Gig Review: As December Falls / Greywind / Artio – Tunbridge Wells Forum (30th January 2024)

I only managed to catch the last couple of songs from Artio’s supporting set but their angry, electronica-infused alt rock seemed to go down well with the assembled crowd. Enter Shikari and Wargasm are obvious influences and on full display in their closing track, ‘Product Of My Own Design’. I understand that this song helped the Leeds quartet to really take off, as it resonated with the queer and trans communities on social media. It is certainly an empowering piece of work.

There was a slight technical problem prior to the track (always a risk when you rely too heavily on backing tracks or samples during a live show) but it didn’t delay proceedings for too long. As someone who has an interest in the use of language and the meaning of words, it was interesting to hear the vocalist accuse other bands and techies who get annoyed with them (because their equipment isn’t compatible with the systems that most other people use) of being ‘elitist’. Surely, insisting on using exotic, special kit that you think is superior to everyone else makes you the elitist? Hmmm… maybe I misheard?

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Greywind are an Irish duo from Killarney, Ireland, albeit currently playing with a live touring band. They play alternative emo rock and comprise siblings Steph and Paul O’Sullivan. They may come across as being all fluffy on the surface (and they definitely lean more heavily towards the melodic side of the ‘emo rock’ spectrum) but if you dig a bit deeper, they have a more sinister side to their songs. This keeps them interesting. Check out the lyrics and video for ‘Antidote’ as a good example of this.

Some of their songs seem to be channelling Flyleaf on occasion (remember them?) and the wait for the glorious, soaring choruses can stretch out a bit too long for my tastes. However, when Steph releases the full power and emotion that’s been building inside, soar they certainly do! The band’s performance of ‘Forest Ablaze’ is impassioned and heartfelt, the outpouring of “They don’t know what to do!” reaching an appropriate crescendo at the end of the song. Greywind are clearly great musicians who understand the need for both light and dark in their music, in order to be impactful. I even have to admit that ‘Afterthoughts’ (the title track of their debut album) is a beautiful ballad, and I’m not a big fan of ballads as a rule. A worthy support act.

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Premier league purveyors of guitar-driven pop punk, As December Falls, have been entertaining audiences for about ten years now. They are proudly independent and refuse to relinquish control over any aspect of their brand to record labels, managers or bookers. Good for them! This is an admirable approach and a great idea, as long as band members (or friends and family?) have the appropriate skills and the will to really take on those roles and ‘do-it-yourself’.  By chalking up over four million streams of their debut album and with numerous festival appearances under their belts (including Slam Dunk and Camden Rock), they must be doing something right. Four of the things they have done right is employing the services of Ande Hunter on guitar, Timmy Francis on bass, Lukas James on drums and (Birthday Girl) Bethany Curtis on song writing duties and vocals.

Opening with the quick one-two punch of ‘More to You’ and ‘Go Away’, it soon became evident that they know how to put together the perfect setlist from their three album and two EP career. The term ‘pop punk’ seems to have become a dirty word in some circles but I’ll not have a bit of it when it’s done this well and with such dedication. The band played a mix of old and new material, wisely leaning fairly heavily on the latter (and thankfully dropping their slightly dodgy cover of that Tiffany song). Bethany came across as pitch perfect, hitting all the right notes, and her cheerful enthusiasm helped keep all of our energy levels high throughout the set. ‘Little By Little’, ‘Alive’, ‘Mayday’, ‘Ride’ – super-catcy pop punk royalty all. The crowd had a right good sing-a-long to the excellent ‘No Money’, complete with computer-game-coin-collecting sample (if you know you know). We obviously sang Happy Birthday too, of course. In conclusion, I can only recommend that you embrace pop punk once again and Join The Club!

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