Outside one of Bristol’s infamous music venues The Fleece, sat an almighty big, red tour bus embellished with a skull and wings. This beast of a ‘Nightliner’ vehicle was the headlining acts home for the forthcoming weeks, and it was about to embark on one hell of a journey.
On the start of their European ‘The Eternal Nightmare’ Tour, Chelsea Grin would be gracing the stage tonight with a gargantuan host of support acts ready to rustle anyone’s feathers on a Tuesday night.
As those scattered around the outside of The Fleece raced to the doors as they opened at 7.30pm, people started to hazard a guess at who was inside doing their sound check. But whoever it was sounded like they were going to take that roof off tonight.
Wasting no time getting up on stage was Enterprise Earth. A four-piece set up from Spokane, East Washington led by vocalist Dan Watson who got straight into the crowds faces from the offset. Relatively new to the Metalcore scene, these guys certainly ripped up that stage with Watson treading back and forth on a mission, frothing at the mouth with attitude. As he spat on the stage, he invited the crowd to form the first pit of the night as the bass line rumbled through the venue topped by some fast and intricate guitar riffs. By the end of their short but sweet set, Watson had the crowd well and truly warmed up by 8pm.
With 4 bands to perform during the night, sound checks in between were fast and furious with next band Kublai Khan experiencing a few technical hitches before they played.
Another four-piece band but from Texas, Kublai Khan are no strangers to the Metalcore scene. Front man Matt Honeycut dressed in dungarees and plaited hair, introduced the band and gave some history about their roots. Known for their energetic and aggressive sounds, Ashley spoke in between tracks on the bands strong beliefs and expressed what they stand for in this generation. With a much slower tempo but a definitive Metalcore sound, their presence was welcomed by the crowd as he performed with belligerent but passionate vocals, giving fans the opportunity to join in their fight – not too dissimilar to a Metalcore version of Rage Against The Machine. Another short set, but by 9pm the crowd had become denser and the night was still young.
Oceano were the last to perform out of the three support acts and for anyone who hadn’t watched them live, were about to be pummelled with head-splitting bass lines, mental guitar solos and the gut-twisting vociferous vocals of Adam Warren. The lights were turned right down and replaced by strobes that flickered as the drums and bass pounded to create an atmosphere that can only be described as euphoric.
Warren paced the stage like a madman and hovered over a hungry crowd as they nodded to the monstrous sound that was blasting through them. This was what the night was all about and in preparation for Chelsea Grin; Oceano had swallowed the crowd, whole.
The last sound check was underway and as the largest drum kit of the night was constructed, the crowd were bequeathed with the sounds of Michael Jackson and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers over the PA as they pushed their way to the front with their drinks.
The backdrop for Chelsea Grin was hung at the back of the stage as the final sound checks were completed and the lights were back on – a tad unexpected for the final act of the night.
As the band came out the crowd cheered. No intro was needed as newest member vocalist Tom Barber picked up his mic and launched into their first track ‘Dead Rose’ – a memorable track to start the night, and released the day that founder Alex Koehler announced to fans that he was leaving the band.
With ‘locks’ to die for, Barber swept them over his perspiring brow as he leant over the front row to growl in his Florida Panthers shirt. After an already action-packed all American line-up, new recruit Barber had some big boots to fill after Koehler departed the band earlier in 2018 when Barber left Lorna Shore to join them. But this transaction seemed flawless, as not only did he look the part, he filled those boots right up.
A little coy at first with a surprisingly softly spoken voice, Barber ramped it up a massive notch as the band performed ‘Hostage’ taken from their new album ‘Eternal Nightmare’. A track that sounded as dark as the lyrics, with blow after blow of Deathcore guitars backed by deafening fast-paced drums. The night was now theirs as they had worked up the crowd into an irrational state.
With a hefty set to follow, the band delivered over and over again and by this time, the crowd had created one almighty pit that ingested and spat out anyone passing.
The lights became more subdued and Barber seemed to be right at home at the forefront of the stage having now stripped down to an Aborted T-shirt and tied up his hair. The front row of the crowd waved their arms, beating their fists to the pounding sound as he dished out the odd few fist bumps.
Barber regularly checked that the ‘muther fuckers’ in the crowd were awake and invited to them to open up and jump as the band rallied through the last few tracks of the night. Pablo Viveros on drums added his gutsy lower-tone vocals to both old and new tracks as he effortlessly gave his two bass drums some phenomenal beating as guitarists David Flynn and Stephen Rutishauer laid down a hardcore foundation of riffs and thunderous bass lines.
After a gruelling set, the night was over and the band took the opportunity to thank fans for watching, shaking a few hands in the crowd, whilst Barber managed to come down from the stage to meet those who waited behind for a chat and a selfie.
As a band that has was founded in 2007, Chelsea Grin has come a long way. Despite the loss of the original members, they have continued to strive as a Deathcore band and have achieved a wealth of successful albums as well as a loyal fan base. Tom Barber has taken the bull by the horns and grasped his position well as the bands newest member and will undoubtedly take the band forward.
Chelsea Grin continue their European Tour until mid-October with the support of Enterprise Earth, Kublai Khan and Oceano.