Hands Like Houses plus I, The Mighty and Dead!
Venue: O2 Academy Islington, London
Date: 3rd June 2016
Hands Like Houses have quickly risen to a significant status in the alternative rock world in the past year or so. Whilst they may not be a household name yet they’re definitely still killing the game. The band released their third album ‘Dissonants’ earlier this year, and what better way to promote a new album than touring? Sadly, we missed our train so we unfortunately didn’t get to see the support acts, but Hands Like Houses’ performance at the O2 Academy in Islington made up for it completely.
I hadn’t seen Hands Like Houses live since I saw them supporting Pierce The Veil in Brighton in 2013 and was dying to see how their stage presence back then compared to present day. One thing that I’ve never been able to fault about the band is their energy. From all members bouncing in unison to Joel Tyrrell wildly swinging his bass around his body like a hula hoop to Trenton Woodley stage diving into the crowd during ‘Introduced Species’, Hands Like Houses clearly put their hearts and souls into giving the audience the best possible experience they could have. Their vivacity was quickly adopted by the crowd, who were going absolutely mental from what I could see up on the balcony, whether that was through jumping in time with the beat, screaming the lyrics back in the band members faces or even through opening up a pit every now and then. A spectacular upside to the gig was that the fan base was so mature. I don’t mean in age per se, but more in the way that there were no hysterical fan girls screaming “I LOVE YOU!!!!” continuously in between songs or people freaking out about you pushing past them in order to get a better view. In fact, a lad saw me lingering behind him and kindly let me squeeze in next to him so that I could get a proper look at the stage (shout out to you, thoughtful dude). It’s the crowd that can make or break a show for me, and this crowd more than made it.
A band that understands the urgency of audience interaction is a band that deserves to be in it for the long run. Bands that only speak to the crowd to say “thank you, this song is called ___!” piss me off more than anything. If fans have paid money to go and see you, regardless of the price, put some kind of effort into showing them that you appreciate them travelling to see you play! Hands Like Houses immediately thanked the crowd after they’d played a couple of opening tracks and announced that the show had officially sold out ten minutes before they’d sauntered on stage, which heightened the atmosphere even further (which had seemed unimaginable at that point). Frontman, Trenton was so down to earth; he told random, short anecdotes throughout the show and even briefly explained the meaning behind a few of the tracks, including ‘Glasshouse’, where he stated “this song is about the dark places in my head”.
There’s nothing worse than expecting a band to sound phenomenal but then realising the moment that they start playing that they must have hired the best producer possible to make their albums with, because, surprise! Your ears have just been catfished. Thankfully, this is far from the case with Hands Like Houses. Trenton’s vocals are astounding, with his vocal range sounding much larger and more powerful than I expected, Matt’s drumming being the perfect mix of loud and impactful yet not dominating and the guitars and bass all complimenting each other wonderfully. Everything blended into one, but nothing was drowned out in the process.
As for the set list – impeccable. The band opened with ‘I Am’, the first single released from ‘Dissonants’, then continued with ‘Colourblind’ and ‘New Romantics’, a couple of personal and crowd favourites. They then hit us all with a throwback Hands Like Houses classic, ‘Lion Skin’. I was secretly a little gutted that they didn’t play ‘Don’t Look Now, I’m Being Followed, Act Normal’ or ‘Antarctica’, but this was the Dissonants World Tour, not the Ground Dweller Tour, so I sucked it up. The songs were all extremely well chosen, as they all transitioned into each other perfectly – the band had complete power over the atmosphere they’d wanted to create, something I’ve found a lot of bands (shockingly) cannot do.
From start to finish, my eyes never left the stage, I was always nodding my head, fully engaged and never once let my mind wander. Boredom wasn’t an option here. I enjoyed the show so much that it was over in what felt like fifteen minutes, when the band were probably on the stage for approximately an hour in reality. Time flies when you’re having a kick ass time. The only downside to the night is that the moment the band strolled off stage, security forced everyone out of the venue as quickly as possible so that they could prepare the club night that was occurring afterwards. Here’s hoping Hands Like Houses hurry back soon, because I’ve had their music on non-stop repeat since that night.
You can check out my review of ‘Dissonants‘ here.
You can also read our interview with Hands Like Houses at last year’s Download Festival.