April 27, 2015 Enter Shikari rattle Gramercy Theatre, NYC 4-3-15 w/ I the Mighty, A Lot Like Birds, & Stray From The Path
Pioneers of the relatively new Electronicore genre, Enter Shikari has been shuffling musical styles since 2003. Formed outside of London in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England, they combine Alt Rock, Post Hardcore, Punk, and Metalcore with Dubstep, Electronica, Trance, and Industrial. The band is composed of Roughton “Rou” Reynolds (lead vocals/programming/guitar), Liam “Rory” Clewlow (guitar/backing/ lead vocals), Chris Batten (bass/backing and lead vocals/percussion) and Rob Rolfe (drums/percussion/backing vocals). Their debut album, 2007’s Take to the Skies, reached #4 on the Official UK Album Chart. Eight years later, they released their fourth studio album, The Mindsweep (aka The Minds Weep), on January 20, 2015 through Hopeless Records. Enter Shikari has finished up their British and European tour and are now making their way across the US in support of this newest endeavor. Kicking things off at the Never Say Never Festival in Mission, Texas, on March 20th, this thirty show run will work its way around the country and conclude back in Texas at The Korova in San Antonio on April 28th. Along for the ride are the San Franciscans I the Mighty, Sacramento’s A Lot Like Birds, and Long Island natives Stray From The Path. They stopped for a sold out, early spring show at Gramercy Theatre on April 3, 2015.
First up were Californians I the Mighty. This Progressive/Indie/Alternative band first formed in 2008 on the West Coast and have jumped into the scene with both feet. With only one album and two EPs under their belt, they have already made the rounds with such greats as Deftones, The Dear Hunter, Say Anything, HRVRD, and Letlive, among others. With all original members still involved, I the Mighty is made up of Brent Walsh (vocals/guitar), Ian Pedigo (guitar), Chris Hinkely (bass), as well as Blake Dahlinger (drums), and have a new album, titled Connector, set to be released via Equal Vision Records on June 2nd. Walsh explains, “We don’t want people to just listen to our music on a surface level. We want people to dive into the songs and dissect them and to really feel them.” This was nothing but clear during their opening set at The Gramercy. Leading the night with a solid performance and great stage lighting, Walsh gushed with excitement as he admitted, “The band was truly glad that they got picked for this tour, as they love Enter Shikari.” They were full of energy as Hinkely pranced around the stage like a caged lion. Giving the crowd a taste of Connector with the song “Playing Catch With .22,” the boys got a great response from knowing fans. After playing their hit “The Dreamer” from the 2012 EP Karma Never Sleeps, Walsh thanked the crowd for rocking hard with them, thus ending a spectacular opening set.
Next up were fellow Californians A Lot Like Birds. Formed in 2009, the band is made up of Kurt Travis and Cory Lockwood (vocals), Michael Franzino and Ben Wiacek (guitar), along with Joe Arrington (drums), although bassist Michael Littlefield made the decision to leave the band on February 28 of this year. Also signed onto Equal Vision Records, A Lot Like Birds released their latest album, No Place, on October 29, 2013. Self-described as “crazy and chaotic to beautiful and melodic,” this album was a darker, more mature record than their debut, 2009’s Plan B. The band is known for their outrageous live performances, literally swinging from the rafters and spontaneously launching guitars twenty-five feet into the air. These boys did not disappoint this night in early April. They had the crowd in their grip from the beginning with the track “Think Dirty Out Loud.” As dual vocalists Travis and Lockwood harmonized and played off of each other, Wiacek and Franzino’s guitars entwined with a funky, Jazzy rhythm section that tied the music together with their off beat tempos. The venue rocked for the entire set, either bouncing in place or swinging in the pit through other tracks like “Next to Ungodliness,” “Vanity’s Fair,” and favorite “Connector,” among others. After the high energy and huge stage performance of A Lot Like Birds, the sweat was pouring and the adrenaline was pumping. Once the tour with Enter Shikari completes be sure to check out A Lot Like Birds with I the Mighty on a few more dates in May.
Hitting the stage next were Long Island natives Stray From The Path. These Alt Hardcore heavies are a full time touring band that have made it their mission to bring “honest, pissed off music to the world.” Band members include Tom Williams (guitar), Drew York (vocals), Anthony Altamura (bass), and Dan Bourke (drums). After forming in 2001, they have released seven albums, starting with the debut, People Over Profit, in 2002, and ending with their most recent addition, Anonymous, in 2013; the last four through Sumerian Records. The crowd clapped in unison as these locals took the stage. The band took no prisoners with their Punk sound and Hardcore attitude. During “Death Beds” from 2011’s Rising Sun, York hopped the photo pit and launched himself into the crowd. Playing to his New York roots, guitarist Williams wore a NY Rangers jersey, which brought on chants of “Let’s go, Rangers!” Channeling Rage Against the Machine, the band played favorites such as “Bring It Back to the Streets,” “Damien,” “Scissor Hands” and “Landminds.” They also covered The Ramones “Blitzkrieg Bop” as York petitioned the crowd to circle in the pit and represent their beautiful city, a feat that they accomplished readily.
As the sweaty crowd cooled down, a countdown to Enter Shikari was started over the PA from five minutes out with Motown songs being played in between. For many in the North American region, Enter Shikari is a hot new adventure, having experienced them on Vans Warped Tour 2014. With that said, the tension built as everyone waited for Enter Shikari to hit the stage and witness a headlining show from the fast-rising band.
The announcer counted back from four, three, two, and finally one as the tension burst like an overfilled balloon, just as the chords from “Appeal” filled the air, the audience singing word for word with Rou. During “Radiate,” guitarist Rory took a cue from Stray From the Path’s York, jumping into the crowd. Fans carried him for the remainder of the song as he continued to play, landing him back into the photo pit once the track was over. Rou also left the stage to walk alongside the audience, singing all the while, and then crowd surfing back to the stage. With a great club vibe that kept everyone dancing for their entire set, Enter Shikari played a plethora of songs including “Torn Apart,” “Mothership,” “Garrison,” “Snake Pit,” “Myopia,” as well as “Paddington,” and the banter between Rory and Rou was exciting and entertaining for fans of this genre-bending band. Living up to the reputation they have built, Enter Shikari was an unstoppable force from start to finish.
As The Mindsweep makes the rounds and continues to receive critical acclaim from overseas, Enter Shikari has seen track “Never Let Go of the Microscope” named Essential New Track by NME and listed on Kerrang’s! The 10 New Rock Tracks Melting Our Ears! playlist, and it is no wonder that fans were so eager to see these Electronicorists live. If the fact that Enter Shikari has been awarded Best Live Band numerous times by both the Association of Independent Music and Kerrang! does not tempt one to buy a ticket to their show, nothing will. Be sure to check them out in the final days of the tour before they head back overseas for a string of festival dates this summer.