LAKES + Paranoid Void + Pillow Fort – The Chameleon, Nottingham on 26th May 2023


Tucked away in the heart of Nottingham city centre you’ll find The Chameleon, a rather nifty little venue with a small music room that’s conducive to a good sound, and it’s one tonight’s openers Pillow Fort put to good use. Self-described purveyors of “emo shit”, they hail from Leicester and deliver a set full of visceral emotion. Vocalist/guitarist Ryan Crick sings like he means it, and his whiskey-croak adds an air of authenticity to tracks like ‘Nelson Muntz Had An Absent Father Too’. Pillow Fort are a trio who lock in tightly and make good use of musical dynamics, pitting loud sections against quiet, and their sound rises and falls like ocean waves crashing to the shore. One of the best new bands keeping heartbreak alive, the future of emo is assured with Pillow Fort leading the charge.

After last year’s triumphant appearance at the UK’s premier alternative festival ArcTanGent (reviewed here), Japanese math-rock band Paranoid Void return for another tour and bring their sublime sounds to Nottingham. They’re another three-piece who create music that’s far bigger than their constituent parts, and they play with a synchronicity that makes their complex time changes sound so easy. Sometimes, math-rock can be too clever for its own good and creates a tangled web that’s totally devoid of melody or meaning. However, Paranoid Void have found a happy medium and their sweet-toned sound has all present bopping in unison like Hasidic kids rocking the Wailing Wall. From MEGURI’s crystalline guitar to YU-KI’s bombastic basslines to diminutive drummer MIPOW providing a big beat, this band are the type of group who feeds off a crowd’s energy, and they respond in kind with an energetic performance, and one which has won them more than a few fans tonight.

Despite hailing from Watford, tonight’s headliners Lakes have a sound that’s more rooted in the American Midwest emo scene, as opposed to anything that originated from our shores. Yet, there’s a whimsical nature to many of their tunes that’s quintessentially English and could only be born under slate grey UK skies. It’s precisely this combination that makes them so appealing, and they hit the ground running with ‘Aces’, a track from latest album, Elysian Skies. The male/female twin vocal attack works very well, and like fire and ice, or the yin and yang, complement each other very well. Lakes are a sextet, and the sound they create is rich and textured with cuts such as ‘Mirrors’ fracturing shards of glistening sonics in every direction. Each song that Lakes play is like a novella that catches a moment in time, and when you factor in intelligent songs with killer hooks, you have exactly what the world needs. Attracting the type of hardcore fan who sings along with every word makes for a pretty intense experience, as does the powerful backbeat, but there’s not a soul present who’s not won over by their heartfelt and emotive set. For a finale, Lakes mash up Alanis Morissette’s ‘Ironic’ with their own ‘Kids’ and creates a huge sing-along with 100 voices filling the air. An encore is demanded, and Lakes are happy to oblige, with their very own ‘Reindeer’ sending everyone home with a spring in their step.

Lakes Set List:

  1. Aces
  2. Genéve
  3. Mirrors
  4. Matches
  5. Face
  6. Cut And Run
  7. Warning Signs
  8. Huron
  9. Deep End
  10. Joker
  11. Kids/Ironic


  1. Reindeer