Walking into the O2 ABC, I think about the last time I was here to see Architects. The same venue, about a year before, playing the same songs, but this time, the difference was insane.
Counterparts opened for them and the first thing that struck me was the sheer volume they played at. Having forgotten my earplugs, I was moderately regretful whilst still marvelling at the lovely hooks and breakdowns throughout. Their lead parts were impressive, but unfortunately often drowned by the thrashing of the rest of the band, as the drums were often overstated. The vocalist's gritty tone came over clearly, and it was refreshing to hear a screamo vocalist who didn't sound like he was attempting to vomit up tinfoil, indeed not sounding strained at all. Between passionate performances, he acknowledged that Counterparts were not the main attraction and thanked everyone for turning up to see them, but judging by the sing along sections of the last two songs, there were enough people having turned out to see them on their own merits was heartening.
Blessthefall opened by spitting water on me. That's not entirely true to be fair, I was doing photography about a metre away from the lead singer and he blew water out of his mouth. I'm sure he wasn't aiming at me on purpose... His real opening was telling the crowd that he had bet the security a fiver that he could get crowdsurfers going in Glasgow, a challenge accepted with glee. In the photography pit I had a fair job avoiding flailing feet as people piled over the barrier to vast cheers. I was surprised at how heavy they were, and it was interesting to hear the terrifyingly high pitch of the frontman's voice blending with the breakdowns, his classic hardcore voice walking the fine line between intense and grating. The energy they had as a band was incredible, with the entire band jumping on cue several times, and the rhythm guitarist was doing pretty insane Busted-era spins. The frontman could not stop reaching over the barrier and touching the crowd, at one point getting a shoulder-ride from a particularly massive member of the audience with a particularly horrible mohawk, and I could see the roadies praising God that he had a wireless microphone.
Every Time I Die were a different kettle of fish altogether. Their members consisted of a Dave Grohl look-a-like, a couple of 90s throwbacks and the biggest moustache I have ever seen. I mean, there was a rather large tattooed man attached to it but it was undeniably his most prominent feature. Their bizarre line-up only added to their charm however, and seeing the majority of the crowd sing along and crowdsurf, with ETID watching quite casually, it's clear they're old favourites. Whilst the vast numbers of fans crowdsurfing did not phase them, the moment when the aforementioned be-mohawked man crowdsurfed, which prompted gleeful cries of 'He-Man!'. The movement on stage was as dramatic as that of the crowd, as I cursed having brought my slow lens, yet watched the madness with something bordering both fear and admiration. The lead guitarist was particularly insane, throwing his guitar several feet in the air, jumping up and down on the amps and bizarrely running round in a very small circle for several minutes. This was explained shortly afterwards however, as he downed a Corona, began headbanging and promptly threw up six times in a row, before continuing playing. The biggest downside to ETID was their vocalist, whose screaming was fair but his singing deeply mediocre, and both equally indistinguishable, although his sheer effort was commendable. Their bassist and drummer stood out in particular, putting forward a solid and impressive rhythm section with some flair. They closed thanking Architects for the opportunity to perform with them, saying that they were: “like Disney... They make dreams come true!”
As I waited on Architects coming on, I sat musing on the crowd that had turned up. Along with an impressive number of the top-knot and man-bun generation, there were a fair number of older folk and a surprising contingents of overzealous 14-year-old couples, busy proving that side fringes that go from ear to ear are definitely still cool.
I worry it will be hard to be critical of Architects, as having listened to their most recent album “Lost Forever// Lost Together” so many times I'm a little biased. My first impression is the sheer strength of the bass section, the heaviness and the clarity of the bass lines really setting them apart from the muddiness of the majority of hardcore bands. The vocals were impassioned and although occasionally difficult to decipher, the clarity of their quiet moments before drops entirely forgive this. Their melodies from the lead guitar show a depth of composition again usually lacking in their genre. Their guitar harmonics, that characterise the “Hollow Crown” album mesh surprisingly against a backdrop of impressively headbangable breakdowns. And speaking of heandbangable, I'm very sure I wasn't the only one with a three-day neck-hangover after the passion of the crowd's response to Architects. Their drawbacks, if you can even be as negative as that would probably have to be their focus on environmental issues. About halfway through, frontman Sam Carter gave a small speech about lately deceased animal rights activist Sam Simon, and whilst it was nothing on the speech he gave on the Sea Shepherd charity that Architects support the last time I saw them, it was enough to break up the flow of the gig.
One thing that I noticed about all the acts on tonight though, was despite their enthusiasm for each other, for the gig and for Glasgow, every single band talked about how there were only three shows to go on this tour. Maybe it was just me, but the guy throwing up in Every Time I Die, Blessthefall's desperate energy in reaching out to so many people in the crowd, and the guitarist from Architects looking absolutely bone-weary said to me that despite loving their fans, their jobs and their ability to reach out as much as they do, all of the acts just need a good rest and a cup of tea to be able to bring that kind of energy to their next tour. Whilst working on their new albums, obviously.
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