Having been broken in with the electro-pop of Courage, My Love, and the raw hardcore of Holding Absence, those in attendance eagerly await the set of main support Trash Boat, and Headliners As It Is.
Following a slightly shaky start-Tobi Duncan’s mic has a slight technical hiccup -Trash Boat are in blistering form. Starting the set with ‘Inside Out’ from 2018’s brilliant ‘Crown Shyness’, Trash Boat’s hardcore-tinged pop-punk is the perfect sound to get the crowd properly warmed up.
As mentioned on Shane Told’s excellent ‘Lead Singer Syndrome’ podcast; Trash Boat frontman Tobi Duncan worked on his growled and shouted vocals, while recording ‘Crown Shyness’. This has paid dividends in the live environment, as tracks from previous record ‘Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through’ are given a new lease of life with this expertly delivered rage.
It’s a short, but fantastic set, and with a collection of support slots on this stage firmly under their belts, don’t be surprised if Trash Boat are headlining here themselves over the next year or so.
Following Trash Boat’s minimalistic stage setup, the contrast for As It Is, is quite stark. Boasting stage lights, smoke machines, flags and podiums, a sense of theatre and drama is palpable. Bands such as Green Day and My Chem would be envious of such a setup.
In keeping with the dramatic atmosphere, As It Is make their way to the stage one-by-one, as their respective instruments join opening number ‘The Reaper’. The last member of the band to hit the stage is frontman Patty Walters. A perfect balance of dapper and creepy in his red suit, eyeliner, and jet-black emo fringe; he could be Gerard Way’s younger brother.
Beyond aesthetics, however, Patty makes the stage his own. Bounding between podiums, his voice jumping from a quiet whimper to a tortured shriek, it’s clear that Patty and the band won’t be phoning it in this evening.
Following this, the band play through ‘The Handwritten Letter’ from this year’s ‘The Great Depression’, and ‘No Way Out’ from 2017’s ‘Okay’. As the latest album suggests, tonights overriding theme is talking about mental health; something very close to the band’s heart.
During the set Walters declares that the writing of ‘The Great Depression’ began three weeks before the release of its predecessor. While is isn’t unusual for bands to be constantly looking ahead to their next project, it can usually wait until after the previous album has hit record store shelves. This tells us something of the toll that writing and recording ‘Okay’ and the demons it made them face, and ultimately exorcise on ‘The Great Depression’. This is also evident in the live arena, where Walters is visibly living each and every, shrieked and whimpered lyric, and guitarist, and co-songwriter, Benjamin Langford-Bliss is hammering out the mental torture, through his guitar, as some kind of cathartic release.
While the subject matter is somewhat heavy, what can’t be denied is that As It Is put everything into their live show. Suited and booted like the rock stars they’ve become; their energy is infectious, and their deliver right and slick. This ensures that newer tracks such as ‘The Great Depression’ and ‘The Truth I’ll Never Tell’ eliciting as loud a sing-along as the few old numbers that make their way into the set-namely ‘Dial Tones’ and ‘Can’t Save Myself’. This energy, dedication and earnestness has ensured a level of fan devotion that is rarely seen in the modern alternative rock scene.
Indeed, rather strangely, it seems As It Is have tapped into something very contemporary, by reviving something that supposedly died out a decade ago. By aesthetically aping bands such as My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, Underoath and Thursday, and singing about mental health so openly, they have invoked nostalgia for a breed of post-hardcore that the current scene wasn’t aware that it was missing. When Walters implores the crowd to keep talking about mental health, and thanks them for allowing the band to ‘be themselves’ you know he means every word. You can also tell how much this means to every crowd member in attendance. This show has been nothing short of triumphant.
A lot has been recently, of the decline in guitar music. Based tonight’s evidence, that prognosis might be slightly premature. If bands like As It Is continue to take post-hardcore to heart, then the scene might just be around for a long time yet!