Sometimes we forget what it’s all about, particularly those of us who have delved often into the underbelly and extreme ends of metal. We become concerned with bands being “progressive” or having “depth” and “innovation”. We seek out those making tortured artistic statements; driving dark emotions into their work, or those who seek to push boundaries. Despite being the first to call others on it, we’re being too cool for school ourselves, and writing off bands who sit outside the self-constructed tick box boundaries of what a “good” band should do.
And then you see a show that brings it right back to the heart of what dragged us into this glorious, complicated but actually oh-so-simple melee of metal. You see damn-near every single person leaving drenched in sweat beaming from ear to ear, bro-hugging and congratulating the support band on the way out, clutching drum sticks, or set-lists or just reliving moments from the set just witnessed with their mates. THAT, despite how “cool” or “uncool” you think a band is or are, is the sign of a great gig.
Tonight’s show saw two bands play sets that belonged at a bigger (but not better) venue. Atreyu were warming up for Reading Festival and brought an arena headline performance to a 400 cap venue, while the spirited and lively Shvpes, with their powerful metalcore, won over a whole bunch of people who hadn’t heard much of them before, but will definitely do so now; a young band on their way to a bright future with pounding Parkway Drive riffs, Rage Against The Machine grooves and big, as in Goliath-sized, choruses, all led by livewire frontman Griffin Dickinson. Not just ones to watch, ones to pick up on now.
And Atreyu well and truly proved me a dingbat for sidestepping them all these years. This is what metal is about – a band connecting with an audience that love the music the band are playing, with band and audience just having a great time. Colchester Arts Centre’s growing reputation as one of the best small venues to play at was only enhanced as a “small” gig felt like a huge one, with the rapturous reception one usually reserved for a major headliner at a sell-out marquee show.
Make no mistake, warm up show or no, Atreyu brought it, peppering a ‘best of’ set with new, as yet unheard, tracks from their upcoming Long Live (Spinefarm) album, tracks that were lapped up like old favourites. Personal highlights, beyond the joyous atmosphere that left no horn unraised, were the slamming ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ (never thought I’d see a moshpit like that to that song) and the pure rock-out jubilance of ‘Blow’.
The venue is a church and the congregation had come to worship, leaving invigorated and with happy souls.