Enter Shikari with special guests Hands Like Houses and Hellions (18+)
The Forum, Melbourne
22nd May 2015
Admittedly, I am a very new fan of Enter Shikari and had no idea what to expect, having only caught onto them before the release of their latest offering The Mindsweep this year. The show put on by the British electronica/hardcore genre-crossing quartet Enter Shikari can only be described as breathtaking—figuratively and literally.
Melbourne’s historic Forum Theatre hosted Enter Shikari last night along with Aussie supports Hands Like Houses and Hellions. This particular venue is absolutely gorgeous. The Greco-Roman decorated venue dates back to 1925 and has a rich, old charm about it. You enter the theatre feeling as though you are about to see Shakespeare or a comedy show… then you see the masses of keen punters sporting tattoos, tie dye t-shirts, eyeliner, ear plugs and the occasional ‘top-knot’.
The foyer’s mezzanine features the expected flock of twenty-somethings downing pre-show beers. Inside the hall, the roof is lit with gradient, dark blue light and scattered white LEDs, emulating the night sky. It really contributes to the atmosphere of the show and gives this indoor venue an outdoor feel.
Preceding the headliners were Hands Like Houses, a post-hardcore/alternative rock band from Canberra. An otherwise great set was rife with technical difficulties, namely the drums going mute as a result of the sound being run through the drummer’s iPad. Classic Apple. Instead of continuing the songs and roughing it like troopers, or even just getting a tech guy out there, singer Trenton Woodley (who has incredible pipes by the way) stopped the drummer in his tracks. The on-stage banter was awkward, yet hilarious. The band finished 10 minutes early.
Ten minutes before Enter Shikari took to the stage, a 1950’s-themed broadcast announcement (think any stereotype of American news in the 50’s) began informing ‘patrons and their families’ to have a ‘magical evening’. The announcer (pre-recorded) continued a minute-to-minute countdown while the electronica-style mix was interspersed, evidently created by the band’s DJ/programmer/synthesizer/singer Rou Reynolds. Fans raved with strangers as if we were all old mates.
“You have no idea what you’ve got yourself into!” Rou screams throughout the anthemic electronicore (electronica and hardcore) opening track The Appeal & The Mindsweep I. The recurring lyric motif was a stark warning to all punters in the crowd… this was going to be a big one.
The almost lunatic-like stage presence of multi-instrumentalist singer Rou Reynolds captivated fans from the get-go. His eerily low energy in the opening verse of the introductory track was met with fans bouncing and pushing and screaming the spoken-word poetry of Reynolds back at him in an almost deafening collective cry, myself included. Then the song kicked in. What is particularly interesting about this band is that one minute fans are raving like one would at a nightclub, and the next they’re moshing – violently flailing ones limbs in all directions in the most hostile of dance forms. The genre-crossing in this particular form is a marvel to behold.
In the closing stages one of the bands new songs, The Last Garrison, Reynolds mounted his synthesiser/sequencer and began teasing the electronic melody of the classic Juggernauts. “GARRISON! JUGGERNAUTS! MASHUP!” he cried before the stunned fans. The inventive remix of the two tracks was exciting to every single patron in the venue. The band used this to transition into ‘Juggernauts’. That’s one unique way of transitioning songs.
The setlist was a perfect balance between the band’s new album (which I believe to be the best album of the last 3 or so years) and their cult-followed back catalogue. Highlights included the dance-rave in Gandhi Mate, Ghandi and the crowd hysteria during fan favourite Sorry, You’re Not A Winner.
In an interesting turn of events, Enter Shikari opened the encore with what my cousin described as ‘punching fans right in the feels’. The tear-jerking Constellations is a slow, ambient, space-like ballad that is sombre lyrically and emotional (to say the least) musically. Lighters lit the entire hall. And as the song came to a close, the already teary frontman once again manned his synth/sequencer and launched a Constellations and Slipshod mashup transition.
The hyperbolic Slipshod (which comedically chronicles a poor dining experience) was the most ‘fun’ song of the set, in the sense that it was suspenseful, light then heavy, rave then mosh and most importantly, it is fucking hilarious. A must-listen for all curious about the band.
I was seriously gobsmacked by the crowd. In over one hundred gigs, I have seen few that draw a crowd this extreme. If music had a cult, this band would be its leader. These die-hards were so insane, so loud, so violent, so fun, so friendly. Each song was both a massive expression of passion and a fight for survival. As the band finished the final song ‘Sssnakepit’, fans beaten, tired and sore summoned all remaining strength to belt out the gang vocals that close the song, and the set.
“Come and join the party, leave anxieties behind, when the weight of all the world is pushing down” —Gang vocal on Sssnakepit