LIVE: Casey / Endless Heights / Rarity @ Rock City Basement, Nottingham

By Mark Johnson

Even before the release of their debut album ‘Love Is Not Enough’ in 2016, Casey had amassed a passionate fan-base thanks to their painfully honest lyrics and beautifully ambient instrumentation. Now with two superb full-length records to their name, their loyal following has only grown stronger, affording the quintet their first headline tour of Europe which, after almost a full month, comes to a conclusion tonight in Nottingham.

Joining them on their adventure, from two opposite sides of the map, are Canada’s Rarity and Australian alt-rockers Endless Heights, and it’s the job of the former to kick-start the evening. It’s hard to miss singer Loeden Learn’s focused glare as he comes on stage; with a look that seems to say “I’m pissed off don’t come anywhere near me”, he’s clearly psyched up for tonight and he maintains this intensity throughout the performance. As the set progresses, it’s guitarist Corbin Giroux who has reason to be genuinely pissed off as his amp intermittently switches his guitar on and off through the whole set.

The guitar issue unfortunately means the instrumentation lacks cohesion, but this is certainly down to the technical problems rather than any performance related shortcomings and for the most part, Rarity’s crossover of post hardcore and pop punk works well and serves as a high-energy warm up for the rest of the evening.

With the guitar amp switched, Endless Heights have the pleasure of full working instruments and musically it’s an extremely strong showing, their interesting, melodic instrumentals pairing well on stage. Vocally however, there’s not enough of a hook to make any songs stand out. Joel Martorana has good stage presence and seems genuinely humbled by the opportunity to play in the UK, but unfortunately his melodies aren’t memorable and don’t carry enough impact, so the performance fades away with less of a memory than their potential deserves.

Casey set the context for their set with opener ‘Making Weight’, the first track from their brand new record ‘Where I Go When I’m Sleeping’. Vocalist Tom Weaver begins to recite his struggles with mental and physical health and with subject matters this personal and emotional, you can’t help but be drawn into the narrative. Even though the record has only been out a few weeks, it’s clear that the audience have already fully immersed themselves in Weaver’s story and have been waiting for the opportunity to scream it back at him.

Helping to bring these emotionally charged stories to life are the ambient instrumentals that back them up. The rich atmosphere of the guitars are complimented by a pulsating rhythm section that maintains the pace, all executed in perfect synchronisation. It’s all too common in today’s live scene for bands to rely on samples and backing tracks to add atmosphere to their live set, but Casey are able to create spine-tinglingly emotional experiences without relying on such a crutch. By simply using carefully selected notes and an effects pedal, Casey build an organic atmosphere that’s all their own and by using only what they have to hand, it adds even more authenticity to their already-inspiring compositions.

On ‘Where I Go When I’m Sleeping’, Weaver’s softly spoken, introspective vocal parts are so well done that when the screamed vocals join the mix to infuse their melodic hardcore tendencies, they can be a little jarring. On stage though, they work perfectly, adding sudden bursts of intensity to bring songs to life on stage.

Towards the end of the set, Weaver explains that Casey have never been a band that’s tried to get people to part with their money, they do what they do to connect with people, and playing to packed out rooms across this tour is definite proof that they’ve done just that. Whether it’s the spontaneously erupting mosh pits, or hearing every single word being sung back at the band, it’s clear that Casey have inspired a wealth of passion in their fan base and on this showing, it’s easy to see how.

There are no frills with this band: they’re genuinely humble people, great performers and they act as a delightful reminder that you don’t need bells and whistles to get your music across. As long as you give a damn about what you do, and do it to the best of your ability, people will want to take notice, and Casey are the perfect embodiment of this philosophy. It’s why they’re one of the best bands in the UK alternative scene right now.