LIVE: RX Bandits/Circa Survive/From Indian Lakes @ The Electric Ballroom

By Ollie Connors

When we arrive just as From Indian Lakes are beginning their set, we fear the worst as the ample space the Electric Ballroom provides is sparsely populated. Tonight’s co-headliners comprise of a band who have been relegated to side-project status latterly in favour of their vocalist’s reunion with his former band, and a band whose last record, their first in five years, was barely met with a “hurrah”. Is this venue too ambitious for these bands? That will become apparent later, but for those who have descended on the Ballroom early, From Indian Lakes do a competent job of warming up those that have arrived early.

FIL have a musical styling more in keeping with Circa Survive than they do RX Bandits their forward-thinking, progressive post-hardcore style complimenting that of tonight’s penultimate act. However, as well as they fit with Circa Survive as a support act, their performance tonight is rather underwhelming, as amongst their number they boast a potent tool in vocalist Joey Vanucchi, but with the more ambient material played tonight, this element is predominately a whisper rather than a wail. It’s worth the audience’s while to get sucked in by the tranquil passages of FIL’s material, as when they let loose it’s really quite something to witness, but we can’t help but think Vanucchi would be far better employed fronting something a little more bombastic.

However, whereas From Indian Lakes have around the same impact as a mouse’s fart, the same absolutely cannot be said for the fantastic performance of Circa Survive. By this point fears of a meagre attendance had been put to rest as the room fills out for this rarer-than-rocking-horse-poo performance by the Philadelphians, and as heavenly-voiced vocalist Anthony Green appears, it becomes eminently clear that most in the room are ravenous to eat out of the palm of his hand.

Components from all elements of their discography are covered in an exhaustive set, and tracks from most recent record “Descensus” sound magnificent, guitarist Colin Frangicetto displaying the kind of masterclass in tone that any axeman can learn a thing or two from. Green is just as grateful of their rapturous reception as the crowd are to see the quintet, and after many thanks, a thunderous rendition of “Get Out” closes the set on an emphatic exclamation point. The frenetic applause of tonight’s performance may well be as a result of the old adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but tonight, Circa Survive’s atmosphere-scraping sounds felt titanic. The UK loves you – don’t leave it so long before your next visit, gents.

Whereas the preceding set had a timeless quality to it, tonight’s headliners RX Bandits are unable to recreate the feeling of being just as essential today as they were 10 years ago. Perhaps the (significantly depleted following Circa Survive) crowd don’t necessarily feel that “relevance” is a quintessential quality in what is for many a “nostalgia” gig, but the Californians sound very dated indeed. Their soundclash of ska-punk riffs and off-kilter, quirky guitar effects loses its appeal quickly, and Punktastic’s mind starts to wander towards an early night as what’s on stage fails to provide an adequate distraction from bed on a Thursday. RX Bandits were always going to have a difficult job following their chosen support but their damp squib of a set feels like a drab main course after a delicious starter. They may be called the “Bandits”, but in our mind, there’s only one band that’s stolen the show tonight.