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Gig Review: Enter Shikari + supports, Melbourne

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Enter Shikari + Hands Like Houses + Hellions
The Forum, Melbourne
22 May 2015
Review by Alexander Sievers
Photo by Matthew Kimpton

The first band to warm up The Forum’s lavish and half-filled interior was Sydney boys in Hellions. Their awesome blend of hip-hop/rap and hardcore/punk made for a really great set that got the small but loyal fan base moshing and circle-pitting, a big sign of things to come for the headliner. The quintet’s new material from their recent and utterly brilliant album, ‘Indian Summer’, was interwoven with a few select cuts from their solid debut, ‘Die Young’. While the guitars may have been a little sloppy at times, and while Dre Faivre’s vocals were lost in the mix at times, it only added to the “hardcore” manner of their set, and it wasn’t a huge deterrence for a lot in attendance, myself included.

Next up were the main supports, Canberra’s Hands Like Houses. While I wouldn’t consider myself a huge fan I was keen to see them live for what was a first time for yours truly. At first, they did happily impress me when they came on to their biggest single, ‘Introduced Species’, however, after a few songs in their set went downhill fast.

A handful of technical issues regarding the synth/keyboards backing tracks (the band actually parted ways with their keyboardist, Jamal Sabet, last year) resulted in multiple false starts and some very clear agitation from vocalist Trenton Woodley and drummer Matt Parkitny. Later in the set, and again after having even more issues, it became apparent that this was one of “those nights”, as Woodley would put it. Eventually, the five-piece ended up cutting their set short by about 15 minutes (ouch), and closed their 40 minute slot with their latest riff-heavy single, ‘I Am’, which thankfully had smooth sailing throughout.

“Sometimes we play shows and sometimes it just doesn’t work”, stated bassist Joel Tyrrell towards the end, and all I could think was “Well…you’re not wrong there, mate”.

During their 2012 headline tour, Enter Shikari said they would return to Australia in 2013. Yet 2013 came and went and that tour never happened, and there was no mention or hint of a tour in 2014. But then the news came like a gift from Heaven: Enter Shikari were coming back around, and it would be in support of their fantastic new album, ‘The Mindsweep’, and man, they did not disappoint.

The only other crowd that I’ve seen respond this frenzied and this intensely to a bands new material (which is barely six months old) was Slipknot’s set at Soundwave this year. The back and forth between the crowd and band in ‘Myopia’, the grooving, pit-opening ‘Anaesthetist’, the soaring ‘Torn Apart’; all were received gloriously by punters left, right, diagonal and center. Of course, it wasn’t just the new material that got everyone’s motor running, as “classic” tracks like ‘Mothership’ and ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’ sent the crowd into sheer overdrive. This was one of those shows were throughout the 90 minute set, the floor never stopped moving as all manner of limbs moved and flung about and mosh-pits were never not happening.

In the live environment Enter Shikari really are king, as they do a fantastic job at creating a strong on-stage atmosphere, at sending out good vibes, and at having a truly genuine and unspoken connection between them and their fans. That last part really cannot be understated or underestimated. That loyalty from their fans was repaid by the English quartet performing something really special; a mash-up of ‘The Last Garrison’ and ‘Juggernauts’, which was just insanely good. This is something they only do live and it’s just one of the many unique things the band do live.

With an encore featuring the epic and emotionally moving ‘Constellations’, which briefly brought vocalist Rou Reynolds to tears and the bat-shit insanity of ‘Slipshod’, which saw the biggest pit of the night, this set was pretty hard to fault. Finally ending with the community-themed hardcore/jungle crossover banger of ‘Sssnakepit’, Enter Shikari proved exactly why they can come halfway around the world and play to venues of this size and to crowds of this magnitude, and own it each and every fucking time.

So, all in all a splendid spread (bonus points if you get that reference).

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