Carrying on a recent trend for me, tonight was another night where I was really more familiar with the support acts than the headliner. Having seen Maple Run once before and RSJ, well, just a few times, I knew tonight was going to be a good night. Though I was more than a little curious to see what the headliners American Head Charge would deliver. Not having hit our shores for far longer than their fans would wish, the reunited band were back and what they would deliver? Only a few more hours would tell.
With four bands on the line-up it was a packed night and I have to say quite a varied one; alternating heavy, onslaughts with softer, more rounded rock elements. First up on the bill was Sold For Evil, who at that time of the evening came onto the stage to a quiet venue given how few people had arrived. Though this may not have been seen by them due to the amount of dry ice being pumped into the air. A common complaint for a few people throughout the night as it looked more like fog at times than effect.
The child-like voice over being played prior to Sold For Evil setting foot onto the stage left me confused as to what style of music I was about to hear. It was also completely at odds with their death hop style which, when it started brought a real wall of heavy sound. With two members of the band taking turns on the mic there was a regular change in vocals, from rap and singing to harsh death style vocals, which were often brought together throughout the set.
Towards the end the audience had definitely grown and you could see a real appreciation from the crowd. Their music video for Innocentury is available to watch on YouTube so for those of you that didn’t make the gig, go and check it out.
Bringing a quieter stage presence and different sound to the evening was Maplerun who are much more anchored in rock. Don’t take that as a sign that their set was relaxing – far from it. They radiated a practiced, confident air and their songs had a great balance of pure rock and metal. Throughout their set you can clearly hear the two distinct styles and they managed to maintain that balance to create a really entertaining blend. There was also some damn fine guitar work and a real challenging drum beat at times; pushing against the melody to bring another layer to the blend.
They played a mix of their own songs and the odd cover which went down really well with the audience. They played with real enthusiasm and energy and for me this is a band you need to watch as their confidence and energy, as well as their songs will take them far. For those of you that didn’t see them on this tour then never fear as they shall be back in the UK in March 2014 to play Hammerfest in Wales. Their current album Restless is available to buy and you can hear snippets of it on their website.
The penultimate band for the event was RSJ and if you have ever seen them live before then you’ll know that here was another change in direction. Gone was the rock and in its place was the hardcore wall of sound and energy that is RSJ. One of the best things about seeing this band live is that they have such a clear effect on the audience; dragging them straight away into the performance. It was clear that some of those next to me hadn’t seen them before but they were very quickly hooked.
There’s such a persistent energy in both their songs and their performance that really calls to you, and the rhythm is perfect for those wanting to throw themselves about in the pit…and there’s always a pit! The one this evening lasted in stages throughout their set, even when frontman Dan Cook and guitarist ‘Guff’ Thomas headed into the middle of it. It was quite some sight to see Dan blasting out his vocals standing on a flight case while all around him the pit lived. Though it later knocked into the flight case, he looked to simply step off and keep going, unaffected by the surrounding chaos. The same went for guitarist Guff who I honestly thought was going to be sent flying, but he seemed oblivious to the mayhem and brought the set to a dramatic close. Even leaving his guitar on the floor for the audience to pick up and play – for a while at least.
There is a real infectiousness about this band from their style of music, to the energy they have on stage and the way they always need to get right to the barriers and in the crowd, as well as the pop dance music they play at the start of their set (leading members of the audience to start their own little dance floor). I can only suggest for those of you that have never seen them live or heard their music that you do just that, because they are damn good at what they do. Their new album Higgs Boson is out now!
There was a bit of a charged atmosphere before tonight’s headliners American Head Charge took to the stage, and why wouldn’t there be? It had been far too long since they had graced our shores and it appeared that for many there that night they were very keen to bring back those memories and make some new ones. There seemed to be a bit of a late start to their set but you certainly knew when it had begun, with the floor really vibrating from the noise. The crowd were responsive from the off even chanting the band’s name after the first song, as well as singing throughout the set. After so many years away this was a seriously warm welcome!
Pledge Allegiance literally got the crowd jumping and it wasn’t hard to see why as the mix of the rhythm and vocal lines just invite you to jump about as it fills you with energy. There is a really nice mix of vocals throughout the set from really aggressive harshness, to a quieter Nirvana inspired laid-back style for one of the songs. There’s also a real older indie rock influence in their songs, one that I remember from years back and which I would always welcome to a stage near me. It’s a confident, solid sound, but one that still throws out challenges to the listener.
There was a good mix of songs off their new EP Shoot as well as their previous releases, which left the audience very happy indeed judging from the level of singing, rapt attention and happy faces you could see around the venue, both during and after the set. If there were any technical difficulties during the set I don’t think anyone would ever notice as the crowd were so caught up in watching a band they had waited years to see that nothing could diminish this or effect their enjoyment of the evening.
This was just the second night of the tour and if gigs only get better as tours go on then the remaining crowds would be in for one hell of a treat. This was a real varied mix of music and performance styles this evening and I for one was definitely glad I had been there. American Head Charge – make sure you come back to the UK soon!
- All Wrapped Up
- Pledge Allegiance
- Take What I’ve Taken
- Americunt Evolving Into Useless Psychic Garbage
- A Violent Reaction
- Song for the Suspect
- Sugars Of Someday
- Just So You Know
- Effigy 23
- Rock ‘n’ Roll Nigger