LIVE: Narrows, Coliseum, Pariso at XOYO London

By Chris Marshman

Following their destructive set at Belgium’s recent Groezrock Festival, Narrows return to London for only their third show in the nation’s capital. Hot on the heels of the release of the seminal ‘Sister Faith’, Coliseum join as main support with London’s own Pariso kicking things off. With all three bands renowned for brutal high energy performances, the trendy foundations of Shoreditch’s XOYO are destined to be shaken.

Despite the comparably late stage times typical for this type of venue, Pariso still find themselves playing to a disappointing smattering of people. Perhaps due to the minimal crowd, the stamina on stage is uncharacteristically lacking. Although making the most of the claustrophobic space on stage, frontman Mario Gambardella appears hushed and introverted in his short monologues to the crowd. This attitude is reflected in the musical performance; the new material sounding sluggish and clunky. Fortunately the more direct older material occasionally brings the performance to life, yet with both an unresponsive audience and band, Pariso struggle through their opening set.

Coliseum may face a similar battle with an unresponsive crowd, especially when trying to encourage responses to Ryan Patterson’s off-kilter banter. The largest part of crowd interaction is reserved for honest ramblings of a love for punk-rock and the ability thereof to change lives. Although occasionally melodramatic, there exists sincerity in his voice which allows for appreciation even if empathy is difficult. Switching between tracks from their back catalogue, the new material sits surprisingly comfortably against the more traditional hardcore songs. Closing the set and delivered at an impressive volume and with abundant energy, ‘Fuzzbang’ threatens to blow the roof off the underground venue (work that one out) and cements itself as one of the stand out moments of the night.

As the lights dim in preparation for tonight’s headliners, it is immediately evident that Narrows balance precariously between perpetual hardcore and hellish menace. Jumping between screams and growls loud enough to deafen the front row, the drawn out drones serve to increase the ominous atmosphere increasingly enveloping the venue. At moments the sheer volume and force of the drum beat begins to dictate the heartbeat. This intensity is magnified by Dave Verellen’s insistency to join the increasing mosh-pit at the front of the stage. Flailing limbs, dives from the stage and repeated screams into the microphone become the norm as the accompanying band members all-but destroy their instruments; Sam Stothers in particular delivers a masterclass in precision drumming.

As Narrows complete their oddly suited encore – hardcore punk at XOYO neither needs, nor adequately facilitates this showmanship – ear drums are burst, bodies are bruised and hearts are pounding. Certainly not a bad conclusion for fifty minutes of work. See you at the fourth show.