Surrounded by construction sites and 60’s apartment blocks, you wouldn’t think much of The 1865 at first glance, but in my opinion it is the up-and-coming live venue in the city, already lined up to host giants like The Blackout and Funeral For A Friend. On Sunday 19th it played host to 4 of hard rock’s most distinctive, and in some cases iconic, bands: Soil, American Head Charge, (Hed) P.E. and Wolfborne.
It’s been a while since Soil set foot on UK turf, being preoccupied in recent years with album releases (Whole, released August 2013) and tours in the USA, and the band seemed keen to make a good impression by releasing Wolfborne first onto the stage. The hard rock 4-piece came out swinging with a good heavy opening, riling up the crowd nicely for such a little known band. ‘Jellyfish’ and ‘Sex Sells’ were particular favourites, starting slow and sensual and building up to a crescendo of chants for the choruses.
Next up were rap metal fusion group (Hed) P.E., who absolutely killed it! Right from the off vocalist Jahred brought his own unique style of explosive energy, walking on stage garbed in a camouflage smock, bandana and low flatcap (see left) to launch into ‘No Turning Back’. His stage presence was menacing and violent to match (Hed) P.E.’s particular brand of blisteringly heavy rap metal. Halfway through the second song, a pit breaks out in the middle of the room – within seconds Jahred stops the song and the band changes tack to an insanely fast hardcore chorus and bridge, encouraging the first big pit of the evening. The punk-esque lunacy continued until, out of nowhere and as a dedication to their UK fans, (Hed) P.E. broke out into a few reggae/grime numbers to soften the mood.
This mood change didn’t deter American Head Charge though, who stalked on-stage after a bit of a wait, opening with a heavy banger of a tune. Despite a well put together setlist the band failed to deliver a thorough performance – it felt fragmented, and a little awkward at times whilst waiting for instrument change overs (which, by the way, shouldn’t take any more than ten seconds when you think about it). Overall, American Head Charge were not the most impressive act of the night but nonetheless were driven by strong crowd support.
Soil appeared on stage under dark lighting, exploding into life at Ryan McCoomb’s signal – the crowd went ballistic and my camera nearly became a permanent feature of The 1865’s floor. The energy was incredible and Soil performed outstandingly, encouraging some serious movement to bangers like ‘Breaking Me Down’ and ‘Redefine’. On several occasions McCoomb came down to sing with the crowd, shaking hands with fans pushed up on the barrier. The highlight of the performance was their closing song, the iconic ‘Halo’ – the lights go down and strobes flash in time to the thundering drum intro. Out of nowhere Ryan appears in the pit, with his microphone and stand, screaming the opening lyrics. Fans cluster around him and join in so that the entire venue is belting the track out, Ryan grins like a child at Christmas as his fan join him on the mic for the chorus. As the track comes to a close he thanks us repeatedly: “the music starts, and ends, with you. So thank you for allowing us to come out tonight and give you a fucking incredible show.”