Fei Comodo at The Joiners (1/11/11)

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Joiners in Southampton is a small, unassuming venue that feels more like a local pub than an exciting venue for up-and-coming bands, yet its walls suggest otherwise, plastered with decade-old posters for acts such as Franz Ferdinand and Coldplay. By nine the place is by no means packed out, but is enjoying a positive hum of anticipation: the headlining Exit Ten have a well-earned and very dedicated following, but it is their support, Fei Comodo, a five piece post-hardcore act, that steals the show. Casually wandering onstage in a t-shirt and skinny jeans, front-man Marc Halls does not appear to embody the stereotypical hard rock singer image, yet within five seconds of the first chord any preconceptions are not so much thrown out of the window as splattered against the wall. In the face of an inert mass of mostly sober teenagers, Fei Comodo offers a relentless onslaught of angry riffs, groovy guitar hooks and melodic harmonies as if they are playing the O2 arena. There is no telling Halls otherwise, whose infectious energy seldom falters throughout the set, hurling lyric after lyric into the small, yet increasingly enthusiastic crowd with an intensity that falls just short of haemorrhaging a blood vessel.

While many modern rock/metal bands exploit a combination of a screamed verse and sung chorus, Fei Comodo place a refreshing emphasis on singing throughout, evoking the melodic feel of their Essex contemporaries, InMe. Additionally, the combined forces of Will Phillipson and Mike Curtis work to create a formidable guitar sound that is both heavy and groovy, yet melodic, with a catchiness that makes most of the songs very accessible to new listeners. Considering its size, the sound system at joiners is remarkably good, with vocals perfectly balanced against the thunderous guitars; on top of this, the guitar tone itself is incredibly rich and clear, despite heavy distortion: an almost unprecedented feat for a live rock/metal act. Thanks to these acoustics, songs such as ‘Break The Ice’ and ‘Rival Tides’ could be experienced to their full, from epic, soaring chorus to clean guitar refrain.

Fei Comodo stands out from the crowd simply through their ability to write great songs (as is apparent in Halls’ own acoustic effort); something a lot of bands substitute for heavy riffs and screaming. It is evident Fei Comodo are making no compromises in their song writing, proudly wearing the influences of other post hardcore acts such as Reuben and Hell is for Heroes as well as other metal groups, while clearly exhibiting their own distinctive voice. While Fei Comodo will never enjoy the same mainstream appeal as Franz Ferdinand or Coldplay, they are clearly a band on the brink of success. Prodigiously talented and evidently proficient at live shows, these guys deserve credit as genuine heavyweights in the alternative scene.  10/10

Good: Outstanding sound and performance

Bad: Set too short

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