Northlane

support Erra + Invent Animate + Ocean Grove
author PP date 03/12/17 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

Northlane has been a frequent guest at Pumpehuset over the past three or four years, and perhaps the bookers have been emboldened by the solid crowd response to opt for a bigger venue this time around. The 500 capacity Lille Vega has its small balcony open, suggesting we were perhaps expecting a larger turnout tonight that is the case, where the venue feels barely half full at its highest throughout the night. Maybe it's the Sunday slot after a Julefrokost weekend, but I was expecting a whole lot more people especially given the, on paper, strong supporting cast the band has brought along.

Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove

First up are fellow Aussies from Ocean Grove, who are a bizarre bunch not just stylistically speaking but also based on their outfits on stage tonight. The vocalist has dressed awkwardly in a puffer jacket indoors and wearing a silver chain that brings the hip-hop scene to mind, their bassist is boasting a jumpsuit and strange, purple Star Trek-style sunglasses indoors, and one of their guitarists is playing without a shirt. What's up with all that, I wonder, but it turns out their music is just as schizophrenic as their stage outfits. Hip-hop and industrial metal are intermittently blended into a metalcore expression, as are post-hardcore cleans and electronics, not to even mention robotic vocal effects. Some songs sound like Enter Shikari could've written them, others like Limp Bizkit and koRn have been an influence, so there's plenty going on at least. It's very unusual and weird, but it has similar potential as Hacktivist's hip-hop driven djent in its own right. The lead vocals are regrettably low in the mix, but then again it creates space for the exceptional clean vocals that are the highlight of their set. The crowd gets going early, so as a warmup, job well done.

Invent Animate

Invent Animate

After a rather entertaining and unconventional start, Texas metalcore crew Invent Animate sound and feel completely soulless in comparison. A couple of eager guys up front get a karate mosh pit started immediately in the first song and smash a beer out of someone's hand, and get called in for a chat with security, as does the guy who tosses his half-empty beer in the crowd at a later point. Kudos to the staff doing an excellent job and showing that dickheadism is not something Vega supports. Anyway, aside from a few finger tapped lead guitars, the Invent Animate set reeks of metalcore clichés from chug-chug breakdowns to completely monotonous vocals. The band also look mildly annoyed on stage for not enough bass in one of the monitors that makes them appear arrogant on stage, not a good combination especially considering the forgettable vibe that's only fortified by a misty, smoke-filled stage that has band members disappearing into silhouettes at times. Sure, there are a few catchy cleans and decent lingering guitar melodies, but the overall package is about as average, generic and derivative as metalcore gets these days. The guitarist's tapped leads are the sole highlight of a boring show, which is reflected in the almost totally empty venue by the time they finish their set as most people have moved back to the bar, out to smoke, or just to chat in the halls. Can't blame them, I spend most of their set waiting for them to be done and shaking my head at the steadfast bopping of head displayed by the first two or three rows that apparently ooze of enthusiasm for these guys.

5

Erra

It takes but twenty seconds for Erra to basically wipe the floor with Invent Animate's inanimate performance just before. New vocalist J.T. Cavey (ex-Texas In July) oozes of enthusiasm and is all smiles despite a lower attendance than he's probably used to, and given that the band opens with the highly technical and progressive djent gem, "Luminesce", the crowd is immediately hypnotized by the awe-inspiring tapped fretwork by their lead guitarist Jesse Cash. It's a captivating performance that doubles as a showcase of incredible songwriting prowess and a great crowd dynamic that has people singing along to the clean vocal chorus of "Irreversible".

Erra

On stage, the band displays much more energy than either of the two opening bands do, as well as master crowd control to perfection without needing to explicitly tell the crowd to follow their instructions. A simple wave to the left has everyone lift up one of their hands to wave along during "Drift", and the older track "White Noise" turns the crowd into a sea of headbangs for good reason. The enthusiastic calls of "alright...what about another old record called Augment?" lead to a loud cheer from the crowd in response to "Hybrid Earth", where the floor turns into a miniature trampoline with everyone around me bouncing around during its heavy segment. "Skyline" finishes an excellent set that feels solid all the way through: great vocals, amazing guitars, and a positive atmosphere throughout.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Luminesce
  • 2. Irreversible
  • 3. Drift
  • 4. White Noise
  • 5. Hybrid Earth
  • 6. Skyline

Northlane

Northlane has undergone quite a transformation as a band over the years from a straight up metalcore band into something much more progressive and inventive on latest album "Mesmer". While the metalcore elements are still very much present in their sound, they have drifted towards a much more mellow and Thrice-esque soundscape that elevates them far above many of their contemporary peers in the genre. No wonder, then, that the band elects to play almost the entirety of "Mesmer" tonight, airing eight out of eleven tracks while only briefly revisiting their other three albums in the process. It makes sense: the songwriting on "Mesmer" far triumphs the barrage of screams and breakdowns on past material.

Tonight, that much is immediately on display on opening track "Colourwave" which sports beautiful melodies that get us in the right mood straight away. And just to make sure older fans are not disappointed, "Worldeater" and "Rot" bring out the breakdowns in massive form resulting in chaos on stage and an active pit in the crowd. While they are decent in their own right, they are no match for the lingering melody lines of "Heartmachine". Likewise, "Render" offers another chilling soundscape that eerily resembles that of Thrice, and underlines that there really is a world's difference between the old and the new. And I say that without taking anything away from a song like "Quantum Flux", which receives a huge "set me free" chant from the crowd during the quiet part, along with other small sing-alongs here and there. This is probably the song that fits the newer material best out of the ones we've heard so far.

"Obelisk" and "Dispossession" look both to be crowd favorites given how much everyone is jumping up and down for the former, and the activity in the pit for the latter, but sandwiched in between them is the amazing and atmospheric "Solar". It won't surprise me when these become the biggest songs Northlane has written and the metalcore mosh-friendly material disappears into oblivion, even if it does exist to some extent on the new album, as "Intuition" shows straight after.

Finally, the band exit the stage and an eager fan hops on stage to shout "one more song, one more song" into the microphone, quickly removed from there by the band's security seconds later. It's obvious they are coming back - even though there are only a few dozen people left at this stage - many of them having left after Erra, sadly. "Paragon" finishes the set in style, leaving us with an exceptionally positive view on Northlane, the first time we've said that in a multitude of live reviews from their previous Copenhagen visits.

8

Setlist:

  • 1. Colourwave
  • 2. Worldeater
  • 3. Rot
  • 4. Heartmachine
  • 5. Dream Awake
  • 6. Citizen
  • 7. Render
  • 8. Savage
  • 9. Quantum Flux
  • 10. Obelisk
  • 11. Solar
  • 12. Dispossession
  • 13. Intuition

--Encore--

  • 14. Paragon

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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