LIVE: Holding Absence / Loathe / Modern Error @ The Bodega, Nottingham

By Mark Johnson

If you asked us to design a perfect line up to showcase the exciting, emerging talent of today’s UK alternative scene, we probably would’ve given you tonight’s line up. We shone the spotlight on Loathe and Holding Absence in our Ones to Watch In 2018 shortlist at the start of the year, and we recently premiered the debut video for newcomers Modern Error to help promote and support this exciting up and coming act.

Loathe and Holding Absence recently released their split EP ‘This Is As One’ and while the two may seem disjointed musically, their ethos is very similar. These hardworking, creative, bands have a lot of passion for what they do and when they get on stage, both have an immersive intensity that draws you in.

Before the co-headliners take over Nottingham’s Bodega, we’re privileged to witness Modern Error’s second ever show as a band. They mask their relative inexperience remarkably well, holding the stage with a relaxed confidence that makes them seem like naturals. Zak Pinchin’s harsh vocals are projected well and backed by instrumentation that’s driving and engaging. Their blend of melodic hardcore has a lot of promise and the way they captivate the audience is testament to the band’s huge potential. As they continue to write songs and perform shows, they’re only going to get better, so expect big things from this band in the future.

Loathe’s debut album ‘The Cold Sun’ was one of the highlights of last year, bringing a fresh perspective to post-hardcore with their eerily layered samples and signature tone that’s punishing on record, but even more brutal live. Unfortunately, their set is not without technical difficulties; Kadeem France is relegated to a spectator for the first two songs due to microphone issues and no sooner is this fixed, the guitars drop from the mix, leaving just the newly restored vocals, drums and bass as the predominate sounds.

Though it might not seem so on the surface due to the harsh vocals and heavy riffs, Loathe’s sound is a complex orchestration of various elements that creates a perfect blend of heaviness and melody. When any one of these finely balanced elements is out of flux, it diminishes the full experience. It’s not until the final three songs of the set that the mix starts to do the band justice and as they hit their stride, they’re able to show what they can do. Rising above the difficulties, ‘White Hot’ and ‘Babylon’ are prime reasons why we should all be excited about this band. Those who’ve seen Loathe before know what an incredible live act they can be and will sympathise with the technical difficulties, but for those new to the band’s performance, we’d encourage you to go and see them again to fully appreciate the scale of their genius.

Fortunately for Holding Absence there are no technical gremlins in sight and the band take full advantage, showing just how impressive they are. It’s a bold choice to open with a minimalistic, slow track, particularly in the wake of Loathe’s assault on the senses, but what ‘A Godsend’ lacks in instant impact is made up for by the impeccable tone of Lucas Woodland. The cynics in the room may think the song’s position in the set is a strategic one, allowing him to hit every note before the inevitable fatigue kicks in from the rest of the set, but Woodland’s flawless rendition of ‘Everything’ towards the back end of the set certainly proves that theory wrong. Woodland’s impressive range is a joy to hear on record, but it’s even more impressive live, proving himself to be one of the most special vocal talents we have in the UK at the moment.

To have the majority of the crowd singing back every word is an incredible achievement for a band that still hasn’t released a substantial record yet, and it’s the quality and variety of their song-writing that pulls people in. From the slow tempo of ‘Everything’, to ‘Saint Cecelia’s driving mid-tempo, to the all-out force of ‘Permanent’, Holding Absence cover an expansive spectrum that all comes together into a cohesive package on stage.

Drummer Ashley Green’s intense energy is matched on either side by his highly animated band mates and as they charge through the set, it’s clear that the band love what they do. Off the back of this performance, the crowd are poised for a full release from Holding Absence, and we’re all hoping that such a thing is not far away. Tonight’s show demonstrates the exciting talent that’s emerging from the UK alternative scene and Loathe and Holding Absence are worthy figureheads to lead that charge. This won’t be the last time we see these bands tearing up our stages and it’s going to be exciting to see where they go from here. Wherever that leads, we won’t be far behind.