LIVE: Turnstile / Wicca Phase Springs Eternal / Big Cheese @ Rebellion, Manchester

By Liam Knowles

You know you’re in for a solid hardcore show when the venue has the security barriers removed especially for the occasion. Walking in to the venue, Leeds hardcore mob Big Cheese have already started proceedings and their straight-up, no frills hardcore has several bodies moving in the thickening crowd. There may not be anything particularly unique about their music, but Big Cheese are loud and tight and energetic and enthusiastic; everything you could want from an opener for this particular show.

The same cannot be said for Wicca Phase Springs Eternal. Real name Adam McIlwee, this ‘rapper’ left emo sweethearts Tigers Jaw to pursue his hip-hop career – and judging from the pained faces and audible groans in the crowd, no-one can really understand why he bothered. Over the top of some admittedly solid beats, McIlwee delivers one of the most woeful hip-hop performances the world has ever seen. The only explanation is that his half-baked emo lyrics and melodies were rejected by the other members of Tigers Jaw and he’s gone “You know what; I’ll take these lazy ideas and start my own project. You’ll see. YOU’LL ALL SEE!” There seem to be a few people in the audience who are fans, or at least aware of him and the ‘GothBoyClique’ he advertises with a sample in literally every song, but 95% of the crowd go from bemusement to exhaustion fairly quickly; when it’s finally over a tangible wave of relief sweeps the room.

After that abysmal mess of a performance, it would take a very special band to wake up the now lethargic crowd. Luckily for everyone in the room, Turnstile are every bit that band. They’ve barely finished playing the first note of ‘Gravity’ before the stage invasions start and the stage divers fill the air. This relentless crowd energy is matched (if not surpassed) by the band and neither side lets up through the powerful double-hit that comes next; the infectious bounce of ‘Real Thing’ and the blistering hardcore of ‘Big Smile’. The set is a solid mix of old and new material, with fan favourites like ‘Drop’ and the Weezer-esque ‘Blue By You’ nestled in nicely next to ‘Generator’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Be Blind’.

Sonically, Turnstile are pretty much perfect. The drums are thick and punchy with a deafening snare, allowing the natural groove that this band effortlessly exudes to be felt by everyone present. The guitars and bass are crisp and clear, meaning every riff can be heard clearly despite Brendan Yates’ trademark bark hammering out the lyrics along with the ravenous crowd – which is notably and commendably mixed in terms of age and gender. This is truly a band who have every aspect of their sound figured out, and they’re all the more appealing for it.

Bass player / backing vocalist Franz Lyons is celebrating a birthday this evening, so he’s treated to some cake and a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ from his bandmates, crew, and audience, before he takes centre stage to give us one last chance to dance in the form of ‘Moon.’ Bodies launch through the air for the final time, and as the last note rings out and the band leave the stage there isn’t a single person in the room not wearing a Big Smile (sorry) and a swimming pool’s worth of sweat. Hardcore might get a bad rep for taking itself too seriously and being overly macho, but you just can’t say that about Turnstile, who may just be the most fun live band on the planet.