Hearts Under Fire / Swim Good / Fallow Fields / Rival Empires [Live Review – The Boileroom, Guildford, 6/11/14]
2014 has been a good year for awesome album launches at the Boileroom. This time around, opening act Rival Empires lived up to expectations by delivering a strong set backed up with energetic stage presence and buckets of passion. Current TMMP favourite If I Was A Whale (prefaced by a short grammatical debate as kicked off here) sounds epic live, overshadowing the inevitable Paramore comparisons with nostalgic reminders of how good Lostprophets were before Ian Watkins started touching kids. It’s all about the clean sections in that tune, while elsewhere we got unexpectedly brutal riffs and shades of the Foo Fighters and Incubus. Add to that some solid musicianship and a guitarist capable of throwing up the devil horns mid-riff without missing a subdivision, and you have a brilliant up and coming British band.
I tried and unfortunately failed to get into Fallow Fields despite some cool riffs and good songs, but Swim Good got things going again with a top-notch accessible math rock set. These guys just don’t let up in any way whatsoever, possessing winning songs (including the great Yeah Yeah Great Yeah), near-airtight instrumental skills, and a bottomless reservoir of hyperkinetic energy. Hats off in particular to their bassist, whose combination of Flea-like moves and immense technique is fucking exceptional.
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been aware of Hearts Under Fire for four years, and equally respectable that they’ve consistently grown in stature over that time to be hailed as legends by a packed venue for their long-awaited album launch party. Punk fans can be pretty misogynistic, so it’s worth pointing out an undeniable fact: Hearts Under Fire are living proof that literally possessing balls is just not necessary if you want to make ballsy music. Solidly packed with great songs that meld punky, grungy, and straight-up rocking vibes with an idiosyncratic flavour; fuelled by rough-edged instrument-as-tool attitude; and rapturously received by an adoring fanbase, this was the show every HUF fan wanted to see – and the show that about 250 of them got to witness first-hand.
Big love as always to the above bands, the Boileroom crew, and Olly Dexter for nailing the sound down yet again.
Follow TMMP on Twitter for more awesome music! If you’re a regular reader, thanks for the support! Don’t stop, and keep going!