Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015

Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015Crown the Empire + Set It Off @ The Asylum, 12th February 2015

Crown the Empire header

What do you get when you combine a gig starting at 6.30 pm and post-work traffic? Well, you get there late and miss the first two bands! Apologies to anyone hoping for reviews of Alive Like Me and Dangerkids, but you won’t find them here.

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Thankfully, I did make it to the venue in time for Set It Off, for whom you could almost taste the crowd’s anticipation. Since their fantastic second album ‘Duality’ dropped last Autumn there has been a real buzz around the Floridian orchestral pop rockers, and from the moment they launch into that album’s opening number ‘The Haunting’ you can see why. The band have style and swagger to spare and instantly have the crowd in the palm of their hand with a live show worthy of headlining far bigger venues than the Asylum.

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Their rhythm section gets your feet tapping and head nodding and sits below two great guitarists playing catchy hook after hook. Then, the cherry on top comes in the form of vocalist Cody Carson who is, quite simply, amazing. He has vocal range that rivals that of Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and his live delivery is almost flawless, despite him putting plenty of energy into whipping the crowd into a singing and clapping frenzy.

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Set It Off’s set draws heavily on material from the aforementioned ‘Duality’, which Carson keeps to referring to as their “new record” despite every song being sung back at him by large parts of the audience. ‘Ancient History’ and the excellent ‘Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing’ sound particularly good in the live environment, as does the dip into older material ‘Dreamcatcher’. But it’s their finale that brings the house down, a raucous run through of their hit single ‘Why Worry’. This performance shows not only that Set It Off can easily match how good they are on record but also that they have real star quality. Expect their next visit to these shores to be a headline run of far bigger rooms.

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After such a thrilling performance from Set It Off, you could forgive Crown the Empire for falling flat, but that was never going to happen in a room full of their own fans. They quickly set their stall with ‘Oh, Catastrophe’ followed straight by ‘The Fallout’. Their live offering is nothing if not polished, with synchronised bouncing, crisp guitars and some crunching breakdowns to get your head banging to. They also benefit from being lead by not one but two compelling and energetic front men in Andy Leo and David Escamilla, who keep the crowd pumped throughout.

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As they blitz through numbers like ‘Johnny’s Revenge’, ‘Machines’ and ‘Bloodlines’, there is no doubt they can put on a good show, and are able to deliver far more punch than comes across on record. It is also there is lots of mutual love between band and fans, with the crowd in the Asylum lapping everything up.

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For me, while they can undoubtedly deliver on stage, Crown the Empire’s music is just a bit too middle of the road – modern metalcore by numbers if you will. But take nothing away from them, they certainly make for a great watch and by the end of closer ‘Makeshift Chemistry’ there is a deserving sense of triumph in the air. It will be very interesting to see what size crowds they can draw on their next visit; just don’t be surprised if tonight’s supports leave them behind very quickly.

 

Review and photographs – Dave Musson

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