The Word Alive

support I See Stars + Dayshell
author PP date 20/12/13 venue KB18, Copenhagen, DEN

A decently sized crowd has gathered at KB18 tonight for one of the hottest scene / post-hardcore package tours to hit Denmark in 2013 featuring The Word Alive, I See Stars, and Dayshell for one of the last shows before Christmas. It's of the young, fringe hairstyle variety, meaning lots of weird colours, young scene kids, and free access to the bar without queue for the duration of the night. Our trusted scene / post-hardcore scribe BL has been raving about each of these bands for quite a while now, so tonight presents a great opportunity for both myself and the Danish fans to gain some insight on how they fare in a live environment.

Dayshell

Dayshell

First up is Dayshell, a fairly new band featuring clean vocalist Shayley Bourget from Of Mice & Men at the helm of the band. If you came here expecting breakdowns and screaming, you're clearly in the wrong place, as Dayshell distinguishes themselves significantly from the rest of the bill tonight with arguably the most organic sound out of all the bands. They lean more towards the progressive, smooth soundscapes of Glassjaw and Thrice, though with a slight post-hardcore tint overall. The guitars are still downtuned at times, allowing the band to perform synchronous jumping on stage while chugging their guitars along during the heavy parts. It takes a little while to get into the melodies, but they provide a little more depth and complexity than Of Mice & Men ever did. What does need improvement, however, is their live performance. Aside from the aforementioned jumping, their show is uneventful to say the least, consisting primarily of Shayley hugging the mic with both hands while delivering his (admittedly sublime) clean vocal melodies to the crowd. Yes, a small mosh pit opens towards the end of their set, but for the most part the show consists of us hypnotically listening to Shayley's voice waiting for something extraordinary to happen.

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I See Stars

If Dayshell for a brief moment took us away from the 'scene', then I See Stars throw us straight in the middle of it with their Electronic Hardcore Music (EHM), as they've dubbed their effects-laden sound. They enter the stage with "Initialization Sequence", the intro track from the new album testing the different 'sound systems' like subsonic bass, before continuing into "Ten Thousand Feet" straight away, which allows vocalist Devin Oliver straight away to put his frankly brilliant clean vocal ability on display, while Zach Johnson takes care of the screamed vocals in equally convincing manner. You can tell that both are accustomed to running bigger shows; not only is everyone jumping in unison thus inciting the crowd to do the same, but crowd control stuff like "JUMP, JUMP, JUMP" is naturally embedded within the songs to get the crowd going. A sing along ensues during the chorus, suggesting more people are here actually to see I See Stars than The Word Alive (more on that later), and in general the crowd is in a very energetic state throughout the show.

I See Stars

Mosh pits, circle pits, hands in the air, sing alongs, everything's there to supplement the frankly outrageous electronics the band launch at us on for example "Murder Mitten" or "Violent Bounce (People Like You)". The latter especially features some brazen dubstep electronics and other effects to transform KB18 into a dance party that likely rivals their club nights that proceed after live shows are done for the night. It's a shame though that the electronics are far lower in the mix than they are on the record, leaving especially the bass drops inaudible in the mix where they usually supplement the breakdowns nicely. Moreover, imagine how crazy a song like this would be live if we had some lasers flying across the crowd? Something for I See Stars to think about, especially since they promise to come back several times in 2014 to Denmark. "Filth Friends Unite" proves, however, that no such measures are necessary as the pit chaos begins to near the insanity that is The Psyke Project live shows with bodies flying in every direction. The band matches with similar energy on stage throughout the show, delivering a hell of a convincing live show overall.

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The Word Alive

The Word Alive

"Where is everyone?", I think to myself, as The Word Alive enter the stage to a crowd only about quarter of a size to that which I See Stars had earlier. But considering they're more of a traditional metalcore band despite employing some electronics in the background, it makes sense that fans of the electronic dance rhythms aren't here and those who are left probably identify more with bands like As I Lay Dying and Miss May I instead. For some bands this could provide negative incitement to play a convincing show, but The Word Alive raise their profile in my eyes significantly by sounding completely honest and frank when talking to the crowd in between the songs. They sound sincere when they thank people for coming out, and promise to always put on the best possible show no matter if there are a thousand people in the crowd or, as he says, "whatever the size of this crowd is", which can be counted only in the dozens at this point of the show.

Their set mostly consists of songs from latest album "Life Cycles", so basically real metalcore with technical solos and intricate riffs. This of course requires a little more concentration from their guitarists, so when contrasted to the high energy dance show that I See Stars just put up before, The Word Alive feel a little static in comparison. The same applies to lead vocalist Tyler Smith, who delivers a brilliant vocal performance that works great whether he's screaming or singing clean vocals. There's still room for some in-band humour though, for example when one of the guys walks in robotic movements around the entire scene and back to his position, sparking smiles on the faces of the band members that notice it.

The Word Alive

The first few rows of the crowd show energy regardless, and Smith recognizes this throughout the show, dedicating the last song "Life Cycles" to the fans at the front: "How many of you know our song Life Cycles?", to which about half of the people at the venue raise their hands to. "Good. I want you guys to sing this song as loud as you can, so that we can show these other guys what this song is all about". Again, kudos to the band for exhibiting the kind of honesty and passion for their fans that you simply cannot fake through the way they communicate otherwise standard stage rhetoric as above. Either way, the overall feeling of the show is a little bit deflated partially because of lack of people watching the band, but also because I See Stars outperformed them in most ways today. It's good to see the band not letting that faze them.

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Photos by: Julie Weitmann Decome

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