A show that will stick to memory for anyone who attended!
Stick To Your Guns plus Stray From The Path, Counterparts and Wolf Down
Venue: The Camden Underworld, London
Date: 17th February 2016
When a band decides to play a certain album in its entirety, there is a certain buzz and the shows are always packed full of super-fans for the special event, not the occasional listeners who are mostly there for the singles or “popular” tracks. On this occasion, Stick To Your Guns decided to play two London shows at the humble Camden Underworld venue, one night for the album ‘Diamond’, then the next night would be ‘Disobedience’. We decided to go to the earlier of the two albums to see how well the older material held up. The Orange County lads were joined by rowdy New Yorkers Stray From The Path, German hardcore outfit Wolf Down and Melodic hardcore act Counterparts.
Wolf Down recently released their album ‘Incite & Conspire’, and to kick off the night, the Germans opened with ‘Barricade Fever’ as the intro from that album, swiftly followed by the opening track ‘Against The Grain’. Wolf Down reminded fans of some older material as they unleashed ‘Renegades’ before going back to songs from the new album. The quintet admitted to being openly opinionated and that their tracks have real meaning, for example, ‘Flames Of Discontent’ was a full on protest against capitalism. The strongly vegan band also shared their views on eating meat and changing the world with ‘Torch of Reason’.
Each song featured everything we have come to expect from Wolf Down musically, the deep chugs and breakdowns, the riffs and 2-step inspiring grooves and the now much deeper vocals provided by Dave, as Larissa’s replacement. These were all responded to rather well by the early fans, the floor was quite packed out but there was still enough room for the mosh pit antics you normally see at hardcore shows. The 2-steps, arm flailing and spin kicks were sporadically unleashed and gradually became more intense throughout the set.
This was a setlist dominated by tracks from the new album, but the odd older track still appeared. Still, it was brave of the lads to play mostly new material from an album that was released barely two weeks prior to the show. Maybe it was to advertise the new album strongly, or it could have been a way to signify that with a new vocalist, they are a new band. What was great about this decision was that it worked well, the new tracks went down incredibly well with fans and Stick To Your Guns‘ vocalist Jesse Barnett even came out to add some shouts to title-track ‘Conspire’, which created a massive buzz in the crowd.
The anthemic Wolf Down track ‘Stray From The Path’ was played to end the set and the scenes in the crowd were as wild as you would expect, with incredibly violent pits. What was a plus was Dave sounded as if he had been Wolf Down’s vocalist for years, even if his roaring shouts contrasted with Larissa’s rather screechy vocals. It was a great start to the evening, and it must have been a huge confidence boost to have such a full looking room for an opening act.
Counterparts were up next and the excitement in the room grew rapidly, the floor was more packed out and even after a great reaction for Wolf Down, the Counterparts fans triggered a huge wave of energy that rarely let up for the rest of the evening. The Canadians opened with ‘Stillborn’, the first track from their most recent album ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ and from that moment the set was full of sing-alongs and crazy antics. Plenty of fans took the opportunity to get to the stage to either jump off it or grab the microphone to sing along. Every song received huge cheers and created an incredible atmosphere. Counterparts rotated through albums, every other track was from ‘Tragedy Will Find Us’ as well as tracks from ‘The Difference Between Hell and Home’; ‘Compass’ and ‘Witness’ really stood out, with incredible roars as soon as they started. ‘Stranger’ was dedicated to the mosh warriors as it was one of the heaviest songs in their set, full of some of the harshest breakdowns heard all night.
The Ontario lads reminded us they had been at The Underworld on a headline tour just a few months before this show (we covered the Tunbridge Wells show on the same tour), and frontman Brendan Murphy was happy to see that a few fans came back to the see them again so soon. It was quite nice to see that Counterparts were quite mellow between songs, that they could be so full of energy during every song and full of angst in performances, but as soon as the songs stopped they were the nicest guys. I remember their tour a few months back and I was left a bit dumbfounded, I enjoyed their set but I wasn’t too inspired. This time around I was captivated by everything from the performance to the crowd reactions – I lost count of how many people actually flew off the stage. I was left wondering why I don’t listen to Counterparts more. Quite frankly I was blown away at the contrast from a good set and a phenomenal set.
Stray From The Path were the least straight up hardcore act on the bill, but that didn’t matter as their mashup of funky rock and hardcore punk – which sounds like the love child of Rage Against The Machine and early Gallows – was quite breathtaking. The New Yorkers opened with ‘The New Gods’ from the 2015 album ‘Subliminal Criminals’ and the moment the whiny guitar tone started, the venue erupted into a huge roar. Then out came the vocalist to unleash his shouty raps along with a barrage of voices from the audience copying him word for word. There was an incredible reaction to Counterparts, but for Stray From The Path, somehow that was just blown out of the water; the crowd was unbelievable. It was astonishing to see that every person in the room responded with louder shouts, jumping around and waving their arms about even more than they were doing for previous sets.
Stray From The Path were just as opinionated as Wolf Down, stating they are not an Instagram band, they don’t care about their image, they hit stages because they have a message and pretty much every song had one! ‘D.I.E.P.I.G’ tells you all you need to know in the title. The biggest message of the night was about the Paris attacks a couple of months back, dedicating ‘Shots Fired’ towards every person that lost their life and was a victim of terrorism. For a moment things got emotional, but as soon as the song started, that emotion went right into the performance and the response to it.
The set was strongly full of material from the most recent album, with just a couple of tracks from their 2013 release ‘Anonymous’. ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Badge And A Bullet’ had some of the best reactions of the night, with the latter definitely imprinting a visual in my head for a long time – the vocalist was crowd surfing near the front and the words ‘YOU ARE NOT ABOVE THE LAW’ rang around the entire venue before the craziest pit exploded on the floor. It was a beautiful sight of carnage. Just like with Counterparts, the stage dives didn’t stop. You could have made a compilation video from all the best and worst ones, from the incredible flyers to the most cringe-worthy fails. Without a doubt this has been one of the best sets I have seen since the Turnstile set last year.
Last up, of course, it was Stick To Your Guns. In the build up to this show I listened to ‘Diamond’ for a few days to refresh myself with the lesser played songs. I analysed it for “big moments” that I wanted to look out for when these songs were performed. There are a hell of a lot of big gang vocal segments that I knew would just be screaming for a wild crowd. I will tell you now, I was not disappointed at all. From the get go, the sample of a man talking about leaders and psychology in the album intro built all the anticipation that was needed before the band even hit the stage. The riffs started and then “I KNOOOOW”, the first words of the track just echoed all around me, followed later by the huge line “This is my life and this life is my diamond”. It was merely seconds into the set and bodies were flying off various surfaces, from the stage to the side bannister (you can see from the footage below). I hadn’t seen sights like this since the Terror show at the Underworld last year.
The songs from ‘Diamond’ were performed in album order, and the form didn’t drop at all with relentless singing along in every song, it was obvious that each track was designed to create the best live atmosphere. The “Whoahs” in ‘Against Them All’ and the the “MY ONLY ENEMY IS ME” line in ‘Such Pain’ were far more impressive than I was expecting. The riffs and the breakdowns created all kinds of violence in the pits – it was amazing to watch. The catchy chorus of ‘We Still Believe’ was incredibly hooking and it was great to hear songs like ‘Bringing You Down’ and ‘Beyond The Sun’ get played. Vocalist Jesse Barnett was amazed that after all the antics he had seen the crowd pull off during the previous bands, that they had any stamina left. He then went on to continue the theme of outspoken bands and demanded “maximum stage dives for Paris.” It was safe to say, the crowd didn’t need much more encouragement.
Towards the end of the ‘Diamond’ songs, the second title track, ‘D(I AM)ond’ – which is a sort of reprise for the intro – was dedicated to a recent ex of Barnett’s, and he admitted right now was a tough time but the support of the band and playing music at shows like this were a great way to help him. Once again it was emotional but the atmosphere in the room intensified and it reflected on all the scenes I could witness; you could hear the angst in everyone’s voices. ‘Built Upon The Sand’ finished off the album perfectly and Stick To Your Guns ended up walking off stage for a few moments before coming back on to play an encore. The fans that stuck around got to hear ‘Nobody’ and ‘Nothing You Can Do To Me’ from ‘Disobedient’ and then ‘What Goes Around’ and ‘Amber’ from ‘The Hope Division’. All of these songs received the same incredible response that the ‘Diamond‘ songs did; once again it was quite breathtaking to witness all of the singing and carnage in the pits.
I am still taken aback at everything I saw at this show. To see fans react so passionately just makes any show a million times better. A 10/10 rating is an understatement as this has been one of the best shows I have been to in my lifetime of shows. Every band put on 110% and so did the fans – everything just clicked perfectly.
Stick To Your Guns
Stray From The Path