Hawthorne Heights – Leeds Cockpit

By paul

This gig was sold out well in advance of the show itself and there you could smell the excitement oozing from the gaggle of kids around the venue well before the doors opened. These ?invasion? type tours are proving to be a big success at the moment and with continued sell-out crowds like tonight, I can?t see them stopping any time soon.

First up were Long Island band Bayside who, with their knack of producing intense performances to represent the heavier side of Victory Records, are generating a bit of a cult following. And you can see why. A solid, deep and bassy sound eminates from their very presence and they pull off their Alkaline Trio-esque brand of melodic rock very nicely indeed. Nothing too adventurous in terms of the performance but signature tune ?Masterpiece? works excellently as a set-closer and rounded off an impressive overall performance from a band who should, if given the correct pushes and shoves, rise above the slot of openers. 7/10

Spitalfield arrive next and proceed to build well on their previous appearance at The Cockpit supporting Fall Out Boy back in February. On that occasion, they largely disappointed me and there just seemed to be something fairly significant from their performance to warrant it holding your attention at all. Tonight, it seems a few months of touring and practice has paid off and I see a much-improved outfit before me. Tighter than before, I notice backing vocals have also been upped a notch and complement the lead nicely. The new bassist seemed competent but didn?t stand out as such. Hopefully this new-found sense of self will lead to a more solid follow-up to current release Stop Doing Bad Things. Tonight is largely a success though, as now I?m actually looking forward to whatever they produce next rather than just thinking of it as just ?one of the pile?. 7/10

A quick trip to the bar area (to make notes, mind) reminds me of why Victory has been so popular in terms of achieving good show attendances of late; a large collective of street teamers to back up the online aspect of their promotions is definitely working. Sampler hand-outs and mailing list sign-ups aplenty are giving them a direct line into their audience. Simple but effective.

I hadn?t caught Silverstein before tonight, and to be honest I wasn?t exactly overwhelmed. It wasn?t a bad performance per se, and I can actually say I enjoyed the first 15-20 minutes, but after that it just seemed like they played the first 15 minutes over again. What was done was done well, but certainly too samey. Perhaps a concentration on giving the live show a bit more variation to differ from the record would do a lot for this band and help them rise above the murky depths of screamo generica. 6/10

Finally, there was no mistaking when Hawthorne Heights were taking to the stage. I never made it to a Take That concert before they split, but I imagine they were welcomed to the stage in a similar fashion. Not waiting for the screams to subside, they launched straight into their own brand of emo pop and the kids were lapping it up. The band themselves think that their newer stuff is heavier than what they?ve done before, and they even introduced their third-from-last song as ?the heaviest thing we?ve ever written?; in reality this was an ordinary song from their hit machine with an added ?mini beatdown?, as one of my friends put it, in the middle. It was a good song but nothing like heavy; their strengths definitely lie in writing the massive hooks that people come to expect of bands like them. Overall the performance was decent, and the band?s fuller sound definitely benefits from their third guitar (even if it?s just mirroring the direction of one of the others). It?ll definitely be interesting to see if all of their new album, out early next year, takes the direction which they?re known for, or what they?re calling a slightly heavier version of their style. There were many glee-bound faces at the end of tonight?s gig though, so they definitely go down as having satisfied on entertainment value for the more than appreciative crowd. 6.5/10