Archives for posts with tag: Touché Amoré

Touche Amore’s “Home Away From Here” for some instant post-hardcore/punk energy. For any one who keeps fighting against the tide:

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(First posted on http://www.recessiondodgetovictory.wordpress.com on 04/12/2012)

Disclaimer: As with all my music reviews, this is a blow-by-blow account taken from my own perspective and written mostly for myself as a memory aid. I’m not always an expert on the band in question. Massive thanks go out to the Setlistfm, Lastfm and the Youtubers whose content that I have used either indirectly or directly in this blog post.

Awesome: 5 out of 5, 10 out of 10 and brϋtal with an umlaut. End of story – review = done!

How lame would that be if I ended a review of one of the best gigs I’ve been to in a very long time that way?

And what a gig it was set to be. Instead of making the mistake I made with Gojira, I remembered my boy scout days and got prepared; arming myself with knowledge of how the support acts would sound and which ones to get in early to see, creating a set list of recently played Converge gigs and getting plenty of listens to their tunes. If I hadn’t prepared this way, I wouldn’t have known what songs the headliners would have played to be prepared to jump around to and I wouldn’t have discovered… well, I’ll get to that later – I’m getting ahead of myself.

With a line-up of 4 acts and a 6:30pm start ahead of me I had decided to get in early. After liking what I had seen of Jacob Bannon’s art, I knew that I wanted to buy up some Converge merch and went to the nearby Crystal Palace for some grub with the aim of getting in early. I left the pub at 6:10pm with the intention of getting chewing gum and to doss around in Waterstones and other nearby shops only to see that there was already a queue forming outside the Classic Grand.

Did the people in the queue know something that I didn’t? Were they queuing up because the first act was due to begin at 6:30pm? I was pretty sure Touché Amore were first because they were named first on the ticket and on Lastfm.com and after the week that I had just had, I really could’ve done with jumping around to the aforementioned tracks from their album “Parting the Sea of Brightness and Me”. I bowed to the pressure and joined the queue.

As I got in, I had loads of time to get my bags in the locker room and change from my Coheed and Cambria hoodie from last week into a newly bought Converge hoodie fresh from the merch table. I took my place near the front of the venue with some other members of the crowd in anticipation for the band listed at the front of the ticket to see that there was no barrier between the crowd and the band – aw yeah boi! Proper gig to the max! After my initial excitement, to my surprise and with a half-full venue, The Secret were first up.

I hadn’t heard of them before and couldn’t find much about them online when I was preparing for the gig, so I probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised that they played first. All the same, they broke in my ears with their dark, broody, metal-infused sound. I’ve heard it said that the first three songs of any opening act are pretty much a write-off and it certainly felt that way with The Secret, not because of their performance, but simply because I was trying to watch the drummer and follow where the music was going. However, that didn’t stop those around me at the front from head banging along to the rapid drumming. Despite a certain intensity to the band, what with the front man giving long stares into the crowd while screaming in our faces from within striking distance and the long pauses between songs being broken up only by droning bass or guitar lines followed by more white-eyed gawping, the crowd took to them very well with cheers going up for them towards the end of their set as the room filled out more. For me, that a half-packed crowd would cheer for a band that few of them had likely heard of was a testament that the crowd was a good one. My gut instincts would be proven right as the night progressed.

By that point, I was pretty certain that A Storm of Light were up next. From my preliminary listens, I wasn’t especially taken with them despite similarities and (historically) sharing members with the mighty Red Sparrowes. I took my place at the back of the Classic Grand and parked my ass on a kind of mezzanine area near the sound booth, which was probably the one move that ensured I’ll have my hearing when I hit my 40s.

Holy shit were they loud. The band came on with different looped videos of different riot scenes and vocal checks. As they warmed up, I couldn’t quite tell if we had a maestro guitar tech on our hands (until I realised that all of the bands did their own checks – respect to them) or if they had begun to play tunes – at least that was until they kicked in as a 4-piece and almost took my eardrums with them. It felt like there was no escape from the noise in the small venue! For all my preparation, I had forgotten ear plugs.

Back to the music though: like many of their contemporaries (Godspeed You! Black Emperor came to mind), A Storm Of Light kept things quiet in between songs and didn’t do the whole crowd interaction schtick, with perhaps the exception of the odd video clip or sound byte to introduce songs. All in though, personally I was left unimpressed by the slow roar of the band’s apocalyptic musings but the crowd gave them a motionless, yet warm reception so maybe we’ll be hearing more from them in the future?

As artistic and experimental as Converge are I didn’t come to one of their gigs to stand still and neither did the younger members of the crowd it seemed; you could visibly see the age demographic of the crowd split as members of Touché Amore came to the front to sound check. Well, them and the solitary post-hardcore grandpa at the front of the venue at this point – I swear, one of these days I’ll stop doing gigs on a school night. As I took my place with the youngsters my paternalistic feelings came out as I saw some of the youngsters in their knitted hats up the front where the barriers should’ve been and couldn’t help wondering how they would manage in the heat when the jumping started.

And start it did. As Touch Amore opened up with scream-along “~” hair and bobble-hats alike  started bouncing as far as I could see from where I was at the front. A gap between those who weren’t really up for jumping around opened up while those who wanted to surged forward only for some to land on the stage, turn and jump off and back into the crowd. The youthful set pogo’d into a blur of 18-19 songs of pure delight. Despite guitar faults on the ethereal introduction on “Home Away From Here” I still went nuts for it.  I’ll admit that I couldn’t have hoped to have screamed along with all the words to even a majority of the songs, but it really didn’t matter; Touché Amore gave me the opportunity to move my feet and that was all I needed – nothing else mattered.

It was only afterwards that I realised that a large segment of the crowd had sat back and it was then that I met my co-conspirator for this gig who had some criticisms of Touché’s crowd banter – notably their pause to tell us how “Glasgow is the greatest city in the world” what with our amazing music scene (hmm, it’s no quite New York or Tokyo mate) and how great our city was (try living in it…) which to be fair, did come off as a bit disingenuous; if you have to cite Belle and Sebastian at an alternative metal/punk gig to tell us how good our musicians are then our musicians of those genres are simply not cutting the mustard. For the record FUCK BELLE AND SEBASTIAN, FUCK THAT ONE SONG OF THEIRS!. Big-upping Mogwai was a great shout though. While we’re name checking though feel free to check out the lesser known Amongst The Arrows, the defunct Take A Worm For A Walk Week or even the Edinburgh-based Boards of Canada for a start on alternative Scottish bands you might be interested in if you like Mogwai or any of the bands at this gig.

All of that hot air said and done, if I’m going to critique a band, it’s going to be on the music and not on their opinions and Touché Amore did a damn fine job of getting the crowd going and giving me an exciting reason to be at the gig early beyond scoffing merch up. After getting a taste of the new material they played 3 or 4 tracks from the end, I’m pretty excited for their new music and hope they pick up lots of new followers through it. Had the gig ended there I would’ve been pretty damn chuffed. Good job lads and come back soon.

But wait, there’s more! Converge front man, Jacob Bannon, popped out to do some warm-ups while the rest of the band completed a quick sound-check and off we went into the breach with Jane Doe’s “Concubine”. By this point I was half done-in from jumping around to Touché Amore and just being plain old, overweight and out of shape – so I waited around. Truth be told, I was really waiting to lose my shit for the next track which was another album opener: Axe To Fall’s “Dark Horse”. By this point it felt like most of the crowd were in jumping around and pitting and the atmosphere was that of a ‘big boys’ or adult gig. Truly, the heavyweights had arrived.

Despite people throwing themselves around and non-stop crowd-surfing I never felt that there was an atmosphere of anger or tension between the people throwing down in the pit or landing on others’ heads, which most bands and venues simply struggle to replicate; it felt like a community of people there for the same reason, watching out for one another while pulling crazy stunts you just don’t see at other gigs. Anything could happen but you knew you could get out of the kitchen if it got too hot – or alternatively, just take your bobble hat off.

Bannon’s short pauses about every three tracks to give quick-fire exchanges of wit with the audience helped with that, as did the crowd’s knowledge of what to expect as they chanted for “Trespasses” when the front man tested if they knew which track was coming next on the fifth song in. For me, it was that knowledge of what to expect from a band I didn’t previously know as well as I should have that was so integral to my enjoyment of the gig. So much so, that I think I’ll need to try and do this for every future show I go to.

And yet, in spite of my geeking out over their music and studying it beforehand, I wasn’t expecting “Sadness Comes Home” to be such a big tune. The ability for a band to surprise you when you’ve been listening to them non-stop for over a week, over a decade perhaps – is the mark of a great live performance and one that will make me go back and listen to them again and again. It’ll come as no surprise that I’m listening to that very track right now.

It was an amazing, amazing gig and one that’ll have me listening to Converge again and again – from the 4-5 tracks of new material that they played during the course of this gig, to the closer “Saddest Day” from 1996’s Petitioning the Empty Sky. Simply.Superb.

As a side note, I heard that there was another metal gig in town that night. How could two musicians who have seen the best of their career pass them by performing at the SECC ever compare to this? I read reviews on that particular gig and from what I heard, it didn’t.

See you next time Converge come around.

The Secret

A Storm Of Light

Touche Amore

Converge