Stoke-On-Trent used to have a genuinely booming hardcore scene, with venues like The Underground providing ample space for bands and punters alike to join and throw down together. With the scene moving onto bigger cities like Birmingham and Manchester, the events all but dried up, but now there appears to be a inkling of a revival in the pipeline. With DEATH REMAINS already having played there the previous weeks, The Exchange played host to yet another night of slams and two stepping as HARDSIDE deliver one their final UK shows to all those present.
Local mob 2X4 provide ample opportunity for the scarce crowd to warm themselves up for the following bands. The young group show some cracks their performance but nothing that more practise and playing won’t be able to fix. The music is there and the clear influences from bands like KNOCKED LOOSE give the group a good edge that does work well to set them apart but the band still need to fully grown into themselves.
STRIKE BACK are up next, and combined with a cheeky cover of Davidian by MACHINE HEAD, the set is one that with a bigger crowd would’ve simply decimated the small venue. The band seemed keen but the small crowd was unable to reciprocate the energy and as such the set falters. The band have the confidence and the set is enjoyable with enough pace to keep the momentum flowing before the band deliver their trademark riffs with crushing effect.
With the headliners spending their final time in the UK, WILL TO DIE celebrate their first European tour supporting their new record Twist Of The Knife. The lumbering grooves and slow paced assault makes the set a devastating one, with the band simply laying waste to the small room with ease.
HARDSIDE start to an empty room but the bark of frontman Zane immediately brings the crowd to fill the space. Diving quickly into the set, the bands balance of punky riffs and brutal breakdowns makes the set flow fantastically well, so well that it ends even before it truly takes off. The pit is kept moving for most of the set, but it does feel far to short and bittersweet for a final tour. The band play well and it is certainly sad to see such a talent call it quits though.