Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 13/3
Pierce The VeilPrevious Next
support Creeper + Letlive
author TL date 14/11/16 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN
Pierce The Veil are an odd band. For one they're the kind of band that, if you like them at 17 you're definitely telling about it to all your music listening friends, while if you're older you're not so sure. The Californian's have gone four albums now with a style that sounds like what energy drink tastes like - a mix of pop-punk and post-hardcore with nails-on-chalkboard clean vocals, yet also with catchy-as-boybands choruses. It's an acquired taste for sure, yet somehow they're huge, with millions of fans on Facebook and somehow the first show they ever play in Denmark is a headliner in sizeable Amager Bio. Not the biggest venue in Copenhagen, but certainly not the smallest either, and while tonight's attendance aren't exactly causing much queue at the bar, it's honestly great to see the next generation of music fans out in force for some of the more musically accomplished of the bands that appeal to them directly without necessarily dumbing things down for them.
Southampton's Creeper, counting members with loads of punk circuit experience from the now defunct Our Time Down Here, are Roadrunner Records' newest protegés, which shows in their cartoony motorcycle gang outfits, and in their elaborate online imagery and promotional tricks. Which could have you sceptical, but their music - a something old and something new mix of Misfits, Meatloaf, My Chemical Romance and AFI - is infectious and energetic and quickly proves to have capacity for engaging tonight's apprehensive crowd a bit as well. Entertaining is an obvious point of emphasis with them, as all members rock out actively, with guitarist Ian Miles in particular pulling exaggerated facial expressions to get some energy going.
Frontman Will Gould is the main focal point, though. When his long hair is down he is an almost entirely black figure, drawing the eye with theatrical gestures from his pale hands, and if there's one thing you can call Creeper it is 'theatrical'. Much like with My Chemical Romance, the late nineties obsession with authenticity is not something Creeper are concerned with, instead they just walk the plank with their knack for gothy drama, and much like with cartoons, you sort of embrace its cornyness because there's no pretentiousness in it. Unfortunately tonight's sound is a little thin, with both guitars and Gould's darker, wavering notes not really finding their full power. A bit of a shame, but respectable for a first support slot, and definitely more than good enough to look forward to the band's debut album and eventual headlining return in the new year.
If you didn't know better, you might think Los Angeles 'soul punx' Letlive is the odd band out tonight, what with the somewhat more serious messages they deliver alongside their music, but when you realise that this is a tour for bands that take live performances very seriously, Letlive actually fit right in. Speaking of this, it's already an established fact that Jason Butler is one of the most explosive frontmen in music these years, and while his band look to enjoy themselves, rocking out and grinning casually, Butler doesn't make it through more than a song or two before he's topless and have sprayed water everywhere and created significant work for their stage hand, who has to untangle Butler's mic cable from various pieces of equipment that it gets tangled with in the process of following his wild side-to-side movements.
The band's recorded music is a story of its own as well, so really they should be a great band, but having seen them a few times now, it starts to become apparent that there's a very simple aspect that they can improve on before actually living up to the rave reviews they often get: They need a better mix and better mic handling from Butler. It's a boring cliché to write about in a scene that thrives on hype, but singers who both sing and scream need to be diligent with keeping the mic far when screaming and near when singing, otherwise they make it near impossible for any sound man to make adjustments, effectively meaning that their clean parts are barely audible. This is also the case with Letlive tonight, which is a damn shame, because while Butler is a wild animal on stage, tossing both stage rug and himself into the audience and also taking time to speak meaningfully with the young crowd between songs, he also has a charismatic voice that fans will want to hear. Yet the balance between being an explosive hardcore experience and being a well-sounding band is not found tonight, even though the band does get a great reception and look to be winning over the crowd throughout their set.
Although they haven't brought their space ship props tonight, Pierce The Veil, when time comes for their headlining set, do not break up tonight's theme of having great stage performance. Even deaf fans would probably enjoy the set somewhat, as the band's skate punk roots is visible in how they get 'airtime' and perform tricks while playing. Nevermind that their guitar playing is finger-bendingly technical, Tony Perry and Vic Fuentes never miss an opportunity to flip them over and outwards so the crowd can really see what they're playing, while bassist Jaime Preciado probably spends more time of the show spinning like a top than he does facing any certain direction. It's a great visual spectable and the band cleverly times things to emphasise the movements of the music, proving that while they have the image of youthful dudes who don't try too hard, they know exactly what they're doing.
While the setlist is a classic example of a sequence of "oh man, this one has that really catchy bit too" experiences, it's still relatively surprising to see just how strong the connection is between crowd and band, with the audience taking over choruses absolutely flawlessly and without hesitation whenever the band takes a step back from their microphones. The crowd's nice choral work though, brings to mind - and stop me if you've heard this before - a very simple aspect that Pierce The Veil can improve to really make the experience wholesome; and again it has to do with making sure their live vocals sound good. Granted it must be an impossible task, because Vic Fuentes' voice, albeit unmistakable, is very thin and not very powerful, so making it come through clearly in the uninterupted streams of mad guitar shenanigans is likely a task that even veteran sound guys shake their heads at. - But considering that his vocal melodies are lynchpins of many songs, it's once more a shame that they're not showcased more convincingly.
Aside from inviting a girl on stage to be serenaded during "Bulletproof Love" and having come dry ice cannons to emphasise the post-hardcore breaks, Pierce The Veil drive the evening home without more gimmicks, rather via charisma and energy and eye-gripping moves. They seal a show off, however, where none of the three bands ever sounded entirely convincing. Not that bands should sound the same as on record, but a good mix that emphasises the strong suits in the songs should be something you could at least hope for, yet the bands don't meet that match with Amager Bio tonight, not past the "sort of acceptable" anyway. Fortunately, all of them seem forgiven, having the fans' deserved loyalty from a combination of strength of material and just presense and personality.