LIVE: Funeral for a Friend / No Bragging Rights / Creeper @ Electric Ballroom

By Tamsyn Wilce

Fourteen years as a band is an achievement on many levels and being known as one of the most hard-working and honest bands the UK has to offer is a reputation not many are lucky to be labelled with. But, that’s what you get when you’re Funeral for a Friend, seven albums in and still touring relentlessly like they did ten years ago, some of the members may have changed but the passion still runs throughout. Tonight the emo-punk masters hit Camden’s Electric Ballroom to flaunt material old and new to a crowd that never gave up on the band many forgot about.

Funeral for a Friend are well-known for bringing new bands along on tour with them and opening the show this evening are a punk band who have been creating quite a buzz around themselves. As their flamboyant frontman jolts around the stage to the thrashing instruments and raucous rhythms, it’s clear why Creeper are swiftly becoming hot property.

Californians No Bragging Rights are next up, both aesthetically and sonically different to the performance Creeper delivered. No Bragging Rights aren’t here for tomfoolery, they’re here to get shit done and make sure every person in the crowd is listening. Performing tracks from 2014’s ‘The Concrete Flower’, their fast-paced hardcore fills the room with angst and distortion, each chorus allowing for a little bounce and crowd action. Many of the anthems on the record have dark meanings behind them and vocalist Mike Perez is very outspoken about such issues, but although it can often be intriguing to hear the tales behind each track, it all got a little too bleak to enjoy. There’s only so many times you can hear about suicide, broken homes and almost killing your friends in a car accident before you start losing sight of what you’re here for, to enjoy the music.

Having spent most of 2013 and 2014 giving in to their long-term fans’ requests of playing their older material, with specialist album shows receiving high praise, tonight was about celebrating how far Funeral for a Friend have travelled in their fourteen years. Now on their seventh studio album with ‘Chapter and Verse’, it’s understandable that the setlist focuses around their recent work, kicking things off with ‘Pencil Pusher’ and tracks featured on 2013’s ‘Conduit’.

Undeniably they can’t get far through a set without bringing up the past, as ‘Streetcar’ and ‘Bend Your Arms to Look Like Wings’ receive the first real cheers of the night. Touching upon some of the issues raised in ‘Chapter and Verse’, frontman Matt Davies-Kreye giving an insight to his lyrical influences for ‘1%’ and ‘The Jade Tree Years Were My Best’ it appears the audience are warming to this album more than they have done previously. However there was something that didn’t quite sit right with their overall performance, it didn’t look as comfortable as usual, some of the sound levels were out and it was a little more than rough around the edges, which is slightly disappointing.

That said, it’s Funeral for a Friend. They’ve been through plenty of shit throughout their time as a band and have never been ones to polish their art so it’s perfect. They like being inconsistent with their sound and sometimes that lack of perfection appears in their live shows. But in true Funeral for a Friend fashion, before any negative thoughts can settle in, the instantly recognisable chimes of ‘History’ echo out and that little shiver runs up the spine, as it always does when you hear over a thousand people chant back that chorus. ‘Roses for the Dead’ is our final dose of energy for the evening, not a single word left unsung by the crowd, the band gives their thanks and appreciation for always supporting them and they leave the stage, the venue lights come on but the crowd refuse to move.

Funeral for a Friend are a band who never do encores, ever. Tonight though, with the fans demanding just one more drop of nostalgia before making their way home, and the band not being ones to leave their fans disappointed, they make an exception to the rule and return once more. As they quickly decide on an unrehearsed, last minute addition they launch into ‘Escape Artists Never Die’ and the atmosphere in the Ballroom becomes electric, with people rushing back in to witness the surprise encore. Bassist Richard Boucher flips himself into the audience for the final chorus and it’s evident that tonight has been unlike any show they’ve played in a while, something the band could not be more thankful for.