Thursday, 25 August 2016

Lower Than Atlantis - Oxford O2 Academy 2, 24/08/16

Strange Bones were a late addition to this show, being announced after it had already sold out, so not many members of the crowd had heard of them before. That didn't stop them from trying their hardest to engage the audience, and while it didn't exactly pay off they certainly put on a good show.
With their vocalist pacing across the stage, throwing himself into every second of their stage time and even performing an entire song out in the middle of the crowd, you couldn't accuse him of being complacent. Encouraging the crowd to chant along at multiple "woah-oh" moments, including that explosive opening to closer 'God Save The Teen', they had minimal response but that didn't dampen their enthusiasm. There was moshing and dancing towards the end of the set, but it felt as though Strange Bones hit their stride as the set was coming to a close. They need to concentrate on finding a way to engage the crowd earlier, especially with them only performing 20 minutes out of their 30 minute stage time.
I'd listened to Strange Bones in preparation for Reading festival (they're performing on the Lock Up stage on the Sunday) and I enjoyed their recorded music more than their live performance, but that's something that will improve with experience and a few more shows under their belts. They're stronger musically than vocally, but with this punk-infused sound making a comeback through bands like Slaves, Strange Bones couldn't have picked a better time to start making an impact on the scene. 

Pussy Galore's Flying Circus
S O I A (Sick of it All)
We The Rats
Give Me The Sun (Death To Fascists)
God Save The Teen

This is the third time I've seen Milk Teeth this year, following their Tonight Alive support slot and my brief visit to their set at Download. 2016 has been Milk Teeth's year, and the fact that they're playing halfway up the Pit on Saturday - at their debut Reading festival appearance, no less - is astounding.
Despite the fact that six months have passed, Milk Teeth are still playing the same set (with the exception of 'Burger Drop', which has been cut) and I'm assuming it'll be the same again at their Reading performance.
I don't really have anything different to say: I still admire the fact that they're bringing back the old-school female-fronted punk vibe, but playing the same set means there's nothing new to add.
'Kabuki' didn't work as well in front of this crowd. It was a jarring moment that contrasted oddly to the rest of the set, and a lot of people just talked through it: rude, but it shows that Milk Teeth need to think a bit more about the audience they're performing to instead of bashing out the same songs every time. This is something that'll get easier when they release more music and have more to choose between, because they only have an EP and an album at the moment which doesn't offer much variety.

Brain Food
Crows Feet
Melon Blade
Swear Jar
No Fun

Lower Than Atlantis disappointed me at this show.
That's not something I ever thought I'd say - I've seen headline shows and festival appearances and I've never left less than satisfied - but I think it's something a lot of fans were feeling after they walked offstage after 40 minutes, without saying thank you or even goodnight.
Don't get me wrong, I can understand why they did it: tickets were cheap, they needed an opportunity to practice before Reading, but I still felt a little cheated. Never before have I seen a band leave the stage, confusing their crowd so completely that they couldn't even chant for an encore. The entire room stood eagerly anticipating the band returning until the house lights snapped on and security began ushering people out of the building, no explanation as to why the end of the show was so abrupt.
The band tweeted afterwards explaining that the show was short because they needed to practice the exact set they'd be performing at Reading, but that feels like a cheap excuse to me. Did any of the band make the effort to shout "this is our last song!" after 'English Kids in America', before the riff to 'Here We Go' kicked in? Nope. If they had, at least the crowd would have been anticipating and accepting of the end of the show.
It was just weird. I've been to a lot of shows, and I've never seen anything like it happen before. It was disconcerting.
Until that moment, the night had been going fabulously. Running through all the biggest hits from the self-titled album reminded everyone exactly why it's their best-selling album to date: it's stuffed to the brim with bangers and all of them sound even better live. The "scream and shout" chant at the end of 'Words Don't Come So Easily', the viciously spitting 'Criminal' and the summer anthem 'English Kids in America' - hit after hit, filling up the set. It's going to work beautifully at Reading.
I just feel as though the older material still deserves a chance. Yes, 'Another Sad Song' - Mike Duce's depressing yet relatable anthem - still managed to squeeze in there, but the other fan favourites that they've released over the years were completely disregarded. It makes no sense to me. If the self-titled album had only just been released, it would be reasonable, but it's been out for a few years now and the band should have a better idea of how to craft a setlist that spans the entirety of their career.
The best moment of the night was definitely 'Work For It'. Considering that it was released less than a week ago, the amount of people in the room who already knew all the words was impressive: this small show was definitely for the most hardcore of Lower Than Atlantis fans. If they can get that kind of response to the song at the festivals then I'll be very impressed.
It's just a shame that the end of the night put such a dampener on what had been a note-perfect, almost flawless set. Next time lads, at least say goodbye so your fans understand that it's the end of the show.

Get Over It
Work For It
Words Don't Come So Easily
Another Sad Song
English Kids in America
Here We Go

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