I go to some gigs because I know the music so well I’m unbelievably amped to see how it goes live. Some other times it’s just because someone’s invited me. I went to Bristol’s Exchange last night to see Circle Takes the Square simply because my friend Gem asked me if I wanted a ticket. I’ve been a fan of punk and emo for years, but she always somehow manages to find bands I’ve never heard of. When I asked her about it she said it’s down to following good quality record labels that she trusts in.
The night kicked off with This Ends Here, who were decent enough and certainly heavy enough, but just lacked any interaction with the crowd, or weren’t streamlined enough to avoid the gaps when it was needed. Between songs they talked to each other, but not the crowd. They often played with their backs to us, which meant that sometimes their live show lacked a focal point.
This was in stark contrast to Full of Hell, who gave an absolutely brutal live show. From the moment the drummer opened with a big heavy beat, their ferocious live show was insane! Every member had a big presence. Feedback rang out between songs, which made the whole set unrelentingly heavy. The singer paced the stage like a young Henry Rollins.
Code Orange Kids didn’t provide any easy listening either – they were another absolutely full on live band. They were again insanely heavy, with a ‘rip your face off’ delivery. Their 3 singers meant that had really great balanced vocals (although balanced doesn’t sound quite right with all the screaming… unhinged?!). The heaviness of the music was only matched with the heaviness of the live show. The audience really got into it – I could tell by the mosh pit in front of me, and the cold air that was being fanned on the back of my neck from the dude headbanging behind me. I kept wondering when he might take it a bit too far and knock me out, but his exhuberance was remarkably controlled. But having said all that, Code Orange Kids had more of a contrast in their songs than previous bands, with a few quiet intros juxtaposing the brutality.
Circle Takes the Square had a bloody enormous task to take on – following probably two of the most intense live bands I’ve seen for a while. They took Code Orange Kids’ dynamics a step further, with more quieter bits amongst their songs, whilst still maintaining the heavy focus. The rhythms were slower and more mid-paced when compared to the other bands, and they weren’t quite as active either. This all meant they weren’t as imposing as Code Orange Kids or Full of Hell, but they were great musicians, with some amazing staccatto rhythms showing just how tight they were.
All in all last night reinforced just why I got into rock music back in the day – the sheer energy of it all. Even if this kind of music isn’t your thing, the intensity of the live show was unreal compared to bands of many other genres. I love a lot of pretty softcore stuff these days, but in terms of spectacle none of them match this kind of show.