Burn The Fleet

support Boys With Xray Eyes + Viva Sleep + Forever Can Wait
author AP date 13/03/10 venue Joiners, Southampton, UK

Ever since the band first announced it in January, Burn The Fleet's EP release party has been high on my priorities. Not only are they one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed acts Southampton has to offer, their music also happens to tick all the right boxes for me: powerful, emotional rock with experimental elements galore, played with a progressive mindset. In between the two first supporting slots I sat down with the band for an extensive interview in which they revealed that tonight's set was going to be longer than any previous shows the band has done, and that it would feature two previously unheard new songs. Sounded like a ball, so I grabbed a pint and stood back in awe as the band topped themselves in every conceivable aspect. A special mention goes out to the main support Boys With Xray Eyes as well, for defying the odds and ripping the venue apart with their misplaced chaotic hardcore. First up however, were Southampton-based stage virgins Forever Can Wait.

Forever Can Wait

Watching Forever Can Wait perform, one thing keeps repeating itself in my head: apart from lead singer Tash, and keyboardist Luke, the rest of the members seem like they want to be in a metal band. Nick unleashes a storm of double pedals behind the drumkit whenever he can, and the axemen Liam, George and Rory remain static and unenthusiastic until a slightly heavier bridge section comes along for them to rock out to. It's as if the band is stuck in an identity crisis, not quite satisfied with the pop stamp that playing covers of Sugababes and M.I.A. inevitably brings, but at the same time tempted by the popularity of bands like All Time Low, You Me At Six and Paramore. But with songs like "Ikea Is Blue With A Little Bit of Yellow" it's obvious that it's not all serious business, and when you forgive them for resorting to cheap tricks like pop songs fed through the punk machine, the band actually has an enjoyable presence, bearing in mind that this is one of their first shows ever. Tash is blatantly influenced by Hayley Williams in her style, but she is a genuinely good singer, comfortable within her range, even if some falsetto in the most emotional, climactic parts would do no harm. The set finishes with a hefty breakdown (again reminding us about the ongoing struggle between the conflicting pop and metal selves of the various band members) and with Luke crowdsurfing his way off stage to huge applause.

6

Viva Sleep

Unfortunately Viva Sleep take stage halfway through the interview with Burn The Fleet, leaving me with just three or four songs to base my assessment on. From those three songs the impression is that this band plays a strange brand of music, blending together elements of pop punk and progressive rock, but also that they take it very seriously and perform with the look and feel of a band that has been around the block a few times. Drummer Brick Armstrong in particular puts on his own little show behind the kit, bringing to mind Ilan Rubin's antics with Nine Inch Nails. The band's singer Stone Rockson has a powerful, strained voice accentuated by semi-distorted guitars, and with an eerie resemblance to both Jesse Lacey and Dustin Kensrue, it's impossible not to draw similarities between Viva Sleep and Brand New and Thrice. Granted, Viva Sleep are more raucous on stage - no doubt a product of their pop punk influences. Stone especially has trouble staying still, jumping from side to side with the entire microphone stand in his hand for most of the set, and this visible energy is quick to transpose itself on the audience who are loving every moment of it.

Boys With Xray Eyes

One could say Boys With Xray Eyes are the black sheep tonight with their high-octane chaotic post-hardcore (à la Norma Jean and Underoath) and Welsh heritage. Not as alarmingly violent as bands like The Chariot and Converge, these guys rely on a perfect sound and an extremely charismatic vocalist in Ben Morgan. From the moment he steps on stage, he lays claim to the venue as his kingdom, delivering his disturbing roar with unparallelled passion. Sometimes foot-on-monitor, sometimes on his knees, eyes closed, you can tell that every word he screams comes from the bottom of his heart. On top of that the performance is tight as fuck, probably the result of having opened for such heavyweights as Architects, Misery Signals and Johnny Truant to name only a few, and coupled with the dark, crystal clear melodies courtesy of Dario Cozzi on the guitar, the band has my attention from start to finish. Unfortunately for them the crowd tonight is of a far less extreme disposition, and apart from the lone slam-dancing scenester up front, there seems to be little actual reaction from the crowd - something that Ben repeatedly points out. One has to give it to them for not relenting on the energy even under such depressing circumstances though. Change the name and this band might make an impact on the UK metal scene.

Burn The Fleet

Following the positive gradient in quality, Burn The Fleet were going to top the night off in style. Last I saw them in January, it looked like a homecoming show, and with the evening tonight dedicated to the band's new self-titled EP, it could only get better. By the time these four take the stage, the Joiners is absolutely rammed with the band's fans and friends, with the odd curious onlooker such as myself present as well. Just like last time, Andrew opens the show by gesturing the crowd to sing along with his spare arm and launching straight into "Nautilus". Only this time, the band's setlist has been beefed up to include the entire EP as well as three new songs titled "The Greatest Fire", "Upon A Cliff" and "Follow Me", and the few cosmetic flaws that shone through in January have been fine-tuned into a flawless sound devoid of unnecessary scratches and screeches. Not to mention that the band performs with unprecedented stamina, hellbent on making this a night to remember.

Andrew later tells me that because they have never played a set this long, he ran out of energy after the fourth song; however, no signs of such fatigue are anywhere to be seen as he commands the room with confident, but nonetheless humble showmanship. Burn The Fleet are grateful to be here and it shows - praises are sung in every direction; at Tom Beck from Walnut Tree Records; at the crowd; and at every other band on the bill tonight. What also shows is that it isn't for no reason they're dubbed the finest in town. If you've had a chance to hear the new EP, you will know that the singing on there is pretty good, but mind you, it's nothing like Andrew's pipes tonight - it really is like watching a more explosive Thrice or Brand New. Forget acrobatic stage antics, Burn The Fleet need only to stand still, dance around a little guided by their own rhythms, and allow the sheer emotion that each member channels into the music immerse the room. Seriously, if you've yet to see or hear Burn The Fleet, get to it now before the band explodes into stardom.

Setlist:

01. Nautilus

02. Confessions of a Justified Sinner

03. The Greatest Fire

04. Fictional Children of John Wayne

05. Upon A Cliff

06. Follow Me

07. Conduits

--Encore--

08. Handfuls of Sand

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