Well, this one was one for the calendar. AlteredSky performing on a Saturday night to their home crowd. The young rock quintet have had an especially busy year and the best way to cap it off is a show like this. With a staggering five bands on the bill and for the princely sum of £10, you were getting your money’s worth. Actually, even if you were there for the headliners, you were getting a bargain.
First on the bill, Take Today aim for a melodic alternative rock sound and with the early stage time, they do exactly what an opening band are meant to: warm the crowd up and set the standard for the rest of the night. With a tight, slick set, they’re a foreshadowing of the night to come as they’re traits every band on the bill shares.
Special guests Beyond Recall bring the first dose of pop punk, the three piece lack a bass player but given my view was obscured, it could well have been supplied digitally via the synthy disco beats. Frontman Zaid effortlessly dominates the stage with his presence without obscuring his bandmates completely, he’s got a great energy and able to connect with fans whilst delivering empowering speeches and songs.
Meanwhile, as another changeover of equipment takes place, I’m refused service at the bar. Why? Because I didn’t have a wristband which stewards were supposedly handing out to prove I was over 18. Which obviously holds more weight to it than my driving license. However, at no point was I asked would I be drinking (which is the norm if venues are using the wristband procedure) and the stewards I did ask knew nothing about it. Undeterred, we go on…
Receiving the loudest reception of the night (besides AlteredSky), Magic Trik try a different tact. Long hair, scruffy, Les Paul, SG, Rickenbacker. It’s glaringly apparent why they receive the support they do as soon as they kick off. Gritty hard rock with classic and bluesy edges immediately hit me and I’m in my element. It’s the thick, rich bass grooves from the Rickenbacker that steals the limelight for me as it provides a tone no other bass can manage. It’s also what keeps the music firmly rooted in that more classic sound, even during the band’s own interpretation of a more raucous “Voodoo Child”. By the time they leave the stage, the band have won over a whole load of new fans and the myriad of t-shirts already worn are vindicated.
Back to a more clean-cut approach, Miami Monroe are another of the night’s bands which has a wealth of support behind them. It’s an incredibly polished set which seems all too short going by the reaction when they announce they’re at the end of the set. For me, it was just a little bit too safe and squeaky clean but a lot of pop punk is like that. Just like every band on the stage tonight, there’s a great energy radiating from them and readily lap up the warm reception they get.
After Green Day’s “American Idiot” gets the teeny-boppers into fine vocal form (don’t hold age against them, they’ll learn in time Green Day had much better material before then), drummer Amy Blair takes her mark, followed out by a plague doctor who acts as an impromptu sparring partner with a few hits of a drum before the rest of the band joins them. Thereafter, frontwoman Ana Nowosielska reveals herself to be the plague doctor to screams of delight.
After a series of near-misses and clashes with other bands, AlteredSky prove within minutes what I know I’ve been missing. Translating perfectly from their debut album, Without Wonderland, the songs find that sweet spot of heavy, guitar-driven rock and a radio-friendly gloss to make some incredibly enjoyably tunes. Opening with “This War is Mine”, the band hammered through the songs from their debut album to a more than appreciative crowd. From the first note to the last, they refused to stop with Ana relying on the music to do the talking and let’s be honest, it’s not often the highlights of a show are the crowd interaction (with the exception maybe being Steel Panther’s incredibly lewd jokes).
With songs like “Apple Tree”, “Bury it All”, and “Live for It”, the band sound exactly as they do on record, be it vocally, guitars in the form of Richard Passe and Ryan Zdrojewski, bass from Ross Archibald or Amy Blair’s drums. The unbridled energy and passion for their own music is unashamedly present and when your songs and band are as good as they are; you’ve earned that right. It’s obvious that a lot of care and preparation has gone into tonight.
It’s a seminal moment for AlteredSky, one not lost on the crowd or the band. During the encore of “Livewire” and “Stupid in the Dark”, the energy from the crowd and the band is taken up another notch – somehow. There’s a definite vibe of the night taking on an “I was there” moment and as the bands depart – grins all around, they’re matched by the fans, safe in the knowledge everyone has had a good night.
All photos by Lara Fullerton Photography