Gig Review

Brand New
I Am The Avalanche, The Xcerts
Bristol, Academy
8th February 2012

Brand New                    I am The Avalanche        The Xcerts


Photo Of The Xcerts © Copyright Neil OliverThe self acclaimed Distorted Pop band from Aberdeen kicked off tonight's show with "Do You Feel Safe" a single taken from the band's debut album "In The Cold Wind We Smile". Murray MacLeod's vocals powered over the distorted guitar and Tom Heron's heavy drum beats providing a near CD quality sound, to my great relief as all too often with three piece's the vocals are weak and hard to hear. The band worked their way through a large number of tracks of the second album such as, "Scatterbrain"," Slackerpop", "Carnival Time" and "Hurt With We" playing only a couple of the debut album. As well as enjoying the sound reminiscent of early Silverchair with a pop punk influence they were all comfortable and energetic on stage and the lights picked up after a few songs. Murray made an attempt to engage the crowd quite early on but too little success as it seemed that most members of the crowd were unaware of the bands existence prior to the show. He dealt with it well and avoided the annoying experience of Photo Of The Xcerts © Copyright Neil Oliverwatching an opening act spending too much time trying to get a reaction from a crowd that are waiting for the next band. Although the crowd wasn't interested in getting involved there was an affectionate round of applause after each track. It would have been nice to see a bit more interaction between band members as Jordan Smith and Murray whilst jumping around and enjoying themselves, tended to stay in their own area's with little banter between tracks. This wasn't helped by crowded stage with the drum kit almost in the middle of the two axe men. All in all they did an excellent job of starting of the evening leaving me pricing up there albums in my head between bands. I'd love to see them headline because they clearly enjoy what they do and with a crowd that knows them I would expect Murray to flaunt his talent as a front man while the energy onstage engulfs the crowd.

Photo Of I Am The Avalanche © Copyright Neil OliverAfter a fantastic performance from the opening act the xcerts the Brooklyn Punk Rock outfit I Am The Avalanche had a lot to follow. Coming on to a dark stage before being illuminated as the guitars kick in at the beginning of "Holy Fuck" the opening track from "Avalanche United". It took all of about three seconds before the band started jumping around or head banging and they showed no signs of stopping at any point during the set. Once again the sound was among the best I've heard from a support act at the O2, with Michael Ireland and joining in for some bulky group melodies that perfectly fit the powerful guitar riffs of Brandon Swanson. Brett Romnes made the drums look effortless not missing a beat or a chance to add to the group chanting. Even with five people on stage Vinnie made fantastic use of the space moving from one end of the stage to the other. By the fifth song "Amsterdam" most of the crowd was bopping along with a few even starting to sing. This was picked up on and Vinnie managed to get the entire crowd to cheer before they broke into "Brooklyn Dodgers". I Photo Of I Am The Avalanche © Copyright Neil OliverAm The Avalanche carried on the evening exactly where The Xcerts picked off playing superbly, with a highly energetic and entertaining performance by each member topped off by a well crafted light show. Quite frankly I could have left at the end of the set feeling more than satisfied.

Before Brand New came onstage I was quite nervous as I'd heard they weren't good live, and given how well both support acts performed I was hardly expecting to be impressed. Brand New came out to "Welcome To Bangkok". The sound of the three blazing guitars of Vincent Accardi, Jesse Lacey and Derrick Sherman was phenomenal with Brian Lane smashing the drums to complete what can only be described as a wall of sound hitting the crowd most of which were already singing along at the top of their lungs. Sadly unlike the instruments which could all be heard clearly Jesse's voice was unable to force its way to the top. The band followed with "The Archers Bows Have Broken" with Brian getting some assistance from a second set of select drums, and for the first time all night the band on stage had yet to show much energy. Whilst the band remained fairly static the light show picked up the slack on par with AFI at give it a name in 2007 or Australian Pink Floyd in a smaller venue. I wouldn't be surprised if Brand New's light tech got poached by the end of the Photo Of Brand New © Copyright Neil Olivertour. For the third track Brand New played "Millstone" but more importantly they took the show to a whole new level as the mic issues seemed to be resolved and with it came a flood of energy both on and off stage. From this point on they were like a steam roller obliterating everything in their path with absolutely no signs of stopping. The show just continued to get better and better, with brand new playing a mix of old and new songs. Before breaking into the next song Jesse jokingly mocked Garrett Tierney suggesting he couldn't be heard, a perfect set up for the bass heavy "Sick Transit Gloria...Glory Fades" from the bands second album "Deja Entendu" throwing the old scores back in to a nostalgia from their teen years of their initial Brand New obsession. The stage then emptied for the first acoustic track of the night "I Believe You But My Tommy Gun Don't" giving the crowd a small break and a chance to slip further into the nostalgic trip with the entire venue singing back at the top of their lungs. With the crowd eating out of the palm of their hand Brand New continued to mix between soft and heavy songs like a set list version of the Pixies "Quiet, Load, Quite" style of writing, with the crowd exploding with movement during one song then standing eyes close hands raised singing at the top of their lungs for the next. Everyone getting completely schooled by Photo Of Brand New © Copyright Neil OliverJesse during the first encore "Degausser" when he broke into the aggressive vocal shouting leaning forward to get close to the crowd most of whom had yet to realise that he wasn't using his mic yet he could be heard clearly at the back singing with so much emotion. When Brand New came on stage the first two tracks where good with only the mic being the problem and not much energy on stage, but something seemed to click with an explosion of energy and so much emotion sheer vocal power I was thrown back to Eddie Vedder's heart rendering singing when Pearl Jam covered the who song "Reign Over Me" at the London O2 in 2009. One of the most emotional gig's I've seen, If you get the chance to catch these boys live, take it.

The Xcerts 4/5
I Am The Avalanche 4/5
Brand New 5/5

Review By Marc Rich
Photos By Neil Oliver

 Brand New

Jesse Lacey
Garrett Tierney
Brian Lane
Vincent Accardi
Derrick Sherman

 I Am The Avalanche

Vinnie Caruana
Brandon Swanson
Mike Ireland
The Ratt
Kellen Robson

 The Xcerts

Murray Macleod
Jordan Smith
Tom Heron

 Band Related Links
Brand New MySpace
I Am The Avalanche MySpace
The Xcerts MySpace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?