The dark confines of Southampton’s The Joiners are just beginning to fill as Basingstoke pop-punk outfit We Deny take to the stage. Their set is twenty minutes of easycore riffing and singalong choruses, belted out with bravado by vocalist Loren Mancini who takes ownership of the stage for this brief time. Their tried and tested sound isn’t for everyone but We Deny’s upbeat presence gets the fun going for the evening.
Self-professed ‘dark-pop’ quartet Hows Harry are an altogether different kettle of fish, their sound is an intricate blend of indie, pop and electronic elements. Bolstered by an academy venue sized sound within a two hundred capacity sweatbox, there’s no doubt they have made a lasting impression on all the eyes and ears in their vicinity, even if the crowd is yet to learn the words.
Youth Killed It waste no time in making their intentions clear “let’s have a disco” exclaims frontman and charisma bomb, Jack Murphy, undeterred by a vexing sore throat. The King’s Lynn five-piece rattle through a selection of catchy tunes from their album Modern Bollotics, Murphy’s raps bouncing off early Arctic Monkeys-style guitars before exploding into undeniable choruses. Recent single ‘Islands’ is a highlight and a dedicated group of fans sing back every word. They exit stage having had the vast majority of their crowd bouncing up and down, I’m not sure what discos Youth Killed It have been going to, but this is a hell of a lot better than any I’ve experienced.
Just how much energy can a venue this size contain before it bursts? That’s the question tonight’s headliners MassMatiks seem determined to answer. They receive a hero’s welcome as they take to the stage, frontman George Peploe’s stage presence is a mirror image of the rowdiness in tonight’s crowd. He spits a concoction of aggressive spoken word, grime raps and indie hooks with enough presence to fill stages twice this size. It’s a good job too, a frontman of lesser standing would risk being dwarfed by the nu-metal shreds and blistering drums that accompany his vocals. The crowd are in the palm of MassMatiks’ hands tonight and calls to gather round George for a beautifully rendered slower cut are met with as much enthusiasm as his later rally for a wall of death. Sweat is dripping from just about everyone and everything as they close the set, they’re noticeably happy with how things have gone, and so they should be, this is underground British rock at its most incendiary.