Date: Feb 19th, 2015
It seems rare these days, at least in metal circles, to get a UK or European tour where the bands differ so greatly from each other: that seems to be more a US trend. And yet, the punk rock energy of Marmozets marries the psychedelic reverb of Thought Forms and the sludgy riffs of Steak Number Eight (whom we interviewed recently) in one evening at the Electric Ballroom, as part of a sold-out tour across the UK.
It’s clear the majority of the crowd are here for Marmozets, but the other two bands make use of an unsuspecting audience. Steak Number Eight in particular hit the stage beaming with confidence and energy to burn. Kicking off with a song from their upcoming as-yet-untitled album, vocalist Brent Vanneste thrashes with his guitar around the stage, while occasionally barking into the microphone. Cis Deman, meanwhile, is more controlled in his muscular riffing, while Jesse Surmont’s bass is loud enough to induce vibrations through the audience’s feet, and Joris Casier smashes the drums with gusto.
At some point Deman’s guitar malfunctions, and it’s incredible to watch as it’s repaired on the fly by him and a tech while he’s still strumming. Soon enough, the weighty, sludgy grooves of ‘Dickhead’ rear up, Vanneste’s cleans coming across clearly through the PA in its Eddie-Vedder-meets-Brent-Hinds mix. The finale of their set is absolutely thundering, a lengthy crash of cymbals and weighty crush, the boys grinning at each other. Steak Number Eight take a bow and leave the crowd wondering what the hell just happened, although whatever it is leaves both them and me clapping and cheering.
Next up are Thought Forms, who provide an altogether very different experience to what came before. While the trio have roots in the more mind-bending sides of doom, they leave much of that on the sidelines, and instead unfolds a setlist of psych-infused shoegaze upon the unsuspecting audience. Channeling her inner Sonic Youth, vocalist Charlie Romijn contrasts her dreamy vocals with the drawl of Deej Dhariwal, who waves his guitar mysteriously during one of the trippier moments of the set, and lets out an almighty scream at another point.
It is a shame the crowd remain stationary throughout the set, bar one or two who are swaying in time to the music, although at least the band get a respectable audience reaction between each jam. As they round out their fuzz-filled set, Thought Forms enjoy one final round of applause before disappearing offstage.
Finally the lights go green, and West Yorkshire’s Marmozets hit the stage, along with an army of hyperactive fans who bounce along from minute one to minute end. They come out on the infectious ‘Move, Shake, Hide’, and the roar from the audience is almost as deafening as vocalist Rebecca Macintyre’s opening scream. The rest of the band kick into action, plying their thumping yet melodic punk rock with delight. Sam Macintyre and Will Bottomley are on backing vocals, sequestered off to the side of the stage with their guitar and bass, while brother Jack Bottomley is free to move around stage left. Aptly described as a heavier Be Your Own Pet, the band are on all cylinders and taking the crowd along for one thrilling ride.
Rebecca Macintyre has the crowd in the palm of her hand through the entire set, and when she dances, the whole room dances. The vocalist is a whirlwind force, with an extremely well-crafted stage presence despite only being 22, and a voice bursting with energy. The rose she tosses into the crowd during the mathy bass-infused discord of ‘Vibetech’ is just the cherry on the cake. As the band come crashing through the dancing grand finale ‘Why Do You Hate Me?’, Rebecca is by now on the floor with the fans, and the crowd are clearly exhausted from constantly pogoing and singing along. Simultaneously, however, they would gladly go through a whirl of Marmozets again, as the buzz of adrenaline radiating off their faces strongly indicates.
The evening can neatly be summarized by a Marmozets title played this evening: ‘Born Young And Free’. The few people left in the room who previously had doubts that younger bands don’t have the capacity to bring an engaging show in a larger venue like Electric Ballroom had their opinions firmly served to them, while the rest of the audience partied on.
Steak Number Eight are riding a wave of success from their 2013 album The Hutch, a masterful stroke that plants a space between Mastodon, Neurosis and Isis. The band are stupefyingly young (average age 21), but already have three releases under their belt, and are engaging in a relentless amount of touring, including several jaunts to the UK already.
Thought Forms have been around for nearly 9 years now, pulling out a blend of psychedelia, shoegazing garage-rock and ethereal doom. The trio out of South-West England are working on a third album. Their set tonight is remarkably different from their usual fare, erring more on the side of shoegaze than noise or doom.
Marmozets are on a meteoric rise in popularity; after signing with Roadrunner, their presence exploded with the release of The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, channeling elements of Be Your Own Pet but with a mathier and screamier edge. With a similar youth advantage to Steak Number Eight, the band are on a string of shows promoting the release, many of which sell out extremely quickly.