Despite taking to the stage literally minutes after doors, it's transparent that the people of Bristol have heralded the arrival of Black Peaks (8). Still riding high on the release of their tremendous sophomore record All That Divides, the group waste none of their allocated time on unnecessary introductions and jump straight into the colossal ‘Glass Built Castles’. Despite it not even being 7pm yet, Black Peak’s job of inciting mayhem is accomplished within seconds, with material from All That Divides sounding simply phenomenal on a stage such as this.
Image: Kieran Gallop
As the earth shattering ‘Can’t Sleep’ transpires into the progressive primordial density of ‘Eternal Light’, the crowd awakens even further, creating a sea of primal and uncaged movement. Despite the clear contrast in aesthetics and sonics to their peers tonight, Black Peaks once again radiate sheer excellence. A criminally short set from one of the biggest potentials this year. If this set and reaction is anything to go by, it’s only a matter of time before Black Peaks find themselves headlining rooms such this.
Following on from a lengthy promotional campaign last year, Payale Royale (4) found themselves perpetually locked in an internet storm last year, with the band being the subject of endless praise, criticism and confusion from the extended alternative music scene. With the group still being the subject of both speculation and scrutiny, it’s no wonder that the academy is packed to the rafters for their set. However, it’s likely that those seeking an explanation for this band are still undoubtedly harbouring such questions concerning this act.
Opening with ‘Don’t Feel Quite Right’, whilst the band have become known for explosive flamboyance, there’s a stagnant air of passiveness and apathy radiating from the band. As the group fly through their pastel and gateway glam-meets-art rock numbers, it’s difficult to judge if the group’s reserved and expressionless nature is an attempt at a unique stage presence or they’re simply careless to the fact that there’s over a thousand punters in the room tonight. Either way, as the set drags on, any curiosity remaining in the room is swiftly substituted by indifference, with only the committed and devoted crammed at the barrier expressing any joy in the room.
Image: Kieran Gallop
As the group pace the stage in a disinterested yet content manner, it’s difficult to understand the appeal of this band and why there mere presence is the catalyst for feral ecstasy for a few select punters. Maybe it makes sense on record, maybe their presence is understandable at a headline show, or maybe, just maybe, their attempt at art-rock is best reserved as the soundtracking of a Samsung commercial. Either way, as the set rings out, there’s just a stale air of fraudulent flamboyancy. Even as frontman Remington Leith suddenly runs through the crowd before launching himself from the balcony (Much to the dismay of security and the ones forced to catch him) the general atmosphere remains one of pure indifference at best. Either way, as the group leaves wordlessly, judging from the beaming fans still fighting for a spot at the barrier, it’s more than possible that we are still going to be hearing about this band for some time to come.
Whilst the previous set in questions remains the primary point of conversation during the switch over, all grievances are forgotten once the aural synths of ‘The Spark’ ring out over the academy. As Enter Shikari (8) launch into the instant classic that has become ‘The Sights’, despite being in the amidst of an incredibly lengthy tour it’s clear that the group have not depleted their stamina levels in the slightest. Shikari have become renowned for being a collective powerhouse of energy and as the group launch into an unprecedented performance of the sonic call to arms that is 2009’s ‘Step Up’, such a sentiment simply can not be disputed.
Image: Kieran Gallop
Whilst this marathon of dates may be within the touring cycle of Shikari’s most recent record, tonight serves an extensive history lesson of the band’s career and ever changing sound thus far. Bouncing from ‘Step Up’ into a borderline nostalgic rendition of ‘Labyrinth’ before crashing into the neon aggression of ‘Arguing With Thermometers’, whilst long time fans will have long become accustomed to the endless energy this group radiate, it never ceases to amaze time and time again. With the group dropping surprises such as ‘Hectic’, ‘Gap In The Fence’ and the frenzied chaos of ‘The Paddington Frisk’, it’s times like tonight where you can truly appreciate not only the fantastic back catalogue of this band, but their continuous growth as musicians. In the space of just under two hours Shikari take the populace of Bristol though a decade’s worth of vibrant creativity, with each track truly emitting the atmosphere of the era of time it belongs to.
Even with a few moderate technical hitches staggering the fluidity that is associated with a typical set, Shikari navigate such issues masterfully. Enter Shikari is a band who exist not just for sets like this, but for the stage as a whole. It’s life affirming sets like this where you can truly appreciate the spectacle of live music, with their signature cover of Faithless’s ‘Insomnia’ and ‘Havok B’ transporting the venue to an environment that’s akin to an apocalyptic Ibiza. The upcoming single ‘Stop The Clocks’ hints towards their ever flowing evolution and serves as an incredible juxtaposition to the explosive unpredictability of yet another bombastic quick-fire round, with the surgically placed snippets of ‘Meltdown’ and the Reso remix of ‘Anaesthetist’ igniting a mass of jovial violence. As the group end on the anthemic nature of both ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Live Outside’, Shikari perfectly live up to their title as one of the world’s most hardest working bands.. With more content seemingly just over the horizon, their status as one of the world’s most excited bands is already solidified.