LIVE: Don Broco / Bad Rabbits / Lonely The Brave @ Cardiff University [01/12/2013]

By Tom Connick
Photo by Tiegan Neary

The cavernous setting of Cardiff’s Great Hall initially seems somewhat at odds with the scene star status of tonight’s headliners; such is Don Broco’s meteoric rise. Following last year’s rapturously received debut full-length ‘Priorities’, the Bedford four-piece have taken to progressively bigger stages with every excursion, and it is telling that the last time Broco found themselves in the Welsh capital, it was the much smaller confines of Clwb Ifor Bach that played host to their laddish charms.

Seemingly destined to top numerous ‘ones to watch’ lists as the year draws to a close, openers Lonely The Brave have been getting all the right praise from all the right people, but sadly fall flat tonight. Singer David Jakes has the pipes but lacks the persona, parking himself several metres away from the audience, and personifying the reluctant frontman as he barely moves from his spot all evening. While their expansive, latter-day-Thrice-esque sound erupts among the columns of the Great Hall – with EP title track ‘Backroads’ a particularly bombastic highlight – the minimal crowd interaction prevents tonight from further forging the triumphant path Lonely The Brave have spent 2013 carving.

The smattering of bemused faces as Bad Rabbits bound onto the stage with synchronised dance moves and disco vibes is far outweighed by the sheer frivolity of the following half hour. Occupying the funkier side of Don Broco’s musical spectrum, Bad Rabbits are a breath of fresh air in a scene that is often plagued by its exclusivity and ‘rent-a-support’ ethos. Constantly threatening to upstage Broco with their unadulterated good times, by the time the set ends bemusement becomes merriment, and the sea of smiles perfectly sets the scene for the headliners.

Storming onto stage with explosive latest single ‘You Wanna Know’, Don Broco seem in their element, bounding around the enormous stage like Christmas has come early. Frontman Rob Damiani exudes charisma from the get go, every member of the audience eating out of the palm of his hand for well over an hour. The set focuses predominantly on ‘Priorities’ material, though harks back to early-days highlights with the rapturously received ‘Dreamboy’ and ‘Thug Workout’ – the latter of which provoking the now infamous sea of push-ups before the first verse even rears its head. After the briefest of interludes, a sea of crowdsurfers greets the encore of the album’s title-track before the band leave the Great Hall behind, eyes and ambitions still set firmly on the sky.

Given the scale of the venue, tonight’s packed out room hints at progressively bigger futures for Don Broco. Having paid their dues on a myriad of toilet circuit tours, if they can release a follow-up that builds on the successes of ‘Priorities’, there’s no reason they won’t be headlining rooms three times this size in months to come.