“Who were that second band? Shia LeBoeuf? They were cool man, but no really my thing.”
This seemed to be the general sentiment of the crowd towards hardcore legends Shai Hulud at Funeral For A Friend’s last-ever Glasgow show the night before. Despite the efforts of a few diehards desperately trying to get a decent pit going down the front, their reception was decidedly lukewarm. This was thoroughly undeserved, as the band delivered a towering tour-de-force of metallic, punky hardcore, accompanied by a kinetic performance and constant appeals to the lethargic audience by guitarist Matt Fox. Maybe a ‘Final Tour’ crowd is only interested in nostalgia, or maybe Shai Hulud are just too intense for fans of Funeral’s later material.
Regardless, Shai Hulud get their well-deserved chance to shine at their headline show tonight. Back in a tiny venue, with a rogue’s gallery of innovative, fresh local talents, the hardcore heroes remind us all just why they’ve been among the genre’s greats for two decades.
Deceit kick things off in triumphant style with their distinctly Scottish brand of riff-fuelled, nineties-tinged hardcore. They perform the unenviable task of whipping up the handful of punters present as doors open, but their set represents the kick in the teeth necessary to fire up a hardcore show, and the energy they bring to proceedings only increases with every body entering the room. Deceit stand proudly among an innovative generation of Scottish hardcore bands, channeling a range of influences from groups as diverse as Unbroken, Incendiary, and Rage Against The Machine. Yet these influences never overwhelm their own singular vision, and Deceit’s set is chock-full of so many killer riffs, hooks, and chant-along lyrics that they’re guaranteed to get any crowd riled up, as they do so tonight.
Further testament to the range of styles flying around the Scottish hardcore scene in 2016 are Glasgow’s own Number Them. With their furious pace, big, techy melodies, and screaming frontman, they offer a lot for fans of the likes of Heart Of A Coward and Heaven Shall Burn’s heavier moments. It’s not anything especially groundbreaking, but they do exactly what they apparently set out to do, and that’s rile up the steadily increasing crowd. This certainly works in their favour, as they inspire headbanging and fists in the air and a hunger for more.
Yet it would be hard to call Atreides‘ offering more of the same. What they present the crowd with is something that still could be called hardcore, in the broadest sense, but is more a smorgasbord of harsh and smooth, melodic and harsh textures. It brings to mind the creative strokes of such genre-bending heavy bands as Rainfalls, Zoax and Servant Sun, yet packaged in a way that’s totally distinct. Their frontman is something of a John Goodman-esque figure; warm and affable one second, and big and imposing the next: a personification of the band’s multifaceted soundscape. This mastery of diverse and disparate tones, coupled with a talent for writing massive, epic songs, marks them as one of the most interesting bands in the Scottish heavy music scene. But the constant inter-song banter between band and audience members ensures that they remain grounded, likeable, and anything but pretentious. Their next gig can’t come soon enough.
After this showcase of some phenomenal local talents the crowd is at fever pitch and, this time, welcome Shai Hulud with the rapturous applause they deserve. The quintet promptly return the favour, bursting into a high-energy set which gives the local upstarts (some featuring members easily half the headliner’s youngest member’s age) a run for their money. Kicking things off with two choice cuts from their seminal Profound Hatred Of Man (‘Hardly’ and the title track), the audience are in the palm of their had from the first chord. Touring vocalist Matty Carlock is captivating: leaping around the stage, stoking the crowd and passing the mic around during those key shout-along moments.
Band leader and guitarist Fox keeps the momentum up between tracks with his micro motivational speeches and constant expressions of gratitude. It’s a truly kinetic show – there’s barely a moment where anybody on the stage or on the floor is standing still – testament to the infectious nature of Shai Hulud’s unique metal-punk-hardcore chimera. Yet what really sticks in the mind throughout is this band’s absolute dedication to their fans.
Given the tumultuous history of the group, they might be forgiven for being a little cynical. But they leave you with the impression that they’re as genuinely chuffed to be playing here as they were playing their first shows in Florida, or opening up mega-venues for Funeral. This is perhaps best summarised by the fact that they let a fan wrap the show up on mic. Blasting through a favourite song with a favourite band, this kid becomes a symbol of everything that’s great about hardcore – the sense of unity, the humility and gratitude of even the biggest groups, and the killer anthems that you can’t help but raise a fist and chant along to.