LIVE: Balance and Composure / Seahaven / Milkteeth @ Dingwalls, London

By Ben Tipple

There’s an equally soul-destroying and exhilarating line of people waiting to enter Dingwalls – the sweaty underbelly of Camden, London – tonight. Seemingly never-ending, the winding queue is teeming with excited smiles and chatter of headliners Balance and Composure’s return to the capital.

Perhaps clear that this would be enough for the majority of tonight’s exuberant punters, both Seahaven and Milk Teeth prove their worth on this incredible bill. Milk Teeth take to the stage not long after doors, leaving the majority of the crowd wistfully appreciating their intense grunge-tinged drawl from the docks outside. Yet Milk Teeth seem largely unaffected, blasting out tracks from last year’s ‘Smiling Politely’ EP, alongside new single ‘Vitamins’. ‘Swear Jar’ in particularly sees bassist Becky mesmerize the crowd with an attitude-filled lo-fi delivery that characterises the Bristol four-piece. It’s subtle and angry, veiled under heavy 90s influences – and it’s excellent.

Taking their audience into account, Seahaven opt for a heavier set to those recently performed by the Californian wave-pioneers. What had originally seen them sit within the same movement as tonight’s headliners has become something of a rarity, evident through the irregular appearance of ‘Plague’ from their 2011 debut, ‘Ghost’. Tracks from ‘Winter Forever’ garner the biggest response, as the crowd chanting back the likes of ‘It’s Over’ almost leave frontman Kyle Soto in tears.

While the newer material still jars with their earlier work, they deliver moments of beauty in amongst the sea of flying bodies. In keeping with the atmosphere, the slower numbers are sacrificed for ‘Silhouette’ and ‘Andreas’ – yet throughout the crowd returns every word. Seahaven have evolved in sound, yet they still prove to be absolutely stunning in their delivery.

Tonight’s headliners Balance and Composure waste no time in continuing the frenzied onslaught started by the previous two acts. The lack of a barrier and low stage serve to turn Dingwalls into a glorified floor show, as onlookers get in on the action. From the onset of ‘Parachutes’ feet barely touch the floor, as Balance and Composure spread their setlist out across their two full-lengths. Bodies act as projectiles from the stage, with people disappearing headfirst into a burgeoning human whirlpool.

On the stage, things are a little more restrained. Although their scuzzy alternative emotional growls envelop the room, there is a noticeable lack of energy. Frontman Jon Simmons apologises for his illness as he declares tonight one of the greatest shows of his life, but their admission of a bad day is difficult to separate from their performance.
Yet for the majority of the audience, this is irrelevant. Whether it matters to most what tracks, and with what level of energy, Balance and Composure deliver remains debateable. Tonight is about having three of the most exciting alternative acts in one room, and ultimately they more than deliver.


Check out the full gallery of tonight’s show.