Taste Of Chaos 2006

author PP date 02/12/06

Last years Taste Of Chaos was a mess. The organizers had opted for the most famous acts from each genre instead of sticking to the cult acts, which resulted in the crowd separating in clusters of fans, with only a fraction of the crowd active for each band's set, given the radical differences in sound and style. The 2006 version, however, had been better thought out. The lineup boasted of an emo/screamo guy's wet dream, with Saosin, Senses Fail, UnderOATH, Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag and Taking Back Sunday all forming a tour to die for, as long as you have even the most minute interest in emo and metalcore. Bands like Saosin have stirred a cult following with what is arguably the best emo release of all time (2002's debut EP "Translating The Name"), whereas UnderOATH were treated, ironically, almost as Gods when they entered the stage (the band are devout Christians). Anti-Flag's anti-government, protest-filled music also suited the young age group perfectly, and with the emo mainstreamers Taking Back Sunday headlining, there was little that could go wrong tonight.

Thank God for box office collection option. The ability to skip the entire 5,500 person strong queue at Brixton precisely when doors opened at 17:30 saved myself, TL & DY from missing Saosin, who entered the stage only half an hour after doors. This was bad planning from the organizers, as the elegant Brixton Academy auditorium was only half full when Beau & co entered the stage to kick off the festivities with "It's Far Better To Learn". But immediately as Cove sang his first lyrics, the notoriously shit quality of Brixton Academy sound became apparent. It was impossible to distinguish their trademark guitar scales from underneath Cove's surprisingly strong live voice, which certainly removed a part of the experience in songs like the fan-favorite "Translating The Name" where clear guitars are of vital importance to how the song sounds like live. Yes, to the great relief of the scribe as well as a large part of the crowd, Saosin hadn't opted to play only post-Anthony material, and for the first time ever London witnessed how good of a replacement Cove actually was for the living legend Anthony Green. The stage, however, was far too big for Saosin just yet. Perhaps in a good couple of months the band should be on a stage this size, but not just yet. This was also evident in the lack of confidence especially Cove had on stage, and more often than not we saw him gently singing to some of the greatest songs recorded in the genre at the background, leaving much of the showmanship to Beau, Justin and Chris on guitars and bass. They did it well, though, storming across the stage back and forth, generating small mosh pits in different parts of the now about 3,500 strong crowd. In fact, everything about the show was superb, except for one of the most important facts that most Saosin fans had come here for: the amazing screams in songs like "Seven Years" and the aforementioned "Translating The Name". As we also saw the next day on their headlining set at Barfly, the band seems to have abandoned them completely to the great disappointment of the crowd. Otherwise, good show, though heavily bothered by the horrid sound. [6]

Second name on tonights bill was Senses Fail. If you ask me, this is a band, that has recently become somewhat more cheesy than when they started out, and therefore I had relatively mixed expectations for their performance tonight. Expectations that the band didn't seem to give a rats arse about however, as they brought on a show of real passion and honesty, where frontman Buddy Nielsen even got to fire off a rant about people that are 'fakes', while all the 'real motherfuckers' in the room were invited to sing along, and sing along we did. To songs both old and new, though mainly the well known and wisely chosen hits from the emo classic "Let It Enfold You". Even though the sound had improved from the previous Saosin show, it was still a problem, but who cares if you can't hear a thing, when everybody knows every single word of classics like "Bite To Break Skin", "Rum Is For Drinking Not For Burning" and "Irony Of Dying On Your Birthday" as well as the new songs like "Shark Attack" and "Calling All Cars". Senses Fail came, saw, and delivered a no-nonsense, kickass performance and if you give them better sound, more time and put some more focus on them, a show by them will be a definite must-see [7½]

After Senses Fail's energetic set, it was turn for UnderOATH to take the stage. The lights dimmed, foreshadowing dark introduction silently made its way through the speakers, and Brixton Academy quite literally exploded from the screams of the fans. After all, UnderOATH is probably the most drooled over screamo band, and they hadn't been in the UK for a good two and a half years now. So when "In Regards To Myself" bombarded itself through the speakers with frontman Spencer Chamberlain looking about ten times more colossal than his figure, absolutely domineering and opressing onstage, the crowd fell into a half an hour long period of pure insanity with at least two thirds, if not more of the floor turning into a monstrously intense mosh pit. "WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" screams of Spencer damn near caused riots in the venue, and things didn't calm down when "It's Dangerous Business Just Walking Out Of Your Front Door" and "You're Ever So Inviting" numbed our hearing with a mess of ear-shattering distortion and noise filled with haunting melody. Staying true to the name of the tour, the heaviest, most chaotic numbers were picked from their groundbreaking new album "Define The Great Line", and Spencer's behemothic performance left the reviewer breathless in the midst of the chaotic floor, while the band was thanking God like the Christian act they are, as well as Spencer's Father who was sitting at the best seats above the floor. The best performance of Taste Of Chaos? Undeniably UnderOATH. [9]

However, Alexisonfire gave a true challenge to UnderOATH and once again proved why they are one of the best bands out of Canada both live and on record, with the band pouring straight into "Drunks, Lovers, Sinners, And Saints", re-opening the already exhausted mosh pits. Even if you're not the biggest fan of the new album like myself, the new tracks kick ass live. Or just how does this sound: during "Boiled Frogs", my left shoe went left, while my body was flying towards the right in the masses of crowd, and I never saw that shoe again. Think how embarassing it is to walk through London Underground with only one shoe, let alone mentioning how cold it was, and of course not forgetting the bruised state of my left, unprotected foot after the concert. "44 Calibre Love Letter" and "Accidents" made up the climax of their show (and bruised my foot), which wasn't let down even by anything. A standard Alexisonfire show, that wipes the floor with most other bands. [8½]

The political punk quartet Anti-Flag was the ugly duckling of the day, acting as the only band deemed unsuitable for the tour before the show. The way they started the show seemed to justify those claims, with the band choosing some of their more lackluster songs where bassist Chris Barker handles most of the vocal duties. Granted, he had 'screamoed' his voice up quite a bit, with most of the lyrics screamed out instead of sung, but the mandatory gang shouts seemed cliche tonight, and would've fit the Deconstruction tour much better. Fortunately, as their set progressed, so did the quality. Chris' old school punk rock scissor jumps added character to their show, with all band members running back and forth the stage like you'd expect from a punk act with the class of them. It's too bad it took them half of their set to fire up the crowd, as an ample part of it wasn't paying much attention to the band before Chris started his political rant about George W, Tony Blair and the War on Terror, labeling both leaders as turncoats, before fireing up what must have been the most 'fun' song of the night, "Turncoat". The joyous, albeit accusing chorus "Turncoat! Killer! Liar! Fake!" was sung along loudly, and there wasn't a doubt in my mind that most people at tonights show meant those words straight from their hearts. It's just too bad the majority of the youth is too lazy to go to the voting booths when the time comes. "The Press Corpse" was another highlight, this time turning the limelight onto Justin's lighter, more understandable vocals, and made up for some of the disappointment of the band leaving "Ranknfile" and "You Can Kill The Protester But You Can't Kill The Protest" out of their set. From there on, the show was swell, and restored my faith in Anti-Flag and their latest album "For Blood And Empire". [7]

After a rather long wait for the headlining stars of Taking Back Sunday, something rather peculiar happened. Suddenly on stage was frontman Adam Lazzara, alone and armed with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, kicking off the set with acoustic versions of "Divine Intervention" and "When You Where Young" (originally by The Killers) and even some lines from Justin Timberlakes' "My Love". After the strange intro, Adam explained to the crowd how the bands guitarist Fred Maschinero had been forced to return home from the tour due to family business, and how different members from the other bands would instead fill in his guitar/backup vocal duties. Then the rest of the band came on, started the show, and as expected, we were treated to a parade of TBS classics. "MakeDamnSure", "Cute Without the E'" and "A Decade Under The Influence" were played along with new hits like "Liar" and "What It Feels Like To Be A Ghost" and the expected sing-a-long fest took place in the audience. Meanwhile Fred's duties were shared by Cove and Justin from Saosin, Spencer from Underoath and Chris Barker from Anti Flag with Spencer impressing again by nailing his parts spot on. This little star-parade did in fact add some needed character to a show, that despite the promising improvement of sound show by show so far, suffered from problems similar to the ones Senses Fail experienced. Furthermore, I couldn't help but feel that this was just the kind of show, where the band gets up there, plays their hits, and then leaves. There was some soul lacking in this show, and despite the crowd hysteria, I think people should be able to expect more from a band like TBS. [6½]

All in all, Taste Of Chaos 2006 couldn't have been much better. All bands were fantastic with many exceeding the expectations and none failing miserably (the case with a few last year), and the sound problems the first bands faced were quickly fixed and especially UnderOATH enjoyed as perfect sound as one could imagine for their ear-shattering screamo. They certainly underlined why they are THE leaders of this genre, while at the same time Alexisonfire responded with equal measure, as if to state "Okay, but don't forget us because we're fucking good too". Anti-Flag most likely gave a couple of the kids present tonight a reason to go check out more punk bands, while Saosin's out-of-this world good songs were sure to captivate many and gained them hundreds of new fans tonight (the next day there were dozens of people queuing outside of Barfly, desperately asking for spare tickets from anyone). It will be difficult to top this for the tour organizers, but even so I'm already drooling to hear what they have planned for next year. [8½]

Date: 18. November 2006

Venue: Brixton Academy, London, UK

Bands: Saosin, Senses Fail, UnderOATH, Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag, Taking Back Sunday

Written by PP & TL

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