Attila at Club Academy, ManchesterSupport: Eskimo Callboy| The Browning
October 22, 2018 at Club Academy, Manchester
Promoter: Kilimanjaro Live
Metalheads are a territorial lot. The vast majority of the crowd at the Academy yesterday for Saxon would have a heart attack if they heard the metal line-up on show tonight. The fact that the three bands all sit on the spectrum of metalcore and deathcore would be bad enough, but just imagine their faces contorting when they hear the unmistakeably not metal sounds of EDM, or rap, or techno coming from the basement that houses the Club Academy. Perhaps even worse for the elitists, is that if this is a passing fad, it’s one that’s showing no signs of letting up anytime soon – in fact, if the massive queue that greets me before doors is anything to go by, it’s still very much on the rise.
A large chunk of that early queuing is down to The Browning, playing to an already mostly full room, taking to the stage with the instant bludgeoning heaviness of an aircraft carrier unceremoniously dumped onto your head. For those not in the know, they play EDM so heavy, the D stands for deathcore, and by the time the pulsing ‘Pure Evil’ has kicked in, they already have a sizeable pit going – perhaps larger than any opening band Club Academy has seen. Jonny McBee is a machine behind the mic, whipping up the carnage to the song of the same name, and even showing off the variety in their discography by performing the guest rap break himself, as well as cleans on ‘Final Breath’ – two of several cuts from excellent new album Geist. Three crowdsurfers, breakdowns so catastrophic the AA couldn’t fix them, and endless pits later, and ‘Disconnect’ draws a magnificent set to a close. It’s always a sign of a good band when they can own an opening slot, but even as a massive fan seeing a band who didn’t even play his three favourite songs by them, this was a seriously impressive show.
Eskimo Callboy show no inclination to slow down the party, merely change the direction – that’s very apparent from ‘My Own Summer’. The Germans being billed beneath Attila, rather than as co-headliners, always seemed slightly strange to me; and the room is instantly bouncing, singing along to every chorus, as though this were the headline band – although it does help that this band has choruses that Simon Cowell would dismiss as too pop. It also makes seeking Eskimo Callboy live one hell of a cardio workout – if you’re not in the massive pit during the verse, you’re bouncing to the chorus. The only exceptions are ‘VIP’ – a N*ck*lb*ck tinged satire of the rocks-tar lifestyle, that’s completely at odds with the humble Germans on stage, bigging up the other bands, and talking about how flattered they are that people still come to see them in Manchester – and the lead i to ‘Best Day’, which is an on-stage proposal. Fitting choice of song. Older number ‘Is Anyone Up?’ is an instant trigger to the hordes in the pit, and ‘MC Thunder’ is a worthy closer to a set that ranks as one of the most fun of the year.
It’s a brave band to take two such all-encompassing supports on tour, but Attila more than hold their own on stage. Not that they would give a solitary shit if they didn’t. The inevitable buy-our-merch speech is anything but predictable: “All funds towards drink and drugs.” As much as the rock-star bravado in their lyrics can occasionally be grating, on stage the confidence just makes them a better live band as Fronz whips the crowd into a near constant room of energy and movement, from first note to last, and all with a tightness that justifies the swagger. Attila are the perfect band for an early wake-up-the-crowd slot at a festival, and thoroughly start the party. Or to summarise much more succinctly, I crowd-surfed twice, ended up with a split lip, and took a forehead to the temple that meant I spent a song sat at the back googling concussion symptoms. That’s an Attila show in a nutshell. “Fuck this shit, you can find me in the moshpit!”