I hadn't heard of either of the support bands before they were announced, and unfortunately I didn't have time to check them out before we attended.
This meant I was extremely surprised when Funeral For a Friend's drummer, Casey McHale, hopped up on stage with Terrible Love. Turns out his side project have been together for almost a year (their Facebook page launched in August, while their Twitter started back in January) and in that time they've already released an EP, supported Rolo Tomassi and have been announced for 2000 Trees festival. This band are wasting no time.
You could certainly see why Casey was wearing a Zoax shirt on stage, because as well as having them as recent tour buddies (Zoax were the openers for every date of the 'Last Chance to Dance' tour) their musical style and their vocalist's stage presence was very similar to that of Zoax's Adam Carroll, especially during new song 'Anne', in which he was pacing around the quickly growing crowd. Switching between a growling vocal to a shouted spoken word style like that of La Dispute, it's a very American style that I haven't heard UK bands attempting - they stand out from the rest of the upcoming bands around at the moment.
Terrible Love are very promising. Their EP, 'Change Nothing', was released in January, and I purchased it at the show - they played it in full and it's definitely the sound of a band who are filled with energy and optimism. I'm interested to see where they go next.
They Need You
Stone In Me
I hadn't heard of Raging Speedhorn either, which is surprising when you consider the fact that they formed back in 1998 and are gearing up to release their sixth album, 'Lost Ritual', this July. 'Lost Ritual' is going to be their first album in seven years, after the band reunited in 2014 following the announcement of their hiatus in 2008.
Raging Speedhorn were definitely the heaviest band on the bill (unsurprising, considering they've been announced as a stage headliner at this year's Download festival) but it did mean I had no chance of working out their setlist - I couldn't understand a word, because both of their vocalists are screamers/growlers and it was impossible to decipher lyrics. However, their music is wonderful: the vocals are definitely more on the hardcore side, but their guitar work and pacing definitely leans more towards the nu-metal genre. I could hear aspects of Disturbed and Korn, which meant I wasn't too surprised that they had been around for a while: if they'd been brand new on the scene and had been coming out with this kind of music it would have been very risky!
By the end of their set I was starting to feel as though I was hearing the same song multiple times, because I wasn't familiar with any of them and they did have a very specific sound, but it wasn't in a negative way. It was still enjoyable and fun to dance to, and you could see that the crowd were getting very enthusiastic: after multiple shouts of "Cardiff, come on, move forward! Let's pretend we're at a fucking gig!" most of the attendees couldn't help but dance. I hadn't heard of Raging Speedhorn before, but I can guarantee people were excited when they were added to this show, based on the amount of people shouting along to the songs.
Both of the supports only played twenty minute sets, which is a bit of a shock based on how long Raging Speedhorn have been together. However, it was the first show that they'd played in over a year, so it was definitely one way for them to get back into the swing of things.
When Funeral For a Friend announced their split last year, I was devastated. I wasn't surprised - in fact, it seemed inevitable when you consider their ages and the almost complete retirement of the Welsh rock scene over the last two years (The Blackout, Kids In Glass Houses) - but I'd always thought this band would be around forever. After seeing a headline set in Oxford last June I rediscovered my love for the band, and with the announcement of the Last Chance to Dance tour - playing 'Hours' in full on the first night and 'Casually Dressed and Deep In Conversation' in full on the second night - I quickly grabbed tickets to both London shows, which I'd been highly anticipating.
Fast foward a few months, and O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire (the venue for the London shows) has been undergoing structural work since November. The album in full shows that I should have attended last week were relocated (over to the O2 Kentish Town Forum) and pushed back to the middle of May - unfortunately one of the new dates didn't work for me, so I knew I was only going to be able to see the band once on their final tour.
So imagine my joy when this tiny charity show was announced. Vocalist Matthew Davies-Kreye shared on stage that this should have been the end of the band ("Tonight was supposed to be the last show on our tour, if it wasn't for stupid fucking London") so it added to the poignancy of the evening, even with those two May shows on the horizon.
During this show, Funeral For a Friend played their first two EPs in full: 'Between Order and Model' and 'Four Ways To Scream Your Name', as well as a variety of other tracks. I've always liked their older material more than their newer songs, so this was right up my alley, but I haven't avidly listened to the band in quite a while so I rediscovered some old favourites.
Within minutes of being on the stage, Matt announced that he didn't want people "standing there looking fucking gormless", because "yes, this is a funeral, but this is also a celebration". It certainly kicked the crowd up a gear: while they'd listened politely during Terrible Love and participated minimally during Raging Speedhorn, I lost track of the amount of crowd surfers during the evening. Clwb Ifor Bach is only a small venue, so it didn't get as crazy as it could have, but the intimate environment made it a show I'm sure both the attendees and the band will never forget.
As I mentioned earlier, this was a charity show, so Matt took the time to explain exactly what it was that Matthew Pritchard - a member of Dirty Sanchez and close friend of the band - did that they were so impressed by: that being a half Iron Man (a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run) every day for 23 days, earning him a world record. You can read more about his achievement here. Matt was understandably proud of his friend, saying "what impressed me more is that he decided to do it on a vegan diet as well!". He shared that the band wanted to do "whatever we could do to help out such a phenomenal cause" which is how this show ended up how it was - originally they'd planned to have it downstairs in the venue, as a floor show.
Despite the fact that it wasn't a floor show, it was still absolutely insane. As I mentioned earlier, there were countless crowd surfers, and with the crowd surfers came the stage invaders. Matt joked "I don't wanna kick anyone off the stage if they're having fun, that makes no sense to me. Unless they're people you know, then you can kick 'em!" (referencing the incident involving The Story So Far's vocalist Parker Cannon two week's ago). There were a few issues later in the night, with Matt needing to pause to tell the crowd off for not letting the crowd surfers down ("they'll be going round and round and they won't know what time their bus or train is [...] I don't wanna see people get their heads snapped off. As much as that was a huge part of my youth, blood doesn't agree with me at my age!") but the fact that the audience listened to him and started behaving more responsibly - it's a testament to how much respect they have for their hometown heroes.
It wasn't surprising that the band finished with 'History', and it was very emotional to think that that should have been the last song the band played full stop: it'll be interesting to see what they close with at their London show, because it connected every member of the audience and really effected the band emotionally - a fitting send off. I was already looking forward to their final show, but now I'm looking forward to seeing the band get the reaction that they deserve on a much bigger scale.
10:45 Amsterdam Conversations
Red Is The New Black
The Art of American Football
This Year's Most Open Heartbreak
She Drove Me To Daytime Television
Kiss and Makeup (All Bets Are Off)
Escape Artists Never Die
You Want Romance?
Rookie of the Year
Roses For The Dead