Live Reviews

LIVE REVIEW: Counterparts, Can’t Swim, Chamber, Static Dress, The Dome, London, 20/02/2020

There’s something distinctly cool about not putting bands who are essentially carbon copies of one another on tour together, a little rebellious, if you will, even if it’s how it used to be. It wasn’t until recently that pop-punk bands brought pop-punk bands and metal bands supported metal bands, and it turned into a weird clique where one couldn’t sit with the other. The Ramones, as an example, didn’t exclusively tour with Dead Boys or Sex Pistols. New wave, rock, punk and hardcore bands were like a pick ‘n’ mix, you could throw any number of them into a bag and the result would be profound. The point is, when you look at Static Dress, Chamber, Can’t Swim and Counterparts on paper, you question why they’d be on tour together, but when you see them live, hardcore elements overlapping despite their sound being very different from each other, it feels like kismet.

Static Dress, out first and somehow resembling mad scientists, might’ve played a short set, but it was the perfect start to the evening. The band, who only have a handful of songs recorded at the moment, controlled the energy in a extremely professional way, rising with dynamic songs only for it to dip into brooding moments where vocalist, Ollie Appleyard, would mix up the effects on his microphone to create anticipation for another crescendo. The tenderness of his voice in those calmer moments were, at times, drowned out by the instruments, but the whole performance still came alive. Fans of Underoath, especially They’re Only Chasing Safety era, might want to pay attention to these guys. 8/10

The shift from post-hardcore to straight up hardcore punk was made by Nashville’s Chamber. This might’ve been their first time overseas, but they obviously aren’t strangers to playing live sets, discernible by the precision with which they perform. Similarly to Static Dress, they’re not big on talking, which some people might attribute to a lack of stage presence and yet, makes for refreshing change from the fake showmanship hordes of bands feel the need to display on stage. Chamber feel earnest. The final two songs of their set – new ones they’ll be putting out later this year – gives the crowd one last chance to embrace the controlled chaos and open a pit up smack bang in the centre of The Dome’s standing area. 7/10

Can’t Swim are no strangers to UK crowds, often gracing us with their presence on headline tours. This time, they came in the main support slot, but dominated the stage nonetheless. Playing three of the five songs from their 2019 Foreign Language EP, which lean further into hardcore tendencies, made for a more aggressive live iteration of this band and an enthralling performance. They didn’t leave the fan-favourites behind though, adding Your Clothes, All The Moves We Make Are in the Dark and “sometimes you meet the right people at the wrong times” to the setlist and ending on their breakout single, Stranger. There were a couple of moments throughout the set where it felt like vocalist Chris LoPorto was struggling with his voice a little, but the strength of the rest of the set and especially moments like the “do you think you’re better than me, punk?” line in Prick completely outweighed it. This feels like a new Can’t Swim and we can’t wait to see where they go from here. 7/10

With the crowd truly coming alive the moment Counterparts walked on, it became very clear who exactly they came for and why. Nothing, not even The Dome’s ‘no stage-diving’ sign feebly posted at the door, could stop the carnage the Canadian hardcore band was about to evoke. They played hard and fast, the perfect soundtrack to the conveyor belt of bold stage-divers, but without once compromising on precision. Kicking off their set with Love Me, they also played popular songs like Wings of Nightmares, Monument and Outlier, before ending the set with Choke and Disconnect. Other than running an extremely tight set, Counterparts also had an incredible rapport that not only felt extremely natural, but created a ripple of infectious energy throughout the venue. With a bunch of singalongs, ferocious circle pits and divers galore, Counterparts not only set the bar high for the amount of bodies over the barrier, but also for hardcore acts who next perform there on stage. 9/10

Written by: Renette van der Merwe 

Renette van der Merwe
Accepting that wanting to be Kim Possible wasn't a viable career choice, Renette opted for word juggling instead. Reviewing her favourite punk, emo and post-hardcore bands on the downlow whilst consuming many cups of tea.