LIVE: Finch/ Mallory Knox at Brixton Academy, London [22/03/13]

By Lais

Shortly before sitting down to pen this review, an entry on Twitter jumped off the computer screen: “Bands split up. Not many people care. Bands reform. Everyone cares. Shows sell out. Band gets rich. The end.” (Courtesy of @LJBarham)

Reformation is a strong word. Finch have not reformed; they are not set to release a heap of new material, eventually pushing to reclaim the popularity they once knew. For this to happen the band would have to have initially held some high level of popularity – considering their final UK show took place at the now derelict Mean Fiddler it is easy to argue they did not.

On a similar note, the band would have to want a comeback. The lack of new material or press appearances and the comparably short tour suggest otherwise. The cynical side begins to question the motives – it is too easy to jump back to that Twitter quote that so unassumingly passed by; is tonight all about the money?

Prior to this question being answered, Mallory Knox enjoy their biggest break to date. Standing on stage at the packed out Brixton Academy, they play through a number of tracks from their recent debut album. There is little interaction between the stage and the audience, reflected in the minimal reaction from the onlookers. The band are set to one day headline this venue, but for now they are overpowered by the monumental scale of the space and indeed the unrelenting attitude of the audience. Tonight is about Finch – nobody else.

With this notion embedded in the atmosphere, it is the audience who provide the energy as emo-heroes Finch take to the stage. From the outset, Nate Barcalow wears his ambivalence on his sleeve. Although the roaring crowd karaoke cannot help but encourage the odd smile, the majority of the gig sees the band go through the motions. It is clearly a struggle as Nate grimaces before the opening notes of fan-favourite ‘Letters To You’; a track the band have openly condemned since its release.

Interaction with the crowd is strained at best. The “highlight” presents itself when the band members choose to mock Cher’s distinctive tones on club-classic (and wedding playlist stalwart) ‘Believe’. It may only last five seconds, but it’s enough to show the band’s disinterest in their surroundings. Each band members remains rooted firmly to the spot for the remainder of the show, as the frontman spends a disproportionate amount of time with his back to the audience.

Even throwing in ‘New Kid’ and ‘Waiting’ from their debut EP does little to enthuse the band. Only ‘Worms of the Earth’ and the album title track see them pull together into a coherent ensemble – noticeably the two songs that lean closest to the likes of ‘Say Hello To Sunshine’ and their most recent self-titled EP.

Every ounce of energy that generates the atmosphere in Brixton tonight is provided by the audience. If anything tonight shows that ‘What It Is To Burn’ has grown since the band’s demise into something far more revered by the fans than by the band. Since their return Finch have played bigger shows than they ever did the first time around, and now they can seemingly reap the rewards with minimal effort. Frustratingly, Twitter has never been more accurate.