTA FUCKING LOVE.  Hearing that song for the first time on record can blow open the doors as to what rock music can be, and since then it, like most of Zeppelin’s hits, has unfortunately fallen into the nether of overplayed.  Yet when that momentous, staggering riff falls on ears live, it can send shivers down the spine, and it did just that in the Armadillo.  Plant’s voice may have diminished in the decades since it was originally recorded, but he gave it all his might, and the crowd lapped it up; his yells and screams echoing throughout the room to cheers and whoops.  That’s the way live concerts ought to be.

 

Gig Review: Enter Shikari @ Birmingham Arena

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Sure, you might be bored of my Enter Shikari live reviews, but trust me pal, I sure ain’t bored of writing or experiencing them. As always, we’re live from the pit as St. Albans’ favourite sons take to the stage at Arena Birmingham. Birmingham Arena? The NIA.

It’s no secret that I loved and still love The Spark. As soon as The Spark made way for The Sights, my face lit up like a Christmas tree, and when the same happened to kick off Friday’s show, I didn’t so much mosh, jump or dance–I floated on the feelgood air. Rather interestingly, compared to last week’s Royal Blood gig, the arena was half-sized. The stage was probably one half, three quarters up the arena with the seating largely covered off.

But that’s fine, intimacy is Shikari’s bread & butter. Plus, they’ve packed out venues like the Victoria Warehouse & Alexandra Palace with incredible ease, and the NIABarclaycardArenaBirminghamBirminghamArena is an absolute t h i c c b o i of an arena. However, the half size arena made for a tasty blend of hard pitting, as during Solidarity, I ended up at the back, at the front, in the bar, and somehow in Solihull.

Another comment on the intimacy: the quadrophonic sound was fucking unreal, as I didn’t really notice it that much at 2016’s Alleh Palleh gig, but the balls of bass and woomphs of waves made you stop halfway through a song to wonder just what that noise was.

Speaking of stopping halfway through a song, my theory is that Shikari ‘make mistakes’ to build the hype up even further. Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour was stopped due to a Rolfy-related mishap, i.e. his drumstick breaking off and moving straight into the beat for Zzzzzzzonked. Which, ACHITNHH at Zzzzzzzzzzonked’s BPM would be a different gravy, but the song was stopped for a bit of on stage banter, which is always good instead of instruments being slammed to the ground. The Shikari boys really feel like good friends and people you want to be friends with.

Song restarted, we all went in harder and with more vigor than ever before. Are Shikari deliberately stacking the deck to get us going wild? I sure bloody hope so.

Take My Country Back is an amazing live tune, again bringing a really positive vibe to the gig. I’ll defend The Spark as one Shikari’s finest albums until I’m blue in the face, but every track that’s played live off the album is another kettle of fish. Rou, in his own words was too busy “mincing around” to remember his trumpet solo, but that being said, we were all too busy “moshing around” to remember his trumpet solo.

As Shikari sets go, it was more on the rowdy end of the spectrum, with no let up between Anything Can Happen… through to Take My Country Back with The Last Garrison and Radiate making sure that there was no time to catch your breath as most of Undercover Agents was spent just recovering, knowing that the hectic part of the set was still to come. Was Arguing With Thermometers with a quick switchup into Rabble Rouser the rowdy part? No, this was merely the starter, a mushroom soup before a feast. Not to brag, but during Rabble Rouser I pulled two people up at the same time off the floor, so if you ask me why I’m at the gym, it’s not to lose weight and promote a healthy lifestyle, it means that the team are never let down when I’m on pitroll.

The set design was amazing, with the big circular screen really changing the size & dynamic of the stage. Only complaint is the strobe lights blinding you as you sallied forth into the pit, but the visual aspect coupled with the sublime quadrophonic sound created an unbeatable atmosphere. I don’t want to keep prattling on about the arena size, but the smaller venue really, really added to the atmosphere. It was great.

More than any other song, I was looking forward to Airfield the most. It delivered spoons of emotion and was beautiful in every single way. Same goes for a piano version of Adieu which is really something I hope makes a live album, and the Routron 5000 mix at the end creating a huge feel-good crescendo. What a lovely, happy, calm atmosphere oh holy fuck did Rou just say they’re going to play 4 songs in 7 minutes at 174bpm?

Sorry You’re Not in a Anterwerpen Snakepit caused me to have a complete Meltdown as my beans were lost within the first thirty seconds. But Meltdown! Antwerpen! Drink it in sports fans, there’s nothing quite like these two bad boys jumping into the setlist. But wait! There’s more! Because after seven, eight, probably twelve if you count the fact Anaesthetist kicked this rambunctious part of the set off, the only song that could be played at this point is Zzzzonked. I gave what little I had left in my body for that song, knowing that the encore would be soothing.

At some point Rou’s shirt got torn, and at some point during Redshift or Live Outside he decided to do away with it entirely, whilst doing yoga against the speaker stack. So far this year I’ve seen him appear through the trapdoor of a stage, drink several gin & tonics, seen him half naked and perform yoga and I don’t even know him personally. Whatever 2018 has in store for the Shikari boys, they’ll have to pull out all the stops to top what has been an exemplary year for them both in the studio and on the road.

I didn’t like Live Outside at first, but now I love it, and for the entirety of that final song, I floated around the arena, belting out every last word. Also caught Rory C’s pick and didn’t have time to throw him one back. Apologies, Rory.

I’ve seen Shikari three times this year, and all three times they’ve blown it out of the park. Absolutely outstanding.

Gig Review: Enter Shikari @ Rose Theare, Kingston

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Parties are good. The theatre is good. Enter Shikari are good. So, as you might well imagine, combining those three things on a pleasant Saturday evening in the beautiful surroundings of Kingston, London, would be a good idea, right? Yes, you’re very right, as Hertfordshire rabble rousers, Enter Shikari took to the stage of the Rose Theatre to celebrate the birth of their new album, The Spark.

Life is all about seizing opportunities and making the best of them. For instance, frontman Rou Reynolds has used his talents to pen thoughtful, emotional and hard hitting lyrics for well over ten years now. He also took the opportunity of playing in a theatre, and appeared on stage via the trap door. And as I’m allowed to speak freely in these, I think the gig had peaked there. From front to back, it was an amazing, energetic and vibrant gig, but Rou Reynolds appearing from a trap door like the hardcore Houdini he is was amazing.

However, what followed didn’t exactly take the gig downhill, as both the band and the crowd burst into the anthemic “oh-woah-oh-oh-oh”s of the star-exploding Redshift, causing The Rose to be rattled in a way it had never been rattled before. It was towards the end of a song that a conspiracy was unearthed. Just as the emotional, hands in the air ending was about to hit, the song stopped. Rou cursed God, as he had not allowed them to get through at least one song, but shortly after, bassman Chris Batten revealed that it was his fault that the song went skewiff. Which leads me to ask; is Batty C God? Though biased as the bassman myself, I bow at his altar.

God apologised for his mistake and the song came to an uproarious end, as it always does. As a side note, the kit the boys were using, with Rory, Rob and God using instruments in the same colour scheme as The Spark. Not only were they on form, they were on brand.

Whilst this was an occasion to celebrate the birth of their new album, it was also important to remind everyone where they’d been, with The Last Garrison tearing the roof off of the theatre, which is just as well, because that was a schweaty concert. The inclusion of this song was quite apt as well, being as one of the lyrics is “Let’s toast to the fact we’ve got this far”, because The Rose is probably the smallest venue they’ll occupy for a long time, as arenas are the only venues that can contain the aggression and the energy of Enter Shikari anymore.

Despite having only 24-ish hours to study the supporting material, the crowd were prepared & ready for tunes from The Spark, with both Take My Country Back and Undercover Agents already providing hands-in-the-air, sing-until-you’re-hoarse choruses and anthemic sound. The venue was small, but the sound was huge. And as another side note, fuck the guys down in the pit who shouted “Spark is shit”, because a) fuck you, it’s a good album, b) saying that is like going to someone’s birthday party and calling them a cunt, c) because that’s like, your opinion man. It’s obviously a ropey situation when a band releases nothing but good albums to pick your favourite, but shut the fuck up, yeah? It’s a good album, I won’t be reviewing it, so I’m not gonna go to deep, but it’s a cracker of an album.

Bastards.

As part of a buffet of Spark tunes, Rabble Rouser, deliberately or not, was written purely to be played by Enter Shikari at Enter Shikari shows. At this point I should mention that I was in the seating area, violently shaking my body, considering throwing myself off the bannister to get stuck into the pit. That good, lads. Obviously, there should have been more tunes from The Spark, but I imagine it would have been a nightmare trying to rehearse them to the point of perfection, so I won’t mark them down for that.

Rabble Rouser merely blew the trumpet to herald the start of the rowdy part of the show, as Labyrinth, Antwerpen, fucking Antwerpen, oh my God they played Antwerpen and Hoodwinker turned the gig up to 11, so up to 11 that Rou tore a hole in the crotch of his trousers. We all chanted for him to take them off. He didn’t. Sad!

But the rowdy chants to get Rou to remove his trousers were indicative of the night. It was a very jovial atmosphere, with the band being able to laugh and joke on stage, with the crowd brimming with energy. Whilst yes, it was sonically orgasmic and brimming with energy, the overriding feeling was that it was a fun gig. Just a really enjoyable Saturday night.

Torn Apart was followed by Constellations from A Flash Flood of Colour, and oh my, it’s been a while! Rou, bless his torn trousers seemed a bit lost at points, but fortunately, he had the constellations (and a theatre full of Shikari faithful) to guide him. All he needs is a flash suit and some fancy footwork, we’ll handle the singing part, no drama.

Closing the set, Live Outside managed to squeeze out what little voice the crowd had, with Anaesthetist draining the crowd of energy and leaving them punch drunk. A short set, yes, but that doesn’t matter at all, because the quality made you forget all about the quantity. A perfect gig from start to finish.

That Redshift mistake’ll cost you though, boys.

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GIG REVIEW: American Football @ the Edinburgh Summerhall

By Callum Thornhill (@Cal_Thornhill)

Where are we now?” asks Mike Kinsella in the opening track of Amercian Football‘s sophomore record and after their short run of UK dates, it would be more fitting to ask where do we go now?

Seventeen years in the making, LP2 was released last year to both the eagerness and wariness of fans of the Illinois math rockers. Since then, they have played around the world reliving their 1999 glory days with riff laden ambient brilliance such as For Sure and The Summer Ends. On Sunday (3 September), Edinburgh’s beautifully intimate Summerhall hosted the final mainland UK show via Brighton and Manchester it was the first time Kinsella and co. had played a ‘proper’ tour since May 2015 when they built up to stellar Reading and Leeds Festival shows.

The first time the newer tracks were played on British soil was earlier this year with a magical performance at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire which, to be honest, set a bar so high that it was near impossible to replicate it in such a tiny space. Everything was stripped bare; the iconic backdrop of the Champaign-Urbana property wasn’t there, the support band was Mike Kinsella playing tracks from his Owen collection and the venue seemed to just throw everything together and put the instruments and equipment on stage.

Musically, the set featured pretty much everything American Football have ever released, which would be a more impressive statement if they had more than two albums, but nevertheless it meant that no one left the venue mumbling “I wish they played ___.” Instead, everyone was in high spirits and an impromptu “Here we, here we, here we fucking go,” was attempted by the rowdier section of the packed out audience.

What was most striking about the whole performance, though, was the order of the setlist. Previously playing the whole of LP2 in order then coming back on to play an encore of classics from 1999; this method was not replicated and instead everything was jumbled. Where Are We Now? merged into You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon which throws you off after rinsing their albums and expecting a certain order. This wasn’t a bad thing and it was intriguing to see how their debut and follow up would work together in a set.

It was, of course, their most iconic hit, Never Meant that closed the set before setting out to Dublin and then back to the USA for another short run of shows. A singalong classic given a new lease of life every time THAT opening riff is played, Never Meant is the tune that American Football‘s cult fans in Old Skool Vans, turned up jeans and flannel shirts want to hear.

7/10

Gig Review: The Vibe & Inertia @ Buff Club

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

There’s always some sort of appeal to gigs being held at venues that are totally juxtaposing to their initial purpose: there’s the obvious ones like an abandoned warehouse being converted into one of the most packed venues in Glasgow a la SWG3 as well as all the countless rock shows being held at the Barrowlands where only a few decades ago its sole purpose was for ballroom dancing.

Last night’s intimate show at Buff Club was no different – hidden away on Bath Lane, the small night spot is best known for its various shindigs from midnight till early in the morning, packing tunes from various genres into a very intimate spot. However, instead of the classic hip hop, RnB and disco nights Buff Club tends to host, yesterday’s events welcomed two very different styles of rock that show the variety occurring on the ground level of Scottish music.

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Inertia were first up, starting off decently and slowly but surely coming into their own as their performance continued. Their grunge-rock stylings went down a treat: impressive drum work, sharp guitars and angsty vocals culminated in a band that wear their influences on their sleeve but are all the better for it.

It’s no real surprise that bands like Biffy Clyro and Foo Fighters have an impact on them though as opposed to the countless bands that take inspiration from their more pop rocky endeavours, the moodiness and near lo-fi aesthetic of some tracks came off as B cuts off Blackened Sky.

While a variety of bands want to follow in the footsteps of Fatherson and Twin Atlantic with their solid songwriting but very polished production, Inertia comes across as an act ready to lay their cards on the table, even if half of them are covered in sweat and larger.

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Disclaimer: The irn-bru bottle is not part of The Vibe

After the grungy prelude came a more rhythmic and nostalgia laced act in the form of headliners The Vibe. Initially the band came on nearly half an hour before they were set to which came off as a bit confusing though as soon as they kicked off, it was clear to see why – while Buff Club may not be the largest venue, its first and foremost a place for dancing and The Vibe fans were more than happy to treat the floor accordingly.

There was a clear Madchester vibe (…) reeking from the Cumbernauld four piece: infectious melodies, pulsating drum beats and a great amount of chemistry between not only The Vibe and the audience but within the band themselves. Jack and Lewis, guitar and bass respectively, had a real Tom and Sergio-esque bromance going on, edging in towards one another while fittingly backing up one another’s vocals. It all amalgamated into a band that from the second they were on stage had their audience in the palm of their hands.

It has to be said that while the set-list itself may not have been awfully varied in sound, it made for a cohesive performance that almost felt like a psychedelic record that you chuck on and experience as a whole, not track for track. The Vibe have no need to worry about getting a good crowd – it’ll all be a long wait now until they eventually hit out with a much needed and sought for EP.

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