Pierce The Veil at Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (16/05/2013)

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Fast-rising Californian post-hardcore titans Pierce The Veil are once again gracing UK shores with their presence after the astonishing success of their sell-out headline tour last October. This time around, however, the venues are bigger (though still sold out), the supports acts higher profile and the crowd even more enthusiastic than ever before. Make no mistake; this is a band that incites serious devotion from their young fans, as evidenced by the already lengthy queue forming outside the venue hours before doors open, with the mostly young, female, teenage fans desperately crowding the entrance of the Wedgewood Rooms hoping for a glimpse of their idols.

The first band of the evening is Hands Like Houses, who face the uphill struggle of playing to a crowd who are, quite blatantly, not there to see them. They give it a good go though, and almost win through with a combination their chirpy Australian charm and one particularly catchy song called ‘We Don’t Belong Here’. However, their sound is ultimately a rather generic combination of clean vocals and guitar breakdowns and they receive a muted crown reaction; with the exception of one brave, lonely soul who is attempting to start a one-man mosh pit.

Next up are Woe, Is Me, a far heavier band and certainly the heaviest band on this particular bill. Their first song fires up and it’s a burst of pure metalcore aggression, which wakes up the crowd and immediately incites a ferocious mosh pit. And then the next song starts, and it sounds pretty much the same. As does the song after that. And the one after that. Well, that band name is starting to feel pretty appropriate right around now. The crowd are split between those who are loving being caught in the middle of the sweaty, moshing euphoria and those who are going to the bar and the merch stand simply to have some way to kill the boredom. It’s good to be divisive, but if half the crowd actively have to find other ways to entertain themselves during your set, you’re probably not getting it quite right.

After Woe, Is Me’s lengthy set is over the level of excitement in the crowd takes a noticeable jump, as the time for Pierce The Veil to take to the stage draws ever nearer. When the 4 charming Californian boys finally do take to the stage, they are rewarded with screams of a volume and pitch that wouldn’t be out of place at a Justin Bieber concert. Any fears that this is a band solely for 13 year old girls are quickly assuaged as soon as the band strikes up their first note. They might possess surfer boy good looks, but these boys know how to rock too.  They launch straight into a killer set comprised of all their most popular songs, including new single ‘Bulls in The Bronx’, which incites the crowd to even greater levels of hysteria, as they sing along with every word. Older songs including ‘Besitos’, ‘Bulletproof Love’ and ‘Caraphernelia’ are all greeted jubilantly by the crowd and singer Vic Fuentes seems to be having the time of his life as he dashes about the stage asking the crowd if they’re having fun and generally speaking to them as if they’re his long lost friends. The whole band seem to be having as much fun as the crowd they’re playing for, even bassist Jaime Preciado, who is bravely soldiering on despite having broken his foot the previous evening.

The highlight of the evening though, has to be Vic Fuentes’s solo acoustic performance of ‘I’m Low on Gas and You Need a Jacket’. Yes, it’s a very silly name for a song, and titles that long haven’t been original or clever for years, but when performed live, with just a voice and an acoustic guitar, it’s pure magic. The simple arrangement lets all the sadness and pathos of the song come through clearly, and it really is heartbreakingly good. Having rung every last drop of emotion from the crowd, the band wrap up the evening with a joyous performance of their hit single ‘King for a Day’, ending the evening on a real high note. As the crowd are disgorged, sweating and ecstatic, onto Southsea high street, it is clear that, in spite of the slightly slow start, this has been an evening that will linger in many of their memories for a very long time, for all the right reasons.

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