STICK TO YOUR GUNS are one of the biggest names in modern hardcore. Through their poignant and emotionally charged sound, the band have soared up the ranks and are beloved by many. 2017 saw the arrival of album number six, True View, and now, the band are hitting the road to support their new musical chapter. Armed with BEING AS AN OCEAN, SILENT PLANET and FIST BLOOD in tow, we caught the show in Manchester to witness the musical fury.
‘It’s always hard opening the night’ were the words of the vocalist of FIRST BLOOD after a less-than-enthusiastic response from their first couple of songs. ‘It never gets any easier.’ The humble nature of the band, and their grind on the hardcore circuit is appreciated by the crowd, and many heads nodded along to the band’s enthusiastic, homegrown hardcore. Much of the set was taken up by songs from their newer album Rules, for which the occasional punter spinkicked their way across the floor. A slow start to the night, but not lacking in wholesome hardcore spirit.
The tension in the room ramped up in anticipation of Californian progressive hardcore act SILENT PLANET. A band that’s made their mark on the scene with their passionate live shows, topical and controversial lyrics and motives, and the ‘I will bring you lemonade’ meme (thanks, Jarrod Alonge), excitement was high. The band powered through a relatively short set, clocking in at 24 minutes, with songs such as Panic Room from their popular full-length Everything Was Sound – however, most of the songs were taken from older material. This was a questionable decision considering many of the fans in the room will have been brought in by Everything Was Sound. However, the band gave a soaring, melodic, beautiful and brutal rollercoaster-ride of a performance, and thus their live show did not suffer in that respect. The intimate setting of Club Academy did wonders to enhance the atmosphere of emotion contained within their music. Perhaps, however, they would have benefited from a longer set.
A band as big as BEING AS AN OCEAN led to great surprise when they were announced as support for this tour, seeming to be more suited to a co-headliner. This was reflected in the room, with much of the crowd sporting their merch and the room seeming to be as full as it was going to get that night. Straight from the release of their game-changing new album Waiting For Morning To Come, it’s safe to say that the band are at a high point right now. Coming on to introductory music, building waves of ambient synth, the atmosphere was electric – all helped by their stunning light show. In stark comparison to SILENT PLANET, their set was long, fitting in nearly 50 minutes of songs. It was obvious throughout that the new material was a revelation live, with Joel Quartuccio’s powerful growls and passionate singing echoing through the room, leaving some in elation and some in tears. Highlights of the set came from new song Thorns, for which the expansive mix of their new music melded with a powerful drum tone to create a room-shaking aural and visual experience, as well as an extended cut of their classic The Hardest Part is Forgetting Those You Swore You Would Never Forget. They are undoubtedly the forerunner in melodic hardcore right now, and entirely unmissable.
The long-awaited headliners STICK TO YOUR GUNS did not waste time in taking to the stage. Their new album True View has made significant waves in the hardcore scene, making it onto many album of the year lists. It is, in all respects, a classic STICK TO YOUR GUNS record, and the band recognised that by populating the setlist with its anthems. Starting with the hard-as-nails intro 3 Feet From Peace, and going into Married To The Noise, the room got down to business, rolling like waves for every breakdown that Jesse Barnett and his crew threw at them. Classics such as Amber also made the cut, as well as the sing-along staples Nobody and Against Them All. Humble as ever, Jesse took time before the last few songs to thank the crowd for supporting them, and apologise for the shorter set than usual due to his throat infection. This may have come as a surprise to many in the room, as illness was not reflected in his vocals at all – they were as powerful as in the studio. After hitting so many gigs in the UK as support recently, for those such as ARCHITECTS, ASKING ALEXANDRIA and PARKWAY DRIVE, playing their own headline must have been a breath of fresh air for the hardcore kings – and this was evident in their zeal and enthusiasm on stage.