Enter Shikari // Higher Power // Tocky Horror // Live Review // The SWX // Bristol

The SWX on a Sunday night is already buzzing and crowded even before Tocky Horror take the stage, it’s a youngish crowd and they obviously know what to expect. Vocalists Mollie Rush and Ava Akira rant over metal/electronica/punk hardcore tracks from Zee Davine (formerly of Liverpool Rock/Punk band Queen Zee) accompanied by bass, guitar, and drums. Their music is intense but there’s a jokey vibe to it as well, as Mollie and Ava both end up in the circle pit challenging the audience to do better than the Manchester show a couple of nights before. It’s a short support slot and with a “See ya later, bitches!” it’s over and the crowd are clearly impressed.

Higher Power

A swift changeover and Leeds-based British Hardcore punks Higher Power hit the stage to a subsonic synth rumble as they launch into ‘Shedding Skin’ from their 2020 album ‘27 Miles Underwater’. The band deliver a lively set. It’s a shame that the sound mix is very muddy throughout, taking away from the vocals of Jimmy “J-Town” Wizard in the mix. They clearly have some hardcore support as there is crowd surfing. A highlight was a change to a slower pace and getting the audience to wave their mobile torches, not your average scene at a hardcore set.

Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari have cultivated their already loyal audience by playing this venue twice before this year as part of a 3-month residency tour, and it’s clear that they have brought many fans here today. As the full stage set is revealed, the PA plays a few 80s hits invoking an enthusiastic crowd sing-along to Aha’s ‘Take on Me’ and Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’. A synth intro accompanies a spectacular light show and they hit the stage with a huge roar from the audience. A confetti bomb adds to the party vibe as they launch into ‘(pls) Set Me on Fire’ from their new album ‘A Kiss for the Whole World’, due for imminent release.

The crowd are having a great time as the acapella intro to ‘System/Meltdown’ begins, they are chanting along, and the circle pit kicks off as they segue into ‘Juggernauts’. Singer Rou Reynolds exclaims “This is better than I expected for a Sunday!” Chris Batten on bass is pogoing around as they continue into ‘Anything can happen in the next Half Hour’. Its clear that even 20 years after their formation, there is a great enthusiasm both in the band and their audience. Rou dances wildly around the stage, arms windmilling as the crowd chants along. Rob Rolfe on drums and Rory Clewlow on guitar seem to be having a great time too.

Rou introduces the ‘Quick Fire Round’ – a fast run through ‘Havoc B’, ‘Bull’, The Last Garrison’’ and ‘Sorry, You’re not a Winner’, each chopped out with the shout of “Switch!!” then the pace slows as sometimes overlong pauses between songs predominate towards the end of the set, finishing with ‘Live Outside’ from their 2017 album ‘The Spark’.

It’s clear that an encore is inevitable and the band returns with more confetti cannons for a trio of songs ending with ‘{ The Dreamer’s Hotel }’. Rou pays a tribute to the crowd, “Thank you for your energy, and your passion, and your sweat!” Enter Shikari have easily conquered an already enthusiastic SWX crowd and their mixture of Emo, metal, hardcore and punk combined with a touch of prog separates them from more run of the mill hardcore/punk acts. It’s definitely worth checking them out if you haven’t already!


Review: Dave Smith Price

Photography: Emma Painter // Pacific Curd Photography 


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