Pack Mentality EP launch at The Vic Inn, Derby

Last Friday, one of Derby’s best known venues became the launch pad for the release of the debut EP from melodic metalcore band Pack Mentality, Chronophobia. I don’t think I’d be alone in saying that The Vic’s sound quality leaves something to be desired, and it’s a good test of both the band’s technical accuracy and their character to see how they fare with it.

Opening the bill were Reading’s Falling For Stacey, a pop-rock quintet formed back in 2012 and commencing the night with a brief blast of determination that could’ve set them up for the style of stadium rock they seem to have the “look” for, if it weren’t for almost all of the vocals being lost. The chance to come into their own could’ve come from the instrumentals, but a few sloppy moments knocked the edge off these too, and even at times where they tried to encourage the crowd there seemed a slight lack of enthusiasm. In the end they came across as a band who’d done the time rehearsing to themselves, now needing to grit their teeth and get their fair share of live show practice in to nurture and grow their potential.

Requin Blanc played their part next, with clearer vocals leading to a greater impact from the band, but not without detriment to the quality as the set wore on – a handful of pitchy moments and moments of cracking were the price to pay. An old-school cover of You Me At Six’s Save It For The Bedroom was the set’s clear highlight, as well as one of the peaks of the night, with vocalist Jack Bridle keeping the closing refrain fresh in a way that I strongly believed no one but Josh Franceschi could. Yet another band fallen victim to the venue’s sound quality, but certainly a band who refused to go down without a fight.

Final support We Fight Like Kids were strong contestants for the most enthusiastic of the night, but like their debut EP (which we checked out last October here), there seemed to be something lacking. Clear harsh vocals made a spectacular show against the frontman’s clean ones, more touchy in their consistency; moments were of the understandable quality the other acts had shown, whilst some were so good there was a whiff of backing track around them. We noted their studio work lacked some “umph”, and despite the energy, similar gaps were present in their live show.

Rightly so with the night being their own, headliners Pack Mentality stole the show with the air of musicians who’d more experience than a “debut” release would suggest. Frontman Daniel Kevan cut no corners in upping the sound quality, holding the set after the first track till the adjustments were made to make the best of a less than ideal situation. Humble but confident, this start up added to the band’s demeanor as an act who knew they were good but weren’t able to show off to the best of their abilities, instead ready to go into it with fierce enough determination to display what they were capable of.

As well as showing off the EP’s work which came down as a mix of new We Are The Ocean and old Deaf Havana, most notably the atmospheric opening to The Ocean and instantly memorable Salvation, the band threw in a pair of covers to keep things fresh. Silverstein’s My Heroine proved vocally straining but well polished, and closing Taylor Swift’s I Knew You Were Trouble seemed more for fun than technical accuracy, but fun it was, and served a good end to the night.

Credit where credit’s due, the bands all put in a good effort for what was available, and an enthusiastic crowd seemed unfazed by a few dodgy moments. Later this week we’ll be checking out Pack Mentality’s Chronophobia in full, with a track-by-track of it and a few words from the band.

Stone Foundation – Beverley review

Words: Matthew Drew

The new Stone Foundation single Beverley demonstrates a success for cross media convergence. The soul-driven track features US singer Nolan Porter and is the title music from the short film of the same name, starring This is England’s Vicky McClure. Unsurprisingly  there are many similarities between Beverley and Shane Meadows’ growing franchise. In the music video we see snippets from the film – of Beverley coming of age in an era of skinheads, violence and racial discrimination. The lyric, “the rules of the skin are wearing thin”, is as poignant in this sense as it is repetitive, but at least it doesn’t distract from the cutting video (or vice versa), which is important since it crams as much of the film as it possibly can into five and a half minutes. Nevertheless the song itself is a powerful and melodic contribution.

The track is the lead single from Stone Foundation’s forthcoming album A Life Unlimited which comes out on 9th August and follows the band’s previous top 40 album To Find The Spirit  after just a year. The single lands on 17th July and can no doubt be heard at forthcoming touring dates which include venues from Dartford to Tokyo. Full upcoming dates are below.

You can check out the video for Beverley below.

STONETOUR

Layby at Rock City, Nottingham

Seemingly every year, Rock City host a line up of local bands to tear the roof of the venue in celebration of Christmas (you can check out the review of last year’s show here). For the 2014 round of this, alternative rockers Lacey were joined with support from Cut The Heroics and openers Layby – who proceeded to tear up the show. The Nottingham pop-punk quintet let us have a sneaky listen to their upcoming single, Chronic, off their second EP, which we checked out here, and several months ago we gave a few words on their acoustic show at Nottingham’s Macmillan Fest. Before last night’s show we had a chance to catch up with the band, and you’ll be able to check out the interview tomorrow.

The night kicked off with punchy vocals from frontman Aaron Bowes, clear cut above the backing of the track. These vocals (at moments Enter Shikari-esque in their ferocity and harshness) starkly juxtaposed the musical backdrop of the show (as pop-punk as the likes of Neck Deep), so it’s not hard to see why even the band seem slightly confused about their genre – they’ll be discussing that in the interview, tomorrow. Closing the night with new track, Chronic, it’s not hard to see how they’ve grown since the band just over a year ago, their new work performed with more confidence and enough force to knock you sideways.

People say The Beatles got their fame and refined show from touring constantly for weeks, and practising more at live shows than in rehearsal rooms, and it worked for them. Though Layby have only been a band since November 2013, perhaps they could do with the same harsh treatment to tighten moments up a bit; More Than This had Aaron’s voice breaking, instrumental was too loose and hectic on occasion, and more than one note fell flat.

To say Layby were commencing the night, the five piece were working with a surprisingly full room, albeit not necessarily an enthusiastic. As my guest for the night so aptly said, “there’s nothing more awkward than watching a band try to get an audience to do something… and them not doing it.” Despite the second hand embarrassment lying in the room after the hundred or so crowd turned down the request of a circle pit (though I’ve never seen a circle pit in an opening act), they were willing enough to clap along and even had people singing along.

Frontman Aaron threw all he had into the show, and what they lacked in technical accuracy, they made up for in resilient passion, though it’d have been good to see more of the band less static. It was hard not to get caught up in the enthusiasm of the show, though, and with some refining they’ve the potential to be one of Nottingham’s “must see” acts.