“As musicians, we are all equal”
Date: March 16th, 2015
The Feel Trip. Any issue with the Internet-language aside, there could not be a more apt tour name to tie together sleepmakeswaves, Tides From Nebula and Skyharbor. From the spaced out and electro-tinged variations on post-rock served up by the former to the ambient progressive metal of the latter, it was clear right from when this lineup was announced that it would be a special evening. And that’s not the only intriguing thing about tonight: it’s a triple-way rotating headliner, and each band has been awarded 50 minutes to play. So while Skyharbor are headlining tonight – along with the rest of the UK leg – every band is treated equally across the European tour, and it means the order can be reshuffled if a band is delayed. Quite novel, and a necessity to successfully combat unruly London traffic.
First up for the evening are Poland’s Tides From Nebula. Greeting us with thanks in a thick yet warm accent, the band kick off and are soon in high gear, the melodies unfolding through their ambience-drenched rocking. Swaying to the reverb-heavy delay, the quartet are clearly completely lost in their music, pausing only to shout “Thank you!” into the crowd without the microphone, which has mysteriously disappeared. The dense atmosphere of the likes of God Is An Astronaut collide with the immediate and catchy melodies of Maybeshewill, all wrapped up in a warm bass tone and loud, very loud drums delivered by a whirl of hair. This is the first of several times tonight I regret forgetting my earplugs at home. After flowing through a selection from their three albums, they pause for a brief speech before the final track, offering heartfelt gratitude to both fans and bands for their dedication (by this point the microphone has magically reappeared). In return, they offer one last track to make the crowd go “oof!” at the heaviness, both emotionally and musically. A stunning start to the evening, Tides From Nebula set the tone faultlessly for what’s to follow.
While Tides From Nebula verge more on the cosmic side of the scale, Australians sleepmakeswaves are all about immediate and hard-hitting riffs in the post-rock spectrum. They released the stunning Love Of Cartography last year, and the tracks they play from it go off an absolute bomb, which is the perfect way to introduce ‘Perfect Detonator’. Bassist Alex Wilson sets a playful tone when he invites us to “get amongst it” and dance awkwardly as they do, especially during ‘Great Northern’ which he plays keyboard for as well. Their other releases get a look in as well; ‘We Sing The Body Electric’ develops no less stunningly than on record, and the same goes for ‘In Limbs And Joints’. Guitarist Otto Wicks-Green remarks “We’re so sleep deprived, this may not be real.” They don’t show it, though; the band have an insurmountable amount of energy, chucking themselves around in a way to rival their home country’s hardcore scene. The finale of ‘Something Like Avalanches’, starting from its electro-driven intro, is a groove-filled melodyfest which inspires more than a few to dance, and results in both Wilson and Wicks-Green amongst the crowd throwing shapes with their instruments. A fantastic set from sleepmakeswaves, and arguably worth the price of entry alone.
The evening rounds out on something a little different; although Skyharbor do draw from post-rock elements, they are primarily a progressive metal band. As the lights go green, they flow smoothly into ‘Allure’ from the latest album Guiding Lights. Dan Tompkins is front and center with his slick vocals melodies and a return to floppy hair, in direct contrast to guitarist Devesh Dayal’s whose hair has become as huge as his grooves, and Anup Sastry who has morphed into another person entirely: Aditya Ashok, who handles Sastry’s complex rhythms with ease. ‘Evolution’ is an early highlight, while the latter half of ‘Guiding Lights’ later on is nothing less than extraordinary. The band draw mostly from Guiding Lights for this set, the only remnant of their past in the closing track ‘Celestial’ with some brief harsh vocals and a riotous crowd during the chorus.
Something is different in Tompkins’ performance compared to previous gigs; whereas beforehand he was the visual performer, stretching and bending over the monitors like a dancer, tonight he closer resembles an energetic rockstar, jumping around and encouraging the crowd to sing along such as on the titular line from ‘Evolution’. It’s an odd shift in presence, one not as impactful as beforehand, although there are elements of this older style that shine through on ballad ‘Patience’. He also makes one impactful speech at the end, after the crowd have cried out for an encore. After explaining the rotating headliner detailed above, he states that “as musicians, we are all equal. None of us are above one another“, and that it would be unfair to the other bands if they went over their allotted 50 minutes. Perfectly understandable, even if the show does finish remarkably early.
All in all, tonight is one helluva feel trip as promised, an emotional ride with three very different and yet interlinked bands. The tour is still weaving around Europe, and it comes highly recommended; Skyharbor, sleepmakeswaves and Tides From Nebula really are quite something.
Tides From Nebula have been steadily climbing in popularity across Europe, and made a great impact during their performance at Damnation Festival in 2013. They have released three albums, the most recent being Eternal Movement two years ago.
sleepmakeswaves are the longest-running band on the tour, and also the ones who traveled the furthest, from Sydney no less. The band recently played a more intimate show last year in Birthdays, Dalston, as well as releasing their second album Love Of Cartography.
Skyharbor in comparison to the other two are a relatively new band, having formed from the studio project Hydrodjent by Keshav Dhar. Spread out over India, UK and USA, the band have been able to tour a lot recently due to an extremely successful pledge campaign for their second album Guiding Lights.