As soon as I enter Rock City’s Basement I’m quite taken back by how full it is. It’s not uncommon to witness this room near empty; so it’s a welcome change to see the hordes of people here for tonight’s gig.
After a long wait first band The River Card claim the stage, whilst vocallist Chris Smith spends the entirety of the set on the floor, trying to hype up the audience. They play a solid set, with songs such as ‘Momentum’ – from the album of the same name. The band are full of energy – which unfortunately is more than can be said about the crowd, who despite numbers, spend the set metres away from the stage; relieving nothing but polite applause between each song.
Next up are up and coming hardcore heavyweights Polar, who are a band that thrive in a live setting and definitely need to be seen to be appreciated. Adam ‘Woody’ Woodford is on form, stalking the whole length of the small stage; while guitarist Max O’Neill spends half of the time in the air, never once showing any sign of tiring. Stand out songs include (first single off recent album ‘Iron Lungs’) ‘H.E.L.L’ – with the crowd showing the first burst of life to sing-a-long to the catchy as hell (no pun intended) opening line “every action is another nail in the coffin of the name I was honoured”. They end the set on old favourite ‘Tonight Matthew, I Am The Batman’, which once again shows a flurry of singing and movement from the audience.
Former Thieves are the third and final support tonight, with a slightly more metal sound, vocalist Matt Schmitz takes point from previous bands and uses both the stage and the floor to assures his dominance. The band are tight tonight, but what stands out most is Ben Lynn’s guitar work, which sours and drops through out each song. You can clearly see the passion this band has, putting all of their energy into performing songs such as ‘First World Blues’ and ‘Trust Fund Kids.’
Finally headliners Defeater grace the stage, making it clear to see who the majority of the crowd are here for; as the gap between stage and audience disappears to a flurry of flailing limbs and shouting voices. Vocalist Derek Archambault laps it up, constantly leaning out into the adoring masses, occasionally jumping in to join the crowd as they make their way through a selection of clear favourites. Half way through the set we are treated to a breather in the form of the wonderful acoustic tracks ‘I Don’t Mind’ and ‘But Breathing.’ They end their set and the night on the breathtakingly good Cowardice, leaving the audience desperate for more.
Defeater are quickly becoming a stand out act in the hardcore scene; not only because of their great live shows, but also from the effortless way they transit between the hostile and the melodic.
Words and photo by Carrie-Anne Pollard.