Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD are one of those marmite bands that trigger as is often the case, instances of open warfare and copious trolling on the internet any time something of note takes place within the band. The lovers and the haters all believe their opinion to be the correct and only one that matters but at the end of the day, the old adage ‘any publicity is good publicity’ certainly seems to be the case as the band packed out Brixton Academy to the rafters. The last time I saw the band was at London’s KOKO with a crowd of around 1,500. Brixton Academy holds well over three times that number and the packed venue suggests the lovers are beating the haters by a significant margin.
A good support always helps and a new one for me, Merseysiders, Loathe have the unenviable task of warming up a strong HD crowd.
Best known for their debut record ‘The Cold Sun’ that’s out now via SharpTone Records, as well as their split EP with Holding Absence titled ‘This Is As One’ Loathe’s post-hardcore sound was exactly what was needed to get the floor bouncing. Frontman Kadeem France, a whirling dervish commanded the stage like a pro, and the throng in front of him responded in full. Pretty much from the off, Kadeem managed to get pits opening up and whilst at times it was hard to make out the band on stage thanks to excessive purples and greens constantly making the room look like the Incredible Hulk’s acid trip, the crowd nonetheless responded in kind.
Clearly overwhelmed at playing the biggest venue and gig of their career to date, the band exuded warmth and appreciation for the crowd before launching into yet another heavy as hell and roar fueled track. Lapped up by the crowd, tight as hell for such a youthful outfit, it was great to see an upcoming British band get the opportunity to play venues of this size and get the reception that they did. Fair play to them and one to watch out for in future.
Matt Oloffson, the one without the stage name, was first on at Brixton and he got the opportunity to get the place moving with some thunderous drumming. It’s a rare thing to see a drummer under good lighting without the focus being on their band mates so this was a neat move for everyone present.
We only got the chance to shoot the first two songs on offer as the pyro pots kicked in at the beginning of Undead and, given we were only half way out of the pit when they went off, the heat provided the extra incentive to ‘get a move on at the front!’
It was clear the band, so well versed in mixing up who gets the spotlight during the songs, had brought not just a performance but a show. Mixing rap and rock that show is unique at best but wholly electrifying. The masks may be gone these days (Booo!! from the concert photography community!) but the show has more life in it than Frankenstein’s monster in the middle of a lightning storm!
The highlights are many but if I had to pick particular ones, Gravity and War Child really stood out as did Riot and Bullet. Meaningful songs with lyrics that their fans relate to and can interact with. The band, the vocalists taking turns to drive the audience and get them more and more energised, drew the very best out of each other and the audience as well. It made the show feel so much more like a family event and it’s a sentiment that the fans seem to share online as well. Not just a band playing a gig but a community that sees people use the band as their therapy in tough times.
It’s an odd thing to see rappers play as well as sing yet it’s something that HD manage well. When your spotlight vocal moment is over, it’s back onto the instrumentation to allow other to take centre stage. The renditions of the songs benefitted as a result as everyone kicks in, tunes up and delivers, making it a real show to remember. Given the typical mix or artists that can work a Download crowd into a frenzy, don’t be surprised to see Hollywood Undead there in the near future and playing to a huge crowd and great reaction.
Whatever It Takes
Been to Hell
Comin’ in Hot (With fan on guitar)
Another Way Out
Hear Me Now
Everywhere I Go
Day of the Dead