LIVE: While She Sleeps / Stray From The Path / Trash Boat / Landmvrks @ Rock City, Nottingham

By Dave Stewart

A lot of people will tell you that metalcore is dying. They’ll tell you that not only is the genre over-saturated, but that the demand for it is disappearing along with the quality of the music. Some of you might agree with those people. But if you attended any of the dates on the While She Sleeps ‘So What?’ tour, you’d be inclined to disagree. After a few weeks in mainland Europe the tour made its way to UK shores, and the first stop was a packed out Rock City in Nottingham – Sleeps, along with Stray From The Path, Trash Boat and Landmvrks, proved that metalcore and the British scene is very much alive and well.

First to take the stage were Landmvrks, hailing from Marseille, France. The room was pretty full early on, and they took full advantage of the high attendance, getting straight to work whipping the crowd into action. The set they played comprised of heavy hitters from their debut record ‘Hollow’ and their 2018 follow up ‘Fantasy’, with every single note hitting like a wrecking ball. They were so tight and energetic, with front man Florent Salfati darting across the stage and commanding the crowd with ease. They set the bar very high for the night ahead, proving to be the perfect tone setter for what was to come.

Next up was the UK’s own Trash Boat, who on paper would look to be the odd ones out of the evening. Their sound is rooted in pop punk, but they have a lot of hardcore sensibilities that can often be found in the harsh vocals of front man Tobi Duncan. Despite being the least metal band on the bill, the crowd didn’t hesitate to leap into motion for every song they unleashed, particularly for favourites like ‘Tring Quarry’, ‘Shade’ and set closer ‘Strangers’. It didn’t feel as weighty or as tight as Landmvrks, with some of the vocals getting lost behind the big chords and pounding drums, but the crowd didn’t seem to notice and lapped up every second of their set. Everyone needed a well earned breather, and had just enough time to regenerate some energy ahead of what was about to happen.

Stray From The Path have a reputation for bringing their A-game to every single live show they play, and this was certainly no exception. They walked on stage to a wall of noise, with vocalist Drew Dijorio announcing “We stand against racism, and we stand against fascism” before blasting straight into the controversial mammoth ‘Goodnight Alt Right’. The pit had opened up wide before Drew even got to spit his first line, and it stayed open for their entire set. Energy levels hit a new high for the evening, as they continued to direct their firepower straight at the crowd with sledgehammers like ‘Loudest In The Room’, ‘The House Always Wins’ and the frantic ‘Snap’.

The most special part of their set was found in the closing tracks. They announced to the room that they were filming the show and needed to see 50 crowd surfers during the next song, which turned out to be the thunderous ‘Badge & A Bullet’. The barrier was almost completely full of security as the bodies were flying towards the front of the stage from every direction, and continued to do so for the entirety of the song. The band shook the hands of the security and thanked them for their service, which caused the room to erupt into appreciative applause. Then, without warning, they started their final song of the evening, ‘First World Problem Child’. The crowd were almost louder than the band as they yelled the main hook back at the stage, and the breakdown at the end was heavy enough to crack ribcages. The four piece created so much noise, and blew everyone in attendance away. The perfect main support for what was about to happen. The moment everyone had been waiting for.

While She Sleeps have a very unique grasp on their fan base. Everything that they’ve done in the last few years since leaving their record label and doing things themselves, they’ve done stood side by side with their fans, bringing them along every step of the way to where they are today. That connection is hard to replicate, and it was more prominent than ever when they took the stage at Rock City. They opened with ‘Anti-Social’, the first track off the new record, and it was as though everybody in the room knew the words. The volume levels being projected back at the stage were just as loud as the music, and the band were visibly blown away by the response. The entire set was solid gold, with old favourites like ‘Seven Hills’ prompting mass singalongs and mosh anthems like ‘Brainwashed’ stirring the pit into a whirlwind.

All the material they played off the new record was met with just as much adoration as their older songs, if not more so. Both ‘Haunt Me’ and ‘The Guilty Party’ caused the room to burst into song, with front man Laurence Taylor gazing back with a huge grin on his face. Songs from their last record ‘You Are We’ were received incredibly well too, particularly the soaring ‘Empire Of Silence’ and the breakneck bruiser ‘Steal The Sun’. The show stoppers of the set, though, were found in the encore – and what a powerful, mesmerising and emotional encore it was.

When they retook the stage the launched straight into the enormous ‘Silence Speaks’, with every single chorus seemingly vibrating through the entire venue. The melodies and hooks are too addictive to ignore, and the entire room lapped up every single moment. Taylor then took a moment to address the crowd, and made a very sombre statement. He let everyone in attendance know that one of their biggest fans, a young woman named Karen, had lost a fight to illness and sadly passed away recently. He dedicated the entire set to her, and then proceeded to perform the moving ‘Our Courage, Our Cancer’. Some of Karen’s friends were in attendance too, which made the dedication even more special and moving. With just one song left it was clear that most of the onlookers were exhausted, but as soon as they started playing the first notes of ‘Hurricane’ they dug deep and leapt into action for one last frenzy. A stunning and energetic end to a powerhouse of an evening.

While She Sleeps are in a league of their own in the British music scene. If they carry on the way they’re going, they’re going to outgrow venues like Rock City pretty soon and take on much bigger stages. They never disappoint when it comes to the music they release or the shows they perform, with their following seemingly growing in leagues with every passing day. They’re almost singlehandedly ensuring that the metalcore flag stays raised for both the genre and its fans, keeping the flame alive by continuously throwing more fuel into it. If you aren’t standing around that flame yet, don’t worry – it’s growing, and there’s always going to be room to crowd around it. Rock City witnessed an incredibly display of heavy music from some of the genres best. Long live metalcore.