Eyes Set To Kill

support Vanna + Stray From The Path
author BL date 21/03/11 venue Unit, Southampton, UK

Tonight's show would take place in a venue I normally visit as a nightclub, and while I had seen the occasional live act perform in here, I was always unaware beforehand and plus they were usually smaller acts. I had assumed that this show wasn't originally planned to be here at all since it was unusual to book this place as your stop on a UK national tour for Eyes Set To Kill, and that I was only made aware of this date just days beforehand.

Stray From The Path

Starting off for the trio of American bands on tonight, Stray From The Path had a surprisngly loud and rapturous reception at the venue. Numerous people in the crowd began throwing themselves around wildly to the sound emanating from the loud speakers and amplifiers, which admittedly was about as poorly mixed as I had come across - way too much bass and way too little of anything else. Based on their last record "Make Your Own History", Stray From The Path are one of those bands that have such an aggressive but calculated and technical approach to their Every Time I Die fuelled hardcore that it deserves to be heard clearly to be really appreciated, otherwise if all you can hear is an incomphrehensible wall of bass and distortion then you may have a hard time discerning the music at all and that would be a real shame, and indeed I was disappointed to find myself barely making out the songs. That being said performance wise the band did the best they could provided there was barely any stage space, lead singer Drew York rallied the crowd well and overall everybody gave a punchy and competent display to please the fans that were present here, and no doubt making a couple of new ones.

7

Vanna

Judging from the size of the crowd before and after these guys played, Vanna were the star attraction for many here tonight. Everything that Stray From The Path did before them, Vanna seemed to take it on their shoulders to surpass - with exceptions to the sound still being mighty shoddy ofcourse. I was gutted that you couldn't really make out guitarist Evan Pharmakis' clean vocals nor really distinguish the screams from lead vocalist Davey Muise. The instruments were a little clearer than Stray From The Path, though that could be because the music wasn't as crazy technical and therefore somewhat easier to make out and that there were more melodic passages. From a visual standpoint Vanna had elements in their stage presence of the modern American underground bands, some synchronised stage moves thrown in here and there but never used too much to seem obnoxious or too artificial which was pleasing, because they certainly have a far more raw sound than a lot of those bands (despite still being similar to a lot of them music wise) and their time on stage reflects that aspect pretty abundantly.

Eyes Set To Kill

I already mentioned that a lot of people were here tonight for Vanna, and it was a sorry sight to see so many people leave before the headliners even take to the stage. A small contingent fortunately arrived to remake some of the numbers (but not to what it was before) and Eyes Set To Kill got their main set underway. I've been a broken record describing how badly the sound has hampered the bands up to this point, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that for once the headliners didn't have their sound levels upped through the roof and you could hear everything (better than before at least anyway). It is again also worth mentioning that Eyes Set To Kill are the least heavy and least busy out of the three bands so it became less surprising that they were more easily heard. Kicking off with "Broken Frames", the album titled track from the recent full length, the band made the most of the dwindling crowd and somewhat lacklustre response whenever they demanded for some movement. But lead vocalist Alexia Rodriguez seemed timid and underwhelmed to be there and I couldn't have blamed her when I looked around, people just seemed mostly unfamiliar with the newer material (which including that first song, was an improvement over the album before in my opinion).

It didn't help that she seemed to have strained her voice a bit too hard on the opening few songs that she started wailing a little uncontrollably later on in the set, it says something about her abilities though when I say it didn't take too much from her vocal performance and overall she still sounded pretty impressive. Lead screamer and rhythm guitarist Cisko Miranda (though he seemed to relegate some of his guitar duties to a fill in member) was certainly a lot more energetic and if anybody was to spark the place into life and some crowd movement, it would have been him, but even he struggled to get back more than the odd minor mosh and some hand clapping. Maybe it just wasn't their time tonight, and even though Vanna are hardly hitting the headlines nowadays anyway, it was difficult to get rid of the feeling that the show would have gone more smoothly had the lineup been slightly changed around. Credit to the guys and gals in the band though for making it through an awkward final set, and putting on a show that was still fun at the end of the day.

Photos courtesy of Lauren Harris. To see the rest of the photos check out Lauren Harris Photography's facebook page.

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