LIVE: Basement / Joyce Manor @ O2 Forum, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

It’s almost been 10 years since Basement formed from the ashes of teenage easycore band In This For Fun and, despite their hiatus in 2012, they have kept the torch burning for modern emo consistently.¬† Their latest effort ‘Beside Myself’ was mixed by Rich Costey – who’s worked with such big mainstream acts like Muse, Sigur Ros, and Weezer – giving Basement much higher production values alongside their alt-rock stylings.¬† With this, it sees them play venues that aren’t quite the arenas they played last year supporting Bring Me The Horizon, but are still impressive for a British emo band to headline.

Whilst the show hasn’t sold out, there’s a sizeable amount of fans lining up before doors or fleeing from the cold at various pubs around Camden. The demographic appears to be a fair amount of people who most likely would have been fans since their ‘Colourmeinkindess’ era, rather than hoards of teenage pop-punk bands in maroon 2012 hoodies. Of course, no one really grows out of emo, so it’s nice to see that ‘Beside Myself’ and ‘Promise Everything’ didn’t abandon their roots into a watered down mainstream sound – unlike other artists that have been inspired by them.

Joyce Manor have only been around for a year longer than Basement, but are just as beloved by modern emo and punk rock communities. Their relatable quips about friendship and heartbreak that tug at your heartstrings are even more meaningful in their live shows, and tonight solidifies that on a much bigger stage. Whether it’s the euphoric chorus of Tumblr friendly anthem ‘Constant Headache’¬† or the wholesome vibes of ‘Heart Tattoo’, they really are the best band to soak in with your friends so you can shout angsty musings back at each other.

There seems to be a consensus with the music press and Joyce Manor fans alike that the quality of each album can wildly vary, but it’s agreed on that their self-titled release has still yet to be topped. Be that as it may, cramming 17 songs into a co-headline slot as Tigers Jaw did two years ago is an impressive feat. Especially since the only time vocalist Barry Johnson and bassist Matt Ebert really address the crowd is to acknowledge that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here, and with that sentiment in mind; “fuck Thanksgiving.”¬†

On top of that, their guitar licks are memorable and¬†boisterous,¬† the singalongs are heartwarming, and despite ‘Five Beer Plan’ with its infamous ‘wall of death’ crowd participation being absent from the setlist, ‘Catalina Fight Song’ is a wonderful way to end a set that feels like the time has absolutely flown by whilst we’ve been caught up in all the fun.

After being given a moment to breathe, Basement begin their highly anticipated set with new cuts ‘Disconnect’ and ‘Nothing Left’. Capacity wise the O2 Forum is only a slight step up from Koko and O2 Shepherds¬†Bush, however here it feels like the band is fully making use of the space around them. Guitarists Alex Henrey and Ronan Crix are passionate in their riff delivery,¬† as well as front man Andrew Fisher interacting as much as possible with the youthful crowd screaming back his every word.¬†

It’s easy to compare Basement’s seminal sound to the likes of Jimmy Eat World and Nirvana, but ‘Beside Myself’ does far more than simply recycle homages to these bands. Thematically, ‘Be Here Now’ deals with not being able to enjoy the present (ironic considering how many fans took videos during it). ‘Ultraviolet’ is particularly hard-hitting performance wise as it deals with Fisher watching the news of the 2017 London Bridge attack whilst living in America. It would be understandable with other bands for audience members to maybe not be as enthusiastic for newer material, given how highly regarded ‘Colourmeinkindness’¬† and ‘I Wish I Could Stay Here’ are – however, tonight they are transfixed with everything the Ipswich emos have to offer.

With only a handful of pre-hiatus hits in the set, the brief stripped back number ‘Changing Lanes’ is showcased with lighters and phones filling up the room, solidifying how much Basement gigs unify their fans. This is followed by the noisy Deftones worship anthem ‘Stigmata.’ By this point, there’s more than enough crowd-surfers to keep security busy, and a friendly push pit opens for ‘Promise Everything.’ Tonight was their biggest show to date, and it’s exciting to find out how they can possibly top such a stellar performance.¬† It’s safe to say that they’re not an ’emo revival’ band anymore; they’ve made it into the legendary status of the genre itself.

ASHWIN BHANDARI