With a 30-minute set time, these guys land on stage with a boom. A genre described as Dream Thrash, there are many layers of sound to this music. It’s hypnotizing; relaxing; meditative even but with an undercurrent of heavy instruments. An immersive experience. Your body receives an internal massage of reverberation whilst your ears are permeated with Brett Boland’s ethereal vocals.
The throng of audience steadily builds, nodding and swaying in time and there are plenty of cheers of approval between each song. Bassist Daniel Schwartz and guitarist Casey Aylward toy with the soothing, then the wild and drummer Matt St Jean just pumps it up another notch. The backdrop features a night sky complete with a giant moon which is illuminated alternately in calming green and purple or ignited with a flurry of red and this seems a relevant depiction. The vocals may hint at gentle lullaby but the music itself is more of a frenetic wakeup call. Diverse and interesting, it works. This is the band’s first time playing in the UK and judging by the crowd’s reaction, they will be back. Find out more at: http://www.astronoidband.com/
Next, the stage is graced with the talent that is Plini Roessler-Holgate and his touring band. With constant eye contact and happy facial expressions between all of the players on stage, this bunch are out to enjoy themselves and that message is firmly communicated through the music that they make together. This is next-level Instrumental Prog Rock.
Both Plini (with his signature Strandberg Boden) and Guitarist Jakub Zytecki, join forces to create a classic Space Rock sound. Far from being traditional, this is brought in to the New Age by Simon Grove dropping that VOOM on his 5 string headless bass. There are fragments of altogether more Metal sounding moments and fierce drumming, interlaced with flutters of what sounds like Spanish Flamenco. Such a varied set. The crowd are fully engaged, interacting and whistling encouragement in the quieter moments. These highly talented musicians deserve every ounce of praise given. SG even echoes the lead guitar solo on the bass; his fingertips must be made of steel to perform those acrobatics.
Plini pauses playing for a brief intro. “It’s so nice to be playing in an English-speaking country. I’m the worst frontman ever” he jokes in his Australian accent. “I think that’s just enough time for Simon to retune and play you a bass line…” There is lots of laughter and cheers and the music continues. A slower start this time and a complex solo from JZ. A harp-like backing track quickly morphs into something more sinister sounding. This leads into an impressive full-throttle drum solo from Chris Allison, backed up by intermittent strikes from the strings and on into a captivating guitar solo from Plini. There is just time at the end for a 2-minute jam between Plini and his “favourite guitarist in the world – Jakub Zytecki,” and a whole lot of applause. Find out more at: https://www.plini.co/
Playing as a 4 piece tonight. The band are in high spirits as the cantering drum beat from Matt Halpern escorts them on to the stage. Singer Spencer Sotelo, his hair bleached blonde, teases the crowd with his bold grin (and equally bold floral tracksuit) to the yowling eerie lyrics of ‘Reptile’ from the Periphery IV: Hail Stan album. “There must be something in the water” are the first words to flood from both stage and crowd side and the 18-minute-long song maintains its high level of audience participation throughout. Ebbing into a calm melodic serenade and then back in with a satisfying anthem. There is strobe-like lighting as Plini and Jakub (from Plini) join the stage with Periphery guitarists Misha Mansoor and Jake Bowen for the instrumental. It’s a perfect blend. Bassist Mark Holcomb may be missing tonight but the band are doing everything within their power to make up for it. The venue throbs with movement right up to the edges as the dancefloor pit erupts, sending the first crowd surfer of the evening, over the barrier.
The next song ‘Chvrch Bvrner’ also from the album Periphery IV: Hail Stan, is a fast, admonishing song and the melody has all the elements of a funfair gone wrong. The crowd are wild for it. There are loud cheers encouraged by SS as he announces “We’re gonna have some fun here tonight. Come gave some fun with us.” Bouncing across the stage in his white sporty looking trainers, he perches on the edge and fist bumps the crowd. “It’s our first time back in about 2.5 years and there are a lot more people here. It feels good!” ‘Scarlet’ from the album Periphery 2: This Time It’s Personal sees the stage drenched in a red hue.
Sotelo’s ability to flit from spewing demonic Death Metal distortion to holding clean high notes is particularly apparent in songs such as ‘Remain Indoors’ and ‘Marigold’ from the Periphery III: Select Difficulty album. JB provides suitable growl support in ‘Psychosphere’ from the Juggernaut: Alpha album whilst jerking his head in time when taking on the bass riff. There is great rapport between the band and their audience, a lot of playing about and dancing amongst the heavy playing. The pattern of total darkness between songs has the crowd chatting excitedly and when they first exit the stage they are soon cheered back on for an encore. The band introduce this final song as “A song about love” ‘Lune’ from the Periphery III: Select Difficulty album appears to be a fan favourite and the O2 is soon headlong into a singalong, apart from the high notes, which are left to the skills of SS to master. Which he does. Effortlessly. Find out more at: http://www.periphery.net/
Review // Suzi Boots
Photography // Emma Painter
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