Considering the individual legacies of their co-headlining contemporaries, some may suggest that Gouge Away (7) may have an arduous task in playing support on this run of dates. Of course, anyone holding such opinions have clearly never experienced this punk powerhouse of a band before. Hybridising classic punk, riot grrl, noise rock and post-hardcore sensibilities prior to applying modern sheen, the Florida unit tear and claw a chunk out of the O2 Academy tonight with unhinged riotous energy. Whilst this may suggest a lack of focus and finesse, Gouge Away are anything but amateurs. Educated and unambiguously direct, the group use their scathing punk output to violently amplify the state of failing society in forceful yet artistic fashion
Animating the classic ideology of progressive punk whilst demonstrating intelligent noise tinted dynamism, content from last year’s Burnt Sugar see’s the group captivate the attention of the packed out academy with ease. Judging from the reactions of many of the punters in attendance it does appear that this act may be a new prospect for many present, but with the group’s finesse on display, it’s crystal that band successfully manage to gouge their namesake into the subconscious of many attending. There may be a massive amount of praise surrounding this act as of late but judging from this set it’s well deserved.
As the national political culture continues to deteriorate and crumble, it appears there’s no greater time for Refused (7) to bring their protest anthems to our shores once again. Whilst it may be incredibly ironic to witness a beret dotted Dennis Lyxzén calling for freedom from the choking chains of capitalism whilst being flanked by the venue's advertisement bearing screens, the legendary Swedish political renegades still provide the same riotous energy that they’re globally renowned for. For the most part anyway.
With the group currently being in the global spotlight following the release of their fifth full length War Music, it would typically be anticipated that content from the release would be the instant catalyst for widespread carnage within the venue tonight. However, with the group blasting open their set with ‘REV001’ and ‘Violent Reaction’, the response from the congregation feels almost slightly subdued, politely reserved even. It’s not until a performance of 2015’s ‘Elektra’ that see’s the crowd thaw slightly. This quiet reservation is by no means a reflection of the band’s performance though. Throughout the this period of affable reception, Refused are still animated and vitally vigorous, laying siege to the stage like a personal battle. However, once the atmosphere thaws fully, primally due to an unprecedented performance of ‘Rather Be Dead’, the energy within the room spikes and becomes infectiously archaic.
Being introduced by an impassioned speech condemning the lifestyles of the 1% and the global elite, the call to arms that is ‘I Wanna Watch The World Burn’ acts as a standout moment within this set, with the passion of the live performance highlighting the under-documented plight of our planet. Similarly, the live premiere of ‘Damaged III’, a track dedicated to the injustices women have been dealt by the hands of men, also stands as an unexpected but hysteria inducing moment for the true Refused devoted within the academy tonight. Unsurprisingly though, it’s content from the eminent Shape Of Punk To Come that’s responsible for inciting abundant chaos this evening, with the respective title track, ‘The Deadly Rhythm’ and the inevitable ‘New Noise’ being the physical manifestation of the group’s personal intensity. Whilst it may take a few tracks for Bristol to find themselves inspired by the intensity of Refused and while this commercial venue is a direct contrast to the anti-capitalist ethos of the band, this is a performance that proves that Refused is required more than ever before.
Whilst some may state that Refused have had more of a cultural impact over the past several decades, the legacy Thrice (8) have founded during their 17 year career can not be understated. It’s a fact that becomes evident as the Californian collective tentatively delve into the romantic alt-rock of last year’s ‘Only Us before baring their teeth with the stomping march of ‘Image Of The Invisible’ to gleeful applause. Given their respective craft it’s understandable that the populace gathered opt to showcase their authentic appreciation via the means of rapt attention and applause rather than unhinged jubilant violence, as proven with the autumn aura of ‘Just Breathe’ being the subject of ecstatic yet composed appraisal. Yet despite this more refined vibe, this set does certainly play host to number of hackle raised ragers.
The rugged and raw incendiary punk fervour of ‘The Arsonist’ see’s Thrice flex their muscular skill with mountainous aggression and it’s not long before ‘Silhouette’ acts as the stimulant that releases the tension being strained within the pit. Still, for the majority, Thrice are anthemic, collected and philosophically poised. The impassioned awe-inspiring melodics of ‘Hurricane’ serenades the entire populace of the academy and the signature and ever timeless ‘Artist In The Ambulance’ effortlessly transports the ones who where raised alongside this act to the halcyon days of their respective youth.
Abandoning the guise of convoluted stage theatrics, Thrice showcase their esteemed skill as performers with a delivery that’s void of cliches other acts utilise in order to amplify their live presence. The brilliance of Thrice is all in their skilfully composed delivery and the authentic live manifestation of the rousing melodics within their material, with each track washing the venue in ambience of honed skill. The brooding swamp like atmospherics of ‘The Window’ stands as a fantastic example of this, with it’s palpable ambience of anxiety clinging to the confines of this venue. As the group close this evening with a touching and sentimental rendition of the taiga scented ‘Among The Pines, whilst the contrast between Thrice and their counterparts in Refused is broad, it’s clear the one element both bands possess is the skill to wondrously manifest their ideology and craft in a live environment.