The Vault in Rugby is the kind of venue that every town needs; a well-stocked bar, snazzy decor and a liberal attitude to young gig goers (Seriously, a ‘12+’ show, I forgot they existed). The whole venue had a familiar, local feel about it while still remaining welcoming to out-of-towners such as myself. While such a comment may seem trivial and unimportant, believe me, I’ve been to enough back-water ‘local’ gigs to know what ‘unwelcome’ and ‘suspicion’ mean. And at three quid for entry, the evening might well have been the best value these kids will see for a long time.
Up first were bright, shouty young upstarts ‘Stop Fontaine’. While I thought being familiar with their previous work in ‘Lavondyss’ would give me a good idea of what to expect, I couldn’t be more wrong. With one guitarist down and the proclamation that tonight’s performance was only their second gig as a band, they blew all expectations out of the water and punched a metaphorical hole through the roof. Appearances can be deceiving, and I certainly didn’t expect to see a wirey ‘what-a-nice-haircut-I-bet-your-mother’s-proud’ vocalist throw himself across the stage with all the self control of Brian Harvey at a potato harvest. Neither did I expect his screams to be so powerful and vitriolic that they held my attention even through the inevitable teenage gang-bang that was happening on the sofas to my left. With riffs so meaty they’d make a vegetarian cry and a drummer so solid you’d fear he’d fall through the floor, they certainly made a lasting impression on all who saw them. With a quirky stage presence and palpable energy to their performance, they’re definitely one to watch.
The main support for the We Are Fiction tour, and next on The Vault’s mini-stage were Woking’s finest ‘Palm Reader’. From start to finish, Palm Reader throw out a full-on hardcore assault; heavy and frenzied enough to tear your face clean off, but so mesmerising that you can’t help but get involved. More and more hardcore bands these days are leaving all physical exertion to the vocalist, and all other musicians tend to take a back-seat; slumping or crouching with their instruments, purposefully ignoring the presence of an audience. Thankfully, Palm Reader are the absolute antithesis of such a setup. With more energy than a toddler after a pint of Ribena and less spacial awareness than a fat lass in a lift (I was lucky enough to get to a few gigs on this tour, and the chances of a face to guitar-neck union were frighteningly high throughout), their stage presence is hard to rival. They’re heavy, they’re passionate and they’re a little bit mad. If you have any interest in punk, or even if you have any sense at all, I implore you to get online or get to a show and pick up their EP.
They say it’s always incredibly hard to review one of your favourite bands, as all objectivity is automatically removed, but sod it. We Are Fiction are a phenomenal live act, and you should get your arse in gear and head down to a show as fast as your tiny legs can carry you. The Peterborough five-piece have been destroying venues since 2009 and just about tore Rugby a new one. With a solid set of old EP material, painfully catchy new songs and inevitable crowd pleasers, WAF did nothing more than blow everyone away. Peddling their brand of catchy Alexisonfire-inspired/post-hardcore, they’re the sort of band that are impossible not to like. Their musicianship is enviable, their lyrics were made to adorn a thousand script tattoos and they take their music seriously. While they’re quickly becoming synonymous with heavy partying and Asda’s finest ‘Mansion House’,(It’s a …beverage that’s somewhere between sherry and despair, and the WAF lads seem to thrive on the stuff!), they carefully craft their music into something important and memorable. They don’t drown in sentimentality and they don’t crush their brains under the weight of too many breakdowns. Through their entire set, the venue was set alive with energy- whether through clumsy mosh-pits, sweaty screams, or flying bassists (followed by a falling and then painfully sprawling bassists), WAF’s short set could easily feel like your own little Woodstock. Their entire set was incredibly well-structured; with new material such as ‘Mansion House’ and ‘Earth Medicine’ sitting well against older more aggressive works as ‘Bitch’(my personal favourite) and ‘Desire Lines’, there was something for old fans and new alike. As ever, the set culminated in crowd-favourite ‘Sail On’, where vocalist Phil was found throwing himself into the crowd (which judging from the age-range, might have got him put on some sort of register), quite comfortably giving everyone present a masterclass in frontmanship.
Watching We Are Fiction is like watching the creation of a beautiful monster, and its only a matter of time until these venues are too small to contain it. With a new album due out this year (although their eta’s have been liberal at best!), We Are Fiction are becoming one of the brightest lights in the UK music scene. Go see them before they go stratospheric.