With queues round the corner and a black sea of miscellaneous band-related t shirts, the atmosphere for tonight’s show was a community experience that was displayed throughout the crowd, from long before the beginnings of the show right into the final seconds. The clientele that is pulled to a Sumerian Alliance show is one dotted with occasional arrogance, slight knobbery and ignorance towards personal space, but on the whole the fans were brilliant. The room was packed with tickets still going on the door, leaving some room within the venue to find a decent spot and get settled to enjoy the performance of the bands.
Anyone that has been to the O2 Academy Islington knows of the venue’s heightened security measures of late, and with absolute justification in order to guarantee the security of the punters within. This necessity to frisk has, unfortunately, come at a price, with Black Crown Initiate being the first band on in the venue and the sufferers. With a stage time of 7pm, and with doors at 6.45 a relatively empty room was their reward for playing, a shame and an issue that absolutely must be addressed by the staff within the venue. Whether it is earlier doors or a later curfew, something must be done to ensure opening acts are playing to a crowd they deserve.
By the time Volumes hit the stage, the building was filling up and the atmospheric pot of the room was beginning to boil, as anticipation was unanimously spilling over drenching everyone in a sort of nervous anticipation. Volumes did not disappoint, with a sound that was heavy, precise and well received. A highlight of the set was how refreshing it was to see Gus Farias tearing up the stage with his harsh vocals – all while sporting 15 recent stitches in his head from an injury. As his first show back on the tour, he was welcomed with open arms by the crowd, and the uniformity amongst stage outfits, coupled with musical precision, was reminiscent of a band that had been playing together for years. Side note: Myke Terry’s white dungarees make him look like he’s about to come paint your living room.
Veil of Maya absolutely stole the show tonight, their lights, stage performance and tight musicianship was unparalleled. Marc Okubo is arguably one of the best guitarists in world, walking around the fretboard of his 7-string pink beauty effortlessly while throwing himself across the stage, mimicked perfectly by Danny Hauser on his 7 string bass. Sam Applebaum on the drums acts as the glue through all the awkward rhythms displayed, never once dropping a beat and seeming always in control. With their new frontman, Lukas Magyar was absolutely magnificent, pitch perfect and a natural performer, it’s easy to see why this band are held in such a high regard. The crowd interaction is honed to perfection and they sound better than on record, occasional improvisation adding a wonderful element of surprise within their sound.
Finishing off the night, Born of Osiris played a set full of newer material and classics, but their performance was intermittent with sound issues, scooping some of the energy out of the room. This is another downside to the 02 Academy Islington as a venue, with a difficult frequency trap in front of the stage and a low hanging ceiling, it’s a difficult obstacle for most live bands to overcome. Positively though, when the sound was there, the impending sense of doom adequately personified by five men on stage was somewhat chilling, and was an absolute spectacle to behold.
All of these bands offer something slightly different to the fans, and the billing was one that was not set to disappoint anyone in the room. With four bands on the bill, you would optimistically hope to open people’s eyes and ears to a few groups they may not have delved far enough into before. For me, that group were Volumes and their raw energy – helped by having two frontmen at this show – brought the room to life in a way that was spectacular to watch, leaving people excited for more, right up to the closing moments of the evening.
Written by Fredrick Whatmore