LIVE: Pianos Become The Teeth / Milk Teeth / Hindsights @ Scala, London

By Ben Tipple

It’s been a while since Pianos Become The Teeth’s arguable transformation. What carried the potential to divide their live performance between the old and the new has now all but dissipated, leaving a band with a clear identity. Although atmosphere has always played a vital role in the band’s sound, the Baltimore five-piece are now, more than ever, a spine-tingling powerhouse.

It’s an atmosphere matched in setting, with the multi-tiered Scala providing a dimly lit, ominous backdrop. Slower material by opener Hindsights fits the mood better, with vocalist Benio Baumgart showcasing his frontman abilities following the band’s expansion to a five-piece. It’s a move that nudges Hindsights a little closer to pop-rock territory, either inadvertently or deliberately, and leaves them a little overblown in comparison to tonight’s main event. Yet a new lease of life is evident, and it ultimately feels like a step up as well as across.

Milk Teeth present themselves as an entirely new beast with their assured confidence and thrilling on-stage spectacle. Co-vocalist and guitarist Josh Bannister addresses the crowd with a hedonistic grin, unsettling and mesmerising in equal measures. Even as he trips off stage, the remaining members continue with a brazen attitude that reeks of success. The songs sound heavier, the drumming nothing less than manic. Had there been any risk of Milk Teeth being written off as yet another grunge revivalist act, it is now long done. This is a beast all its own.

Pianos Become The Teeth enter the stage under a haze of blue lights and smoke. The dense atmosphere envelops the room as they launch into ‘Hiding’, the most notable starting point in their transition. Their hardcore influences shine through, particularly in drummer David Haik’s forceful, thunderous beats that echo around the venue. With only two songs appearing from ‘The Lack Long After’, the crowd seizes all opportunity to unleash the emotion, throwing themselves towards the front barrier.

It’s the end of a tale of transformation for Pianos Become The Teeth, yet tonight indicates the cleverly placed and self-imposed limits. Far from a reinvention, the likes of ‘Repine’ and encore track ‘Say Nothing’ showcase more ferocious emotion than many traditional hardcore bands achieve. There’s an intoxicating heavy beauty in what Pianos Become The Teeth have created. The occasional microphone related technical issue aside, tonight exemplifies the stunning clash of light and dark.


*Photo not taken at the Scala