Every Time I Die are not a band, up until this point, that I had had the pleasure of seeing live. Our festival paths have never crossed and whenever they were playing London whilst I was living there, I always either had a ticket and then subsequently couldn’t go (curse you 9 a.m. A-level maths exam!) or just couldn’t get a ticket due to the size of the venue. It was for this reason I was extremely excited when it was announced the band were playing Southampton’s The Brook, their last UK tour having bypassed our fair city. I was even more excited to find out several days before the gig that the venue had been changed to the much more intimate Talking Heads, with the band’s notoriety for having a chaotic live show this could only be a good thing.
Unfortunately we arrived slightly too late to catch the first few songs of opening act Last Witness, but from where we were stood near the back their brand of beatdown heavy hardcore seemed to be entertaining a small pocket of early punters at the front. They also seemed to be hampered by an ever-present high pitched feedback whine which once noticed could not be unheard.
Next act Long Island hardcore outfit Stray From The Path luckily suffered no such technical issues. They certainly took no prisoners, announcing as soon as they arrived on stage that they were not going to play a song until everyone in the venue had moved up towards the stage. Their set did warm the crowd up nicely with a modest pit forming, or at least a few hardcore dancers present for most of their songs. They were however occasionally foiled by their own keenness to get the crowd going, one example being a further insistence that everybody move forwards before immediately declaring a circle pit be opened up, forcing everyone back to where they were originally stood.
Despite this, their stage presence and technically impressive sound seemed to win over a significant portion of the crowd by the end of the set. Props should also go to any support act willing to engage the audience as much as these guys did, even managing to coax a couple of early stage-divers after vocalist Drew York’s plea to see at least one during their final song.
As should be expected the crowd thinned immediately after the last support but in the twenty or so minutes it took between acts, the floor of The Talking Heads became steadily more and more packed. Stray From The Path may have been received well, but after the band force their way through the crowd and unleash the opening barks of ‘Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space’ there was no doubt that this crowd tonight belonged to Every Time I Die.
The pit explodes into life and a torrent of stage-diving and crowd surfing begins almost from the word go, and by the end of this first song the ceiling is literally dripping with sweat already with grinning faces all around. Gloriously bearded front man Keith Buckley prowls the stage and leads the crowd like a furious preacher through songs old and new such as ‘Floater’, ‘The New Black’ and ‘I Suck [Blood]’, while the rest of the band are clearly having just as much of a good time. Guitarist Jordan Buckley even gets caught up and throws himself into the crowd at a few points whilst all around him fans continue hurling themselves off the stage in much the same fashion.
The only sour moment of the night came when a fan was allowed to stand at the side of the stage following an injury that occurred from being right at the very front, and a song or two later was told to leave the stage in an incident that remains unclear to me. Besides this very minor incident spirits were most definitely high, with Keith even remarking on the tremendous standard that had been set on this first night of the tour. Tonight the Buffalo boys showed us they knew how to have a good time and Southampton showed them that we know just as well.
My friends and I emerged from The Talking Heads gasping for both water and air, absolutely soaked through to the skin. This had been an assault on all the senses; as one friend remarked it was “one of the only times where you’re not sure whether it’s your sweat or someone else’s going in your mouth”, and for this kind of show that’s exactly the way it should be.