Over the last week or so, US goth-punks Energy have been making their most high-profile headline trip around the UK to date, taking Southampton’s Miss Vincent along for the ride, and giving the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast two different takes of dark-spirited punk rock from each side of the Atlantic. We broke out as much of our black clothing as we could find and caught the tour when it rolled into Leeds’ The Key Club.
On a night that would be repeatedly bothered by distinctly iffy sound quality, first act Bloodmines crank out a generic take on heavy punk with slabs of melody shoehorned in here and there. The unassuming looking trio of Sheffield lads load a bewildering amount of reverb on to their vocals which sounds frankly terrible. An effect not helped by the drums drowning out everything else every time a cymbal is touched. They drive themselves enthusiastically into the middle ground of the likes AFI and Rise Against, but despite their gainful and impressively raucous efforts, fall rather short. That said signs of some astute song writing occasionally rear their head suggesting this lot could well be better on record than they are live. (2/5)
We’re beginning to suspect there’s something in the water down Southampton way, as the city’s output of deliciously gloomy and dramatic punk rock, really put on the map by Creeper, continues to multiply with a little help from their mates Miss Vincent. A band who are beginning to make some serious waves of their own. Acting as main support on the tour, they treat a modest but visibly eager crowd to the choice cuts from current EP ‘Somewhere Else’. Opener ‘Cold Hands’ in particular instantly gets things off to a start that’s as rollicking and energetic as it is atmospheric. It serves as a reminder of just how much the band stepped up the quality of their writing and song execution between releases.
Recent single, ’The Lovers’, provides the set’s standout moment. It comes across as a slick, glammed up slice of moody pop-punk, with just a hint of storming classic rock to the chorus. And with front man Alex’s rather Burt McCracken reminiscent posturing and crazy eyes only adding to the drama, this portion of proceedings really highlights how attention demanding and compelling a live band Miss Vincent are becoming. These lads appear to be the real deal and could well be set for impressive things sooner rather than later. (4/5)
Boston MA natives Energy may have only made their largest indent into the awareness of UK fans on their support run with Creeper earlier this year, but they’ve been around for over a decade, and it really shows in their live performance. Vocalist Jason Tankerley is the consummate showman. His onstage posing, working with the tongue-in-cheek OTT creepiness and black imagery of the lyrics produce a live show that’s plenty theatrical, while not taking itself at all seriously. Sadly, the sound issues from earlier in the night return, meaning sonically proceedings aren’t quite as polished as they could have been.
The likes of ‘Dead in Dreamland’ and ‘I Killed Your Boyfriend’ pair entertaining, b-movie horror reminiscent narratives with majorly infectious vocal hooks and harmonies, to really fun results. An approach which can’t help but draw parallels to Alkaline Trio, AFI et all, bands which in fairness they measure up to commendably even given their relative lack of exposure on this side of the Atlantic. ‘Under The Mask’, the title track from their recently released EP, demonstrates that the band are also equally at home crunching out brooding heavy rock numbers, menacing vocals and driving riffs providing an interesting change of pace to high tempo gothic melodies. Elsewhere they indulge in a moment of hero worship with a cover of goth punk icons The Misfits’ ’Hybrid Moments.
Though the crowd watching them may not have been among the biggest the venue had ever seen, with performances as solid, unfailingly charismatic and delivered with undeniable panache as this one, Energy’s profile in the UK is only going to enjoy a long overdue expansion. (3.5/5)
Words by Dane Wright (@mrdanewright)