LIVE: Counterparts / Can’t Swim / Chamber @ Waterfront Studio, Norwich

By Yasmin Brown

It’s an unfortunate occasion when support slots are filled by exceptional bands, and yet are somehow met with a lacklustre response from the audience. Tonight, despite incredible talent from all three support acts, this defines the evening until the headliners, Counterparts, take to the stage. 

Tonight, Norwich’s Waterfront Studio is cold – a rarity at a hardcore gig such as this, where you’re usually unable to breathe through the stench of sweat and beer – and as Chamber take the stage, less than a handful of people fill the glaringly empty space in front, as punters choose instead to stand at the back, drink in hand, nodding along nonchalantly. Despite the band’s ample efforts, this feeble energy remains throughout the short set, and seeps sadly into the next performance by main support, Can’t Swim.

Seeming to have purposely chosen to play songs from the heavier side of their discography in order to better appeal to this crowd, Can’t Swim throw all they have into this performance, but aside from a few fans at the front – fans that refuse to let the atmosphere stop them from making the most of this half hour set – the floor remains otherwise empty. It’s clearly uncomfortable for the band on the small stage, whose incredible presence and faultless repertoire of music deserves far more than the reception they receive. A few nervous laughs from front man Chris LoPorto, and a relentless thirty minutes later, Can’t Swim promptly leave the stage with what could easily be construed as relief. It’s a reaction that’s far from reflective of who this band are and what they’re capable of, and we can only hope that the rest of their tour treats them with more enthusiasm and kindness. 

Thankfully, by the time it comes to Counterparts’ turn to to perform to this shambles of a crowd, the energy starts to pick up, with the split between the front and the back of the crowd slowly closing to create a more communal atmosphere. As the band makes their way through the set, chaotic pits made up of flailing limbs emerge and bodies launch themselves aggressively at the barrier, forcibly singing every word. As the atmosphere transforms monumentally, front man Brendan Murphy takes a moment to congratulate the crowd for this extreme Monday night energy, and it finally feels like a hardcore gig as his powerful screams entice the crowd to embark on an evening of pure mayhem.

Despite the nature of Counterpart’s music making it hard to decipher lyrics, tonight’s audience shows their dedication to the band as they continuously partake in singalongs – sometimes coming out louder than the band themselves. Around the venue you’ll find signs politely asking that fans don’t crowdsurf and, as the evening goes on, it’s a rule that’s rebelliously ignored. This behaviour only further instills confidence in the band, whose performance never misses a beat as they move from one song to the next with only a handful of anecdotal intermissions causing any kind of disruption in the chaos that lies both on stage and on the floor. 

Every time the crowd cranks up the energy, they’re only encouraged to do more, and as the encore of ‘Choke’ and ‘Disconnect’ rolls around, fans have gone beyond taking hold of the microphone, instead choosing to crowd surf on stage only to dive off again. Murphy urges the pile of bodies to “take full advantage” during this “last fucking chance”, and oh boy do they do just that. 

As a band that started off their live career in the UK with bands such as Your Demise, it’s humbling to see how far they’ve come on their own merit. To have taken a crowd that started off half asleep and turn them into a crowd to be remembered for years to come is no mean feat and is a true testament to their stage presence, charisma and sheer hardcore talent. The Waterfront may have been cold before, but we’re all walking out dripping with sweat now.