Being as an Ocean // Of Virtue // Senna // Live Review // The Foundry // Sheffield

Being as an Ocean is an American band formed in 2011 that melds genres like post-hardcore, spoken word and rock. The band are touring the EU and UK on their “Swallowed by the Earth” headlining tour, with support from Of Virtue and Senna.

September has rolled on and we’re now 9 months into the year. If the bands today thought they would have a nice time in the UK with timid weather, it’s a shame that they find out how insufferable the UK summer is this way. It is hot, and I am melting. I can’t imagine how the band are going to cope on the stage as they jump around in a room with little to no air-con.

The first band to take to the stage was the German band, Senna (inspired by the Arabic word for brightness…not the medicine). A 5-piece described as “edgy hard-rock meets progressive post-hardcore”. The band had great energy and took the attention of the room completely. The vocalist even goes as far as to stand at the barrier and sing with the fans, breaking that distance. The Barrier had a very enthusiastic fan in particular of theirs singing along and it’s amazing to see the reach the band already has.

The three members that had reigned over the stage, the other two being the keyboard player/guitarist and drummer stuck behind their instruments, really made the stage feel full and were moving around and jumping to get the crowd hyped up. It was great to see the bassist especially feeling the music, closing his eyes and miming the lyrics as the songs progressed. The three members get the crowd to clap to the beat of their song. The set held together by the steady vocals of the lead singer, it made for an entertaining stage that set the vibe of the night.

The vocalist wasn’t shy about speaking to the fans and even encouraged fans to meet them at the merch table after the show tonight. They provided a great introduction to the night and as someone who sees a lot of supporting bands, it’s always a good quality to have that the band are confident and can direct a crowd as the opener. The vocalist also showed their appreciation with thanks every time the crowd would “woo” after a song. It’s a heart-warming sight to see, as it makes it clear the band are just happy to be here and experiencing this gig with us.

The crowd seemed to be arriving at intervals. When I first entered the venue, perhaps half the room had been filled. I shot the first band, turned around and now the room was pretty much full. Whether they were here for Being as an Ocean and/or Of Virtue is a mystery, but it was clear there were definitely a good chunk of the crowd who came to see the next band.

Of Virtue, an American band boasting an impressive 600k monthly listeners already on Spotify and an album due to release at the end of September, took the stage with great energy off the bat and even crazier lights – like damn, the lights were going mental. The dynamic between the guitarist and main vocalist’s voices really added to the atmosphere and heightened the experience of the songs. You never knew who to look at and when the harsh vocals of the lead singer hit, they hit, perfectly encapsulated by the soft vocals of the guitarist.

The singer had great frontman energy and owned the stage he walked on. He was confident, interacting with the crowd and getting them hyped for Being as an Ocean, and he constantly was on the go, like he had energy he had to get out. The vocalist teased, “If you’re having a good time, say “Fuck Yeah”- are you having a good time?” And the room boomed with the crowd calling back, “fuck yeah!”.

The band gave a special shout out to their friend, who was at the barrier who had recently beaten her years long battle with cancer and had the crowd erupting with “woos” reminiscent of a “congratulations!”, before going into their second to last song. After their second to last song ended, a crowd member shouted “one more song!” with the guitarist replying, “we do have one more song” much to the crowd’s amusement. The crowd were especially frantic for a new track, “Cannibals”.

Intermission began and I think at least half of the crowd went to the bar to get a drink – which was a wise choice with the amount of jumping to take place for the headliner act; Being as an Ocean.

Being as an Ocean took the stage with a different vibe to the previous two bands. Something felt different with these guys, more moody and darker. The music started and after jumping from Joel, he immediately joined the crowd at the barrier. Now as a photographer, this wasn’t a shock but what I wasn’t expecting was for Joel to completely disappear into the crowd in the first song and pretty much stay there for 90% of the show, who was then later joined by their touring guitarist.

Though the band didn’t exchange many words with the crowd, only to wish their crew member Dan a happy birthday, it was obvious that was because they intended the music to do the talking. With Joel in the crowd, he would sing directly to members of the audience. Moving around the crowd and making eye contact with different people who would sing the words with him. The crowd clearly loved the interaction, with smiles beaming from their faces and them jumping and moshing along with the vocalist.

The soft vocals provided by Michael only further amplified the entire atmosphere the band had created. It created this distance between Michael and the crowd, which was broken as soon as Joel would come in with the harsh vocals and spoken words. When the riffs would play and the silence would fall between the songs, Joel would feel the music – at one point even on his knees whilst the crowd surrounded him a circle.

The band played a lot of their older songs, which were clearly a hit with the majority of the audience. A pit formed during the performance of “The hardest part is forgetting[…]” which is understandably one of their most popular songs, with a humungous 9.9 million plays on Spotify. The performance of this song itself was a highlight of my night, it held the crowd and the band just completely surrendered to the emotion of the song. The vocalist obscured from my view, packed in by the crowd who formed a tight circle around him.

This gig was one I could see meant a lot to the fans. With the lyrical content of the songs performed by Being as an Ocean, I’m not surprised why.  The band created a cathartic experience for the crowd tonight, overhearing fans leaving at the end saying this was their “best night in ages”. All the bands tonight had an amazing vibe and energy that will resonate with any heavy music fan. Being as an Ocean are in the UK until mid September (where you can also catch them at the Burn it Down festival in Torquay) before they head over to Europe to complete their tour.


Review + Photography: Jayne Slater

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