After living in the hardcore and punk scenes of Toronto since 2007, Lance Marwood moved with his fiancée to a small town in England. Intimately familiar with the people, bands, and venues that dot the Toronto landscape, Lance is beginning to familiarize himself with the English countryside. This series shows his attempts at beginning to discover and unravel the networks of hardcore and heavy music in the UK.
The way that life proceeds, when you are jobless and alone in a new country, is that of the hermit. For me, this adjustment was highly unusual. I’ve been filling my days with domestic chores, talking to my dog, and nesting. It’s all just me trying to stem the flow of guilt from having no income and no set schedule, outside of hunting for work and writing constantly. And throughout it all, I have no social circle whatsoever. I miss my friends, I miss playing and writing music, I miss going to shows; I miss the feeling that the world of music can provide. But last Saturday, when I went to my first show in the UK, I captured some of that feeling again.
Searching For My First Show:
Originally, the show I was going to hit was to be the Cancer Bats, a band I’d fallen in love with in high school and was looking forward to seeing when they played their closest date to where I live. But I learned, too late, that the last bus home runs at 9pm. I didn’t have the money for a cab. And walking, while still honest, would have taken me sixteen hours. All that is to say that transportation is kind of an issue if you don’t drive here, and so my ticket went unused. I looked around for any other shows happening that week, preferably something I was able to get home from. And then I noticed an early show happening in London last Saturday.
It was The Black Dahlia Murder, Primordial, and Abbath. The only other option was to go see some band called I Set My Friends On Fire in Milton Keynes. Between a Myspace-core band that I’d never heard of and The Black Dahlia Murder opening for some metal bands I’d never heard of, I went with the latter. I’ve been listening to TBDM since high school. And ever since I last saw them play at Sounds of the Underground in 2005, I’ve been wanting to see them again.
The night did not disappoint. More than a decade later, they were still one of the tightest bands to see live. I was also impressed by a much more laid back and jovial Trevor, who was getting the crowd to pump fists and raise horns, and genuinely enjoying every second of it. It was such a delight to hear my personal favourites like “Miasma,” “Funeral Thirst” and “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse.” It was also great to be able to meet him briefly while he mingled in the back of the venue, obliging people’s requests for pictures and shaking hands. It was a reminder of why I always loved the attitude of TBDM more than a lot of other metal bands, who often confuse the need for “atmosphere” with a need to distance themselves from fans, or be aloof in their presence.
Primordial, much like the rest of the lineup, I had never heard of before, so it was incredibly surprising and I’ll admit exciting to hear that they came from Ireland. I don’t know of any other Irish heavy band that I’ve listened to up to that point, so I was excited to hear their sound. (Note: I just checked, and the only other heavy Irish band I’ve listened to is Altar of Plagues, which I did not previously know. The more you know, I guess.) They didn’t disappoint! They had soaring vocals that never strayed from abrasive. They were perfectly intense enough to make the night carry on.
As Abbath came on stage, I realized it was my first time seeing a black metal band play. I was also aware of the time, and so after about three songs, I had to run back to the subway to get to Euston, to take the train back to Milton Keynes, to wait for a late night bus to take me to my town, so I could walk for an additional 15 minutes. It became clear to me that my next big investment needs to be a car, and soon.
Some things I observed at the show that night:
• I suck at photography (see pictures).
• Trevor from TBDM is exactly as awesome as you’d think he is (see pictures again).
• People still wear corpse paint for black metal shows (I only counted a few who stayed in the front the whole time, but they were there).
• Apparently metal bands still love it when fans throw up the horns, and will spend a good amount of the show maximizing the horn throwing.
• There is no such thing as “punk time” at these shows. Sets literally started on the minute. I swear that Abbath started not even five minutes later than they were supposed to, which is black magic in and of itself.
• People are reeeeeaaally into vaping here. It seems that if you don’t have one, you have a couple friends who do.
• I wasn’t surprised to see fedoras and chin braids, but I only counted one(!) and three respectively. New high score, metal!
• I noticed a pretty broad variety of people’s interests in music (thank you, back patches!), but my personal favourites were an Entombed shirt, someone who had both a Converge bag and an All Pigs Must Die back patch, and a sweet Carcass back patch.
Overall, going to London to see my first show in the UK was a pretty wild first step, and though it left me exhausted, it was the good kind that I was proud of. I’m looking forward to doing it again this Saturday when I go see Terror and Twitching Tongues. In the meantime, I plan on scoping out more and more shows, and keeping my ears out for the underground.
Lance is always happy to hear suggestions and recommendations for towns, cities, and venues to check out. Comment below or Tweet to @LanceMarwood to share what area you think he should visit next, so he may come out and see it for himself!