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.

We Are The Ocean at Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Last week saw the release of the new We Are The Ocean album, Ark, that was both the longest awaited of the band’s work, and their best to date. Last Saturday the band set out on tour with impressive Twin Wild in tow as main support, until Friday’s finale at London’s Electric Ballroom. This weekend also sees the rock four-piece play across Slam Dunk’s three dates, and from last night’s show at Nottingham’s Red Rooms, the crowd will be in for a treat.

With no hesitation, the band were quick to leap into the second off the new record, I Wanna Be, and the packed crowd were equally quick to respond with cheers and clapping to welcome the next track, another newbie, Do It Together. It’s encouraging to see how well this fresh work has transferred from record to live show – take the attention to detail in Hope You’re Well, the funky, jesty vibe of Good For You or the attitude in Ark. We praised the track with highlighting over the James Bond theme that hummed in its backing, but the live show saw this almost entirely stripped band with a rockier edge elbowing its way to the centre of attention.

The band’s most recent single, whose video was released today (below), Holy Fire also showed its face in the set, with Liam Cromby’s vocals soaring over the eager crowd. Alongside all these new works were a couple of golden oldies from the band’s earlier albums, stand outs being The Road (Run For Miles) and The Waiting Room, which both received as huge reactions as the did at the band’s show last month supporting Lower Than Atlantis downstairs in the same venue.

On the softer side of the show came Confessions and compassionate Chin Up, Son, but the acoustic ballad didn’t begin before an audience member announced she had the lyrics tattooed on her leg, and Cromby’s reply was one flooded with genuine affection. Young Heart evoked a sing along whilst closing Bleed resulted in the beginnings of a mosh pit – I doubt I was the only one disappointed in the subsequent lack of encore.

Though the set consisted of a vigorous amount of head bobbing, it very much felt like the band needed more space to really rock out to the extent they wanted to. Among so many generic radio-ready rock bands that pose under the guise of prog rock, We Are The Ocean restore faith in the energy and originality of the genre, and showing how much they love it in every second of their show.