Deafheaven and Touché Amoré have joined forces and brought with them Texan hardcore band Portrayal of Guilt for this co-headline run across the UK and Europe. Not an obvious musical match up, but that is perhaps what sets this tour package apart from most.
Portrayal are first up and you could be forgiven for thinking the term ‘plug in and play’ had been invented for this band. There is no real crowd interaction as they tear through their set, consisting primarily of material from their debut album, Let Pain Be Your Guide. Their brand of hardcore crossed with black metal grabs the attention of many of the early attendees. Sadly the vocals are often lost in the mix but the band make up for it with a sonic assault that is hugely impressive for a three-piece. There’s no ‘thank you for coming out’ or similar such message. The last song finishes and off they go, leaving many to wonder if they were even finished.
An entirely different energy is thrust upon the crowd with Touché Amoré, launching straight into their first album, …To The Beat of a Dead Horse, and playing it in its entirety to mark its tenth anniversary. This makes no matter for people who perhaps prefer later material, as the album is only nineteen minutes long. It takes all of two songs, totalling around four minutes, for vocalist Jeremy Bolm to throw himself into the crowd and feel their energy firsthand. He yells his way through a whopping 23 songs, inciting tears from the crowd on the anthemic Flowers & You, and hypnotising everyone with the quite stunning Skyscraper. There is bucketloads of conviction and passion throughout.
It’s an entirely different vibe with Deafheaven. Their set consists of a total of six songs – six otherworldly, atmospheric journeys accompanied by shrill and savage black metal vocals. It’s a juxtaposition in itself, let alone when placed directly after the heartfelt hardcore of Touché. George Clarke operates as a conductor of evil at the forefront of the band’s broad musical canvas. He at times seems almost overly theatrical, but it’s done with a commanding energy, as he brings a darkness to the beauty of much of the music.
The differing styles on display tonight confirm that experimentation and artistry is alive and well in the world of heavy music.