Filling out a 2,450 person capped venue such as Rock City on a rainy Tuesday evening in November is not an easy task, but performing as the opening act in such circumstances is a different matter entirely.
However this was a task Californian post-hardcore band Stick to Your Guns quite literally threw themselves into, with front-man Jesse Barnett climbing up into the front row and receiving the first of the evening’s many crowd-surfers for his efforts.
Although the American market is saturated with bands pedalling this sound, Stick to Your Guns has pulled away from the pack with choruses catchier and breakdowns heavier than anyone else’s. Tonight’s set was simply an ode to the notion that when it comes to this genre, bigger is always better.
Following this were British metal favourites Bury Tomorrow, with lead vocalist Dani Winter-Bates tearing himself away from his obligatory photo duties to deliver a stellar set, full of the breakneck riffs and crushing breakdowns their dedicated fan base have come to expect over the years. ‘Man on Fire’ and ‘Honourable Reign’ received a specifically warm welcome tonight.
However despite the support acts’ stellar efforts, it was clear from the volume of people congregating around the bar during their respective sets that tonight was about one band and one band only. After a restless wait, the dimming of lights signalled that Architects were about to start what was to turn out to be a very special night. The Brighton boys showed no sign of fatigue from their hectic touring schedule, with vocalist Sam Carter launching into ‘Nihilist’, an unapologetically heavy track from their latest offering All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us.
For those unfamiliar with the band, these two titles alone should be enough to suggest the vein of the band’s song writing, which on first instance appears to be a notably bleak outlook on our society touching upon everything from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and its lack of media coverage in ‘Colony Collapse’, to the discriminatory nature of religion in ‘Broken Cross’. However dig beneath the surface and you can find an underlying notion of hope and defiance cutting through the song-writing, and this was a notion truly alive last night.
Tearing through a set spanning from the frantic ‘Early Grave’, a song which catapulted the band into the forefront of the scene, to the newer, more refined, yet nonetheless ferocious offerings of ‘Phantom Fear’, peppered with fan favourites of ‘Gravedigger’ and ‘These Colours Don’t Run’, the audience hung on every beat, filling the gaps between songs with a riotous chant of ‘Architects’.
Despite the tragic passing of lead guitarist Tom Searle aged just 28 this August, the band delivered Tom’s finest and last musical offering with an impalpable level of determination and bravery. “This isn’t for us, this isn’t to inflate our own egos, this is for Tom” said Carter during a speech in which the entirety of the venue fell silent.
This silence continued for a moment after Sam’s speech until a cry of “we are so proud of you” shot across the venue from the back of the crowd to be met by rapturous applause. This moment perhaps encapsulated the feeling of the show best, tonight wasn’t just a show put on for the audience, tonight went both ways, tonight felt like as much a cathartic experience for the band as it was for the fans watching them.
This tour was always going to be tinged with sadness, that was unavoidable, but what we saw tonight was the band emerge out of a tragedy that would have signalled the end for many of their counterparts, and do so the only way Architects now how, and that’s with all guns blazing. As a fan having followed the band since their 2006 debut, the anonymous voice at the back of the crowd was right, for the audience at least, tonight was a night of pride.
Image courtesy of The Architects via Facebook.