It is always exciting to enter a venue of which there is a buzz in the air. For this evening, the enthusiasm stems from the UK’s flourishing rock scene of which we have three bands making waves bringing their own brand of alternative rock music to the forefront. With both Milk Teeth’s Becky Blomfield and Employed To Serve’s Justine Jones gracing the front cover of the current issue of Kerrang magazine, there is a sense of pressure for the bands to deliver on the existing hype surrounding them. Whilst the three acts performing tonight are sonically dissimilar; there is a common thread here – nostalgia with fresh paint.
Up first on the bill are five-piece South London rock act Wallflower. Fresh from their performance at 2000 Trees festival, the band bring forth a brilliantly tight and accomplished set of emotive rock that is both captivating and dynamic. Recent single ‘Mas Eu Quero Mais’ is a great example of the band firing on all cylinders; it entails post rock/emo influences of the early noughties, think Circa Survive, Brand New with a charging chorus more comparable to their contemporaries ala Black Foxxes. The use of melody throughout these songs is prolific, and the interplay between the guitar and bass lines are heightened thanks to the brilliant sound of this unique venue. In each instance of attending Epic Studios, I have been treated to a different set up of the way in which the event has been laid out. The sound proofing of a Television studio being used as a music venue, works massively in the bands’ favour as all of the quiet intricacies have room to breathe, whilst the bold fuzzy synths of ‘Splintered’ cut to the core with power. This recent single is a great example of a band expanding their sound with atmosphere, professionalism and flair; the delicate “I’m cold, but I’m warming up” sombre sung verses in contrast to the passionate chorus are a vivid example of what not only a fantastic singer they have, but a formula that points to a brilliant future. The new EP ‘Where It Fell Apart’ is out on August 18th, and from this performance it seems that the entire venue will be highly anticipating it.
If the extremely stationary audience on this Tuesday evening have not warmed up, then Employed To Serve arrive with intentions of achieving just that. Becky may politely encourage the audience to step forward and get involved however; the truth is that this band goes above and beyond and arrive like a sledgehammer to the face. This is not music to comfort and to ease into the night’s headliner; this is to confront and attack; less subtly guitarist Sammy Urwin sports the full metal aesthetic through his presence and tells the audience to “get off your phones or fuck off” before launching into opening track ‘Void Ambition’. Through recent years of seeing metalcore acts polish their sound with a sense of sheen and over production; this band are the raw breath of fresh air the scene has been needing that places aggression, riffs and groove back at the forefront. The band are bold as they slay through new cuts such as ‘Good For Nothing’ and ‘Platform 89’ in a performance that places the audience in a choke hold and refuses to let go until its final moments. It feels almost insulting that this band of such urgency and hardworking ethic can deliver ferocious numbers such as ‘No One’s Perfect, This Includes You’ to a lacklustre response from tonight’s audience; it is as if they were not prepared for this level of heaviness on a bill such as this. Despite the lack of activity, it seems most of the audience are fully enthralled by Justine’s performance as a powerful vocalist, and the whole room is nodding in unison to the set finale ‘I spend My Days – Wishing Them Away’: a track with a juggernaut riff capable of destroying any venues’ sound system, seriously, the guitar tone is huge. With a resurgence of metallic hardcore on the rise (take America’s Code Orange for example) this band is surely destined to take huge advances in the future if they keep on this path.
Now in stark contrast and with a plethora of LED lights behind them, Milk Teeth arrive to deliver choruses by the numbers. Opening with recent single ‘Owning Your Okayness’ from the recently released ‘Be Nice’ EP is a bold move as it is perhaps one of their strongest to date. Despite this evenings moody weather; with the now enthusiastic audience and bright aesthetic of the venue, this opening track serves as a summer anthem with feel good vibes coming from Becky’s confidence to deliver call and response cues during its brilliant hook “I like being with you”. The band simply explodes on stage with an infusion of energetic rock through ‘Brickwork’ and the 90’s grunge fuzz through tracks such as ‘Swear Jar’.
It is impressive to witness a young band take huge strides at such break neck pace; this set encapsulates all things that make their sound an amalgamation of nostalgia and contemporary rock – ‘Crows Feet’ oozes grunge inspiration from The Smashing Pumpkins whilst new single ‘Prism’ sits in the realm of their contemporaries ala Decade whilst allowing Becky’s voice to truly shine amongst some terrific vocal harmonies. On the topic of backing vocals, new addition ‘Fight Skirt’ is conceivably one of the sets more aggressive moments thanks to its break neck pace and vocals at the forefront from new member William Hutton and brings forth a frantic mosh pit.
The blend of old and new continues throughout this set and is a joy to behold; notably they throw in a quick rendition of the Foo Fighters classic ‘Everlong’ before seamlessly transitioning into ‘No Fun’, a track that is quite the opposite – gritty and full of energy as they add a raucous breakdown not in the original version. The band have established a well paced set as they take it down a notch for ‘Kabuki’ of which Becky dedicates the song to a fan, sharing a powerful story of her overcoming her anxiety to be in attendance of this evenings show. In similar solemn fashion, the band end their set on the closing track of new EP ‘Hibernate’; it is a ballad that showcases their song writing prowess, dynamic diversity and sheer power as their post rock influences fill the room with emotion. Milk Teeth have illustrated a clear formula of putting great influences into a melting pot, and perfected it to be consistently entertaining; and with recent backing from Roadrunner records, and support slots with other UK acts on the rise aka Creeper, the sky really is the limit.
All photos taken by Tayla Lungley – http://www.tlungleyphotos.co.uk
A diverse evening of alternative rock and heavy music shines in Norwich