Converge + Crowbar + Thou + Grave Pleasures
@ The Electric Ballroom, London
26th April 2018
Review by Nathan Slack
Photography by Miguel de Malo
Some bands don’t live up to their hype, they’re good, great even, but somehow their material doesn’t quite work as well in a live situation. Converge are not one of those bands. From pioneering hardcore and mathcore with their seminal album Jane Doe (2001) which was voted album of the year by Terrorizor and 61st best metal album of all time by Rolling Stone to dominating the lineup at this years prestigious Roadburn festival by playing two sets over the weekend, the band have had a meteoric rise and a huge influence on the whole of metal.
On the back of playing The Dusk in Us and You Fail Me albums in full at Roadburn, Converge took some of the awesome bands on the same bill with them on a tour around Europe. Heavy hitting legends Crowbar from New Orleans, Thou, Sludge upstarts from Baton Rouge who are making waves in their genre and post punk Grave Pleasures from Finland.
Tonight is sold out and has been for months as the Electric Ballroom is one of those mid range venues that I’d say is far too small for the lineup that they are treating us to tonight, they could have easily filled the Kentish Town Forum or even the Roundhouse just down the road. I’ve been excited about this gig for months and I’m pretty giddy as I enter the Ballroom without a fuss.
Unfortunately I couldn’t make it in time for Grave Pleasures and only manage to catch their last song as I order my first pint of the night and watch them play to a handful of people. It’s a real shame that they are on so early but with Crowbar getting an hour and Thou 45 mins it doesn’t give much leeway to the Goth influenced Finns. I did hear they did a great job despite the lack of a crowd and even though they do stick out as the odd man out on tonights bill. Check them out if you can and are into that genre of music. I’ve moved into sludge, grindcore and death metal in recent years so Grave Pleasures aren’t really my thing anymore I have to admit.
Thou are totally my thing on the other hand and I would have loved to have gone to Roadburn and seen them share the stage with The Body, a Grindcore band that they have now recorded two split albums with. There is definitely some expectation in the growing crowd as the band take to the stage.
The sound is damn good with the guitars crystal clear that Thou’s tracks pack a huge sonic punch to the chest. I’m front and centre and leader singer Bryan Funck gives me this fixed psycho stare as he delivers some of the nastiest vocals out there. I’ve never been great with recognising this song or that song but I do recognise the song that got me into the band, Helen with have her Revenge on New Orleans which sounded immense.
Their performance is so tight and hard hitting that after their set I went up to the lead singer and shook his had telling him that it was thee best performance I’ve ever seen by any support band, and I meant it. If you like Sludge be sure to check out Thou’s back catalogue and hopefully you will be as impressed as I was.
Crowbar are one of my favourite bands of all time and I first saw them at this very venue a few years ago at Desertfest. I was happy to catch them again and as I heard the heavy hitting start to And Suffer As One a huge smile crosses my face and small pit opens and I dive in.
They play a varied mix of songs off Odd Fellows Rest through to their last studio album The Serpent Only Lies and of course playing Planets Collide which has to be my favourite metal tracks of all time. Sadly I found their guitars a bit too… well… sludgy, for the lack of a better term.
Against Thou’s clean guitar work Crowbar’s seem quite muddy and a mass of noise. They are still one of my fave bands but Thou’s performance had a slight edge over them on the night.
Tonight’s headliners, Converge come bursting on stage and the crowd all seem to spring to life in one instant.
I was quietly finishing off my beer when they kick into their first track, Reptilian and once stoic punters around me are
reassuringly going batshit crazy. Lead singer, Jacob Bannon could be the Lee Evans of metal with close cropped hair, large ears and long arms, face palming, sweating profusely and shaking spittle across the front rows as he monkeys about the stage, screaming his hardcore lungs out track after track. Noticeably, they didn’t play Jane Doe, of which I was a little disappointed at but well, there’s next time!!
I fell heavily jumping around like a loon and partially dislocated my knee during the gig so the mosh pit was a mixture of pleasure and pain as I was unable to bend my knee in anyway without sheering agony. Didn’t make me leave the pit though or enjoy the performance any less though. Tonight will go down as one of the best gigs I’ve ever been too and will be hard to top, this year at least.
A Single Tear
The Dusk in Us
Eye of the Quarrel
Broken by Light
Eagles Become Vultures
Empty on the Inside
I Can Tell You About Pain