LIVE: Citizen / Turnover / Sorority Noise @ The Underworld, London

By Ashwin Bhandari

Given the immense amount of love and attention we show the American emo scene over here, shows for bands on the Run For Cover and Big Scary Monsters labels manage to sell out quickly. While each group has enjoyed individual success from numerous returns to the UK, tonight unites them, making it one of those shows that everyone and their dog has been dying to get tickets for. And who can blame them? The Underworld is cozy enough for you to get close enough to the bands but there’s also a sense of triumph when they manage to sell it out.

Despite being the first act on tonight, Sorority Noise are just as popular as Turnover and Citizen over here. As such, the floor is already compacted with devoted fans. Frontman Cameron Boucher’s vocal delivery switches between delicate melodies and sharp yells when executed with some of their brasher cuts tonight. Before we can sink our teeth at the main bulk of their material, we’re treated to a blissful rendition of Julien Baker’s ‘Good News’, transitioning effortlessly into ‘Blond Hair, Black Lungs’. It’s charming to hear a band take influence from their friends and put their own unique spin on the material.

When the scuzzy, crescendo moments on anthems such as ‘Using’ and ‘Leave The Fan On’ are present, Boucher swings his guitar over his head and screams diligently into the audience. With other songs, Boucher is far more reserved but the bluntness of his lyrics are sung back to him with such glee, you almost forget how much of their material deals with the raw stages of grief and addiction. Closing with a small speech about addressing the stigma around mental illness before launching into ‘No Halo’, Sorority Noise strike a perfect balance between infectious sing-alongs, doused with an unparalleled outlet for very real and largely metaphor-free life struggles.

Turnover, by contrast, have mastered the art of creating a fuzzy, warm atmosphere that buries the sad lyrics on 2015’s Peripheral Vision. Having made the transition from traditional grungy, emo material to the mesmeric waters of dream pop and indie two years ago, the risk-taking paid off well. Gone are the days of relentless stage divesĀ and angry finger pointing from material on Magnolia, replaced with celebrated sing-alongs and subtle moments of reflection. It’s hard not to be sucked in by the alluring qualities of ‘New Scream’ or the carefree hooks on ‘Take My Head’, harnessing layers upon layers of sonic beauty.

As such, Turnover’s lush guitar tones have this omnipresent sense of euphoria, which remains through the whole set. From ‘Cutting My Fingers Off’ to ‘Dizzy On The Comedown’, the pleasant sing-alongs from the audience can be heard all across the venue, including of course the small balcony area. They almost drown out frontman Austin Getz’s haunting delivery, but it makes for a unique atmosphere.Ā Despite being a very different band to the one that first came over here in 2014, a few audience members call for older hits such as ‘Sasha’ to be played, a phrase that is practically a meme of its own at this point. While Getz acknowledges that the requests aren’t entirely serious, he still gives hisĀ thanks to the crowd for reminding them how they became popular in the first place.

Taking the headline slot once again, Citizen open with ‘The Summer’ and the atmosphere is no longer attentive and calm, but an eruption of bodies and fiery chants. Frontman Mat KerekesĀ laps up the audience’s reception, keeping hold of his microphone on its stand while narrowly avoiding kids diving headfirst off the speakers. The last time they came to the UK it was once again a side show for a slot at a big festival, yet they sound much tighter this time around. Maybe it’s because their sophomore record ‘Everybody Is Going To Heaven’ is nearly two years old at this point, but the switch between that and songs from ‘Youth’ is unifying brilliant.

The Brand New inspired direction for EIGTHĀ is defiant and instrumentally builds up a far more angst driven atmosphere compared to the ‘Youth’ material. It demonstrates a healthy sense of progression and brings the 00’s inspired sound into their own style. The crunchy bass riffs on ‘Cement’ to the half time finale of ‘Numb Yourself’, Citizen invoke raw, unadulterated passion with every track they can possibly fit in. Kerekes even manages to shriek some of the more melodic vocal lines as he gets truly lost in the moment, adding further intensity to their live presence. We’re given a moment to breathe with the introspective, minimalistic cuts of ‘Yellow Love’ and ‘Silo’ before the energy picks up once again.

Ten songs might seem like a fairly short set for a headliner, but on the whole, all three beloved emo acts are on top form and have each played their part in creating a truly memorable night.