Protest The Hero / Tesseract / The Safety Fire / Intervals [Live Review – Electric Ballroom, Camden, 7/2/14]

protest-the-hero-logoOn arriving at Camden’s legendary Electric Ballroom, I learnt three things:

1) The main room is smaller than it looks, since one wall is partially mirrored;

2) When you walk up to said wall and realise at the last second that it is in fact mirrored, you look like a prat;

3) The Safety Fire are fucking awesome.

Sadly I missed Intervals due to a commuter-unfriendly set time – but check out the links section at the end of this post, sign up to their Facebook page, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Beautifully brutal tech-metal married to catchy hooks and encased in pristine production. Everything you’ve come to expect from your next favourite band, and much more besides.

Back to The Safety Fire. Before last night, I’d never heard them – and I was seriously impressed. A slick, well-honed professional performance is simply expected at this level – but the cool thing about TSF is their ability to knock out pre-planned moves while retaining a sense of spontaneity. Their presence literally filled the room for this hometown show; even by the bar at the back heads were bobbing and bodies were moving.

Personally, I think TSF’s bassist was most responsible for this. If you’re touring with Tesseract and Protest The Hero, you’re sharing a stage with two unfairly talented low-enders, and Lori Peri stepped up admirably last night. The crowd was legendary too, cheering on a fellow fan as he (successfully) proposed to his girlfriend and holding him aloft after a post-proposal stage dive. All in all, a great time and a fantastic start to (our) evening.

The next set was our third Tesseract show. I’ve no idea how many vocalists these guys have been through, but Ashe O’Hara did a great job. The first third of Tesseract’s set was marred by muddy sound with too much bass and reverb, but once that cleared up (bar some feedback issues) we were spoilt like over-entitled MTV “reality” stars with endless polyrhythm-porn grooves, punishing beatdowns, and hair-raising singalong spots. As for the precision – well, if you gave five Terminators instruments and programmed them to form a band, you’d wind up with Tesseract. Close to post-humanly epic.

When it comes to Protest The Hero, what can be said that hasn’t been said already? With all due respect to their fellow tourmates, PTH are (and have been for many years now) simply superior to almost every single one of their peers. If I were forced to pick my five favourite live metal bands of all time, I’d choose Motley Crue, Dream Theater, Animals As Leaders, Between The Buried And Me, and Protest The Hero. If you put a gun to my head and told me to put that list in order of preference, however, you’d just have to shoot me. These guys are just that fucking good. 

Top-notch technical skills? Are you kidding? Check. Stage presence? These guys own rooms just by walking onstage, well before actually playing, holding a ‘Hunk Of The Day’ competition mid-set, or dedicating Bloodmeat to Jaden Smith. So that’s a check. Respectful and fun-loving fans? Check again; PTH crowds are almost entirely devoid of the standard pretentious-tech-metal-show assholes you often find at gigs like this. And of course, you have the songs. Four albums’ worth of hook-laden, multi-tempo’d bizarre-time masterpieces, with not a single piece of inconsistent filler amongst them.

At the end of this set I stood and watched as broken kids trudged back from the front as if returning from war. Sweat-soaked, glassy-eyed, and panting like dogs on heat. If that’s not the sign of several hundred satisfied customers, I don’t know what is.

Links / Videos


The Safety Fire:


Protest The Hero:

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Posted on 08 February 2014

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