By Leo Kindred
I don’t have enough tattoos for this. Not enough tattoos, piercings, obligatory 50 pence-sized flesh tunnels, or anywhere near the level of muscles, on display at this gig. It’s not unusual for a scene to have staples of some description, but I don’t often come out to these gigs, typified by a love of extreme pitting and hefty breakdowns: it’s a Core gig. Hardcore, deathcore, metalcore; I forget where Converge ends and Whitechapel begins.
All I know, sitting in a pair of suddenly square jeans, with my thin, bulgeless arms and ears un-tunnelled, is: I need to work out more and I don’t have a baseball hat. One of those ones with netting at the top near the back. Don’t have one!
Main support Oceano fit this bill well. Starting with what becomes a progressively more physical and macho set, singer Adam Warren, against a backdrop of abrasive riffing that often approaches being a dirgey wall of sound, makes himself the main selling point for this foursome.
He’s fired up with the ease of a born performer, favouring the sweat and blood approach a la Rob Flynn; calling for “violence”, raising a drink of solidarity with the audience, and, my personal highlight, handing a water bottle to a member of the crowd, which he designates as the “Olympic baton!”
He then orders said audience member off with strict instructions to act as leader of what becomes a successful circle pit; impressive given the medium audience size, and I hardly even feel the obligatory urge to laugh at the American pronunciation of “batawwn”.
There is the churning, the pitting and concrete-heavy breakdowns as one would expect, even if the musical outcome isn’t sensational it’s energetic, uncompromising brutality.
Plus, the sheer spectacle as the dance floor transforms into a sweaty mess of spilled drinks, chunky men walloping into each other, and the usual knobhead doing high-kicks is pretty awesome.
And now for something completely different. And mental.
Iwrestledabearonce‘s sound is sort of a comic mix of deathcore, grind, techno, synthpop, jazz- the experimental quirk of Dillinger Escape Plan mutated in the direction of self-effacing farce.
A sort of insane comedic take on Horse The Band.
IWABO’s are performing with a new vocalist this tour, regular singer Krysta Cameron needing to take a leave of absence, having being diagnosed as being WITH BABY, and new girl Courtney LaPlante performs admirably as replacement.
Where the orthodox nature of other deathcore-esque bands is often turgidly uninventive with IWABO that simply won’t wash. Not many other deathcore bands come out to Van Halen’s ‘Jump’. Or for, that matter, regularly go above the bottom 3 strings with their riffs.
On numerous occasions their willingness to ironically poke fun at the slightly more straight-laced archetypes of metal has earned them a fair amount of ire from others in the metal world.
Tonight though those bad feelings are elsewhere, as the sweat flies and fists rise.
The sound quality isn’t totally wonderful, and they’ve not got any hope of being as testosterone-infused as Oceano, but the scope of material is where they successfully lay out their stall.
Recent nonsense numbers from latest release Spoiling It For Everyone like ‘Karate Nipples’ are simultaneously performed with punchy intensity, plus the rewarding silliness that comes from juxtaposing disco pop and breakdowns.
Blasts from the past via ‘Vlork Mighty Wielder of Sheep’ or ‘Ulrich Fire Lord’ and ‘Alaskan Flounder Basket’ are ferociously daft; an extremely schizophrenic assault of experimental grind, soaring vocal refrain, and an opportunity to dance with jazz-hands to synthpop dance samples.
Whether it’s the complete absurdity of the breakdown using the melody from Inspector Gadget, or founder Steven Bradley, with his guitar throwing, bonkers fret-tapping and comedy faces, everything brings smiles and horns as everyone rocks out with the abandon of people watching the gloriously bizarre.
The finale is ‘Tastes Like Kevin Bacon’, just as it should be. A perfect, brilliant closer which uses a sampled car horn to drop the final chaos by this superbly ludicrous band, before leaving the stage to the sweet refrain of Seal’s ‘Kissed By A Rose’.
All of a sudden, even without a hat, I no longer feel quite so out of place.