The city of Nottingham is a familiar setting for Rolo Tomassi. Having built a following round these parts during their formative years, 2015 is their tenth anniversary as a band and following the release of their impressive ‘Grievances’ LP this summer, they’re back here as part of a UK headline run.
Even on a chilly November night The Bodega room is an instant hot box as openers Employed To Serve take to the stage. Having released their admirable full-length, ‘Greyer Than You Remember’, earlier this year the Woking quarter don’t hesitate in showing their brand of heavy, math-esque hardcore as Justine Jones’ piercing screams burst through the intimate room. Her band mates compliment by delivering crushing blasts of thick riffs and devastating breakdowns. As their set rolls on, escalating guitars, pulverising drums along with Jones’ roars continue to dominate in fine form. Employed To Serve continue to be a band that excels. (4/5)
Next up is the Netherlands’ John Coffey. In the 7 months since they were last in these shores, they’ve become “viral stars” due to vocalist David Achter de Molen’s cat-like reactions to catching a beer in the air whilst standing on top of a crowd. But how do they shape up musically? Stylistically they prove to be a fierce and urgent rock ‘n’ rock force. Sharp guitars and gang vocals are the focus early on. With their mix of soaring choruses and scrappy, party-fuelled riffs, John Coffey certainly have a skill for stirring up a crowd becoming more favourable after every song. By the time they depart, it’s safe to say JC has made some new fans tonight including me. An exciting and thrilling band to look out for. (4.5/5)
Tonight’s headliners, Rolo Tomassi, are welcomed by spooky samples (courtesy of ‘True Detective’) before erupting with jagged guitars and Eva Spence’s familiar growls. However the quartet’s dynamic style is soon shown as ‘Stage Knives’ settles with atmospheric keys and Eva’s countering melodic vocals.
As their set evolves, we’re provided with material from ‘Grievances’ (‘Raumdeuter’, ‘Estranged’, ‘The Embers’) and older cuts such as ‘Adrasteia’ and ‘Ex Luna Scientia’ keeping up the momentum throughout with vicious delivery from the whole band. Whilst the occasional “space rock” break allows all in the room to catch their breath, before Eva and company lead us into another slice of chaotic heavy mathcore. Throughout brother James Spence pops up to take the spotlight with agonising screams.
Although Tomassi’s style comes off as somewhat expected, ‘Opalescent’ is a delight with its subtle harmonious guitars and cold drums. Whilst ‘Howl’ and ‘All That Has Gone Before’ displays their musical growth as the latter is a dynamic, layered number that rounds off the main portion of tonights set.
With a short encore consisting of only ‘Party Wounds’, it allows the band and the crowd to loosen up for one last blast of destructive and experimental mathcore.
Even though Rolo Tomassi aren’t the most exceptional live band you’ll see this year (and not even tonight) it is a credit that they’ve survived 10 years of ups and downs, and tonight shows their evolution into a rapturous, intriguing band. (3.5/5)
Words by Sean Reid (@SeanReid86)