GIG REVIEW: While She Sleeps, Blood Youth & Counterfeit Live at O2 Institute, Birmingham
With the exception of a one-off London show with Counterparts opening for Brighton Metalcore giants Architects at their to-this-date biggest show at a sold out Alexandra Palace, the February 2018 UK shows for While She Sleeps were all headline performances, fresh off the back of their first independent album release with ‘You Are We’ since the band decided to bravely part ways with traditional industry practice.
Like the rest of While She Sleeps’ headline shows on this UK run, the Sheffield quintet brought along the English hardcore punk band Blood Youth – known by some as being current Neck Deep guitarist Sam Bowden’s former band – and Counterfeit, a London punk rock band that formed in 2015 with a distinctly unique four-man approach when it comes to vocals and guitar playing.
Blood Youth opened the show, and amassed a respectable crowd considering they took to the stage just 30 minutes after venue doors had opened. Opening bands, in my experience at least, often get little to no crowd reaction except for the obvious applause at the end of each song, so for people there to know who Blood Youth were and for there to be visible energy towards the front of the room was something really good to see. A pretty undeniably solid performance from Blood Youth, again bolstered by how many people showed up to see them considering how early their set time was.
Counterfeit came next, and it is undoubtedly clear that you get a different feel for a band in the live environment when you are stood towards the back of the room with people who are all keen on their music as opposed to being in the midst of the moment towards the front of the room. Like with Blood Youth, I was unfortunately ignorant to their discography as they are one of the bands that have slipped through the cracks of the music that I listen to, but like with the band that played before them Counterfeit definitely appeared to attract some loyal supporters even if at the same time it felt like the majority of the crowd was just waiting for While She Sleeps to turn up and take to the stage.
While She Sleeps were met with a sea of applause as their set, which definitely met expectations in terms of length and the amount of songs played, began. Opening with the title track of their 2016 release ‘You Are We’, the band hammered through a diverse selection of material from across their currently three album discography, spanning new tracks like “Feel”, “Empire of Silence”, and “Silence Speaks” alongside older songs – namely “Seven Hills”, “Brainwashed”, and set-closer “Hurricane”. The vibe in the crowd definitely swayed all over the place – at times decent energy, and at other times total chaos. “This is the Six”, “Brainwashed” and “Silence Speaks” comes to the forefront of my mind as being the moments during the performance where it looked like literally everyone in front of the sound desk was trapped in a – no pun intended – hurricane.
And to close, with Architects filling Bring Me the Horizon’s place as the UK’s definitive Metalcore group, While She Sleeps too, especially as a live act, have stepped up and proven their worth and prove to us why they are rightfully regarded as one of the most important bands in their scene. With Bury Tomorrow and other bands approaching that trajectory as well, While She Sleeps may appear to be in tough competition but their superiority above almost everyone else they surround themselves with is impossible to deny.