LIVE: Enter Shikari / Black Peaks @ Brixton Academy, London

By Adam Rosario

Enter Shikari have been abusing the worthless boundaries of music genres for near two decades now – combining rock, hip-hop, metal, drum & bass and strings, amongst others, sometimes all in the same song. Never staying still or safe, they’ve become one of the UK’s very best bands, with the back catalogue to back it up. Brixton Academy could almost be called an intimate show for them now, after their last few shows of headlining Alexandra Palace, Slam Dunk, and 2000 Trees. 

Opening proceedings are another band who follow Shikari’s mantra of being as interesting as possible. Brighton’s Black Peaks’ combination of mathcore and sky-scraping choruses are very well received. Being the first band to perform on Brixton’s stage in 2019, they’ve set the bar incredibly high. Will Gardner’s singing technique is beyond belief when the man is in full flow. Transitioning between guttural screams and soaring high notes, he’s a front man who demands attention. Through their way too short five song set, Black Peaks rip through ‘Glass Built Castles’ and four songs from latest album ‘All That Divides’. ‘Can’t Sleep’ especially shows off the band’s strengths, with the opening riff sending the crowd into a mass of limbs and screams. Black Peaks are a very special band. A band who should eventually end up headlining this venue themselves, they set the bar – and on any other night, they’d be the band of the night.

As this is an Enter Shikari show, there’s going to be only one winner in the band of the night stakes. Opening with ‘The Spark’ over the PA, the band launch into ‘The Sights’, eliciting the first singalong of the night. Starting with the first song from a new album is never a bad thing, but when Shikari follow that up with the near 10 year old ‘Step Up’ and then the even older ‘Labyrinth’ as a double act, it shows how diverse they’ve been over their whole career. Whilst there’s no quadraphonic sound tonight, like their last headline tours, the sound mix is of a incredibly high quality. The band brought their own speaker stacks with them, increasing the bass, creating a rave like atmosphere. ‘Arguing With Thermometers’ brings the mosh pits before ‘Rabble Rouser’ really brings the rave, with the jungle beats and Rou’s rapped vocals bringing a whole new feel to the party. And that is what Shikari have always thrived upon in a live setting. Mixing old and new songs to bring a new and different feel, every song feels like a new gateway. Instead of sticking to safe set choices, they push boundaries as always.

When ‘Slipshod’ rumbles out of the speakers, the second half of the set really kicks the night into high gear. ‘The Revolt of the Atoms’ brings a real swing feel before breaking down in a triple threat of shortened hits. ‘Gandhi Mate, Gandhi’, ‘Mothership’, and a cover of Faithless’ ‘Insomnia’ mark the absolute high point of the night. The light show hits maximum speed, the bass gets thicker, and the band just look like they’re having the time of their lives. Slowing down with ‘Airfield’ before unleashing new song ‘Stop The Clocks’ – with a big guitar solo from Rory C, it’s possibly the most straight up rock song they’ve ever put their name to, bordering on Britpop. The now infamous Shikari ‘Quick Fire Round’ sounds as fresh as always, mixing ‘Sorry, You’re Not A Winner’ (which gets the best reaction of the night), ‘The Last Garrison’, ‘…Meltdown’, and Reso’s remix of ‘Anaesthetist’ to close the main set. 

The encore, however, houses the best moments of the night. ‘Take My Country Back’ as a solo acoustic song, with just Rou on stage, is spine tingling. In the times of uncertainty we as a people find ourselves in, ‘Take My Country Back’ resonates with the audience for a real lighters in the air moment. Closing the set with ‘Juggernauts’ and ‘Live Outside’, the confetti cannons cover the crowd and end the night on a massive high. Shikari have never stood still, and this Brixton Academy show proves once again that they are in the upper echelon of the UK’s bands. This is a band who should always have been bigger than they are. After sold out nights at arenas and highly rated festival headline sets, Shikari have the attention they’ve always richly deserved. With the most consistent live set in the game today, the sky really is the limit for them.