Touche Amore + Pianos Become the Teeth + Palm Reader @ Rock City Basement – Sunday 25th March 2012

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Review and photos by Sam Bingham

Turning up at the Basement at Rock City, it’s amazing to see pretty much a full room waiting for the bands to start. After some hardcore punk gigs here I don’t get my hopes up for large crowds. The merch desk is surrounded and people are picking up records and t-shirts before anything’s even started: good signs for a good show so far!

Palm Reader, five young guys from just outside of London open up the evening with songs packing some serious energy right from the start. Their whole set is consistently heavy, fast and tight. Add to this a stage presence that’s reflective of the music itself – energetic, angry, relentless – and throw in some rock and roll-esque shredding solos and aggressive vocals, Palm Reader are definitely worth keeping an eye on. Hopefully, the rest of the packed out venue is thinking the same thing. As a band I had not heard of before, they probably couldn’t make a better first impression.

I don’t think it’s possible to rave about Pianos Become The Teeth enough. PBtT recently released their second album, The Lack Long After, and it’s honestly something of a masterpiece. Carrying on from their previous releases with their melodic style of screamo, they’ve managed to raise the bar again. The Lack Long After hooks you from start to finish: it’s full of epic build-ups and drops, the vocals sound honest and heartfelt, talented drumming, and produced and polished to a standard that can often be left out by screamo bands. And their live performance gives nothing less either. Playing to a couple hundred people in the crowded Rock City Basement, Pianos Become the Teeth pour it all out for an amazing show. A lot of the crowd don’t seem to know the songs too well, but no doubt after seeing them live The Lack Long After and Old Pride play counts are going to be rising on a lot of people’s iTunes libraries. If you dig any heavy emotional music, you cannot afford to ignore this band.

It’s pretty obvious who most of the people in the room have come to see. Seconds into Touche Amore’s first song the previously static crowd are piled up at the front, shouting along. Not a bad reaction for Touche’s first visit to Nottingham. In fact, it gets to the point where one of the bouncers shows up down the front and tries to discourage this sort of thing (how rock n’ roll at Rock City…). Not beating around the bush though, the drummer tells the bouncer he’s ruining the gig for the band as well as everybody else: cue massive applause, bouncer quickly exits.

This isn’t new though. On previous tours in the UK the band has also consistently drawn large, dedicated crowds of fans. Maybe their brand of hardcore that’s a bit more melodic than a lot of stuff out there at the moment is drawing fresh ears to it. Or the clever and catchy lyrics get the crowd involved to make for really fun shows. Touche Amore definitely make their music incredibly accessible.

From the start Touche Amore keep up a lively, positive atmosphere (a staple of their shows from what I’ve seen). Favourites such as Home Away From Here and Honest Sleep go down especially well. They even throw a new song into the mix and, if it’s anything to go by, their new material sounds like even more addictive, crowd-pleasing goodness.

The band members do nothing to hide their enjoyment of this show, further perpetuating the atmosphere they’ve already got going. It’s hard to think of many bands that engage a crowd like Touche Amore do, their songs just seem written to drag people to the front and get involved. Small(ish) venues like the Basemnet make the perfect setting for this, and the lack of crowd barrier getting in the way makes for a much better, intimate experience.

It seems rare for me to go to a gig these days and enjoy every single band that plays (occasionally watching the odd support band seems more like a feat of endurance) but tonight every band put on an impressive show. Fingers crossed for more tours and nights like this coming to Nottingham.

And you can see more  of Sam’s shots from the show here: