Enter Shikari @ Electric Ballroom
aaamusic | On 26, Oct 2011
London, 20th October
I spent the whole day (Thursday Oct 20th) leading up to Enter Shikari’s second sold-out show at Camden’s Electric Ballroom worried. Worried because frontman Rou Reynolds had been tweeting about losing his voice prior to these London shows. The fact that the show the night beforehand had gone ahead didn’t make me feel in anyway more optimistic, it made me more worried, because I was sure that screaming his lungs out last night must’ve finished his voice off. But the postponement never came, and my reservations about whether he might not be up to his usual form were obliterated the second the band took to the stage of London’s premier sweatbox.
First up tonight, however, is letlive. who this reviewer has been waiting too long to see, having missed their across-the-board, five-star live reviews over the summer. The venue is only partially full, and they have a short set billed painfully early on, but despite this they absolutely kill it. ‘The Sick,Sick, 6.8 Billion’ and a rousing rendition of ‘Muther’ are the highlights of this tight, passion-filled display of punk-rock. The best post-hardcore band since Glassjaw – believe the hype! Your Demise are the next band on the bill and their Hatbreed-style metalcore unifies the crowd for the first real time this evening. Personally, I feel Your Demise are an overrated band, but their generic, fist-pumping hardcore does work well in the live environment – particularly on the closing couplet of ‘Miles Away’ and ‘The Kids We Used To Be.’
Somehow, the only time I have managed to see the reputable live band Enter Shikari before was when they did a DJ-set at Digital in Newcastle (which was nothing to write home slash blog about). Having seen them clock up live award after live award, and read glowing reviews year and year, I wasn’t sure that they could live up to my exceedingly high expectations (especially because of the prior vocal worries!). But, enough about my worries (!), because they turned out to be completely unfounded. As Enter Shikari emerge to some kind of ‘Common Dreads’ remixed intro, the crowd loses its s**t. Everyone loses their s**t before they band even play a note! Launching into what is perhaps my favourite Shikari song – ‘Destabilise’ – the band instantly demonstrate why they are considered such a formidable live act. Their sound is pitch-perfect, they have a blitzing light show, and the crowd jump, barge, and sing like Enter Shikari are the only rock band left in the world. Shikari have really beefed up the electronic elements of their music, with extended dubstep breakdowns and the occasional remixed interlude, and this all makes for an exhilarating ride. Programmed bass-heavy tracks like ‘Zzzonked,’ ‘Havoc A,’ and a shortened version of ‘The Jester’ sound immense tonight, with the crowd creating the same pits for the dubstep as the metalcore breakdowns. New tracks like ‘Sssakepit’ and ‘Quelle Suprise’ sound somewhere between the post-hardcore of their debut and the punkier, dancier ‘tech-core’ of ‘Common Dreads.’ With equal weighting given to the metal backbone and the electronica accompaniments, it really feels like Shikari have found their sound. Perhaps the set could’ve done with some more early material (‘Johnny Sniper’ is sadly absent), but the closer of the main set ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ gets the predictable apes**t response, as does the first track of the encore ‘Juggernauts’ (perhaps their greatest single?).
However, it wasn’t really the music that made this show such a wicked live experience (I already knew and loved all these songs). It wasn’t even the impressive lightshow or mist cannons (pointed down directly at the crowd to “cool them down”). It was the energy that every member of the band displayed – the singer, guitarist, and bassist all, at various moments, climbed upon speaker stacks and jumped into or near the crowd. It was the natural charisma and effortless jokes that every member of the band dished out – particularly after the crowd tore Rou’s shirt to shreds (note to Rou: take spare shirts to your gigs). It was the talent and precision that every member of the band contained – they can all sing incredibly well. And, last but in no way least, it was the response from the crowd – I haven’t seen crowd interaction, both vocal and physical, like this since the last time I saw Machine Head. There’s no doubt that Enter Shikari can pull off this same kind of show in the larger venues that they normally call home – such as the Hammersmith Apollo – but it was a real treat to see them do their thing in this intimate venue. Look after that voice Rou, the UK alternative scene needs it!
Author: Clive Rozario
Photos: Will Howard