support Blessthefall + Vincent Black Shadow
author AP date 21/11/07 venue Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth, UK

Portsmouth is close to Southampton and also quite easy to get to, so upon learning that Silverstein would play its famed Wedgewood Rooms with Blessthefall in November, I didn't hesitate making plans to see them. However, the deadly cocktail of force majeure that persisted in trying to prevent me from ever getting to and back from Portsmouth, has made me wonder if it wouldn't be easier just to see this stuff in London. Just as I stepped out of the door of my dormitory, the skies parted and sent down a torrential rain that not only soaked me, but somehow also clogged up the university bus service. Along with me fellow concert goer, I waited for the bus downtown for approximately an hour, thus missing the cheap coach from downtown Southampton to Portsmouth and forcing us to resort to the scam that is British railways. As the train departed, it also became clear that neither of us had printed out directions to Wedgewood Rooms, let alone had the faintest clue where it might be. Fortunately, a pack of scenesters came to our rescue and pointed us in the right direction - a kilometre or so to walk. At this point I knew I was going to be pissed off should the concert fail to be nothing short of amazing.

First up was a band completely unknown to me, Vincent Black Shadow. Somehow the band's name and the lack of hype lead me to expect a mediocre emo/post-hardcore band to fit tonight's bill and a band that would do little more than inspire a few claps and cheers from the crowd. While I was right about crowd response, this quintet's music blew me away. It was simply heavy as fuck. Fronted by a female vocalist with a unique but disciplined voice, the band's combination of Still Remainsic keyboards, atypical, jazzy riffs and crystal clear sound had me hypnotized almost immediately. This ensemble put out one catchy song after the other and had me jaw-dropped for the entire set. What a shame, then, that their potential was hindered by a static live show. Nonetheless, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for this band in the future.

Now, it was clear that a good half of the people gathered at Wedgewood Rooms today were there to see Blessthefall, one of the most talked about bands in today's scene. I wasn't impressed by Blessthefall on record, but the show the Californian quintet put on today was near perfect. From start to finish, these guys showed they meant business. Together with bassist Jared Warth, Craigafer Mabbitt unleashed an inferno of vocals that had the crowd going within seconds. Repeatedly during the show, Mabbitt would swing the microphone chord around his neck, pretending to hang himself from it in the breaks he took from frantic headbanging, dancing and generally acting like a raging lunatic, while guitarists Mikey Frisby and Eric Lambert did things with their guitars that are beyond my comprehension. Towards the end of the show, one of these guitarists swung his guitar three-hundred-and-sixty degrees vertically in front of him, whilst it was still strapped to him; something that, in my opinion, defies the laws of physics. Though the band was clearly psyched to be here tonight, their frantic live show received little reciprocation from the audience. So much that the band suddenly stopped. "Are you not enjoying this?", asked Craig. After a few pints we decided to correct this wrong and open a moshpit amidst the crowd. What a mistake, it soon became clear, as a few hoodie-scenesters quickly emerged from the crowd and put on a kung-fu spectacle during which a fist was repeatedly introduced to my face. This injury wasn't enough to kill my enthusiasm though, but the many pints in my stomach left me exhausted and in pain from one of the most energetic shows I've seen to date. Blessthefall is certainly one of those bands whose sound is bettered tenfold live. Thumbs up from me!


After a short cool-off break, Silverstein stepped up on stage and launched into "Sound of the Sun" from their latest album, "Arrivals & Departures". And let me tell you at this point, Shane Told didn't miss a single note throughout the set. I was taken aback by the vocal control he demonstrated in every song, resulting in a sound nearly identical to what Silverstein sounds like on record. Though the band lacked the energy demonstrated by Blessthefall just before, a large moshpit opened and had the same kung-fu scenesters keeping everyone else out while the band proceeded to play "Bodies And Words", followed by the classic "Your Sword Vs My Dagger" and "Smashed Into Pieces", both of which had the crowd singing and screaming along like there's no tomorrow! Surprisingly, Silverstein had blasted through most of the classics, including "Smile in Your Sleep", already halfway through the set, leaving behind an encore consisting of "If You Could See Into My Soul" and a song I couldn't put a name on, because honestly, I'd never heard it before. Overall, Silverstein's live show was satisfying, with plenty of activity on stage and crowd control, yet failed to produce the rigor of Blessthefall. A special applause goes out to Shane's flawless vocal delivery.

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