There’s a reason why I enjoy going to shows for artists who I’m not always familiar with, or don’t know as well as others and that’s due to certain acts being upcoming, usually rendering their ticket entry prices comfortable with my bank balance. On a more serious note, this is one of those shows where you don’t know whether a £13 ticket will get you a great show or whether it’ll just be a night out watching some bands that’s pretty much give or take but what else are you going to do on a school-night? The Exchange is a local favorite venue of mine, often housing gigs for bands who are yet to be discovered, whilst also being valued as a superb venue for those types of mid-tier bands where lucky enough to pack it out. With that being said, this show was far better than I had previously anticipated, as a Tuesday evening couple-of-beers with the boys soon turned into a moshpit frenzy with what Vein and Higher Power could accomplish.
Before the carnage, openers Narrow Head (7) – who are completely new to me, set a relaxed approach to alternative rock. Whilst all three touring bands appealed to different crowds with their individual genres, Narrow Head were the least frantic of the three. Creating a relaxed setting for the evening, with their Deftones influenced, odd-ball take on emotive rock and roll. A set that was almost as bizarre as it was engulfing as their thunderous riffs escalated a clear path for the chilled, and at times toneless vocals that soothed the audience in an emotional wave of awe.
Whilst Narrow Head’s slot remains something of a weird choice for a tour such as this, the room truly picked up with Leed’s based hardcore mob Higher Power (7), and despite lots of problems with their sound, especially the mic cutting out a few times, it didn’t hesitate to stop the intensity of their fan base. Whilst braving that Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s funk-like vibe to breakdowns and catchy as fuck riffs, over pleasant and often hyperactive vocals, it’s a unique experience to watch a band like Higher Power who are clearly here to enjoy their fans enjoying the show as they constantly hype up their crowd, enticing violence and tomfoolery within the mob watching at the front. It’s almost impossible not to bop your head to what could be something huge, yet is let down in such a confined space.
Talking of confined areas, the venue packed out even more for tonight’s headliner and to my surprise the room’s population rioted even harder than before. Vein (9) are unstoppable. Following similar footsteps to hardcore big guns Code Orange, Vein have adapted their hardcore mental state to fuse nicely with a 90’s industrial meets Dillinger Escape Plan. It’s honestly difficult to describe the energy and passion this band proved on stage but vocalist Anthony DiDio performed two cartwheels into both sides of the crowd before the set had barely started. Whilst his yelping harsh vocals were bold and powerful, his cleanly sung vocals were heavenly in comparison. What seemed like a set of their entire debut album, titled ‘Errorzone’ – fans were loving it as blood was literally spilt across the hardcore dancers raging among the venue’s small capacity. It’s no wonder Vein have been getting some sick tour slots from supporting the likes of Parkway Drive, Killswitch Engage, Thursday, and Every Time I Die as it truly comes deserved from such a frontal assault of a live show. Vein will be hitting up much bigger venues on their next run to our island that I can assure you.
You can listen to each band on our playlist on the homepage.