The date was Sunday 4th December, as I entered Bristol’s prestigious 02 Academy as Wage War [8/10] already drove their fierce sound into the faces watching, an already full venue so my expectations were immediately heightened. Hailing from Ocala, Florida, which A Day to Remember have already marked on the map of metalcore, the band open with an absolute belter entitled ‘Hollow’. A short track, but vocalist Briton Bond’s vocals over a heavy drum beat and high pitched lead-line, there was no hesitation in my mind that this band was serious. In today’s market the band risk being lost in a sea of metalcore band’s, but their set left me wanting to check out their debut album 'Blueprints' in an instant, the album was released through Fearless Records in 2015 and after what I’m assuming with their last few tour runs promoting this album, I am looking forward to what they produce in the future. Wage War brought the full package to a small stage with next to no production, providing great crowd interaction, strong melodies and some excellent vocal hooks sang by guitarist Cody Quistad. Wage War made their mark, which is certainly not overlooked on this already absolutely stacked line-up.
As Wage War leave the stage, hardly a body moves in the audience as they eagerly wait for Long Island’s Stray from the Path [9/10]. An American answer to Enter Shikari, Stray is a political centred band and concentrate on the broken and corrupted system in the States. The crowd started to chant their name throughout the venue and cheer when their techs come on stage to do a line check, the set starts with a sample from American news reports, focusing on the recent presidential election. The band opens with one of the main singles of newly released album ‘Subliminal Criminals’. ‘Outbreak’ is a right head banger and gets the crowd moving nicely, you hear echoes of the lyrics ‘Subliminal Criminals, fuck this system’ being shouted back at vocalist Drew York, with a bit of encouragement to the crowd, Drew gets a big open pit right in front of him. Their mad vibe is a cross between Beastie Boys and Rage Against The Machine and I feel these bands live on through Stray From The Path. I noticed they had slightly slowed down the track compared to the record and this made it sound even heavier, with nodding heads and gun fingers spread throughout the crowd. Stray have consistently been a one guitar band, but if you had your eyes closed you would not think this as guitarist Tom Williams is a master of his craft, achieving ridiculous sounds and pounding out signature riffs. After playing some old bangers like ‘Negative and Violent’ and personal favourite ‘Black Friday’, Drew takes some time to address the audience, he confirms he is the frontman of an outspoken band, they are not happy with the current state of the USA and the results of the recent presidential election. The band speaks about issues seen outside the 4 walls the audience stand in. They realise they cannot control these issues but they are using this platform to speak their opinions, accusing bands of not being honest with their fans, and using this platform to fuel their darker sides and directly went to taking advantage of underage girls. The band directly called out Front Porch Step and Ian Watkins, signing off with a massive fuck you and delivered an unbelievable performance of 'D.I.E.P.I.G.' Stray From the Path will never put on a standard show, and after being a band for 13 years you can see that practice makes perfect.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Northlane [8/10] all came out wearing matching black clothing, some members wearing black face masks, I couldn’t quite get my head around what these were for, but the presence they made on stage was massive. This was my first time watching them since Marcus Bridge’s arrival as the frontman of the band; I was also a big fan of their previous vocalist Adrian Fitipaldes. Opening with Marcus’ debut single ‘Rot’, the band provided a big sound from the stage and I immediately noticed Marcus using a ‘Ego riser’, a metal stand on the front of the stage to get higher than the audience, I’m not usually a big fan of bands using these, however Marcus used it well and interacts with the crowd after almost every sentence. The band suffered a technical issue towards the end of the song and were forced to take a few minutes break to resolve the issue, however taking the time to pay their respect to the other bands on the bill. From then on, the set contained ridiculous bass tones and breakdown after breakdown. Featuring older songs like ‘Dispossession’ this was Marcus’ challenge to keep up with the vocals that were written for previous vocalist, however Marcus makes the song his own and the crowd erupts throughout. There isn’t a point in the set where you feel the band are out of sync, and are playing perfectly in time with each other. Closing with classic ‘Quantum Flux’ and ‘Obelisk’ the crowd provide a deserving applause to a band that seems to never fail in providing. Special shout out to their lighting engineer as their lights really put an emphasis on their performance and made the set visually stunning.
This then set the stage for the eagerly awaited headliner; The Amity Affliction [9/10] wasted no time and came on stage with CO2 and confetti cannons. Opening with new single ‘I Bring The Weather With Me’, which received a good reaction considering they have just released latest album ‘This Could be Heartbreak’, they played a set list containing old songs and new pleasing everyone in the crowd. I feel if this was to be a non-barrier show, the crowd would be all over the stage as open hands were reaching for vocalist Joel Birch. Considering the band have been set-back by many member departures, they seem to be at an all-time high and are at the peak of an already prized career, Ahren Stringer’s mind-bending vocal melodies gives the crowd prime opportunity to get involved and raise the roof off the 02 Academy. The band played an ultimately flawless set with the band coming out to a 3 song encore, featuring massive singles ‘Pittsburgh’, ‘Don’t Lean on Me’ and ‘This Could Be Heartbreak’. One of my favourite moments of the night coming from the choir filled feeljerker in the final minute of Pittsburgh, I looked around the crowd and there was not one eye in the room that wasn’t fixated on the performance. I had also noticed their regular drummer was not present, and was informed that the fill-in was their backline tech, drummer of Goodtime Boys and Funeral For a Friend, Casey McHale. Who had a maximum of 6 hours to learn the entire set and I have no other words to comment apart from, he fucking smashed it. Overall an absolutely insane night of music from bands originating from all over the globe, metalcore is definitely still alive and well.
Photo Credit: Ryan Winstanley