Of Mice & Men
The Mo Club, Southampton, UK - 16/4
Black Veil BridesPrevious Next
support The Dead Lay Waiting
author PP date 07/06/11 venue The Rock, Copenhagen, DEN
It's a shocking sight to be approaching The Rock more than an hour before doors opening only to find a queue of more than eighty meters long. And not just any queue, but a queue of teenage girls dressed in what I imagine to be the result of explosive dhiarrea from scene, gothic and glam cultures put together by taking the worst parts of all three. You cannot even begin to imagine how ridiculously stupid these people look. The queue length isn't surprising, though, considering the hundreds of thousands of records Black Veil Brides have sold overseas, or their close allegiance soundwise to bands like Bullet For My Valentine, Avenged Sevenfold and Escape The Fate. It's just a feeling of sore disappointment - call it jealousy if you will - of today's youth. Because how many less than half-full shows of awesome bands have we had to witness at the 640 capacity venue just the last six months alone? And here we have a disaster like Black Veil Brides effortlessly selling out the venue. Something's got to give.
The Dead Lay Waiting are quite the darlings here at Rockfreaks.net. They've taken quite the beating on several occasions, but tonight, even this jaded and cynical journalist is going to have to take a hit on his credibility and admit that The Dead Lay Waiting are a spectacle. Having your backs turned to the crowd while the intro music plays might be cliché, but tonight none of that matters considering the headliners and a sold out venue of like-minded teenagers, so as soon as the band launches into their first notes in an explosion of energy, so does the venue which fizzles and bubbles of excitement of this harshly screaming band that seems to be all over the place at once. This is how solid screamo / metalcore / post-hardcore is supposed to look like in a packed venue, and it is clear that The Dead Lay Waiting are far more in their element than when they were warming up a hostile crowd on the Trigger The Bloodshed tour last year.
The singer is a pleasure to watch. He dips himself into the crowd whenever possible, screaming directly into the young ones down there, and instigates all sorts of action like jumping, moshing, and even a small wall of death at one point to the horror of the many parents watching tonight. Yes, The Dead Lay Waiting's musical output can be contrived, especially when they engage in generic one-chord breakdowns, but somehow it all fits in tonight when you have a venue full of scene-cled youngsters willing to scream in their high pitch voices and be excited no matter what song you happen to be playing. I don't know what that says about the band's music, though, but one thing must be said: the new songs from their upcoming sophomore full length sound far more versatile and interesting than anything from the debut. A solid, entertaining set, which took full advantage of the crowd dynamics to stir up a good interaction between the band and the audience.
Prior to the Black Veil Brides show I had the chance to interview their vocalist Andy outside of the venue. Despite the echoing "Black Veil Brides! Black Veil Brides!" chants outside in the queue - which were constant inside the venue as well all the way up to the starting point of their set - he appeared calm and collected, and answered all questions in a manner that suggests extreme confidence, self-awareness and intelligence, pretty much the opposite of what their stage appearance is like. Because if Kiss and Mötley Crüe had a retarded emo child together, it would most likely look exactly like Black Veil Brides do on stage: heavily tattooed, half-naked, with a ridiculous haircut and stupid body paint all over the place.
And so with my experience with Andy as a genuine and real person at the back of my head, I find myself wondering how it is possible for the band to put on such a lackluster and static performance. I mean, if your outfits are so over-the-top that even Bullet For My Valentine would stop and ask "what the fuck?", then your live show sure as hell should follow through. It doesn't have to necessarily mean theatrics like pyro effects or eating a bat on stage (although that would be sweet), but it cannot mean that your support band whose studio output is generally considered to be an offense against good taste outperforms you in every field starting from stage energy, song quality, crowd interaction and believability! But perhaps the problem is that their image and appearance is so outrageous that one tends to focus more on how retarded they look rather than on what they are actually doing on stage.
That's not the case though, because even though there is a big sing-a-long occasionally, the crowd seems less engaged than before. There's lots of standing still and wondering what's going to happen next as long as Andy doesn't specifically command the crowd to do something. Much of this can probably be attributed to the fact that the vast majority of the crowd consists of screaming little girls between the ages of 13 and 15 who are probably at their first ever rock concert (no queue to the bar at all tonight, it was fuckin' sweet!), which becomes painfully evident when their drummer is given a few minutes for a distinctly average drum solo, where he plays a brief cover of a famous Safri Duo song that literally nobody notices in the crowd.
It doesn't help either that the new songs have sleazy melodies that sound like C-sides of Avenged Sevenfold songs from their newer material. It's difficult to shake off the feeling that BVB seem more interested in mainstream success and wooing underage girls than in performing their actual music tonight, but then again, they are the kind of band who are almost certainly better at a larger stage as they have visible trouble connecting intimately with the audience due to their perceived rock star persona. Finally, the band smashes a guitar on stage right before the encore for an "unpredictable" moment, the first one of such during the entire show, leaving me puzzled as to how the band members can appear so genuine in person, yet act like complete posers on stage with no believability at all. Then it dawns upon me that BVB play the kind of music that you listen to before you discover that there are actually other bands around than those shoved down your throat by the major labels. And here's the dilemma of this review: should I judge the band based on my extensive experience of seeing hundreds of much better bands play live in the past, or on the exhilarating screams let out by every single fourteen year old teenage girl at the venue tonight, to whom every show they see will be the best ever show and the most amazing band in the history of bands? I guess I'm becoming old.