LIVE: Canvas / Body Hound / xServitudex / Lugubrious Children / Underdark @ Temple Of Boom, Leeds

By Liam Knowles

Much like the influences of the headlining act, the support bill for the last ever performance from Canvas (that’s the UKHC one from the late 90s, not the current band for sad lads) is a bit of a mixed bag. Openers Underdark cross the bleak cacophony of Deafheaven with the lushness of Envy, and this flowing barrage of light and dark makes the grindcore assault that follows, delivered by Leeds lads Lugubrious Children, all the more intense. So far so good.

xServitudex, unsurprisingly, are a straight edge / vegan hardcore band in the vein of Earth Crisis and Arkangel. The set starts out a bit flat but improves over time, and there are some fantastic riffs and grooves on show, but unfortunately there’s also a bit of posturing and preaching. Whilst the pro-animal rights message conveyed by the band is not one many in the room would disagree with, it comes off a little contrived. The three dudes swinging their fists around don’t seem to mind, but the rest of the crowd feels a little turned off.

If there ever was a band to turn them back on, it’s the irresistible Body Hound. This Sheffield-based instrumental math-rock outfit might feel like a bit of a strange fit for this show, but they are absolutely impossible to dislike, regardless of your usual musical leanings. Whilst the lack of vocals negates the need for a frontman as such, bassist Joseph Thorpe is very much the physical focal point, throwing out aggressive shapes, sassy bum-wiggles and everything in between whilst he and his impossibly tight band melt the crowd’s collective mind with their Don Caballero-esque song-puzzles.

Canvas, who formed way back in 1996, are one of the UK hardcore scene’s best kept secrets. Whilst everyone else at the time just basically sounded like Biohazard, Canvas were mixing that same sound with early Converge and early Meshuggah to create something that was truly unique. They weren’t around for long, but they burned fast and bright and left an undeniable impact on the kids of the day who would later go on to form their own bands. Tonight, a room full of 30+ year olds come out of mosh retirement to celebrate that legacy one last time.

The short but sweet set covers Canvas’ entire back catalogue, with fan favourites like ‘Black Shape Of The Nexus’ and ‘Elephant Shoes’ going down an absolute storm. Signature track ‘Last Prayer For Judas’ is greeted so rapturously that it’s no wonder they choose to repeat it for their encore. Despite a 16 year hiatus, Canvas have been on fine form on this reunion run, and tonight is no exception. Vocalist John Sutcliffe prowling the stage while his band execute the tracks behind him with pin-point precision, his voice shifting seamlessly from piercing highs to guttural lows, via the odd bit of actual singing. The crowd, some of whom have travelled from as far afield as Belgium, Iceland and Sweden for this show, jostle at the front for their share of the mic, knowing that this is their last chance to get Canvas lyrics slightly wrong in front of a room full of their peers.

Shows like this one are a fantastic reminder of what hardcore used to be like before fashion and trends got involved. For the 40 or so minutes Canvas were on stage, there was no pretense, no showboating, just five guys writing songs they want to write and having the time of their lives playing those songs in a room full of friends and true fans. For them to bow out knowing they never lost sight of that approach is the best farewell they could have possibly asked for.