Tonight’s opener Cities On Fire has the daunting task of warming up the newcomers; something they do with some style. Brandishing an in your face fusion of Funeral For A Friend with a Glassjaw-ish taunt, their metallic branding of post-hardcore slays, hard. It’s a pity the band don’t have any identifiable recorded tracks, because they’re an extremely exciting prospect to watch and would possibly be better appreciated with tracks to sing along to. Vocalist X, who we call as such because the band don’t seem to have a distinguished name for him, has an impressive range of vocal chords on him – from soaring melodies to gutteral screams, it’s something which has long been looked over in the North-East. A great introduction, and a strong outing from the quintet – recordings next, please!
Darlington bruisers Heavy Lies The Crown fall a little short tonight, through no fault of their own. Down a guitarist, their make-shift lineup means they have to improvise, and from it become a simpler prospect; losing a bit of their usual downtuned riffage and in all honesty, becoming a fully-fledged sounding hardcore band for the night. Vocalist Scott Rudd makes light work of the crowd, encouraging all sorts of dancing, flailing, and speakers almost topping from their fittings with the brute force packing into his voice tonight. With brand spanking new EP The Family Demise just released, it gives the band a chance to shine, and shine on they do, knocking out each track from the record and delivering it with (almost) the same low-end chuggery that envelops the recordings. It generates some great feedback from the crowd, albeit mixed reactions perhaps, but there’s no denying Heavy still manage to pull through their struggle.
Solid performance is a phrase being used more and more with local fivesome In Oceans these days; kicking it off with the baffling screech that opens Sharks, the band are as tight as ever tonight, and though they don’t draw as much physical reaction as their predecessor, they do a mighty fine job of drawing crowds in, many of whom already know the words to the band’s self-titled EP, of which all five tracks get an outing tonight. Said EP’s cover features a bunch of awkward swans, and glanced at in the right way, this is exactly what In Oceans look like on stage; they swagger, swoop and duck and dive in and out of some brilliant guitar work and tasty hooks, and barely put a foot wrong. Tracks like Crooked have serious singalong quality, whilst all seven-plus minutes of Mating Rituals is a joy to behold in itself. A cheeky new song aired shows just what the band are working towards, as well as the announcement of their first proper tour coming next month. It couldn’t have came at a better time; the room is impressed with their work, and a well-rounded set is crafted to near perfection. Surely the North-East’s most exciting and unorthodox prospect.
Band of the night award would indeed go to In Oceans, if they didn’t have to better one of the UK’s most promising talents. While the gangsta intro is questionable, Lower Than Atlantis have grafted hard and they deserve the anticipation of the still-full room awaiting their peformance. Kicking things off with the open and emotional Far Q, it instantly draws some unreal feedback; people are clambering on the stage for a chance at some microphone action from the word go, and the singalong values are sensational. There’s a raw energy that emerges from this band, and even the loss of frontman Mike Duce‘s mic stand to the crowd for the majority of some songs doesn’t falter their performance. It’s a high octane, sweaty affair and the room is clearly loving every moment. B.O.R.E.D presents the crowd with circa two minutes of go-crazy time, featuring all manner of stage dives and high fives, while the slowed and stripped Mike Duce’s Symphony Number 11 in D-Minor and new track (Motor)way Of Life provide a chance to stand back and admire the quartet at work. It may be over before it really could reach a climax, but people have left with smiling faces tonight; Lower Than Atlantis are bang on the money. Roll on a second album.
– George Cannings.