LIVE: Heck / Black Peaks / Bad Sign / This Be The Verse @ Boston Music Room, Tufnell Park

By Christopher Lee

What’s better than witnessing the chaos of a Black Peaks and Heck co headline gig? Seeing it unfold two nights in a row is what. The first time I saw a Heck gig was back in 2014 when they went under a different name, a baby version of a well-known Japanese created giant creature if I remember correctly. Over two years down the line and their name may have changed but their enthusiasm for standing everywhere in a venue whilst playing their guitars certainly hasn’t. Black Peaks on the other hand are a band that I was introduced to earlier in the year when they supported the mighty Deftones at Wembley arena. That night they certainly made a few new fans and I’m excited to see how they deliver to the somewhat more intimate venue of the Boston Music Rooms.

But before all that we also get a couple of supports across the two nights, first up we’ve got London based industrial rockers This Be The Verse, having played a number of gigs across the capital including Camden Rocks festival, the band now find themselves on their first fully fledged tour. Whilst the influence of Nine Inch Nails and The Dillinger Escape Plan are very obvious here these guys are out to show that they can mix it up with the best of them. With a sound as loud as anything you’ll hear for a while, the drum heavy ‘Consequences’ and brutal riffs of ‘Stubborn Youth’ are for me the stand out tracks in what is a very polished performance. Which or may not include a Triple H style water spray from their drummer (if you are or were a wrestling fan at any point you’ll know exactly what I mean) and front man Cyrus King ending the set atop a speaker tower, obviously touring with Heck is rubbing off on him. With an album out next month these guys may just be on to something here.

The second of our openers are South London three-piece Bad Sign, having been around since 2012 they’ve previously toured with the likes of Skindred and While She Sleeps and somehow manage to produce a sound more fitting of a much bigger outfit. With their hard hitting riffs and singer Joe’s melodies they remind me of early Alexisonfire but that probably doesn’t do them justice. With powerful lyrics and a promise of no nonsense, I’m not sure they actually fit into a genre as such. We’re treated to a new track in ‘intermission’ along with the incredibly heavy ‘Rebuild’ and equally hard hitting ‘Father’ during a set which hits all the right notes in getting the room raring to go for the upcoming spectacle. The lads definitely have a busy month following up this tour with a support slot for Feed The Rhino and then heading to Sheffield for the inaugural Festivile along side Astroid Boys and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, keep an eye out for this lot.

Now for the main events and having gotten fairly wrapped up in the chaos of the first night I decided that I’d take a step back for the second so that I’d have something other than bruises and scars to tell you about, our photographer on the other hand wasn’t so lucky putting her body on the line to get some great pics. What this means is that first up are Brighton progressive hardcore group Black Peaks who are currently touring just about everywhere since the release of critically acclaimed album ‘Statues’ earlier in the year and we’re about to find out just why that album was so successful. Opening with ‘White Eyes’ they kick off with blistering pace to a packed room of people singing voices every word back and a sea of hands in the air before the centre of the room explodes into one big mosh pit when those riffs hit. They follow this up with an older number, ‘Closer to the sun’ which actually turns out to be the only track not from ‘Statues’ but with an album that good who can blame them? Singer Will seems to be having a wonderful time up there addressing the crowd he tells them “I’m having a f**king great time, this is sick” before the heavy bass of track ‘Drones’ kicks in and everyone’s back to the mosh.

We get polished performances of both ‘Saviour’ and ‘Set in Stone’ before Will jokes that this is the “Last song… off the album” which the crowd find rather funny and the band launch into ‘To take the first turn’ which featured Jamie Lenman on the album version. Now we’re heading towards the end of a set which has been absolutely spot on. For most of the set the entire floor from front to back has been one giant pit but that doesn’t stop Will stoking up the crowd one last time proclaiming “Let’s open this sh*t up, you’ve got one more chance” ending on what is my favourite and the opening track from the album ‘Glass built castles” After seeing these guys carry their sound through a venue as big as Wembley Arena and now a much more intimate one in the Boston Music Room it’s evident that these guys are destined to rise up the ranks very quickly indeed.

Last but certainly no means least are Heck, now if you’ve seen these guys before you’ll know what to expect before you even start reading this. I’ll admit that before I took this on I had no idea how exactly I was going to put into words just what an experience a Heck gig is but here goes… The band take to the stage and you’d be forgiven for thinking the crowd were somewhat scared, other than those who are already a sweaty mess there’s a big gap in the middle of the room with the majority hanging back, probably to protect themselves from what’s to come. This doesn’t last long however with Matt asking “What’s this big gap about? Everyone come forward, there are no safe places! All you people at the back we will come and find you” before launching into ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’ and initiating instant chaos with a giant pit opening where that big gap once was.

There’s a brief respite and Jonny asks “Why are you all here? We love this thing that is happening right now” before leading the crowd in chants of “Yo ho, yo ho” jumping straight into the older number ‘Powerboat disaster’ with Matt playing his part by immediately moving his mic stand to the centre of the pit and playing out the rest of the track surrounded by a circle pit of bare chests and long sweaty hair. These guys provide an immersive gig experience which could almost be labelled as ‘Hardcore in the round’ with tracks ‘Mope’ and ‘The Breakers’ coming and going amid Jonny kicking a few punters off a table which he requires to play on and a constant mosh pit in the middle of the room.

By the time we get to the opening track from album ‘Instructions’ the band are literally having to instruct the crowd to hold their mics as one microphone stand has gone walkabout and we’re treated to ‘Good as Dead’. Into the closing stages of what has quite literally been a whirlwind of a gig and Matt has decided he’s going to play ‘The great hardcore swindle’ atop of the bar with one brave fellow still ordering his pint whilst the staff look on not really knowing what to do. We end on ‘I see the old lady decently’ which includes a wonderfully serene moment part way through involving the band having everyone take a seat whilst they play a beautiful instrumental section (Matt’s still on top of the bar) before ending the night in typical Heck fashion with Jonny stood on the merch stand at the back of the room half on Bad Sign’s Joe.

What I’ve learnt from these two nights are simply put Black peaks prefer to orchestrate their chaos from the stage unlike Heck who literally don’t give a sh*t where they are, the stage, the bar, the venue floor, a wheelie bin, on top of a pile of amps! The list could go on forever. However In between the chaos songs such as ‘powerboat disaster’ and ‘good as dead’ shine through as being spectacular! Does the spectacle take away from the musical performance aspect? Not for me… keep up the good work lads.
Chris Lee