Gig Review: The Ocean & This Will Destroy You / Nathan Fake – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (3rd October 2023)

In the early 2000s, The Ocean and This Will Destroy You were born. Both bands originally started off as post rock, with both branching out to explore other ways to blend the genre and make some unique music. From there we’re brought to today, in the cold and grey Nottingham, where the two bands are co-headlining a UK tour together.

Nathan Fake (c) Jayne Slater

The opener tonight came in the form of Nathan Fake. Nathan is a UK born electronic instrumental artist who blends house and synths to create his unique sound. It was hard to judge something like this as it’s so left field to what I’m used to. I’m used to mosh pits and trying not to die, where as tonight, it was all about the vibe and people calmly swaying to the music.

Watching Nathan, it made me feel like I was watching a DJ set. All he had on stage was a desk and laptop, and his fiddly gadgets to help him along. The entire time his eyes remained on the laptop, which did make the stage lack a bit of energy. Though I can’t imagine it’s easy being a soloist whose music is electronically generated (as his is). I did think to myself that, due to the lack of movement he can allow himself, it would have been great if there was more thought into the stage design. Things like wardrobe, and more of a light show or projectors.

People among the audience were feeling the music and absolutely surrendering to the vibe of Nathan’s work. I could see their heads bobbing and hands tapping as the beats would build. As his set wrapped, he was met with a cheer and claps from the audience (of which was slowly growing in size).

One thing to note about today was that the doors opened at 5:45pm…this I became aware wasn’t common knowledge after I was sat waiting for the next band to come on and heard people behind me exclaiming “if [they] knew it started early [they] would’ve tried to get here sooner”. I could only feel sympathy, after I had the paranoia to check the doors time the day before and then panicked for 5 minutes wondering if the parking on the street in Nottingham I use would be free that early (it was – WOO).

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This Will Destroy You (c) Jayne Slater

The lights cut and with an ominous energy came out This Will Destroy You. Formed in Texas in 2004, the band has a post rock sound that has even seen them composing for feature films, documentaries and art installations. Immediately, the audience was taken by the atmosphere of these guys. Starting off their tracks with delicate guitar solos and booming into heavy post rock, the band was mesmerising.

My notes on Nathan Fake were perfectly exemplified here, TWDY didn’t simply just walk on stage and play something that captivated people, they had lights to match. It felt like watching a light show and with the smoke machine doing it’s thing, it made the entire stage feel full and busy. The members couldn’t move due to massive stands in the way, but this was hardly noticed as the energy they brought just by being together and having the lights emphasise the music being played distracted you from what they were doing and instead brought attention to the sound all on it’s own. The band themselves were feeling it, banging their hands and swaying their bodies with each strum of the guitar and each beat of the drum.

By this point, the venue had become full and busy. People lining front to back, nodding and dancing to the music. With only two songs left, the band gratefully thanked the fans who had come out to see them. The band left the stage to cheers from the pit below.

As always when it’s time to turnover the stage, I catch myself looking at the audience and seeing what type of people these bands bring out. It was probably the first time in a while I’d seen a true mix of all ages. I was surprised to see no MOGWAI or Sigor Ros shirts (a comparison I’m sure TWDY have never heard of).

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The Ocean (c) Jayne Slater

The room became black and on came The Ocean to the sound of a very eager crowd. The band is often referred to as a collective, as with their abundance of a 20 year career, they have also seen many members come and go during their exploration of sound and style. Formed in Germany by the guitarist and songwriter, Robin Staps, the band have released their 14th album (if we include the lives and EPs), Holocene, this year.

The German band came on, immediately getting into the swing of things. The crowd were singing along to the lyrics word for word and the barrier was even fuller than before. The band were losing themselves to the music, with the vocalist swaying with each bass thrum.

Now I should say, I listened to some of this band’s songs before this gig, yet somehow…I only managed to listen to the songs before they had a vocalist. I assumed tonight would be a post rock instrumental type deal…so when the vocalist, who I didn’t even realise they had, started to do some harsh vocals, it’s quite easy to guess I just stood there stunned. It makes me wonder about the line up for this gig. It seemed like such an odd combination to have a house electronic instrumentalist open, a post rock band headline and then a metal/post rock band also headline. I think it’s open-minded to introduce your audience to more sounds and artists they never would’ve otherwise heard of, don’t me wrong, it was just such an odd mix of energy it made chuckle as this review reads like I went to three different gigs.

The guitarists were so active at giving the crowd energy and interacting with them. At least one would always be on the amp signalling for the crowd to cheer. With which they definitely obliged. The band themselves had such a mix of sound ranging from heavy to at one point a sexy bass sound came on (Atlantic was met with a clap and cheer from the audience). The band know how to set a vibe and roll with it. With the help of an insane amount of lights, at least 8 were additionally added after TWDY wrapped, the stage presence the band had was unquestionable.

This tour brought about a mix of sounds and a range of energy. It was an experience to say the least and an absolute vibe to witness, only adding to my love of shooting bands I’d have otherwise never come across. The UK leg of this tour is only just getting started and if any of the bands/artists are coming to a city near you, I highly recommend checking them out, grabbing a drink and just losing yourself to the atmosphere.

Photos by Jayne Slater

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