Live Review: Blacks Peaks at Hobos, Bridgend w/ Phoxjaw and Calling Apollo - 08/02/19

A dingy and dark Friday evening last week in Bridgend that was in severe need of an intervention was graced with the absolute best way to spend said evening. Black Peaks, Phoxjaw and local rockers Calling Apollo took to Hobos to inspire, demolish and bring chaos to the venue… it was nothing short of incredible.

Local rockers Calling Apollo [6] were added to the bill as local support and rightly so too. The band are a name you will have heard in the South Wales scene as one making sonically charged music that packs a heartfelt punch. They may not have quite broken the local scene and spread further afield but tonight’s performance showcases they are more than able to hold their own in front of a decent sized crowd. If there is a local band ready to break out it’s Calling Apollo.

Phoxjaw [8] are a band you may or may not have heard of but their rise in popularity in the underground music scene is nothing short of impressive. Bouncing from strength to strength, the band are riding high after the release of their debut EP “Goodbye Dinosaur“.

Opening track is a suspense builder that leaves you hanging between sporadic screams and moments of harmony. By this time the room is busy and those eager to get their headbang on are starting to show their need to do so. Queue “Lottery” with its infectious riff to draw in those itching to embrace the mosh. When the whole band kicks in and hit the key moments together is when they thrive, providing a combination of commanding and punishing sections of music.

Bands are at their best when challenged and when put under pressure. At the end of the day you want to feel something more from live music than you do on the studio track. Sound in any given venue can be make or break but a band like this will take any break and make. Embracing and flourishing in the face of some potentially distracting sound issues frontman Danny Garland seemed to give up on his bass that was reverberating so bad it was throwing the song and instead decided to ditch it and start a pit. Frontman 101 right there.

“Triceratops” is yet more proof that the band are capable of easily chopping and changing between the calm and the chaos. It’s one thing to get up and play your studio tracks, it’s another to literally embody the anarchy bottled in them on stage. Before you know it, it’s the final song of the set and guitarist Josh Gallop is standing on the merch table playing out the final riff and throwing his guitar down before the song rings out. A wholly impressive and immersive live set from a band that are creatively challenging everything you thought you knew about rock and turning it on its head.

Finally for the headliners fresh from touring with Shikari, Black Peaks [9] hold a certain finesse with their imbalanced and unhinged art. With the crowd in their palm before they even hit the stage they provide a polished sound whilst still maintaining their raw and rough exterior that is a staple part of the bands sound.

Album two was an art piece for this band, a honing of already present skills and talents and making them sound bigger and better than ever. It is no wonder the album is critically acclaimed and was received with open arms by fans and critics alike. This translates extremely well live and songs like “Can’t Sleep” and “Electric Fires” are well known by the crowd. Frontman Will Gardner holds a strong presence on stage backed up by screams that hit with a bludgeoning blow.

With an impressive set list and an arsenal of fantastic tracks now at their disposal they hit the crowd with “Home”, “Aether”, “Say You Will” and “Glass Built Castles” in that order which leads to a supercharged crowd reacting and giving everything they have back.

The band effortlessly fall between the calm and the chaotic and it’s enough to make for an atmosphere like a turbulence you wouldn’t believe. Finishing with “The Midnight Sun” the band throw everything they have into the performance to the point where Gardner is clearly fatigued when walking off stage. When you see a band quite literally throw every last ounce of energy into the show as they are said to do night after night after night it is hard not to be endowed with admiration. Black peaks have captured people’s attention through the anger and aggression in their music but do well to marry that up with melody and feeling. A captivating performance start to finish and a true spectacle to be beheld.

Photo Credit: Kieran Gallop


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