Forever wanting to keep my finger on the pulse of the youth of today, this Metal Hammer-sponsored package tour featuring rising new hardcore upstarts Your Demise was one I fancied checking out from the start. Unfamiliar with all the acts on the bill, this show had the potential to be either a real eye-opener, or the beginnings of a concerted grumble and moan about the state of music nowadays. Whilst nothing was particularly mind-blowing tonight, on the whole I’m pleased to report that the future of hardcore seems to be in capable hands.
I’d deduced that there’d be a ton of young kids at the show, as the walk to the venue was littered with empty Monster energy drinks rather than the usual beer cans and cider bottles. And as I entered the venue, yep, I felt like one of the cast members of ‘Cocoon’ had walked onto the set of Glee or something.
Onstage were BREAK EVEN, a hardcore band all the way from Perth, Australia who were ripping through their penultimate track, marrying thickset HC riffing with southern-tinged, Every Time I Die swagger. Dedicating set closer ‘November 18th’ “to anyone who’s lost someone”, vocalist Mark Bawden inspired at least a couple of Taurine-fuelled dudes to crowdsurf towards the front of the crowd and in one instance, back towards the bar, with only my quick reactions saving my pint from certain doom. The fact that whilst reading up on the band afterwards, I discovered that this song was written as a reaction to the loss of their original guitarist after his suicide leant the track a particularly emotional resonance, albeit one a few days after the show. Shame I couldn’t have heard more from them, although the jury is out as to how they’d fare in such a well-populated pool as the global hardcore scene.
Outside the venue in between bands, there were excited whispers and murmurings concerning STICK TO YOUR GUNS, another melodic hardcore band from Orange County of who I knew absolutely jack squat about. I needn’t have worried, as once they took to the stage they were hungry, energetic and captivating, making it difficult to cast your gaze anywhere other than stagewards.
A more metallic prospect than Break Even, their chuggy metalcore chops were still complimented by an obviously deep love and respect for traditional hardcore. ‘Where The Sun Never Sleeps’ typified this approach early on in the set with its irresistible two-step opening dropping into breakdowns, topped off with some of the best melodic vocals this side of Ignite’s Zoli Teglas. In tried-and-tested HC style, all members poured their everything into the show, with the behooded guitarist rhythmically bouncing throughout the track, making my knees wince at the sight of it.
The crowd were rabidly eating this up by the way, with ‘Enough is Enough’ introduced by frontman Jesse Barnett promising free merch “to whoever does something fucking crazy”. This saw a lighting rig almost detach itself from the ceiling thanks to the wayward foot of an errant stagediver, although the rambunctious pit was doing their best to compete in the fucking-crazy stakes.
Musically, their use of octave chords and melodic passages — vocal and otherwise — add a sheen to the band that should guarantee them a wider audience should they ever yearn to break away from the warm bosom of the hardcore scene. The set concentrated mostly upon latest album ‘The Hope Division’ (“dedicated to those who choose hope over hate”) with ‘Amber’ and ‘Some Kind of Hope’ rearing their respective heads throughout the set.
Many references were made to youth and the young, instantly appealing to the legion of pecks rammed inside the Academy 3. It’s comforting to know that positive messages are being preached to those at such an impressionable age, with Barnett revealing that he “believes in the generation that gives without expecting anything in return”. Indeed, the mantra of “I just want to be a better man” from ‘Some Kind of Hope’ sums up a big part of the STYG ethos, and the closing ‘This Is More’ threatened to engulf the entire room in positive vibes, giving me no other choice than to give them a resounding thumbs up.
And so to the headliners, who having risen through the ranks of basements, scout huts and house shows throughout the British hardcore scene are on the cusp of breaking through to a wider audience. Part of the Visible Noise family – a label notable for giving both Lost Prophets and Bring Me The Horizon a place to gestate their talents before embracing stardom. With the crowd now at fever piece and giddy on youthful adrenaline, they pretty much exploded upon the arrival of YOUR DEMISE, and launching straight into the enormous chug intro of ‘MMX’ with the roar of “Your Demise Two Thousand And Ten, Bitch!” screamed back at frontman Ed McRae by a couple of hundred fans, before ‘Scared of the Light’ made things really sweaty.
From the outset, the pit was chaotic, with wave after wave of dancers either jostling or surfing to the front to join in with the frequent gang vocal sections. Despite what I’ve since heard on their recordings, their catchy, melodic side wasn’t as clearly emphasised live, instead going for a more straight-ahead, brutish desire for their fans to expel even more energy than on the song — or even the riff- that preceded it. Both band and crowd were similarly entertaining, energetic and the dancefloor was increasingly turning into a battlefield, with McRae’s insistence that it was “time to fucking shine” seeing the pit swell backwards like something from the Blob.
It was a special show for YD in a lot of ways, as the frontman recalled from the stage how this was both their first ever headline show that was sold out in advance, and also their first show with touts outside (!) ‘Life of Luxury’ told a tale of being away from home on tour, although the response they received from Birmingham tonight would surely ease any homesickness the St Albans five-piece may have been suffering from, although McRae’s Fred Durst-esque pronunciation of ‘Birming-HAM’ made me want to vomit a little bit.
The main thing I took from Your Demise’s set tonight — and indeed, this argument is warranted for all the bands tonight — is that their music seemingly speaks directly to the fans in the same way as hardcore progenitors Bad Brains, Black Flag and Minor Threat did, way back thirty years ago. The youthful exertion and attitude displayed by the bands tonight were reciprocated back at them by the audience in an exuberant Ouroboros cycle. Despite whatever barbs the bands and their fans have had slung at them from those outside the scene, and those too old and jaded to dismiss anything released post-2000, the kids will always have their say, and most importantly, have fun doing it. As to what they were saying? Like I said, they were speaking to the kids, I’m way too old to understand.