With Rock City celebrating its 35th birthday this week, it seems like a good time to see four of some of the best bands the UK alternative scene has to offer. Something he venue has a long history of doing. Headliners Lower Than Atlantis are four albums deep into their career whilst As It Is, Moose Blood and Brawlers allow everyone tonight to see three promising, but different, bands that have all had an impressive 12 months.
With such a strong four band bill, Leeds/Lincoln punx Brawlers are on early when we make our way through to the main hall. Nevertheless their brand of snappy, hooky punk rock sets the standard high for the evening. “We’re not here to save rock n roll” proclaims Harry George Johns, yet nevertheless the quartet do a fine job of presenting it its in rawest form. ‘I’m a Worthless
piece of Shit’ and ‘Annabelle’ are simply fun, edgy and bouncy with Johns serving his role as frontman well. Ending their all too brief set with a “wall of hi fives”, Brawlers have reminded us of their best qualities. (3.5/5)
We don’t have to tell you that Moose Blood have had a fantastic year and having finished work on LP2 just days ago, this tour is the ideal opportunity to bid farewell to ‘I’ll Keep You in Mind, From Time to Time,’ and pick up some new fans along the way. With a range of sentimental emo pop punk anthems, the quartet provide a well-round set. With highlights from their debut carefully plucked out, Moose Blood manage to make the step up to the main hall without a hitch. Vocalist Eddy Brewerton proving to be down to earth and gratuitous throughout. Closing with ‘Boston’, the enthusiastic crowd erupt into a joyous sing-a-long. It is no doubt their second LP will be one of our much anticipated records of 2016. (4/5)
Arriving on stage to ‘Robin & Little John Running Through The Forest’ (from Disney’s ‘Robin Hood’), boisterous Anglo-American pop-punks As It Is quickly go about setting out their stall with their brand infectious style. Sure frontman Patty Walters hasn’t a niggling, but helpless, tone in his vocals but songs like ‘Sorry’ and ‘Speak Soft’ are energetic and easily win you over. Whilst ‘Can’t Save Myself’ is anthemic as always. Although they’re still not the pitch perfect band their songs require them to be, it’s clear a busy year of relentless touring has paid off as As It Is’s set is pleasing as they have the songs to unite the room. (3.5/5)
Last time Lower Than Atlantis played in this room, they were supporting A Day To Remember. 12 months on, they’re back as headliners and with a deluxe edition of last year’s self-titled album fresh out the bag, tonight’s set is an opportunity for both the band and their fans to celebrate all that has happened in recent years.
It’s inevitable that a bigger room allows the quartet to expand their production; dropping opening curtain, a grime/dubstep intro courtesy of Skepta and impressive light show. Opening with the thunderous ‘Get Over It’, vocalist Mike Duce is rugged yet soulful in his delivery whilst the tribal-like drums from Eddy Thrower reverberate throughout the room. Whilst on ‘Criminal’, Declan Hart’s bass lines shake Rock City’s hollow ground.
Even though Duce’s songwriting is, at times, overly simple you forgive him when songs like ‘Emily’ are bright and sung in unison. The early portion of tonight’s set sees the four-piece pick out highlights from the aforementioned self-titled effort. ‘Stay The Same’ has been given a funky treatment and ‘Ain’t No Friend’ rides in the coat tails of dance rock with its glitzy electronics, crushing guitars, pulsating tempo and catchy chorus.
Older material is introduced in the form of ’(Motor)Way of Life’ and with it brings a more fierce, edgy display from the Watford group. Whereas an acoustic rendition of ‘Deadliest Catch’ provides a well-timed break from LTA’s rock onslaught before ‘Words Don’t Come Easy’ is delivered in a sweetly manner.
The night ends on a mighty one-two punch of alt rock with ‘English Kids In America’ and the roaring ‘Here We Go’. The latter blares from side to side and allows all in attendance for one last monstrous sing-a-long.
Like many bands the crop that emerged alongside them, Lower Than Atlantis’ show was a case of natural progression. The transition from small to big clubs is almost faultless. Musically they sound at home on bigger stages. As much as their self-titled album has its lyrical faults, in a live environment it is superbly executed. Whilst in Mike Duce, yet have intriguing and charismatic leader who carries himself with an assured attitude. (3.5/5)
If you want an example of what is good in the UK rock scene right now, you shouldn’t look no further that tonight’s show. Four diverse bands all of whom have the capability to stir audiences with an array of memorable songs. The future continues to be bright for UK rock.
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86).