Live Review: Palm Reader w/ Haggard Cat, Cove & Backroads | The Exchange, Bristol | 25/07/18


Despite being an act who are fresh faced and making their initial foray into the often-unpredictable world of live music, local metalcore mob Backroads (8) clearly have the attitude, skill and crucial aptitude required to make a name for themselves not only within the local scene, the expanded national one. Given that emotionally driven core music isn’t the most original genre, Backgrounds breathe homegrown and fresh air into this often tested genre, pumping copious amounts of adolescent energy into their live presence.

With a focus on fluid yet punishing tone and vocal delivery, an ample amount of borderline rustic rawness lends itself beautifully towards their sound, intensify and exaggerating the emotional frustration evident within their output. Whilst the group are still evidently in the process of ironing out those awkward initial kinks that are synonymous with emerging young talent, this is an act that are fully driving towards a promising future as long as they can retain the youthful and raw intensity and tone projected tonight. A remarkably tight set from a local act who seem extremely grateful for such an opportunity.

Fresh from representing the Kentish alternative scene at 2000 Trees, alternate hardcore crew Cove (8) follow up and expand on the aggrieved emotional deliverance laid by tonight’s openers. Within an emphasis on metallic rhythmic groove that underlines their raw and barraging output, Cove fantastically deliver the intimate frustrated punishment that has become synonymous with this genre.

Melodic yet unstably virulent, the group present content their A Conscious Motion, their most recent EP, in a fashion that’s tight and rehearsed yet not too constrictively controlled, allowing the emotion and anger evident within their material to breathe and radiate freely. In an age where young acts in the same vein as this Cove aim to tightly and excessively control their sound, Cove lets their strengthened output flow freely and loosely, yet never toe upon the line of sloppiness. A serrated slice of youthful aggression from an act that has building a solid following recently.

Whilst all acts on tonight’s bill aim to present a certain level of sober aggravated sincereness, aiming and excelling in presenting emotional intensity, Nottingham power duo Haggard Cat (9) aim to do one thing; bring a barrage of sporadic rock and roll ruckus to the people. Ultimately, as anyone who has seen this act can testify to, they excel at it. Fresh from bringing the 2000 Trees mainstage down, The Cat have their claws firmly embedded within the foundations and ethos of the DIY sound and scene, channeling high octane cues from the world of rock whilst disregarding any pretentious and fraudulent bullshit, substituting it with pure undiluted. With a setlist composed primarily of material from their debut Challenger, with ‘Bearfoot’ leading into the frenzied and uncaged fretwork of ‘Goldberg’, it’s a fresh and thoroughly engaging set of youthful and dynamic energetic sensibilities.

Whilst it would be unjust to draw comparisons to frontman Matt Reynolds previous act Heck, the forefront and sporadic and volatile intensity of his persona fully remains intact since Heck’s dismantlement, allowing such skilled lunacy to bring the already aerodynamic material from their records to life. In relation, the amalgamation of live vitality and intricate substance is infectiously engaging on a primal level, allowing material from both Challenger and their Charger EP to be unchanged from the metaphysical restraints of the record. Ending on the barraging wall of mayhem that is ‘The Patriot’, it’s high octane, pressurised set from one of most exciting and thrilling homegrown acts within the UK alt scene.

If there’s any band more deserving of a sudden influx of positive attention following the release of a tremendous album it’s undoubtfully Palm Reader (9.5). Ever since the release of the their phenomenal third record Braille, the Nottingham five piece have broken free of the confides of the dingy toilet circuit and have been firing on all cylinders, pumping so much vigour into their live show it’s a surprise that their metaphorical engine hasn’t self-combusted yet, a fact that is impossible to stay ignorant to tonight. Honestly, it’s incredibly gratifying to see this act to pack out rooms such as the Exchange tonight.

The ill-boding and forewarning antagonism of set opener ‘Sing Out, Survivor’ fantastically manifests the required atmosphere for this set, as the group pounce into a feverish and blistering rendition of Braille’s ‘Internal Winter’ prior to indulging in the sporadic violence that is the fan favourite ‘Stacks’. Blistering, abrasive and darkly malicious, Palm Reader have became an act cherished for their ability to channel pure unfiltered belligerence and bitterness into their live performances, intensify and bolstering the tracks that are performed from all three releases.

There’s a genuine air of authenticity within their standardised energetic and hostile sound tonight, with the group dishing out serrated trauma through their intricate and dynamic take on extreme music. Whilst many bands attempt to manifest an air of real aggression within their sound, often though tired clichés, Palm Reader are the real deal, manifesting nihilistic hostility in a manner beyond the capabilities of most acts.

With a setlist consisting of material from all three of their releases, the more dynamic and emotionally varied nature within content from Braille sounds complimentary to the group’s earlier work, with such tracks such as ‘Inertia’ and ‘Coalescence’ showcasing adding more substantial depth and dynamism to their already pre-existing multidimensional sound, a sentiment that becomes transparent as Reynolds from Haggard Cat reprises his vocal duties on ‘Inertia’, lending his expansive and acrobatic skills in the process. Ending on the fervent bladed edge of Beside The Ones We Love’s ‘I Watch The Fire Chase My Tongue’, Palm Reader are a crucial and much required razor-sharp staple of the UK scene, and one that provides a live show unparalleled by similar aggressive acts.

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