Words: Alan Daly / Pics: Olga Kuzmenko (Olga Kuzmenko Photography)
Narrowly maintaining its 12-year unbroken annual run, the Kerrang! the tour arrives in Dublin right in the midst of the Christmas shopping and party season. Since 2006, the tour has taken place each year in January or February and has brought big name bands such as Limp Bizkit and Sum-41 to venues around the UK and Ireland in recent years. This year, the acts are somewhat lower profile than previously, and the Academy Green Room venue is a considerable step down from the impressive Olympia Theatre where Fred Durst took a look around in 2014. However, tonight’s all-ages event has attracted a sizeable gathering of long-fringed and facially-pierced teens, but far fewer of the familiar faces seen at regular metal shows upstairs in the Academy.
We arrive too late to catch the opening act, (Welsh alternative quintet Casey), but just in time to check out Scottish quartet Vukovi. The noisy pop rockers formed in 2010 and are fronted by vibrant vocalist Janine Shilstone, who, dressed in baggy oversized combat trousers and a glittery top matching her eye make-up, dominates the stage during their high energy performance. With Vukovi’s eponymous debut album less than a year old, the audience would be forgiven for a certain level of unfamiliarity or indifference, but the youthful attendees quickly succumb to the encouragement of the foul-mouthed front-woman, whose writhing and ass-shaking are not something often seen onstage at a “metal” show. It’s an interesting performance that can’t really be faulted, and is well suited to the attendance, but not a band that I would personally go out of my way to see again. During the last track, titled ‘Boy George’, Shilstone climbs over the rail and into the middle of the crowd with a microphone in hand, no doubt making a memorable impression on potential new fans.
The third band of the night is Blackpool-based Boston Manor. The fresh-faced five-piece are all riled-up and full of aggression as they burst onto the stage with opening track ‘Drowned in Gold’ and instruct the crowd to step up. It’s their first trip across the water to Ireland apparently, and they pull out all the stops with a frenetic performance. The only respite is the slow-building intro to ‘Broken Glass’ before diving back into a boisterous ‘Burn You Up’. The audience is more engaged than earlier in the night and seem to be familiar with at least some of these songs plucked from their first full-length release Be Nothing. Many are noted singing along during ‘Lead Feet’, and even crowd-surfing for the finale of ‘Laika’, although the number of upstretched arms really only affords crowd-hovering. Boston Manor seems to satiate the energetic youngsters in attendance, but not unlike the band before, it’s hard to imagine them appeasing the older generation of metal aficionados.
A barrage of terrible pop music blares over the PA as we await the final headline act of the night, Australian metalcore/post-hardcore outfit The Amity Affliction, who are still touring on the back of their 2016 album This Could Be Heartbreak. There is an immediate crush of teen girls and boys to the front of the stage as they kick off with ‘I Bring the Weather with Me’, the opening track from the afore-mentioned latest release. The majority of their one-hour set is taken from their critically acclaimed 2014 album Let the Ocean Take Me. The clean and unclean vocal pairing of bassist Ahren Stringer and frontman Joel Birch is as impressive as had been promised me, and is an instrumental element in their musical style. The crowd bounce obediently in unison during ‘Lost and Fading’ and quickly descend into a chaotic moshpit amid its breakdowns and in the subsequent ‘Never Alone’. The lyrical themes of their music could be said to pander to angst-ridden depressive teens and can seem cheesy at times, but the musicianship and vocal performances definitely compensate. The Amity Affliction is certainly the band of the night for me, and my sentiments seem justified by the reaction of the audience, half my age. I can’t help but wish for bigger bands in a bigger venue next year, however. Come on Kerrang!… What have you got for us in 2018?