Edinburgh can be a notoriously tough city to tour. That famous Scottish crowd doesn’t always emerge, and I have seen bands like Bring Me The Horizon (on Sempiternal) struggle to sell out supposedly small venues. So standing in Electric Circus and seeing a nearly sold-out crowd appreciate two of the best young bands the UK has to offer. Well, it’s one hell of a feeling.
Before we got to them, though, Bad Sign kick the night off in style. The sound in the venue doesn’t do their vocals any favours, but they rise above that with riffs so meaty you could chow down for days. If you were blindfolded and dropped in front of the stage, you would struggle to believe there were only three men on it because they make one hell of a racket. It’s one of those rackets that you want to hear more of.
Looking around the crowd when Heck take the stage it’s easy to spot those that haven’t been introduced to this particular brand of madness before. It’s the look of fear, bemusement and excitement that spreads across their faces. Heck don’t play shows, they have fights and even if they tend to be against buildings, they usually win. However, if you need a description of the Heck live show, you can find it in a million other places. Because more so than ever before, this show was proof that even if you stripped that all away Heck would still be one hell of a proposition.
Having dropped their debut album earlier this year, Heck now have the music to back up the madness. Tracks like ‘Good As Dead’, ‘Mope’ and ‘The Great Hardcore Swindle’ are genuine tunes under the discordant noise that makes this band so ferocious. You no longer see them purely to find out what they are going to climb but because you want to hear those songs and the fact that they can still play it while doing all that mental stuff is genuinely astonishing. Heck are one of the finest bands we have and in the last year, they have become so much more than an extraordinary live show. Although they still have that too.
All of which makes you wonder whether there is any band that could follow it? Well, not all bands are Black Peaks. In fact, they might be the perfect touring partners for Heck. Because while the former bludgeon the crowd into submission Black Peaks are a very different proposition. Their use of the contrast between heavy riffs and soaring vocals can only really be compared to Deftones, and the tiny confines of Electric Circus can’t quite hold this music.
What’s great to see is that from the opening of ‘White Eyes’ to the dying seconds of ‘Glass Build Castles’ there are people in the crowd singing every word. There’s no denying that it takes them a bit to get people up to full steam after Heck but by the time they launch into ‘Drones’ the crowd is 100% with Black Peaks.
And they earn that. Underneath these catchy but punishing songs, Black Peaks feel like an arena band already. Will Gardner – sporting an impressive moustache – isn’t afraid to take a leaf from Heck’s book and make his way into the crowd to get them moving. It really is about the music, though, and those soaring soundscapes are both punishing and infectious. It’s easy to get swept along by them and an hour doesn’t feel long enough to spend in their presence.
This is one of those tours that dreams are made of. Three exciting British bands coming together and blowing the roof off of tiny venues. I could watch Heck in rooms this size every day of the week and as much as I’d love to see them go on and do bigger things you do wonder whether this is where that music belongs. On the flipside, I will be amazed if we ever see Black Peaks play shows this small again. Either way, British music is flourishing and as a fan, all there is to do is sit back and enjoy.