Crown The Empire

support Issues + With One Last Breath
author BL date 13/09/13 venue O2 Academy Islington, London, UK

Winter is coming, and what a better way to spend a chilly British September than with an evening of live music to keep the blood warm. The moderate London venue was a sellout and even before the sky was dark at around 6 in the afternoon there was a line around the corner out into the streets. It would be host to a co-headlining show of some up and coming bands in the American post-hardcore/metalcore scene and one in particular riding a lot of anticipation and expectation to perform.

With One Last Breath

The Yorkshire boys in With One Last Breath were the "local" segment of the tour, and seemed eager to make their stamp tonight with their British branded metalcore - a volatile mix of Bullet For My Valentine and Asking Alexandria. Tightly-knit instrumentals and bold singing from lead vocalist Sam Graves provided a reasonably solid backbone for their performance, though their stage presence was largely routine and not wholly spectacular. Things were not helped as the venue seem to buckle under the weight of the bass in the mix and this acoustic bias unfortunately drowned out a lot of the guitar solos which were a key element of the With One Last Breath recordings. Despite this, the response from the sold out crowd grew from muted to a warm welcome for each of the band's mainstay material in songs like "I'm Taking Over", "I Taste the Poison" and "Hell We Create" - not unexpected as the choruses are catchy enough to easily provoke audience participation.

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Issues

Issues

It's amazing just fast things have moved for a band that has barely celebrated a year of existence. Yet here we are as R'n'B metalcore outfit Issues comes out for their first ever London show on their first ever tour in the UK, to a crowd too excited for anything other than deafening screams. Very little time is spared as they dive into a loud and heavy introduction song not heard from any recordings before quickly moving onto their memorable latest single "Hooligans". Singer and co-frontman Tyler Carter proves he is worth every bit of hype and repuation as one of the most talented vocalists in the scene in the live arena - his voice expertly elegant in his intonation and technique, yet also cheeky enough to be playful and not without power and pitch when the devilishly catchy choruses come rolling in one after another.

While Tyler's R'n'B pop vocals drives a lot of their EP material in stuff like "Love Sex Riot", "Princeton Ave" and "The Worst Of Them", his screaming counterpart Michael Bohn and the other band members providing some robust instrumentals are no less commanding and you'd be forgiven to believe Issues were seasoned veterans of multiple years of experience. Other highlights include Tyler "Scout" Acord's improvised turntable scratching which were particularly amusing to hear live but were also very well timed and expertly executed, and the crowd going absolutely bonkers for the final song "King of Amarillo". Overall one struggles to think of ways Issues could have done any better here tonight - A great sound matched with a top notch peformance, the next step would be a headliner tour with a full length to back it up. Yes please.

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Setlist:

  • 1. Intro + Hooligans
  • 2. Love Sex Riot
  • 3. Her Monologue
  • 4. Princeton Ave
  • 5. The Worst of Them
  • 6. Black Diamonds
  • 7. King of Amarillo



Crown The Empire

If appearances told the entire story then Crown The Empire had simply won and ran off with it tonight with their smart waistcoats, prettyboy faces and haircuts so clean you could eat off of them. Hungry to please the turnout, Crown The Empire began with a selection of choice cuts of their new album "The Fallout" starting with a mischievous duo in "Johnny's Revenge" and the aptly titled "Menace". The sound unfortunately reverted back to less than perfect once again and distorted beyond recognition, but nobody seemed to care as every person was too busy flinging themselves into each other. The surge of bodies remarkably threatened to engulf the entire venue with repeated walls of deaths and vicious circle pits, and no matter where you stood you had to get involved.

Spirts felt especially high when we arrived at the irresistably charming "Makeshift Chemistry". The two vocalists in Andy Leo and David Escamilla skillfully played off each other, as one would always back the other whether it be screaming or singing. Both men were seemingly competent on their own, but in unison their combined sound and harmony was an extra edge that set them apart tonight where the other aspects of the band were more ordinary. In terms of song choice it was perhaps a slight disappointment that "Voices" was the sole pick from their older EP "Limitless" (a generic record but not lacking in massive choruses), though "Children of Love" and "Memories of a Broken Heart" from the new album soon eased that feeling with engaging pop melodies and deft moments of ballistic aggression.

It came as a bit of a shock when at this point Crown The Empire announced the close of their set barely 25 minutes in. An inevitable 'encore' came almost as quickly as the announcement of the end itself in the shape of "The Fallout". Watching the band depart the stage to reappear almost immediately after the first few shouts of "One more song!" was a comical spectacle - honestly, what is even the point of encores like this? Not to mention how bewildering and inexcusable it is to cut a promising night so short. One would speculate that as this evening's billing had listed Crown The Empire and Issues as "co-headliners", it would be also be a reasonable assumption that both bands would at least play a 45 minute set each, which Issues easily accomplished despite having less overall songs in their collection! This leaves us a strange and damning aftertaste for what had been a more than respectable performance, and as such an act like this should not go unpunished in the final verdict.

Setlist:

  • 1. Johnny's Revenge
  • 2. Menace
  • 3. Makeshift Chemistry
  • 4. Voices
  • 5. Children of Love
  • 6. Memories of a Broken Heart

Encore:

  • 7. The Fallout

Photos courtesy of our own Lauren Harris.

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