Hard to believe that Kerrang! has been around in many different guises now for four decades. When Geoff Barton coined the phrase back in 1981, he could never have imagined in his wildest dreams that 36 years later Kerrang! would be a multimedia byword for music to piss your parents off. Back then, it was AC/DC, Motörhead and Judas Priest. Now it’s Bring Me The Horizon, Green Day, and er… Jeremy Corbyn on the front cover of the magazine. The cover stars on the latest issue are none other than Aussie metalcore stalwarts, The Amity Affliction, headliners of this years annual ‘Kerrang! Tour’. The tour is a showcase for young bands bubbling under, and gives them the opportunity to share the stage with a more established headliner. The Amity Affliction were represented by the numerous “TAA” shirts in the crowd, but the three other bands on the bill each played a major part in the festivities.
Welsh alternative outfit Casey kicked off the evening by throwing the rule book out of the window. As the band took to the stage, vocalist Tom Weaver jumped the barrier, dragged his mic stand with him and plonked it down in the middle of the crowd, where he stood for the entire length of the short set. It’s a strange one for those in front of him, as he was standing performing towards the stage. Should they look at him or his bandmates on the stage? I was looking at drummer Max Nicolai. It was hard to take my eyes off him actually, as he is one of the most visual drummers I have seen in a long time. With long hair flailing as he threw his head back with every pounding beat, he truly hits those skins with power and style. Someone spilled a drink, so we were treated to the surreal sight of a cleaner mopping up the spillage just yards from Weaver in the middle of the floor! ‘Fluorescents’ is the new single, and it’s easy to see why Daniel P Carter premiered it on his Rock Show. New album, ‘Where I Go When I Am Sleeping’ is due March 2018, and on this basis, it should be a cracker.
Scottish noisey pop rockers Vukovi are in the house, and they have brought quite a few fans with them. Fresh from a major European tour with PVRIS, the four piece are purring like a finely tuned Rolls Royce engine. Vocalist Janine Shilstone is both a fun and a fierce frontwoman who is hard to ignore. I can imagine her grabbing the crowd by the throat in Paris (and every other major city in Europe) and not letting go until she had their undivided attention. She also swears like a docker with Tourettes, which is fine by me. The music on offer is fun and uptempo, and judging by the crowd reaction, has struck a chord with many in attendance. You don’t play major festivals like Reading & Leeds or the inaugural TRNSMT festival if you are short on confidence. These guys have it by the bucketload, but thankfully the also have the songs to match. ‘And He Lost His Mind’ has an infectious groove which is impossible to resist, and ‘Boy George’ is just bloody good fun. A band to keep an eye out for.
The intensity ramps up a notch or two with the arrival of Blackpool’s finest – Boston Manor. Crowd surfers are coming over in droves, circle pits are opening up, and in general, the place seems more packed. Often described as anything from pop punk and emo to hardcore or post-harcdore, the band don’t faff about while you make up your mind where to place them. They set out to crush the audience and impress from the off. Vocalist Henry Cox is a commanding presence on stage, as he directs the crowd in whatever he wants them to do, be it sing, scream, bounce, or start a circle pit. The band are a ball of energy as they stalk the small stage with copious amounts of stamina. Easily a band that could headline this very event in the not-so distant future.
Headliners The Amity Affliction are old hands at this, closing multi-band line ups and laying waste to all that came before them. Tonight was no different in that sense, but very different in the sense that, just before they were due on stage, the fire alarm sounded and the venue had to empty into the streets outside! After the all clear was given, for some it was a mad dash back inside to reclaim their spots on the barrier, for others it was a case of “where’s my ticket?”. The delay meant that when The Amity Affliction took to the stage, chit chat was non-existent, as the band were faced with the prospect of a shortened set to meet the curfew.
The crowd didn’t need any time to warm up from the unexpected blast of cold air that standing outside brings, they were ready from the minute the house lights dimmed, and didn’t let up until the last strains faded out, seventy minutes later. The crowd surfers multiplied many times over, and as the band tore through the likes of ‘Lost & Fading’, ‘Never Alone’, and a crushing version of ‘Death’s Hand’, the venue was a throbbing, pulsating mass of sweaty bodies. The mix of Ahren Stringer’s clean and Joel Birch’s brutal vocals are still amazing to witness. The force that Birch puts in is immense, but he makes it look easy. With the most recent album ‘This Could Be Heartbreak’ being over a year old, it was great to hear the response that tracks aired from it received. As expected, ‘All Fucked Up’ stood out, and the acoustic guitar work from Dan Brown was a welcome respite from the relentless wall of noise. Birch was as intense on stage as ever, and remains one of the most powerful frontmen that the metalcore genre has today. Tonight was a short, sharp exercise in how to turn chaos into triumph.
The Kerrang! Tour 2017 runs through to December 13th, when it parks the bus outside London O2 Forum, Kentish Town. all dates can be found here.
Review: Dave Stott
Images: Dave Jamieson