||OF MICE AND MEN PUT IN A HOT PERFORMANCE IN A COLD WORLD
Of Mice And Men/Crown The Empire/Hands Like Houses
O2 Forum, Kentish Town: 7th October 2016
Luke 'Loki' Milne: Photos by Sam Shapiro
It may be a Cold World according to Metalcore act Of Mice And Men's latest studio release, but the O2 Forum in Kentish Town was positively searing with heat during their London performance on Friday night. With the UK portion of their tour almost over, the band are due to embark on the overseas segment within in the next few days, hitting Le Trabendo in Paris on 11th October.
With support from Hands Like Houses and Crown The Empire, Of Mice And Men's performance features a healthy mix of old and new, presenting a hard-hitting romp through the band's three studio releases since their inception in 2009. It seems the Orange County quintet will be sticking to the same setlist for all performances, so you can check out what's in store for future concerts at the foot of this article.
Aussie post-hardcore act Hands Like Houses kick the doors in on the night's performance with excellent form and musical presentation. The sound system of the O2 Forum is a beast to behold, and even this early support act roars across the venue with a powerful bite. Vocalist Trenton Woodley stretches his vocals to their limits, and while a little pitchy in places, it's an impressive display for the most part, with a distinct tone that sits well atop the backdrop of distorted guitars and gut-pumping rhythms.
Musically, Hands Like Houses remind in some ways of American prog rockers Fair To Midland, and their engaging opening performance at the O2 Forum has certainly piqued interest. The band's third studio release, 'Dissonants', landed earlier this year and is available to download and stream across all major platforms.
Crown The Empire crank things up a notch with more aggressive elements to their style, as vocalist Andy 'Leo' Velasquez passionately tears into the microphone during the band's hearty and energetic performance. A swarm of bodies buzzes in front of the stage as a sea of hands clap and heads bang in unison, riding across the beat of the broad and boastful performance taking place onstage, featuring a setlist weighted with tracks from the band's recent studio album, 'Retrograde'.
Style segregation and genre-definition seem to be incredibly important to the young fans in attendance at the O2 Forum, and there's a bit of a mixed reaction from the crowd, with some citing Crown The Empire as being "too screamo" for their liking. It's no secret that there's a level of elitism creeping out of the modern trend to splurge on sub-genres in Metal, but this train of thought seems to have affected only a small portion of the night's attendants. Regardless, the American rockers suitably stir things up ahead of the night's headline act, making sure to play loud and hard enough to drown out the grumbles of a handful of crowd members.
The cheers are almost deafening as Of Mice and Men reach the stage, opening their headline performance with 'Pain', a track featured on their latest studio album. Fan interation jumps into overdrive as bodies are launched into the air, crowdsurfing towards the front of the crowd as Of Mice And Men fire up the stage with some impressively choreographed stage lighting.
The sound bursting from the venue's system is broad and rich, reminding us of why we relish in the opportunity to experience these types of performances. A 2,300 capacity venue isn't what I'd call "intimate", but the presence of sound that fills the O2 Forum could almost be tasted if it were a little thicker. Of Mice And Men deliver a tight performance throughout their set, dropping a few lighter tracks in the mix to avoid washing out and to keep interest at a maximum, rounding up with an encore of 'You're Not Alone' and 'Second & Sebring'.
There's a number of references to crowd participation in this review, but it's not without reason. The sheer energy and excitement the band command from their fans without even having to ask for it is enough to take you back. There was no need for Hands Like Houses to warm up the fans with their opening set as they were psyched before they'd even reached the front doors, and remained positively charged right through to the closing moments of the headline act.
Of Mice And Men delivered a fantastic performance at the O2 Forum, featuring engaging support acts and high-quality sound stretching across the board. The bands taking part in this tour may fall just under your radar in terms of 'teen nostalgia', but you'll still find it incredibly easy to get into the spirit of things as the night's musical entertainment unfolds. We walked away from the venue feeling satisfied and buzzing from the infectious energies of a high-quality live performance.
Feels Like Forever
Would You Still Be There
Never Giving Up
You're Not Alone
Second & Sebring