Hundred Reasons

support From Autumn To Ashes + Flood Of Red
author AP date 14/01/08 venue University, Southampton, UK

Another high-profile gig at Southampton University Garden Court seemed like a splendid idea to further procrastinate the period of hectic study looming ahead just short of semester exams. This time our beloved committee members of Live society and Rock society had managed to book an impressive tour consisting of Glasgow-based emo/screamo act Flood of Red, the seminal Long Island born From Autumn To Ashes and Surrey rockers Hundred Reasons who have shot into mainstream success in the past few years - a line-up that would be sure to draw a few oohs and aahs from the student population as well as the batch of local scenesters gathered there. Read on for thoughts and opinions on all of the above.

Because of an extensive interview with Jeff Gretz, the drummer of From Autumn To Ashes, I arrive at the venue just in time to catch Flood of Red beginning their set and to find I've actually missed a local act tasked with warming up the crowd. Oh well, the unenthusiastic atmosphere and low turn-out mean I probably didn't miss too much. The band floods the small stage (I love my retarded allegories) with a drummer, a guitarist, a bassist, a vocalist, a keyboardist, as well as another guitarist shying behind a stack of speakers on the left and kicks in with some keyboard-backed high-energy emo. This energy sustains itself throughout the set, vocalist Jordan spasming about the stage in cringes almost as weird as those of the keyboardist, occasionally stiffening himself to a thin, screaming nutcase, while his ensemble spurts out one generic screamo stereotype after the other. Now the other guitarist returns from his exile behind the speaker stack, uttering out some kind of tribute to cancer patients before collaborating with Jordan's vocals for an anthem, before Flood of Red launch into their final song, fast as ever, and exit to timid response. Lots of energy with hardly any content.

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A couple of beers later, From Autumn To Ashes man the stage, launching into "Pioneers". Not too many concert-goers here tonight, or are they outside smoking, waiting for Hundred Reasons? In any case, apart from the ten or so die hard fans singing along and headbanging, there seems to be little response from the crowd. What the hell, I think, and join the ten, eager to prove we at Southampton University can rock out with our cock out. Though there's an obvious disappointment (at the audience) in the band's performance, there's also that glimpse of appreciation for those of us who are there to experience their vigorous set. "On the might of kings and captains..." - "Oh, fucking yes!" I hear myself shout and join in, screaming, "It won't be long, it won't be long now!" Now we're talking. The sound is crystal clear, the delivery passionate and honest, and it's drawing in the smokers from outside, the drinkers from the bar, and the sulkers from the corners.

At this point everyone nods in collective understanding that Fran is ten times the vocalist Ben was. His vocal paints even the older songs from "The Fiction We Live" with an unseen passion, and though the set is heavy on newer material from "Abandon Your Friends" and "Holding A Wolf By The Ears" at first, "Underpass Tutorial" reverts the show back to the old days as the famed intro of "Milligram Smile" expands from the speakers. A moshpit spontaneously emerges around me and I embrace it, appreciative of the lack of karate-scene-kids for once, singing and screaming along to every word. Then "Recounts And Recollections" before Fran announces they've got two more songs to play tonight, and we can all guess which ones - "This song is called 'Take Her to the Music Store'". As the acoustic intro fades into the metallic, all hell breaks loose around me, its chaos only surpassed by the pandemonium that ensues with "I'm not wishing anymore. I'm not writing songs for you. I sleep better in the dark. I'm not doing this for you!" - the moment every one of us has been waiting for. Fran deserts the stage in favor of the barrier and leans into the front of the moshpit letting us scream along to the legendary lyrics as we mosh around violent tumult. "Thank you! Thanks so much for coming!" yells Fran as his orchestra abandons the stage to wild applaud.

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But not quite as wild as the applaud to which Hundred Reasons enter shortly after. The number of people in the room has doubled to greet these rising stars as has the level of noise, but what else can you expect from a British crowd gathered to watch a British band? The bands waste no time embracing the appreciation and kicks into the first half of their set during which an incomparable amount of energy resonates from the stage into the crowd and gets it moving, jumping and moshing in ecstasy. There's something to this music; it's upbeat, light, catchy and thoroughly enjoyable, not lessened by the band's fantastic performance on stage. Exhausted from the From Autumn To Ashes set, I stand clear of the pit, focusing instead on how entertaining this band is. I'm not all too familiar with Hundred Reasons, but it seems like they're spewing out one classic after the other, judging from the massive crowd participation.

Then something happens in the second half of the set. Suddenly the songs are slower, their delivery tired and dispassionate, and even though the crowd has lost little of its energy, the band has sunken into a downward spiral. I can't figure out if it's the similarity of the songs, but my interest begins to falter. It's simply not capturing me in the moment anymore. The band now disappears from stage leaving the audience chanting for an encore; a call to which Hundred Reasons expectedly responds. Again, something has happened in those few minutes, because the energy of the first half of the set is reanimated with "Broken Hands" and the band manages to pull off an honorable, grandiose finale. Nonetheless, I have mixed feelings about this set, brought forth by the musical vacuum that began to expand out of the latter half of the set.

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