By James Nolan
The co-headliners may not be the biggest names in rock music but these two bands have built a reputation for their chaotic live shows so I was excited to see what they could deliver. The tickets were cheap, the venue was small, and the attendance was better than expected, but hardly brimming.
Before the fireworks began, Manchester-based two piece instrumental band, Cleft, took to the stage. Cleft’s set was filled with impressively technical guitar and drum work exploring the more fun side of post-rock. Their sound was strong, aided by the use of a loop pedal and extremely capable fret work. There was slight over use of the fake endings in their song, an aspect the guitarist himself mocked, but this did not detract too much from a solid opening performance.
It was time for Baby Godzilla to open all guns blazing. They straight away threw themselves into the crowd, seeking anything climbable. The bar, railings, air vents, and door frames appeared among made the list of Baby Godzilla’s favourite things to traverse. Where there were no obstacles to conquer, they constructed their own in the form of a bench and equipment box which each member spent time playing and singing on top of with nothing for support but the light fixtures (an action which saw the bar staff wearing expressions of deep concern for the band member’s safety). Nothing was off limits to them during this show and no one knew where to look. They seemed intent on dominating everything about this venue and there was no doubt that they had succeeded.
This did not detract from the quality of their music, however. Everything about the musicianship was spot on and delivered with a tightness which contradicted the craziness of the performance. The vocals whether cleanly sung, manically shrieked, or collectively chanted with the crowd provided an intensity to the show and was solid throughout (even when delivered after singer, Paul, took a heavy fall from his make-shift platform). The guitar and drum work was powerful and unfaltering, even during one of their various expeditions around the venue. Baby Godzilla’s set was one no one who witnessed it will forget in any hurry.
Once the chaos had settled, it was time to see how Wounds would fight back. Would they employ the same all out tactics as Baby Godzilla? Or would they take a more considered approach to claim the knock-out punch of the night?
The result was a more traditional set of tactics. Wounds preferred to lean on the quality of their material to define their live show. Their chunky, classic-rock inspired riffs combined with the raspy and at times shrieked vocals filled the room with plenty of rocking heads and sing-a-longs from the crowd. The set was predominantly composed of material from their debut album, Die Young, but contained older material and even a brand new, unreleased song. Front man, Aidan, stuck mainly to the stage, occasionally jumping into the crowd to give them their time on mic duties. James and Aaron, on guitar and bass duties respectively, remained on stage delivering a tight performance and vocal contributions of their own. Wounds were content to let the crowd cause the majority of the havoc, calling for circle pits, mosh pits, and even a mini wall of death. The majority of the crowd chaos came during their closing track, and my personal favourite, ‘Dead Dead F**king Dead’. The crowd clambered to scream along and were even joined by Paul and Johnny from Baby Godzilla in this final track of the night to complete a loud and chaotic show.
This night showcased two of the finest up-and-coming heavy rock bands on the scene at the moment. Employing different tactics in this VS tour, they both managed to emit great stage presence and tight instrumental performances to grip, and repeatedly pummel the crowd from start to finish. All in all, although not by straight knockout, the victory in this battle has to be handed to Baby Godzilla.