Four Year Strong

support A Loss For Words
author TL date 09/02/12 venue Lille Vega, Copenhagen, DEN

It is Thursday the ninth of February, and with Denmark still in the grip of the coldest winter in ages, Lykke and I are doing our best to pound Monster (endorsement please) outside of Lille Vega, so that we can soon escape into the venue - Nice move on Vega's part by the way, opening doors at 7, a full hour before any bands because then a) we can get into the venue and out of the cold, and b) there's time for a beer and a chat with friendly faces. Everybody wins. As we get in though, admittedly there aren't a lot of people who've taken advantage of the opportunity, as only a few early birds hug the sides of the venue's main room. Maybe this is also the reason that the bands don't stick to the schedule that I've been provided, as warm-up act A Loss For Words don't go on till about half past 8, despite me having been told they would be on at 8. Ah well, whatever, let's just get on with it.

A Loss For Words

Having recently reviewed the latest A Loss For Words album "No Sanctuary" I've been looking forward to seeing their set as much as to seeing Four Year Strong, and the delayed start of it does mean that a more sizable crowd gathers near the stage when the band gets going. It quickly becomes apparent that there are maybe five people beyond myself in tonight's audience that have heard the band before, and predictably the sound levels aren't perfect for the support set, with singer Matt Arsenault's vocals often dipping underneath the instruments. It's a shame because his catchy choruses are the band's main strength, but fortunately both him and Mike Adams show every intent of bridging the band/audience gap as best they can. While guitarists Nevada Smith and Marc Dangora seem more restrained in their movements, as they concentrate on dishing out the riffage that is at least relatively intricate for a pop-punk type band such as theirs, Arsenault and Adams are respectively running and bouncing about the place, while doing the best they can to incite some action in a crowd that looks to be two or three beers removed from really getting into it. It gets a little awkward when Arsenault vaults into the audience to start a circle pit, only to get joined by less than 10 people, who then half-heartedly circle an iceberg of more hesitant onlookers. Still, the band's highly infectious tunes and the tightness with which they sing and play them does manage to crack smiles around the room, and you get the sense that it's more the lack of crowd response and the issues with the sound that hold the show down, than it is a fault with anything AL4W do on stage - maybe with the exception of Arsenault's choice to pull a Fred Durst and at first appear with a silly looking backwards cap - and of the band choosing to play "Honeymoon Eyes" over "The Lost Cause That I Used To Be" (some of us still haven't gotten over that). Overall though, it's fun but not fantastic.


Four Year Strong

Four Year Strong have been on tour for quite a while by now, and when I talked to singer/guitarist Alan Day earlier (stay tuned for the interview to be posted tomorrow), he seemed like a man that was beginning to feel the wear and tear of the road. So I worry a little about his band maybe not being able to match the energy of their material with their stage performance. When they come on and start playing however, I soon see that it doesn't matter, because as cautious as the crowd was during AL4W's set, as determined do they now seem to take the show and run with it. It doesn't seem to matter what album the band plays material from - somebody here is into it. "On A Saturday" gets awesome reception. "Catastrophe" gets awesome reception and even new singles like "Stuck In The Middle" gets fine reception, with people bouncing, dancing, dropping palms and shouting lyrics like they've been looking forward to this for a long time. On stage, the band does what they need to in terms of addressing the audience between songs and rocking about, but does not deliver much in excess of that. Instead, they show that the extensive touring have hammered them into one of the tightest live bands around, playing and singing their fast-paced stuff with seamless ease, almost like they could do it in their sleep, and with the sound being slightly improved compared to AL4W's set, even the most ardent sceptic would have a hard time not being caught up in the band's bouncy music. It's a certain sign of the band having won the day before they even started, when they end the set with "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)" and almost the entire audience storms the stage uninvited, with the second half of the song being sung entirely by fans. So I guess if I was rating the fans, they'd get an 8, and if I was rating the band's technical ability that would be around 8 as well, but keeping a critical eye open, I still feel like a band that makes music like this, should have it in them to be more enthusiastic and extroverted on stage. Small gripe though, as the night still proves to be a super fun time, sending smiling, sweaty fans back out into the cold.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen

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