Live Review: Rock Sound Tour, Birmingham O2 Academy, 7 April 2012
UK underground magazine Rock Sound and Europe’s biggest band merch distributors Impericon have come together for the Rock Sound Impericon Exposure Tour. The point of the tour is to give four of the best up and coming bands in the music scene the opportunity to gain a bigger following. The line up includes UK punk band Basement, US beat-down hardcore band Trapped Under Ice, US emotional pop punkers Man Overboard and UK hardcore heroes Your Demise. Its going to be heavy, fun and messy.
By the time I get into the venue Basement (6/10) are already in full swing. As is typical of the support band slot they suffer from first band up syndrome and are met with an unresponsive crowd. They work their way through a dull half hour set list with lead singer Alex being a bit into his own music clutching on to the microphone with his eyes closed whilst making no attempt at interaction between him, the band and the crowd.
Up next is Man Overboard (8/10) whose heartfelt brand of pop punk really energises the crowd. Playing their way through some of the best songs in their roster the band show themselves to be the shape of pop punk to come. At the Man Overboard merch table there’s a huge note that reads “you want merch, we want weed. Maybe we can trade?” Their cheeky note is a mirror of the way bassist/co-vocals Nik Bruzzese and guitarist/vocalist Zac Eisenstein interact with the chanting along crowd, pointing out the most boisterous of the fans and singling out fans they smoked with before the show. Oddly lead guitarist Justin Collier who is often considered to be the heart of Man Overboard looks bored and doesn’t really do much during the gig.
As Trapped Under Ice (5/10) come on stage my friend yells “They look like a band of Stiflers” and he’s totally right. With their baseball caps and rubbish 90’s looking Hawaiian shirts they do look a lot like the American Pie character. The band go on to totally destroy the ground work laid down by Man Overboard. Oddly named front man Justice Tripp’s voice is horrendously strained and weak sounding and doesn’t mix well with the songs as most of them are made up of a lot of bass and hardly any guitars. Without the support or cover up of the guitar riffs the vocals are awful. In the space of two months another band with a brilliant reputation for live performances has disappointed me.
As usual Your Demise (9/10) swagger on stage, the soundtrack to their cockiness being a Lil Wayne track, and proceed to blow the crowd’s minds. Judging by the sea of YD merch it’s clear who the crowd are here to see tonight. Their set list is made up of the best tracks from their two albums. Chant alongs such as These Lights and The Kids We Use To Be and mosh classics like Shine on and Born a Snake go down great with the crowd which is wild. Jumping singing, moshing, dancing and crowd surfing along and lead vocalist Ed McRae’s interaction with the crowd is great and it only stirs the audience up more. Repeatedly telling the crowd to “bring the s**t” and urging them to crowd to the front, Your Demise manage to put on a memorable show. On the final track McRae climbs up onto the rails at the front and summons the crowd to him. Everyone swells forward and McRae looks like a religious figure surrounded by adoring disciples, the grin plastered on his face communicates shock and humility. This guy knows how to work a crowd.
All in all it was a great tour. Man Overboard and Your Demise were brilliant putting on great performances. It’s a shame the same can’t be said of the other two. I had one issue with the tour and that is it’s the Rock Sound Impericon Exposure Tour yet there was no sign of either company at the gig. It just feels like the names of two prominent members of the music community have been slapped onto the tour like advertising, which is a shame especially considering how much Rock Sound supported their tour in November with Every Time I Die, so I expected more. That aside it was an excellent gig with the crowd being in good spirit and the bands being energetic. Roll on next year’s tour.