LIVE: Lower Than Atlantis @ Watford Colosseum

By Yasmin Brown

As with most hometown shows, Lower Than Atlantis’ performance at Watford Colosseum was always destined to be something special. While it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing, the band hastily moved past any hurdles, putting on a relentlessly energetic and entertaining performance from start to finish.

Main support came in the form of British punk band, Milk Teeth, who kicked the night off with firm instructions that the crowd was to open up into a circle pit, to which they obliged without hesitation. As bodies slammed together, showers of beer drenched our clothes and hair, and fallen fans were escorted back to their feet, it became immediately clear as to what lay ahead for the main event. It wasn’t going to be pretty, but it was going to be one hell of a good time.

As the clock ticked towards 9pm, inflatables began to emerge from the crowd as a direct response to social media requests from the band. Most notably, a giant T-Rex surfed the crowd, miraculously making it through the night in one piece, more than once making its way towards the stage with a human body firmly attached, much to the band’s delight. This comedic and almost ridiculous atmosphere defined much of the night, as between songs, frontman Mike would make quick quips which had the crowd hanging on his every word.

The evening was undeniably entertaining but technically it fell flat. When played live, songs such as ‘Had Enough’, ‘Dumb’, and ‘Far Q’ should be felt as well as heard, but something about the performance prevented the music from coursing through your body, forging a real connection with the music. Thankfully, the almost constant crowd engagement more than made up for this downfall, with Mike jumping into the crowd to join one of the many circle pits or to crowd surf on a number of occasions. When combined with audience members being coerced into downing their drinks before the band themselves followed suit (excess beer spilling down their chins and onto their shirts) it felt more like watching your best friends play their first gig than a professional performance that hundreds of people had paid to attend. We may not have felt a connection with the music, but there was undoubtedly a personal bond formed between everyone in the room.

There were occasions where this bond faltered, though, and the crowd interaction didn’t go quite to plan. You only have to listen to the band’s song ‘Had Enough’ to know that lead singer Mike Duce has a bit of a temper, and as it turned out, not even the joy of a hometown show was enough to mellow him. The rest of the band dispersed, leaving Mike alone on the stage with just an acoustic guitar, which he proceeded into the crowd after instructing us to sit down in a circle around him. What we expected was an acoustic performance of the band’s oldest ballad ‘Another Sad Song’, but when the crowd continued to heckle him, Mike returned to the stage stating that the crowd had ‘ruined it for [themselves]’, and any hopes we may have had of a truly intimate performance were crushed.

While an air of awkwardness swept over the audience, the band returned to the stage, immediately moving on from the disappointment, clearly no stranger to Mike’s outbursts. By the time the last notes of proceeding song of ‘Love Someone Else’ were played, all seemed to have been forgiven as Mike took the time to thank everyone for spending their Friday night with the band before launching into other fan favourites ‘Beech Like The Tree’ and ‘I Would’. These notions of gratitude were scattered throughout, and while they sometimes came across as an afterthought, this went unnoticed by the audience who accepted them graciously.

The night drew to a close with performance of ‘Words Don’t Come So Easily’ and ‘Here We Go’, two of the most popular tracks from the band’s self-titled album. With the end in sight, both band and crowd appeared to find a whole new surge of vitality with which to throw into the last few minutes. With both performances allowing for the crowd to take over from Mike on vocals, they defined the evening and were a perfect choice with which to close the set. Sonic flatness and awkward moments aside, Lower Than Atlantis unquestionably know how to put on a show.