Words & Pictures: Vikki Luff
It’s always a bit of a bummer when a show gets cancelled. It’s even worse when it gets cancelled on the night. But being cancelled ten minutes before the main band are due on stage? After the supports have hyped you up so much that you’d be bouncing off the walls if there was any room in the packed crowd? That’s an entirely different level of heartbreak, but one you would think would surely never happen. Unfortunately for hundreds of Don Broco fans, myself included, that is exactly what happened at their Oxford show. After the band came on stage to apologise and explain that we were all about to be potentially ankle deep in sewage (nice), the crowd reluctantly shuffled out of the venue amidst disappointed murmurs. If the crowd was gutted, it was nothing compared to the band themselves who greeted fans outside the O2 Academy after the show went down the pan. Drummer and backing vocalist Matt Donnelly said he “might be able to laugh about it tomorrow, but not now” after being subjected to a few choice toilet puns (they were crap, I wouldn’t have laughed either!). However, the band assured fans that the show would be rescheduled for early June (which has since been confirmed as June 6th) and that all original tickets would remain valid. So what else is there to do when the shit hits the fan? Head to another show, of course!
The Roadmenders in Northampton is a venue a little smaller than those Don Broco have been playing at on the majority of their Technology tour, and a sold out show meant that it was truly packed front to back. This worked very well for opening act, Yungblud, whose incredible energy set the night off to a good start. He opened with his new single, 21st Century Liability, and it’s safe to say that this young man doesn’t know how to stand still if he’s not chained to the mic stand – and even that moved with him when it could! Leaping around the stage like he was trying to play a very animated game of “the floor is lava”, the crowd quickly warmed up to Yungblud’s infectious enthusiasm and joined in with the antics. For someone whose lyrics are mainly centred around negative subjects, including his dislike of the government and councils, Yungblud always manages to leave you feeling like you’ve had a fun time. A decent portion of the crowd were singing along to the sadly relatable refrain of “leave it alone mate, she doesn’t want to go home with you” from Polygraph Eyes, which is quite a feat for an opening support act! Yungblud is certainly one to watch out for in future.
Next up, all the way from Glasgow, were The LaFontaines. While they perhaps didn’t have quite the same energy as Yungblud, which in fairness would be tricky to match, you could tell that the rap rock group meant business. After a relatively slow start, the band launched into arguably their biggest single, Under the Storm, which went down just as well in Northampton as it did in their self-proclaimed “accidental headline show” in Oxford the previous week. Plenty of bands will try to pull off the trick of getting the entire crowd to crouch down to leap up on their command, but not everyone can pull it off. Luckily The LaFontaines had live favourite Pon De Fonts on their side to help them, and with lead vocalist Kerr Okan’s encouragement, everyone in the room was pulsing along to the techno riff by the end of the song. From what I’ve heard of the band’s music (admittedly quite a lot since seeing them live), they chose a damn good selection of songs to win the crowd over and it certainly worked. Finishing with the closing song of their latest album, Common Problem, The LaFontaines left the crowd anything but Asleep (as the song suggests) on both occasions and happily warmed up for the main act.
Despite a bit of evident trepidation from some of the crowd that the events of Oxford were about to repeat themselves, Don Broco put all doubts to rest as they bounced onto stage amidst swathes of red light to the opening bars of Pretty. In an instant, everyone was singing to every word and you could feel the floor shaking as everyone jumped to the drop of “eight days a week, sucker, eight days a week”. It’s no secret that vocalist Rob Damiani is unable to stay on the stage for the duration of an entire set, and so obligingly leapt into the crowd midway through the second song, Everybody. It’s always a wonder how he manages not to get dragged into the crowd during times like that, but I guess that’s what security guards are there for! Since their last tour, Don Broco have switched up their setlist to include more songs from their latest album, Technology – a LOT more. In fact, only two songs from the album (four if you include bonus tracks) didn’t make it into the live set, which says a lot about the reception for the new material. After treating the crowd to the tongue-in-cheek humour of Good Listener and the sarcastic bitterness of The Blues, two fresh tunes for this tour, the band sped through a well-rehearsed and well received plethora of songs from Automatic and the new album.
It’s not unusual for a band to pause between songs for a quick drink and a refuel before continuing the set, especially if it’s a particularly high energy show. This is what I assumed was to happen when guitarist Si Delaney picked up a banana from the stage half way through the night, because what else could he possibly be using it for up there? The answer to that, it seems, was to have a Call of Duty style shoot out with your singer with banana guns in front of a thoroughly bemused crowd. As you do. Continuing their set with ¥, it suddenly felt as if water was being sprayed at the crowd. Given how hot it was in the venue, this was incredibly refreshing… until you realised it was actually condensation raining from the roof as a result of the crowd’s collective sweat. Yuck. The lyric of “’nuff funds I can make it rain” certainly rang true that night. As their set drew to a close, chants of “Thug Workout!” filled the air as the crowd called for a song that has never left Don Broco’s setlist. “Nah, we’re not playing that one tonight”, the band joked, before giving the crowd what they asked for.
Whether playing in a shoebox of a room or a giant venue, Don Broco have the wonderful ability to fill and expand past any stage you put them on, and it’s one of the things that really makes their live performances special. The atmosphere will always be electric, the crowd will always be full of friendly people to dance with and you’ll always have the push up squad in the middle of the mosh pit for Thug Workout. Sometimes, it’s nice walking into a show knowing exactly what you’re going to get.
- Good Listener
- The Blues
- Stay Ignorant
- You Wanna Know
- Something to Drink
- Money Power Fame
- Thug Workout
- Come Out to LA
- T-Shirt Song