LIVE: Basement / Higher Power @ Joiners, Southampton

By Ashwin Bhandari

When it comes to emo revival, Basement are the cornerstone of the movement. Not only for being ahead of their time when they first started back in 2009, but also influencing other recently successful UK bands such as Moose Blood and Neck Deep whom probably wouldn’t exist without them. Now that they’ve signed to Fueled By Ramen with a re-release of 2016’s ‘Promise Everything’, it only feels appropriate for them to come back and play smaller venues with multiple sold out dates.

To newcomers of Basement, Higher Power might seem like a bit of a weird choice to have as main support. However before 2012’s ‘Colourmeinkindness’, the Ipswich lads were incredibly popular in the UK hardcore scene, and still remain involved with it to this day. ¬†Donning influence mostly from New York hardcore mixed with chorus pedal tinged riffs, Higher Power are a lot of fun and aren’t quite as aggressive as their name would suggest. This of course, does not take away their infectious energy.

‘The band inevitably have comparisons to Turnstile for their more upbeat and ‘jammy’ riffs compared to other bands in their scene, but with their new single ‘Can’t Relate’ the influence is undeniable. “We know we don’t really fit in here, but it’s cool that Basement gave us this opportunity to play to new people” vocalist Jimmy Wizard says before the band proceed to tear Joiners a new one with older material.

While the hardcore kids of Southampton throw shapes and spinkick across the room, other audience members look somewhat confused as to what’s going on. Regardless, this is a very strong opening set from Higher Power, offering us a good time and leaving the audience more than enthused for what’s to come. It’s great to see the Leeds quartet come out of their comfort zone by playing what is essentially a mixed bill and smashing all expectations.

Packing out Joiners to the absolute brim, Basement are welcomed to the stage with open arms. Mixing up the set a bit from last night, ‘Whole’ has the crowd push pitting and diligently finger pointing to every word back to vocalist Andrew Fisher. ¬†It’s impressive how the band can seamlessly switch between older cuts such as ‘Plan To Be Surprised’ straight into newer ones such as ‘Aquasun’ with just as much enthusiasm and catharsis. While some younger fans clearly aren’t sure how this whole stage diving business works, the majority of them know you’re probably meant to get off as swiftly as possible rather than standing there like a potato and waiting for the band to nudge you off.

“This is incredible. I’d just like to say that we’ve never ever had a bad show in Southampton so thank you so much for all the support”, says Fisher, wiping away the sweat from his brow and giving the audience some much needed breathing space in between all the madness.¬†Notably slower moments like ‘Breathe’ and ‘For You The Moon’ ¬†really allow you to appreciate the versatility of the band and their refined progression. ¬†For a band who started with the tagline “Just trying to be honest”, in a live setting feel yourself being emotionally drained with sing along parts such as “This is me against the world” from ‘Yoke’, giving a sense of triumph and solidarity of everyone in the room being just as happy to be miserable as yourself.

As the show draws to a close the band decide to go out on ‘Promise Everything’ opting to play the newer version with the extended outro. ¬†A lack of an encore and a fairly early finish might seem like a bit of an anti climax but given the band’s 15 song set is all hits with no filler material, there’s not much to complain about. For older people who moan about the fact that there’s no ‘real’ rock bands anymore since the 90’s and the mid 00’s indie boom, ¬†Basement remain defiant as one of the best alt rock acts to come out of the UK for a very long time.