Live Review: Periphery w/ Plini & Astronoid | O2 Academy Bristol | 11/11/19

Given the fact that this dreary and cold Monday night is playing host to very first UK performance from Astronoid (7), it’s no surprise that their namesake may be foreign to many gathered here within the Bristol O2. Yet, opening with the celestial clarity of ‘A New Colour’, it swiftly becomes clear that they’re among a plentitude of like minded individuals this evening. With a setlist composed of material from this year’s self-titled release, the Massachusetts's dreamy post-metallers captivate the already bustling academy with ease, with their trademarked dream thrash dynamism playing directly into the hands of those who reveal in unique creativity.

As the group swerve from the daredevil speed of the adventurous ‘Up And Atom’ to the more meditative nature of the ‘Water’, it’s bizarre to think that this is Astronoid’s very first performance on the Eastern side of the great Atlantic. With their delicate and tightly controlled delivery, the group effortlessly take this genre defining moment within their stride, downplaying the importance of this performance in favour of manifesting their unique sound. Whilst some of their delightful intricacy may be lost within the muddled mix, it’s clear that this band will be requested to return to our isles very soon.

Photo: Ollie Weaver

Despite playing the role of direct support on this tour, from the roar of approval Plini (9) receive upon gracing the stage an outsider would be forgiven in thinking they where headlining this event. However, when witnessing the fluid dexterity the collective demonstrative, one does ultimately have to question why this isn’t at least a co-headline run.

Opting to let his instrumentalism introduce his work, it’s honestly no surprise why the name Plini has become synonymous with the global instrumental prog rock scene as a whole. As anticipated, Plini are utterly mesmerising to witness, with the collective weaving rich sonic tapestries with flawless precision.

With the Bristolian population bathing under the whimsical and romantic soundscape of ‘Handmade Cities’, Plini and his backing collective deliver a set that is inspirational to a childlike degree and showcases what luscious and colourful soundscapes this genre is capable of when perfected. Showcasing their approval with vocal glee, the overcrowded venue drink in the rich and fluid material from Plini’s previous EP’s, with the dark and theatrical sonic story tale of ‘Selenium Forest’ showcasing the group's work in a fashion that’s viscerally imaginative and cinematic.

Even with Plini being a stunning musician himself, what can’t be undervalued is the additional layers that's courtesy of Jakub Zytecki of Disperse. A frequent member of Plini’s live ensembles, his additional input lifts the collective’s output to new heights, with his work on tracks such as ‘Flâneur’ and ‘Paper Moon’ only adding additional vivid layers to the musical storytelling taking place. Closing on of the voltaic ‘Electric Sunrise’, going from this rapturous reception it’s only a matter of time before Plini and his ensemble find themselves headlining venues such as this by their own accord. Wondrous and enticing, Plini must be seen live to be believed.

Photo: Ollie Weaver

It takes a serious amount of brash confidence to open a set with a 16 minute progressive metalcore track. Especially so when none of the other tracks on the setlist are anywhere near such a lengthy duration. However, Periphery (7) are unlike most bands. Often refereed to as the band that popularised the djent movement that reigned supreme at the start of the decade, the Washington quintet have reigned as juggernauts of the respective djent scene ever since their self-titled debut in 2010.

Even with their reign being prolonged, it’s clear that their dominating position is far from being challenged. The near sold out population in attendance not once loses a trace of interest during Periphery’s latest epic ‘Reptile’, a track that causes near hysteria with a guest solo from Plini himself. Clearly, this sold out attendance and wild reception is just a slight contrast to the group’s last headline tour on our shores.

With a setlist primarily composed from material from this year’s Hail Stan and Periphery III: Select Difficulty, it’s swiftly becomes evident that Periphery have transitioned into the next stage of their live persona and career. With a greater focus on acrobatics, live theatrics and lovable flamboyance, this rendition of Periphery appears more assured, confident and conventional than ever before, with the group playing lively into the metalcore themes and dynamics that have allowed them to reach new audiences in recent years.

With this in consideration, it’s not a surprise that content from their early releases is notably absent, a fact that appears to dismay some of the elder original fans in attendance. With a colossal production that rivals the DIY ethos of the early djent and prog metal scenes, it could be suggested that such newfound heights have come at the cost of the fervent experimentation that originally made them so alluring and lucrative.

Photo: Ollie Weaver

This isn’t an issue for the majority in attendance however. Even with Periphery’s live focus on anthemic metalcore dynamics, the blistering and incendiary blowback of ‘CHVRCH BVRNER’ immediately becomes responsible for igniting flailing limbs, flying bodies and more than a few horns in the air.

The symphonic strings of ‘Marigold’ and ‘Follow Your Ghost’ also showcase how Periphery can tackle ever so slightly different stylings whilst remaining hyperactively animated and arrestingly charismatic. In relation, an unpredicted performance of 2012’s ‘Scarlett’ contrasts delightfully with the pop laced metalcore emotion of ‘It’s Only Smiles’, a juxtapose that showcases the journey Periphery have undertaken throughout the past half a decade.

Closing with the violently nordic call to mosh that is ‘Blood Eagle before alluring the South West with the introspective ‘Luna’, this may not a set that is tailored for the few hopeful original fans gathered here this evening. However, judging from the gleeful crowd composed from members from various demographics, it’s clear that Periphery have become more than just movement originators. With their biggest and most grandiose live production as of yet, Periphery have some lofty targets within their sights and clearly have the means to reach them – even if it means renouncing their original aesthetic and methods.

Like the images? See the entire gallery of shots from the show here!