My Only, Empires Fade, Giants & Polar – The Flapper, Birmingham (Live Review)

Rating:

Sometimes a venue and a musical style go hand in hand, and tonight in the basement of The Flapper, an all-black room which became hotter with every note and every emotive shout, UK hardcore felt like it was at home.

With such a packed line up this was a show that offered incredible value for money and an ever changing rotating stage. As My Only walked onto the stage it was clear they are a four-piece with wisdom beyond their years. The combination of confident strut and emotional prowl create a performance that is immersive from start to finish. This is a performance which is far from just stage presence and being eye-catching instead this is a band that plays angular impassioned songs with a wide range of inspiration. Vocally, the range within this act is enormous and balances well with the considered musicancianship to create complex soundscapes which blend with brute force to deliver a musical range of great variety. The combination of post hardcore, early emo and hardcore create comparisons to Crookes, Sparta, Fugazi and Touché Amoré. It is rare to see a young band to play with such maturity and create such atmosphere. I am excited to see where they take their sound next.

The vocalist from Empires Fade creates a dark figure as the band prepare to start; he prowls, snarls and locks the audience in a death stare in preparation for bursting into thirty minutes of metalcore. This is certainly loud and intense, but slightly confusing and technical difficulties on the mic may not have helped with vocals at times taking a very odd yapping dog pitch. The performance was accomplished and well-polished and every effort was made to get the confused audience involved, sadly to limited success.

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After the over technical metalcore of Empires Fade this venue needs something simple, loud and effective. Stepping up to the plate Giants smash this objective and the audience is locked in for a furious trip around their back catalogue. Recent release ‘Break the Cycle’ is well represented (and rightly so, it is incredible) and the audience are clearly fans, for the first time tonight there is movement at the front during the heavy breakdowns and sing-a-longs for the hooks. The combination of break down and hooks creates a very Scandinavian sound and has a definite nod towards the melodic hardcore and punk of Milencolin, Satanic Surfers and Enemy Alliance along with a more traditional hardcore playlist. Every moment of this set is full of intensity and presence making every second a pleasure to watch.

The impatient audience begin to file towards the stage in preparation for tonight’s headliner, and as Polar step out they have the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. This set is flying by with the band favouring intensity and brute force over subtlety and variety. This is what the audience has been waiting for all night. For forty five minutes, with the encouragement of the band, the audience throw each other around and fight to get to the front to offer their vocal contribution. This is an evening where Polar have read the room and have delivered what the audience want, hit follows hit and the room is left a sweaty mess. Polar left the stage with all the intensity they took it by storm and there are now lights and filler music filling the room.

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Tonight was a night of discoveries and confusion, and in such a large bill this is always going to be the case.