Kilmarnock’s Twin Heart kick things off in phenomenal style with their intoxicating brand of alternative rock. From the first chord the trio’s energy is nothing less than electric. The band leap and launch themselves across the stage, perfectly personifying the big, sweeping melodies and bristling, punky angst of their music. This exuberance only becomes more pronounced as Twin Heart take the transfixed crowd on a tour of the diverse musical elements at their disposal. A capo on the guitar brings a threat of Against Me!’s softer moments to their sound, there’s a definite Scottish rock influence in their bigger grooves, and the juxtaposition of their frontwoman’s singing and the backing growls of the bassist and drummer show a mastery of both smooth and harsh textures. Their guitarist and vocalist, Dawn, is integral to the band’s live show: a powerful yet utterly charming presence who really connects with the audience (dedicating a particularly heartfelt number to her under-the-weather cat really struck a chord with us). In the increasingly crowded Scottish rock scene Twin Heart really are a standout act.
Things take a darker turn as London tech-metal mob Derange ascend the stage. Unfortunately, real problems with the sound (which, it must be stressed, are pretty much unheard of in this venue) dampen what would have been a sucker punch of an opening, rendering vocalist Cat all but inaudible for most of the first song. But they quickly bounce back, thanks to just how good they are as a live band. Derange channel the 21st-century goth of the likes of New Years Day and the technical prowess of groups such as The Agonist and blend it with a brooding, powerful djent undercurrent. They feel a hell of a lot heavier live than on record: the low-end grooves punishing, the riffs gargantuan, and the vocals by turns soaring and demonic – testament to Cat’s talents as both a singer and screamer. Their live presence is big and imposing, an embodiment of their leviathan sound. But the consequence of this is that their softer moments, a welcome respite on the disc, feel somewhat misplaced here, and some members of the audience, who are perhaps unaccustomed to a show this extreme, seem disengaged (or maybe intimidated). That said, Derange are definitely one of the most relentless, creative, and vital acts to have emerged from the English metal circuit in recent years. In front of a straight-up metal crowd they would go down an absolute storm – here’s hoping a Glasgow promoter gives them that opportunity very soon.
There’s a tangible excitement in the air as Servant Sun launch into their spectacular headline set. It’s not like this has been a mellow night up to this point, but from the off the atmosphere in the room is just phenomenal. If their new EP, Hundred Waves, is a monument to their talents as songwriters then tonight’s performance is affirmation, if it were ever needed, of their talents as showmen. They spend the whole set charging about the stage while belting out impossible vocal notes, ferocious bass grooves, frantic beats, and guitar licks which should really come with fire safety warnings. But what’s really impressive is their mastery of the varied palette of textures at their disposal. Their music is riffy and punchy one moment, and sparse and considered the next: creating an ebb and flow of contrasting moods which other bands might struggle with.
But not Servant Sun: the energy levels remain high throughout, and every note of their set is utterly captivating. Which is just as well, as this is the first proper hometown airing of Hundred Waves. And it goes down an absolute storm. ‘Misgiver’, with its euphoric earworm of a riff, the Danzig-tinged ‘Taste of Silver’, and the simultaneously oppressive and uplifting ‘Cold House Collapse’, not to mention the tremendous title track, all receive a rapturous response. But it’s early single ‘Prism’ that’s the real crowd-pleaser. With its big singalong chorus and ‘dance pit’ potential, it’s the reaction to this well-deserved encore that really offers a glimpse of what the future holds for the band.
Twin Heart support Fort Hope at Glasgow’s King Tut’s on 12th May.
Derange play Derbyshire’s Bloodstock Open Air in August.
Servant Sun support Tides From Nebula and Poly-Math at Glasgow’s Audio on 10th May.