Wednesday 27th May
Sound Control, Manchester
Anybody lucky enough to have been in their teens or twenties back in 2006 will remember the immistakably British angst that erupted from Watford in the form of Gallows. Back when Kerrang! saw its heyday, and almost exactly a month before Gerard Way and his band of eccentric outsiders captured the hearts of the misfit youth with the elaborate glitz of The Black Parade, Gallows dropped their debut, Orchestra of Wolves. Evolving from the same generational confusion as their American peers, Gallows chose to unite their youth, just like their brit-punk ancestors, with noisy, angry and cathartic guitar tunes. A lot has changed since then, not least for Gallows themselves, with the departure of vocalist Frank Carter and the addition of ex-Alexisonfire guitarist/vocalist, Wade MacNeil, the band have been entertaining a heavier, more American sound. On the circuit for their new album, Desolation Sounds, the band checked in at Manchester's Sound Control.
Opening the night in the fittingly tight and dark attic of the venue, Southampton's Creeper proved to be a powerful force of emo-tinged alternative-punk, with vocalist, Will Gould, taking obvious performance inspiration from the school of Freddy Mercury and Gerard Way, and with a strong sonic backbone comparable to Pittsburgh punks Anti-Flag. The band look and sound perfectly at home conducting a room of energetic punks. Though the room may have been still and airy prior to their set, Creeper did a fine job of riling up the crowd. Though I don’t think I've ever seen a band make quite as much of a scene as the second support, Baby Godzilla.
Having toured with the post-hardcore, genre bending masters of showmanship Enter Shikari, part of me expected some antics from this band. Seconds in I realised antics wasn’t quite the word I should have been looking for. From the second the band were allowed to take to the stage, they spent every second trying to play anywhere but the stage. At one point the vocalist lay dangled from the waving rafters towards the bar whilst one guitarist stood atop the bass amp, now in the center of a raging circle pit, casually riffing on two guitars slapped one atop the other. Baby Godzilla simply are punk. Sonically their music would fall into some niche post-hardcore post-metal genre tag, but in delivery and ethos they are the definition of punk. Despite the aggressive nature of their performance, the band all came across as genuine, professional and good-hearted lads, another staple of real punk, joking with and thanking the crowd whenever they got the chance. Definitely a band to watch.
By the time Baby Godzilla were done shaking the very foundations of the venue, the crowd seemed understandably amped for more of the same. Luckily for the writhing masses, Gallows were more than ready to deliver. Whist sticking to the stage, rather than the far reaches of the venue, Gallows still managed, and with apparent ease, to deliver a performance with just as much bite. It was brilliant to see a band that has seen such musical turbulence throughout its time together still hold the sharp, visceral tongue it started life with, and arguably tighter than ever. Through the addition of Wade McNeil, and the band's change in direction since the Frank Carter days, their sound has gathered an American tinge, a fuller and beefy-er backbone than the scratch and sheen of classically UK rooted punk and hardcore. This weighty foundation provides the perfect ground for McNeil's booming and graveled vocals. Sonically I could hear many aspects of the DC Hardcore scene from the 90s, with elements of more pop-punk / post-hardcore bleeding out, not dissimalar to Florida's A Day To Remember. Gallows seemed to work like a brilliant and unique engine, using every inch of stage space to hurl themselves into their craft. This energy, with force, bounced from person to person, all around the venue and through the limbs of each of their dedicated fans. That beautifully aggressive and joyfully welcoming punk / metal scene is still very much alive. With bands like Gallows, Baby Godzilla and Creeper forming strong connections with one another and with the thousands of outsiders just like them, it seems these bands will always find a way to create honest art and energy regardless of whether anybody on the outside takes any notice.
Review by Sean Toohey
Images courtesy of rocktransmission