LIVE: SHVPES – Boston Music Room, London 02/11/2016
Holding Absence looked like they had come to London with a point to prove as they attacked their opening song with an animated blast, the angst-ridden emotions flowing through their big post-hardcore sound. Having set their stall out in blistering fashion, the feelings were really let loose, and the band’s true potential shown, as they nurtured some classy musical dynamics, making a convincing impact with quiet sections that allowed the vocals to shine. Ignoring one or two performance clichés, this was a refreshing first look at a promising new band.
Next up were Chasing Cadence, and familiar sonic territory, with their radio-ready contemporary British Rock sound. Songs from their excellent new EP Destroy Something Beautiful made up the bulk of the set with the welcome addition of a b-side from last year called Streetlights. They were delivered with a natural ease, the performance letting the songs sink in without feeling forced. In case anyone wasn’t paying enough attention singer Jack Harris made a short foray into the crowd to bring the show to those at the rear of the room. When introducing Watching The World he urged everyone to check out the video for it, even if only to see the band’s bad acting. It went down well with the audience as did Everyone Relax, before a rousing Dear Life to end the set.
The main support band for this leg of the tour was catchy prog-punk trio Press To MECO. Family Ties opened the show with an immediate punch, followed by Honestly with an even bigger kick. Means To An End got the sweat well and truly flowing, and proved that Press To MECO are in a class all of their own. The syncopated licks and riffs throughout were nailed down absolutely and the vocal harmonies typically sublime, coming to the fore in the songs Ghost and Autopsy, which also saw the audience bouncing through the choruses. The three vocal, guitar, bass and drum interaction in Manipulate was stunning to see and hear. Guitarist/front-man Luke Caley welcomed everyone who were new to the band to the PTM family, and asked the audience to dance like apes in a circle pit for the final song to end the show. They did!
After a quick change of drum kit it was time for the headliners SHVPES. Front-man Griffin Dickinson wasted no time becoming the centre of attention and forcing his presence on the room, his vocal sitting in a sweet spot somewhere between the hardcore shout of Comeback Kid’s Andrew Neufeld and the attitude filled rap of Zack de la Rocha. Words were unleashed with a fury, and fine vocal melodies were sung out with the same level of intensity. Around him the band worked their individual areas of the stage without infringing on his freedom to roam.
The trademark SHVPES style of hard rapped shouts over tight bass-drum accented grooves, breaking to giant flowing melodic choruses, left the crowd in no doubt what this band are about. A sinister Two Minutes of Hate introduced an old-school hip-hop feel and gave the chance for some impressive bass and drum linkups during the breaks. A giant arm-linked circle pit was a moment that brought everyone together, while Bone Theory raised the tempo again. More considered playing accompanied an epic Pain. Joy. Ecstasy. Despair, and it was in the well-crafted quieter sections in this song and throughout their set in general that we were able to hear the considerable depth of musicality within the band. God Warrior continued the pitting, but the biggest cheer for the night went to final song Shapes to end a memorable night.