Hawthorne Heights

support We Are The Ocean + Lights In Reverse
author PP date 03/11/10 venue BETA, Copenhagen, DEN

A pack young girls who couldn't have been a day older than 18 years old entered the venue shortly after the doors opened, and I overheard them gasping as they did so: "wow this place is small". At capacity of approximately 75 people based on my rough estimate, it isn't immediately clear to most why emo legends Hawthorne Heights would resort to playing such a small venue. But in light of the band's troubles with their label (long story short: they filed a suit and got counter-sued), they were never able to tour Europe properly, and as such their popularity never reached even close to the same heights as in the US of A. Though the venue is well attended tonight, more room is clearly at the back, and you can tell HH have peaked a long time ago. If they ever did so in Denmark in the first place. But before we go any further, lets discuss this evening's support first.

Lights In Reverse

I had heard some evil tongues spreading a rumour across the scene that local screamo band Lights In Reverse vocalist Jesse really can't sing live, and that their otherwise excellent sophomore EP was mostly production tricks and the likes. But such worries were wiped away two songs into the set by a more than decent vocal performance from him. And I don't mean wiped underneath a carpet, but into an actual bin, which was then emptied and taken outside to the garbage truck waiting outside. Either Jesse has had some very bad nights in the past, or these people have a habit of hating the band for no reason, because I saw nothing wrong with his nor the rest of the band's performance tonight. The crowd realizes this as well; they are doubtful in the beginning, but as the set progresses through the band's newest EP "With All The Ends Before The Beginnings", people start stepping closer to the stage and showing some energy to the band, until in the end everyone is accepting and rocking out to the band. It really helps to have an EP like that one in the pocket, because I think these are some genuinely good songs that have superb melodies embedded that really work in a live environment. Given the positive feedback from the crowd, this engages the whole band to rock out more than I had expected: each member looks like they are really enjoying playing live here tonight. Looking forward to seeing them again.


We Are The Ocean

British bands with a scream/hardcore edge tend to enjoy spending time in the crowd. Gallows vocalist Frank Carter often starts his own circle pits in small venues, and Tom Lacey from The Ghost Of A Thousand lifted his whole mic stand in the middle of a massive pit at Groezrock earlier this year. We have a new winner in that category, however, in the We Are The Ocean screamer Dan, who spent all of ten seconds (no exaggeration) on stage before he aggressively launched himself into the crowd starting a mosh/kick/push/whatever pit, and proceeded to avoid the stage at all costs for the remainder of the set. In fact, he didn't return before the band played their last note, taking advantage of every object (including innocent bystanders) in his passionate performance designed to create havoc and mayhem in the pit. He'd walk all the way down the crowd, jump on the merch table, scream in people's faces an inch away, share the mic away. Basically, his job tonight was to start some shit, allowing the rest of the band to focus on what they were doing in a more relaxed, static stance. It has both it's pros and cons. Lets start with the latter: you tend to forget the rest of the band exists because your eyes are fixated on Dan just in case he might accidentally push you into a table (or take the table and push it on you for that matter). That is, until guitarist/clean vocalist Liam opens his mouth, because those are some INCREDIBLE clean vocals he fires off both on record and live. We're talking Dallas Green good, if not better, man that guy can sing beautifully and with so much power. Seriously, if you haven't heard him before, check out their Myspace player. Fuck me they were good, which leads me to the pros, because it really requires intense focus to sing that well while playing guitar: it gives the band some room to work with. And besides, I love performances by bands like We Are The Ocean precisely for that reason: they don't let their show be limited by small space constraints of the stage, the entire room becomes the stage. Fuckin' mental.


Hawthorne Heights

Hawthorne Heights had quite a lot to live up to after that show, and having seen them once in the past, I knew before they even started that they wouldn't be able to live up to that performance in terms of energy on stage or engaging the crowd. Instead, they let their songs speak for themselves. Because lets be honest here, no matter what your personal opinion of emo might be, their debut album is a classic in the genre, and the others aren't too bad either if you give them a chance. Tonight, the band opt for a setlist heavily leaning on that very album to the delight of most people present, and although there are no big sing alongs, you can tell the crowd is enjoying it. Finally, you can hear lips moving and some screams for "Ohio Is For Lovers" and "Nikki FM", whereas the newer songs are received well, but less enthusiastically. The performance is much more relaxed and static in manner, with a secret showcase show type of atmosphere lingering around the venue. You can tell people are excited about their teenage/youth heroes finally making it over here, but in a way, they're at least four years late to have an absolutely killer show here. It also bothers me that the band has next to no faith on their newer material, failing to include many awesome songs from their third (and in my opinion best) record "Fragile Future" - but I guess it's fair enough since most people are here for the debut anyway. But no matter which song the band plays, they appear confident on stage no matter how small, a vibe only seasoned touring bands are able to emit. And so we leave the venue with a good, positive feeling of their show, but with a reluctant acceptance of "they should have been here years ago" echoing in our minds.

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