Live Review: Basement w/ Joyce Manor & Ecca Vandal | SWX, Bristol | 23/11/18

Following on from a fairly quiet and peaceful 2017, the Suffolk emo sensations Basement have had a barnstorming year thus far, with the group releasing their fourth full length offering Beside Myself in late October. Whilst this year has seen the trendsetters fly through both Europe and North America, the group have capped off the year with a full headline run through their home shores, ending the year with a show at Bristol’s SWX. With Ecca Vandal and Joyce Manor in tow, it was certainly a fantastic way to cap off what has been another incredibly successful year for the group.

Despite hailing from the perpetually gorgeous Melbourne, Ecca Vandal (9) have made our overcast pastures their home for the past six months. Whilst the group originally visited our shores for what was initially a short run of festival dates, the Aussie group temporally established camp on our side of the planet for the best part of half a year, forging their craft and a respective name for themselves deep within the stomach of the UK scene. Whilst tonight marks their final performance before what is undoubtedly set to be a long flight back home, it’s crystal clear that their presence hasn’t gone unnoticed, with many making the journey down early to wish them farewell on this grim Friday evening.

Matching the aggression of contemporary punk with the metropolitan stomp and swagger of urban synthetic beats, it’s certainly is direct contrast to the lo-fi attitudes present on this line-up. Certainly, it’s not the first time an artist has created a hybrid of alternative and hip hop, but by far, it’s one of the best and most convincing. With a setlist composed of material from their recently released self titled record, it’s an intoxicating hypothermic injection of unhinged and innovative punk mentality, with the likes of ‘Closing Ceremony’ and ‘Price Of Living’ igniting a fire within the stomachs of everyone gathered. Of course, the frontwoman, Ecca Vandal herself, is the living embodiment of modern punk attitudes. A living monument of perpetual movement, her swagger, shrieks and flow just show how incredible a living sustainable hybrid of punk and hip hop can be. Ending on the incendiary and hedonist vibe of ‘Broke Days, Party Night’s’, a track that resonates the mentality of our troubled yet resilient generation, Ecca Vandal are one of the few punk/hip-hop artists that have the crucial style required to make a dent, but the substance too. An extraordinary act that’s destined to shatter boundaries in the year to come.

Whilst Ecca Vandal’s take on contemporary punk truly breaks and upheaves new ground, Joyce Manor (8) display a more conventional and discernible take on heart on hand pop punk. However, despite the slightly more formulaic design of their output, the sheer earnest octane is more than enough to trigger the combustion of the now colossal crowd in attendance, with the drafted security having more than a little trouble catching the summersaulting limbs flying over the barrier for ‘Ashtray Petting Zoo’ and ‘Heart Tattoo’. This is without a doubt pop punk in it’s true form; tales of coming of age and intoxication displayed with fervent drunken honesty and humour.

Whilst Joyce Manor have mastered the art of creating tracks that contain substantial progression, dynamism and human emotion, tracks such as ‘Leather Jacket’ prove to be snap hurricanes of punk mentality, with the gathering in attendance being haplessly relocated and swept of their feet with the violent and youthful winds conjured by the band. As the group finally crash headfirst into the dazed and adolescent concussion of ‘Catalina Fight Song’, it’s clearly evident that ingenuity and the sensibilities of the original pop punk movement are still alive.

Despite their most recent record, the aforementioned Beside Myself, being only approximately a month old, it’s transparent that the legion in attendance have studied Basement's (9) most recent offering religiously. Opening with the rousing and anthemic ‘Disconnect’ before launching into ‘Nothing Left’, it immediately transpires that tonight is a full celebration of both their continuous success and consistent excellence. Clearly, such a sentiment is shared by the masses, with every word being mirrored with passion and ecstasy. Such fervent intensity is only amplified with a number of choice cuts from their back catalogue, with staples such as ‘Aquasun’, ‘Whole’ and ‘Brother’s Keeper’ being the catalyst for almost deafening roars. Whilst the group have remained loyal to their almost lethargic aesthetic after all these years, it’s clear that the group are shimmering with infectious zeal and vigour. Maybe it’s the fact that this is their last show for the year or it’s the fact that next year will play host to their biggest achievements thus far, but either way, the group are another level entirely tonight.

Even with a back catalogue as celebrated as Basement’s, material from Beside Myself still triggers the impassioned cries synimious with the material from their respective youth. ‘Reason For Breathing’ and ‘Ultraviolet’ present how modernized emo, a genre stereotypically associated with subterranean movements, can be transplanted into a room of this size with it’s integrity still intact. Even with a row of monolithic mirrors flanking the group, a stage prop most simple yet so effective, it still feels like the same band we loved back when they were playing floor shows in pubs. Of course, most of the devoted gathered have been loyal since those days, with classic tracks such as ‘Pine’, ‘Spoiled’, ‘Crickets Throw Their Voices’ and ‘Covet’ still ringing with impassioned emotion and still resonating the original emotions despite the passage of time. Truly, as ‘Cove’ blends into the darkness, it’s clear that some will be suffering from some weak and sore throats come morning.

It’s difficult to name a UK act who have been more successful in surfing the wave of revivalist emo than Basement. Closing their year with the 2016 hit ‘Promise Everything’, judging from the broad range of demographics gathered tonight, Basement are a band that transcend movements and scenes, and a crucial stable of our national alterative scene. Whilst this tour may have been their biggest yet in terms of the capacity of venues, it feels like 2019 will offer even more lofty and spacious environments for the group.