Live gig review by Alan Daly
© Olga Kuzmenko
Photos by Olga Kuzmenko
Thanks to the Halloween mid-term break, hundreds of hormonal teenagers have apparently been granted an extended curfew to enjoy an evening of metalcore in Dublin’s Olympia theatre. Doors open early at 6pm and Californian post-hardcore quartetSecrets set the tone for the night ahead, followed by their Texan contemporaries Crown the Empire. Looking around, it is hard not to feel old; surrounded by gaggles of giddy emo girls and goths. It would seem that the metalcore genre which emerged in the early noughties has not garnered a large following amongst the old-school contingent of Dublin’s thriving metal scene, despite its origins being traceable back to legendary bands like Pantera.
By the time The Ghost Inside take to the stage at 8:30pm, the venue is busy but not over-crowded. The melodic hardcore quintet, also from California, burst onstage with the aptly titled opening track ‘Avalanche’ from their soon-to-be-released fourth studio album Dear Youth. Instantly, heads are banging hard and devil horns are pumping high as the barrage of breakdowns begins. The floor trembles with the booming bass guitars and kick drums which lay the foundation for solid, although predictable riffs that satiate the energetic audience.
The band are equally energetic onstage, running back and forth, and heartily engaging and making eye contact with as many of their fans as possible, even in the upper balconies. In a break between tracks, vocalist Jonathan Vigil comments that it has been a “very, very long time” since they last played Dublin (2011 by our reckoning) and wishes Happy Birthday to one of the front row fans, before continuing their set with tracks mostly taken from their second and third albums, Returners and Get What You Give. During another break, he commends the parents in the audience for bringing their kids to the show and supporting their choice of heavy music, giving a special shout out to one particular mom in the front row. Another special mention was for the girl who had “Dear Youth” hand-written on the back of cereal boxes and held aloft; impressing Vigil so much so that he invited the ecstatic girl onstage during the title track.
With three support acts done and dusted, the stage is readied for tonight’s headliners; the curiously titled Yorkshire band Asking Alexandria, who twice filled the Academy when they last visited Dublin in early 2013. This time around, the Olympia is not sold out, but a respectable crowd now occupy most of the floorspace and seated tiers. The twenty minutes or so between bands pass quickly as inflated condoms bounce over the heads of the titillated teens, before the house music volume increases and AC/DC’s oft-used intro track ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top’ blares from the PA. It is promptly followed by Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’; almost drowned out by the hilarious sing-along chorus of “doo doo-doo doo”s.
A dramatic build up climaxes in deafening screams as drummer James Cassells takes his position on the elevated drumkit, before his four bandmates join him to similar roars of approval. The stage is mostly black with the “AA” logo in white behind the drums. Centre-stage, two Irish tricolours tied to the microphone stand blow in the wind generated by a large fan, flanked by two podiums at the stage edge. Opening with ‘Don’t Pray For Me’ from their third and most recent album From Death to Destiny, Asking Alexandria continue tonight’s theme of thundering double bass drums and breakdowns aplenty.
Vocalist Danny Worsnop, sporting a tramps beard and southern rock styled outfit, looks much older than his 24 years, but the constant cock jokes between tracks see him pandering to the target audience. The regular banter and tomfoolery between tracks may not be mature, but it does get some laughs and the band members seem to be genuinely relaxed and enjoying the performance. During songs, founding lead guitarist Ben Bruce and his fellow strummers are constantly on the move, swapping positions between podiums and generally soaking up the adoration from the swooning girls dominating the front rows.
Unsurprisingly, the setlist is focussed on tracks from their latest release, but also features a few tracks from each of their two earlier albums. Mid way through the set, Worsnop asks us if we want to hear some really old shit, before they play a few bars of the unmistakeable Pantera classic ‘Walk’ and a few seconds of ‘One Step Closer’ from Linkin Park, followed by ‘A Prophesy’ from their own debut album Stand Up and Scream. Despite devolving into a comedy act a few times during the set, the kick ass breakdowns and irresistible urge to head-bang made this a gig worthy of an even bigger crowd; maybe some more of the old-school metallers might give it a shot next time around.