Where: Marrs Bar (Worcester)
When: Sunday 7th June 2015
Promoter: Faithful City Shows
Gigs on Sundays are a bit of a double-edged sword. Live music: good. Being tired and deaf for work on Monday: bad. Still with 250+ people through the doors of the Marrs Bar (making the show a sell-out!), it was nice to see a big crowd turn out to support the local music scene and catch Funeral for a Friend, arguably one of the biggest, most well-known bands to play in Worcester in a long time.
First up on the night were Gloucester’s Still Bust, a punk hardcore band that know their trade like I know the back of my hand. Their punchy riffs and beats had the crowd nodding along straight away, whilst their performance exposed a band with plenty of gigging and touring experience. It would only be fair to say that on the night Still Bust were tighter than a nun’s… well you know the rest! The performance was almost flawless, and it turned out that this opening band were probably the best act of the night, if you consider just how much more experience Funeral for a Friend have on balance. Crowd interaction was also a strength and seeing drummer Niall transport his kit into the middle of the crowd during their last song made for an entertaining, if gimmicky, closer. My ears are still ringing after being 6 inches from his ride cymbal. It’s a shame the atmosphere during this last song was abruptly halted by a stray microphone, but Still Bust picked themselves and the errant mic up and closed with humour and style. Their full throttle performance was characterised by fast riffs, stomping beat downs, and screaming vocals that all combined into a great band worth seeing again and again. Unfortunately you won’t get that chance though, as Still Bust have since stopped playing together in their current guise. Watch this space though, as rumour has it that a new band will be rising out of the ashes of Still Bust like a hardcore phoenix. And if this new band is half as good as Still Bust were, then they’ll be a must see.
I wouldn’t say the same about Korsakoffs. There’s no denying that their brand of part-rock, part-metal was tight, but you’ve definitely heard it elsewhere before, and the blend didn’t always work. Unlike Still Bust there was a distinct lack of charisma and charm on stage during Korsakoffs’ set. If the band had spent all day drinking then they probably shouldn’t have, and if it was all just an act then it was one that fell flat. Their singer (whose name I don’t know, and try as I might I literally cannot find this band on the internet anywhere?!) tried to praise Still Bust, but forgot their name, and failed to realise that the reason the crowd wasn’t full of energy wasn’t because it was a Sunday, but because they were bored by what was ultimately a very average performance full of unearned arrogance. A quick look around the room on the night revealed a thinning crowd and an audience just as interested in talking amongst themselves as looking towards the stage. Korsakoffs played their music very well, but unfortunately it just wasn’t that interesting, and it fell flat behind the rip-roaring start provided by Still Bust. The rock-elements of their music were pretty decent and groovy, but the metal screaming and general crunch was bland, and I know the only thing I’ll remember from that performance in a month or so are the long drawn out sections of guitar FX noise. They finished to a ripple of applause, which the better songs justified, but as one person stood near me said “Just f*** off already!” Perhaps I’m missing something with Korsakoffs, and someone on the night even suggested that they might be a joke band; if that’s true it’s a joke I didn’t get.
The first time I heard Funeral for a Friend was in a tattoo studio the day before the show. You might think that odd considering I’ve played guitar for years, been involved in a few bands, and like to review music, but for some reason they’ve just never been on my radar – until now! The plus side of this, however, is that this put the Welsh band (who have been together in one shape or form for 14.5 years) on a level playing field with the rest of the bands when writing this review. You probably don’t need me to tell you what Funeral for a Friend do, but their post hardcore is characterised by punchy guitar riffs, a mix of shouting and singing, gang vocals, and bouncing beats. They were expectedly professional, playing every bit like a band that’s seen venues worldwide and sold their fair share of records. Singer Matthew Davies-Kreye gave it his all, getting stuck into the crowd (something he said he missed at larger shows) despite his husky and strained voice. The rest of the band loosened up after a while too, but they left most of the moving and shaking to the crowd who responded in kind. Funeral for a Friend’s set was a flurry of fists in the air, mosh pits, beat downs, and professionalism, and you could really believe that they were more comfortable rocking out in a small and intimate venue. Overall it was an hour of relentless riffage and crowd-pleasing classics, with rapturous applause after every precision-played song and the huge crowd dancing like the weekend was just beginning, not ending.
To sum up then, Funeral for a Friend were as you good you as would have expected and hoped: interactive, tight, powerful and full of underrated (when compared to other bands who started at the same time as them) post-hardcore tunes. Still Bust stole the night though, thanks to their energy and punk-hardcore skill, whilst Korsakoffs were what they were, whatever that was. I went in to the venue that night having never heard much by any of the bands before, but I can say without doubt that Funeral for a Friend will be regulars on my Spotify account from now on. As for Still Bust, I’ll definitely see whatever new band those guys put together, but being the best band on a night including Funeral for a Friend isn’t a bad way to go out.
Cover photography by Becky Winter Photography and used with permission. Main body photography by Duncan Graves and used with permission
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