Enter Shikari

support The Devil Wears Prada
author AP date 06/10/09 venue Guildhall, Southampton, UK

Rampaging through sold-out shows in some of the most esteemed venues the nation has to offer and spreading their word through the internet without so much as a record deal in their pockets, Enter Shikari always were a force to be reckoned with. Since then, the band has inked deals with several labels and expanded their sphere of influence to unprecedented levels, earning them a status as one of the great successes of the British underground music scene and all the perks that come with it. Having seen this band twice in two very different settings, their headlining tour passing through Southampton meant it was finally time to experience Enter Shikari on their home turf, surrounded by their earliest, most eager fans. Was it worth the hype? Read on to find out.

The Devil Wears Prada

Despite my growing dispassion for many of these bands, metalcore or whatever you want to call them, I oddly found myself looking forward to The Devil Wears Prada's performance. Their music carries a distressing intensity, and when music sounds deranged, that's usually a cue for an equally frantic stage presence. That they had been purposefully ferried over from the USA as support for a band like Enter Shikari, with whom they have next to no similarities, further suggested that they must have impressed someone.

On stage, the band is scene as fuck. Choreographed headbanging and constant jumping ensure there's enough energy to power the mosh-hungry, and surprisingly young fans that have turned up. Vocalist Mike Hranica has the sort of scream that fuels the intrinsic rage within us all, and what this meant of course, was that fights threatened to break out all around us as the pits grew more violent - and for once, it was only natural that they should, given the furious nature of TDWP's music.

Unfortunately the poor acoustics of Guildhall hinder what could have been a fantastic performance in a more intimate venue. I always draw comparisons between this band and Bring Me The Horizon, what with the extreme vehemence that dictates both their shows and their music, but were we to send the two into the battle royale of scene music, it would be the latter which would emerge victorious without a question.

Because while TDWP's performance is entertaining, it isn't unpredictable enough to match the intensity of their music. I want them to become destructive during those monstrous breakdowns; I want some ferocity in there; but instead, those opportunities go unexploited, leaving me wondering why they are so tame. There isn't enough controversy in their stage antics; though I suspect a different outcome in the band's upcoming headlining shows, which are set in much smaller venues.

Setlist:

01. Sassafras

02. Dogs Can Grow Beards All Over

03. Gimme Half

04. HTML Rulez d00d

05. Big Wiggly Style

06. Hey John, What's Your Name Again?

07. Reptar, King of the Ozone

08. Danger: Wildman

Enter Shikari

What happened to the quirky do-it-yourself sensation we saw dangling from the ceiling of Loppen just two years ago? One look at the enormous tour bus and accompanying equipment trailer-truck outside Guildhall suddenly puts things into perspective. Enter Shikari have achieved more success in two years than most bands can hope to achieve in their entire careers, and watching their performance tonight it isn't difficult to fathom why.

The first thing to strike me is the sheer professionalism of their show now. The breathtaking light show. The way in which they seamlessly transform almost two thousand people into an all-out rave. And how little all this big band nonsense seems to affect their attitude. They are still the same eclectic jesters (albeit somewhat more politically conscious now), jumping off speaker stacks and dancing their way through almost their entire discography. On the crowd-side, moshpits become dancepits as breakdowns become dance beats, and amid the flickering strobe lights one cannot but marvel at the fantastic performance unfolding before our eyes. Although the band is evidently set on destroying everything - the speakers, the monitors and our ear drums - it is their destruction of the divide between band and fan that is most impressive. Seldom does one bear witness to a man so in touch with the crowd as frontman Rou Reynolds, though drummer Rob Rolfe's murderous thousand-mile stares from behind his kit do their best to counteract Rou's generous, joyous mood.

The show is a relentlessly fun bombardment of the senses and in the midst of it all, there isn't a hint of arrogance to be found. The St. Albans four-piece is relaxed and care-free, and yet ironically plays as though their lives depended on it, underlining their status as one of the finest live bands the UK has to offer. Mixing the uncompromising urgency of hardcore punk and the psychedelia of an old school rave, the result is the counter culture's ultimate night out, and whatever your disposition, it seems almost impossible not to find something appealing about Enter Shikari's mastery of such feats.

Predictably the response from the sold out venue is as crazed as it is enthusiastic. Glowsticks swirl through the air, topless girls crowdsurf their way towards the stage, and from the soundbooth onwards the venue is a sea of enraptured movement. No sign of the aggro-scenekids getting into each others' faces during the support slot; in their place is a unified mass screaming every verse and chanting every chorus back at Rou while dancing as if under some form of hypnose. Add to that a band giving it their absolute everything on stage, and you have an equation for an unforgettable gig.

Setlist:

01. Common Dreads

02. Solidarity

03. Step Up

04. The Feast

05. Zzzonked

06. Mothership

07. Havoc A

08. No Sleep Tonight

09. Gap in the Fence

10. Havoc B

11. Labyrinth

12. No Swweat

13. The Jester

14. Halcyon

15. Hectic

16. Enter Shikari

17. Fanfare for the Conscious Man

--Encore--

18. Juggernauts

19. Sorry You're Not A Winner

20. OK! Time for Plan B

21. Closing

Photos courtesy of Benji Walker

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