With such a stellar line-up it’s maybe a little disappointing that tonight’s gig isn’t in the impressive main room at HMV Institute. Instead, we’re packed into the Library downstairs but there’s no denying there’s a great vibe in the room. In fact, the venue is impressively full even before The Acacia Strain take to the stage and I have to give credit to the crowd for making the effort to show up early.
Massachusetts’ own The Acacia Strain are painfully loud! The first of four bands playing tonight, they seem to wring the most out of the PA and, thanks to some ferocious sub-bass, they’re the main reason my ears are ringing more than 24 hours later. Their brand of deathcore makes them the outsiders on tonight’s bill but they quickly get the crowd moving, with bodies flying towards the stage, and frontman, Vincent Bennett, is a formidable frontman. Even though they’re only on stage for 30 minutes, he’s dripping with sweat after giving it 100% and, although maybe not to everyone’s taste, the band win over a new chunk of fans here tonight.
Bury Tomorrow’s seemingly endless touring has made them one of the tightest and most impressive metalcore bands currently doing the rounds and I’d be surprised if they weren’t headlining venues bigger than this one within the next year or so. The reaction to their appearance on stage could have you mistaken that they were the headliners, rather than third on the bill, and they seem to be playing to an already converted crowd here tonight. At one point vocalist Dani gets (almost) everyone in the room to crouch on the floor before leaping to their feet on the count of four. It’s an impressive site and, as they end with the anthemic Royal Blood, they can rest assured that this room was completely won over.
Coming from a more hardcore background, you may expect the reaction to Melbourne’s Deez Nuts to be a little subdued after Bury Tomorrow’s intensity, but their placement tonight breaks up the evening brilliantly, injecting some fun into the proceedings ahead of the headliners.
JJ Peters is a charismatic frontman, rising from the ashes of I Killed The Prom Queen in which he was the drummer, he plays to the crowd effortlessly and brings a more party-like vibe to the evening. That’s not to say that Deez Nuts are, despite their name, a less serious band. They look and feel like the real deal and have the songs to match. They dedicate a new song to Mitch from Suicide Silence who died last week in a motorcycle accident and leave the packed out room all ready for the headliners.
After such a varied yet accomplished supporting cast, you’d be forgiven for thinking Architects would struggle to raise the bar but you’d be wrong. From the off, they totally justify their spot at the top of the bill and actually make you wonder why they’re not yet headlining venues way bigger than this one. Their fans are totally dedicated. Indeed, the girl in front of my tonight has Architects’ logo proudly tattooed on her right shoulder. It’s a mixed crowd too for such a heavy bill, with a good percentage of girls rather than the usual “sausage fest”, as Bury Tomorrow recognised.
Tonight, Architects are technical without being showy and their songs meander easily from punishing breakdowns to mellower segways before a ferocious all-out assault which has the whole room jumping in unison. They’ve dabbled in more melodic songwriting but now seem to have found their niche and every song aired tonight has an epic energy behind it. To the untrained ear it may all sound slightly formulaic but there are intricate layers within each tune which take them far beyond the ordinary.
“We’re not gonna do that thing where we wait at the side of the stage while you shout for one more song. I’m just gonna ask you right now, do you wanna hear one more fucking song?!” Sam Carter receives the response you’d expect and Architects end on a high with the majestic These Colours Don’t Run. An epic end to a superb night. All four bands display a level of respect for each other tonight, and the audience here leave in full agreement.
Words & photographs by Steve Gerrard