The Chariot

support Iwrestledabearonce + Dead And Divine + Kerouac
author AP date 14/05/10 venue Joiners, Southampton, UK

Someone clearly didn't think everything through when he decided to book The Chariot for a venue as intimate as the Joiners - or perhaps he did, and decided that the best setting in which to experience this infamous band is in a venue that can barely contain the mayhem that it brings. Gigs at the Joiners don't often sell out in advance, so it says something about tonight's line-up that the venue not only sold out, but actually oversold in advance, with as many as 350 confirmed guests expecting to be inside the 150-capacity venue. This was for many, including myself, the live music even of the year in Southampton. Read on to find out whether or not it lived up to the expectations.


Tonight's featured local artist is Kerouac, and they're certainly not here to make new friends. Vocalist Thom Denson immediately jumps off the stage, creates a one-man moshpit, and proceeds to ram into anyone unfortunate enough to be standing around its edges, pumping his fist into their chests and ensuring that every lyric he has to spit out, is screamed directly in their faces. His backing band is a little less enthusiastic, restricting themselves to the occasional spin and jump, but fortunately the music - a kind of Chariot meets The Psyke Project hybrid - has enough credence to impress on its own. The problem is that in between the five or six songs this band has to offer this evening, everything is quiet and nothing is happening. Why not make the set a little more dynamic by allowing songs to flow into each other or at least populate the breaks with some banter? In fact, the only thing Thom has to say during the entirety of the set is that he has nothing positive to say, and that Dead And Divine, Iwrestledabearonce and The Chariot are playing tonight also. These breaks, if somewhat effective in creating suspense at first, quickly become frustrating - something that Thom himself is feeling too judging from his pounding the microphone onto the stage so as to try and induce some kind of reaction from the drummer, Tristan. Alas, the silence goes unbroken, with the result that it inhibits the excellent showman- and musicianship on display during the actual songs and inclines me to grade this show no higher than

Dead And Divine

On this leg of the tour, the first support slot has been occupied by this Canadian post-hardcore outfit who, for those unfamiliar with the band's music, cater to the same audiences as Underoath, Confide and Every Time I Die. The band contains an invaluable asset in vocalist Matt Tobin, whose charisma and competences in both singing and screaming steal the show from the beginning. Not that his four colleagues have anything to be ashamed of: the various axemen exhibit the same kind of stamina on stage as Underoath's Tim McTague is renowned for, and one gets the impression that this is one hell of a seasoned live band. Still, it is hard not to be captured completely by Matt's performance. His screams have as much character and gravity as those of Keith Buckley, and his strained clean singing is nothing short of fantastic - with the result that songs like "Neon Jesus" and "The Sugar Sickness", which most concert-goers here have probably never even heard of, are instantly catchy. This is fine advertisement for the band's music, because given the quality of what we are witnessing, I think it's safe to say that most people in the venue are making mental notes to check this band out after the concert. Not bad for a band with only two albums and even fewer European shows in the bag.



Iwrestledabearonce have reason to celebrate tonight, it being lead singer Krysta's birthday and all, and believe me, celebrated they have. The band members emerge on stage drunk out of their minds without the slightest recognition that we, the audience, are also here. It's difficult to tell whether or not the floyd rose duels and intimate, personal conversations and inside jokes on stage are part of the set, part of the sound check, or what, but my best guess is that the show itself begins with the techno tune that suddenly spits from the speakers. This is also the band's cue for tearing everything apart, with the result that not one song has passed before Steven Bradley's guitar breaks and Mikey Montgomery wrenches a cymbal out its stand. Not content with the situation, Steven swings his guitar around in dangerous arcs before smashing it into the wall as a finale to this first song (whatever song that might be). More drunken banter follows as he repairs the damage with gaffa tape, and then the whole thing repeats with the kind of silliness on stage that their "avant-garde" metal requires. To say that the performance is crazy would be a gross understatement. Unlike TL, however, I recognise that the performance is top notch as long as one does not take it too seriously - not that anyone in their right mind would, considering song titles like "Tastes Like Kevin Bacon", gay disco interludes and the Lacuna Coil parodies that dot the songs. This band is all about the fun, both having it and giving it, and judging from the amount of laughter and cheers in the room, everyone is well-entertained.

The Chariot

When it comes to live performances The Chariot carries even more notoriety than the two bands that are usually assimilated with violence and total destruction, Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan. Burning amp stacks, broken instruments and bloodied fans are not an uncommon sight at Chariot shows, which take the petty, constant chaos of the two aforementioned bands and apply an exponential function to it - thus creating the kind of show that would get them banned from more than just Disney-owned venues. True to the band's reputation, there are no words extreme enough to convey the fearsomeness with which The Chariot unleash their music upon the Joiners tonight, but ladies and gentlemen, know this: no amount of replays on the now-infamous "Teach" music video could have prepared you for the next hour. Amid flickering strobe lights the band members fire themselves across the stage, into each other and into the crowd, throwing their instruments around in death-defying spasms while Josh Scogin screams with unabated fury, occasionally clutching the bass guitar from Jesus-look-alike KC Wolf while said bassist dangles from the ceiling fixtures screaming his lungs out.

Indeed, while the word static cannot be attached to a single band member, the centre of attention is without a doubt Wolf, who spends more time riding on crowd members' shoulders, wrenching strings out of his bass and generally behaving like an asylum-escapee than a faithful Christian musician. During several songs instruments are thrown into the crowd for us to play on, culminating in Josh casting the entirety of the drumkit in there during set closer "The Deaf Policeman" - and the undersigned proudly drums away at it alongside David Kennedy. Seriously the show these boys put on in London last year was relatively insane, but the head-stands, stage dives and other mental stage antics, as well as atmospheric feedback eroding the speakers from time to time puts even that performance to shame - something that Josh Scogin himself notes when he exclaims that this may be the second last show, but he has difficulty fathoming how tomorrow's Plymouth-show could in any conceivable way surpass the sheer and utter Armageddon that he, his band and the audience lay down on the Joiners tonight. Like TL said about their (somewhat more tame) Copenhagen show a couple of weeks ago, this is a band everyone should experience live at least once. My only complaint is that the show should have been much longer.

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