Posts Tagged “Headline Band”

Converge: definitely not stadium rock

Converge lay the London Koko to waste, we send Metal Hammer Podcast host Steve Hill to see it all happen. He came back in one piece and sent us this review….

Even Nostradamus could never have predicted a band with such a fiercely independent spirit, so used to the grim, glamour-less grind of punk rock touring, raised on DIY Hardcore ethics and tiny basement shows in vile, crust filled clubs as Converge would ever sell out a pristine, vaudeville music hall like Camden’s Koko. That they have is a testament to a constant commitment to making their thrilling and visceral music so difficult to ignore.

First though Storm Of Light wow the early birds with an assault on the senses, both visually and aurally. A huge screen at the back of the stage dwarfs them and fills the venue with dizzying Technicolor images to accompany their sludgy post-rock. They take all the bits that you love from The Melvins, Mastodon, Today Is The Day and Neurosis and bang it out with eye-ball popping intensity. Well worth checking out.

Touche Amore receive a welcome that would befit the headline band and do an admiral job of warming up the crowd for what is to come, but they lack the depth and weight of SOL and seem fairly lightweight in comparison. Not that there is anything wrong with any of the set per-se; all the elements are in place, it’s just that it seems a bit anaemic. Bands like Propagandhi and Strike Anywhere perfected this style of super intense Melodic Hardcore over a decade ago and Touche Amore strain for, but never quite reach, their standard. That said, the crowd go nuts and they leave to a deafening cheer. So they’re obviously doing something right.

You could count on no fingers the things that Converge have done wrong in their career. The most original, surprising and consistent band to emerge from the hardcore scene in the last twenty years, possibly ever, are on supreme form tonight. Despite the grandiose surroundings, Jacob Bannon and Co wander on and plug in as if it’s just another day in the rehearsal room and plough straight into a teeth rattling opening double of Concubine and Dead Horse. When this band are in full flow it is quite something to behold, undoubtedly punk but far more spiteful and intense than any Green Day or Clash clone could ever dream of. Whether it’s the slower, more brooding numbers like Worms Will Feed or their thrashier, more brutal cuts such as Hellbound, the quality never drops and it rapidly becomes clear that Converge have a back catalogue to rival almost any scene veterans you would care to mention. The standard of musicianship is quite something, too – not something you would usually associate with punk pock – in particular drummer Ben Koller, who puts in a powerhouse performance of brute force and dexterity, but also from Nate Newton’s rumbling low-end bass and Kurt Ballou’s shredding, screaming guitar. They leave for the first time with an extended and savage version of You Fail Me, which would be enough to satisfy most people.

That they then return and close the night with an incredible rendition of Last Light that is so heavy, so powerful and so dizzying that it terrifies even the most rabid fan and then walk off as if nothing has even happened is all the evidence you need to know Converge are a genuinely life-changing force of nature. Twenty years into their career they are peerless. It may be a surprise to see them become as big as they have but, good god, what a lovely surprise it is. Next time they come back you really should be there, be it smelly club or gleaming arena, it will be fucking epic. Quite frankly you don’t need to be Nostradamus to predict that.

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Gallows: Wading into new wat-ah forget it.

The UK Hardcore scene is in frighteningly rude health at the moment, which is why it maybe seems slightly confusing to see the band that originally blew the scenes doors wide open to a larger market headlining in such an intimate venue as The Underworld. Not that those inside are grumbling, as this three-band bill is of such undoubted quality that getting to see it so up close and personal makes it even more of a mouth-watering prospect in reality than on paper.

For the early birds there is a brutal wake-up call from Brotherhood Of The Lake, clearly the odd band out on this bill, they play a form of hardcore that owes little/nothing to Agnostic Front, Everytime I Die or Minor Threat, instead concentrating on creating a bleak, dense, pitch black wall of sound more reminiscent of Burnt By The Sun, Today Is The Day, Unsane and, at points, Alice In Chains. Fantastic, but frightening.

To follow that you’d have to be crazy or incredible. Feed The Rhino are both of those things and more. Greeted with respect and familiarity they leave eliciting the same response as you would expect from the headline band. It would probably be easier to list the things that DON’T happen during their set; guitars are thrown, bodies are flung, life and limbs are risked and at the centre of it all stands frontman Lee Tobin, half Iggy Pop, half that bloke screaming about the end of the world in a bus shelter with piss on his shoes, in the crowd, on the crowd, splitting the crowd, making them sit down, jump up and go nearly as mental as he does. The tunes match the insanity with the likes of The Burning Sons and Nothing Lost cut from the same cloth as Vision Of Disorder at their finest.

Gallows, clearly, have something to prove by picking those supports. They’ve had something to prove ever since Wade MacNeil popped himself into the previously owned shoes of one F Carter esquire. Tonight it is proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that they are one of the finest bands this country has produced in the last ten years, whoever is holding the microphone. They launch straight into Misery at a thousand miles an hour and barely stop for breath for the next hour. Only six songs from the original lineup’s back catalogue remain and, while it’s always a pleasure to hear Belly Of A Shark or London Is The Reason, it’s fantastic to see just how good new material like Outsider Art and Vapid Adolescent Blues sound and, more importantly, the rabid response it incites from the sold out crowd. They end with Orchestra Of Wolves, the crowd onstage and the band in the crowd, and it’s pretty obvious that, although many of their original fans may have abandoned ship, this is still a band that you need in your life.

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