It doesn’t matter how many times you attend, there’s something special about watching a gig in the belly of a boat. Bristol’s Thekla is one of the city’s most renowned venues and anticipation is high; it’s the last night of the headliner’s tour and sold out to boot. As the clock ticks round to doors the queue is snaking down the harbourside, a smattering of crabs and robots in amongst the customary black and beards.
Inside, local boys Endeavour (7) have drawn a pretty horrible short straw in opening just 15 minutes after doors, but they’re not about to let that affect them in any way, shape or form. Flying out of the traps from the off, their prog metal captivates the growing audience well, with fists punching the air and heads banging. Frontman Chris Hawkins is an very charismatic fellow and has a great range to his voice; his transfer from clean to growled vocals is impressive and whilst it falls flat on occasions, it serves very well through numbers like ‘Death in Lies’ and ‘Trail of Life’; guitarist Iain Davies also deserved a mention for some brilliant solos and complex fretwork throughout. Their set is let down right at the end by a truly awful cover of ‘Dem Bones’ by Alice in Chains to close things out, but it’s not enough to derail what has come before it. By contrast, RSJ (5) are stuck between a rock and a hard place this evening: they’re in front of entirely the wrong crowd for their brand of metal/hardcore and it means that their efforts are blunted considerably. They’re also not the most original of bands; despite the odd flashes here and there, their set gets very repetitive quickly and the fact that a couple of songs garner muted or even no applause at all is an indication of the punter’s indifference towards them. That said, guitarist Dan Kentley jumping off stage and standing in the middle of a circle pit during ‘Nice Day Out’ is pretty impressive and that in itself proves their performance tonight was not in vain, it’s just not to be for the Yorkshire lads.
“We are Evil Scarecrow (9) and we just sold out the Thekla!” shouts Dr Rabid Hell halfway through. It’s a sentence that sums up everything about this band; for all their wackiness and parody, they are an incredible tight and talented outfit with a strong following and this is no more than they deserve. What they DIDN’T deserve was a faulty cable causing a fifteen minute delay to the start of their set, leading to ‘Morbid Witch’ and ‘Blacken the Everything’ being cut from a setlist that was already only 11 songs long. It’s enough to take a bit of a shine off proceedings, but once ‘Architect of Hate’ kicks in nobody cares whatsoever. ‘The Book of Doom’ is as bouncy and silly as you could wish for, with a mid-song lull for crowd participation and then continuing in typically bombastic fashion. ‘The Dance of the Cyclops’ sees the most demented ballroom dancing you could imagine whilst fan-favourite ‘Robototron’ sees not only the customary sight of a few hundred people dancing mechanically in complete unison but also the sheer lunacy of Ringmaster Monty Blitzfist climbing up the outside of Thekla’s top balcony and jumping off back on the audience he had just surfed on to get there in the first place. The main set finishes with ‘End Level Boss’ (featuring a female associate dressed as Link from Zelda leading everyone in videogame punches and dodging) whilst the encore is a one-two of the delightful ‘Hurricanado’ and the ever majestic ‘Crabulon’, which threatens to capsize Thekla with the force of everything scuttling from one side to the other, claw hands raised in fervent delirium. “We’re Evil Scarecrow, we’ve been an absolute shambles for you this evening” jokes Hell after the earlier tech issues. Given the carnage that he and his bandmates have just caused, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Evil Scarecrow setlist
The Architect of Hate
The Book of Doom
Dance of The Cyclops
End Level Boss