After over two decades as a band, Converge are headlining Koko in Camden, London and they’ve filled the place. This is some feat. In 2012, the Boston metalcore pioneers released what has been heralded as some as their finest album to date. It was our 2012 Album of the Year. However, having become accustomed to seeing Converge up close and personal in smaller, sweatier venues, how would they (and we) fare in Camden Palace?
Six things we learnt when Converge came to London…
1) No matter how wipe-clean KOKO will always feel, tonight The Secret lose none of that ugly, so jagged-you-could-cut-your-finger-on-it spite that gave Agnes Dei it’s deliciously unpleasant edge. Are opening bands supposed to be this good? No, they are not.
2) A Storm Of Light’s live delivery is the result of some serious study of both Neurosis and Godflesh in equal measure. The pulsating, repetitious aggression is identical in intent (as opposed to tone) of Birmingham’s loudest duo, whereas the timbre of their riffs and the montage of war and flame that serves as moving backdrop to the Brooklyn foursome are cribbed from Scott Kelly et al. As far as intense mid-gig sets go: beyond intense.
3) People like Touche Amore. Like, they like Touche Amore a lot. There are headliners who have had worse reactions in this venue than Jeremy Bolm‘s lot. That Converge can bring three such divergent bands out on the same bill, and not only make it work but have the kind of fanbase that it embraces those contradictions too is just another reason why Converge are so very special.
4) The strength and identity of his production work (Trap Them, Kvelertak, Black Breath) often threatens to overshadow Kurt Ballou’s role in Converge. If, somehow, you fail to notice his delicious riffs on the band’s albums, seeing him perform those songs live will not allow such an oversight. With Bannon the obvious focal point of the band, Koller’s role is that bit easier but as he taps the fretboard and reproduces complicated riff after complicated riff, there is no doubting that this man is one of the most influential guitarists around. Not just now, but ever.
5) There is an amusing moment where Jacob Bannon asks the crowd what song Converge should play next. He pauses to listen before light-heartedly mocking the audience for sounding like a pack of barking dogs. The Irony Klaxon is going off in full force for one of the most long-standing complaints about this band’s music is that it’s often difficult to make out exactly what Bannon is screaming/shouting/yelling/saying. It’s funny because it’s true.
6) There’s a barrier between Bannon and the crowd and the sheer height of the venue must be daunting but it matters not. With Ben Koller taking the piss and playing the hi-hat behind his back and Bannon clambering down into the crowd, the band is at ease. Despite most of All We Love… getting an airing, with over 20 songs played, there’s a sense within the crowd that they haven’t missed out on too many classic songs – especially with the set ending with First Light and Last Light from You Fail Me – but, most importantly, Converge sound excellent. Success.