Camden Town smells. In the sunshine, it often smells very bad indeed. On Bank Holiday Weekends, it often smells even worse than usual, thanks to all the spilled cider and puddles of drying vomit. smelled something when he caught Of Mice & Men’s headline show there just before Easter, but was it the smell of success, or just the pong of stale hype?
Six things we learned while watching Of Mice & Men in London…
1) There’s a ridiculously enthusiastic crowd growing outside KOKO. Perhaps it’s down to it being a UK bank holiday, so nobody has much else planned or the fact that it’s a sunny day so there’s reason to be outside anyway. The punters don’t let any lingering bank holiday rockclub hangovers get in the way of their eagerness. Queues start forming hours before doors open and go on to stretch a long way down Camden High Street.
2) So it’s little surprise that tonight’s openers Beartooth have an impressive crowd for a band taking to the stage at 6:30pm. Their particular brand of metalcore definitely leans more on the ‘core’ side, being fuelled by raw punk energy. Refusing to stay still throughout the duration of the set, guitarist Kam Bradbury spends the majority of his time climbing and jumping off things. The crowd lap it up, and cause the sort of bedlam no front-of-house security should have to cope with this early. Who would have thought that the ex-frontman of Attack! Attack!, a band more famous for being a joke on the internet rather than any actual music, would return with such an exciting new outfit? For a relatively new band with currently just a single EP to their name, this was a massive success.
3) Issues make some odd setlist choices, leaning perhaps a bit too heavily on their EP rather than their debut huge full length, with even some questionable choices off that record. Perhaps it was down to being squashed in the middle of a somewhat heavier bill, but many of their poppier moments (which are often their biggest strength) are surprisingly absent. Given how massive single ‘Never Lose Your Flames’ sounds it’s a shame the band didn’t air the likes of ‘Mad at Myself’ and ‘Late’ live.
4) Issues have taken massive steps forward since the last time they were over in the UK. They might not quite be the finished article yet but they have progressed into a coherent and well-realised live band. In particular Tyler Carter, surely the Justin Timberlake of mosh, who is slowly but surely growing into his shoes as a both a frontman and the poster boy for the nu-metal revival. Issues prove they are ever closer to fulfilling their self-proclaimed prophecy as the “future of metal”.
5) That aforementioned finished article? Of Mice & Men are certainly it. It’s the sort of slick, globe-straddling rock show that is already fit for stages far larger than the one they are playing tonight. It results in downright ear-shattering responses from the crowd. The set is loaded with material from this year’s Restoring Force and while there has been something of a sonic shift in their material the likes of set opener ‘Public Service Announcement’ and ‘Bones Exposed’ provoke the same sort of hysteric responses as older fan favourites such as ‘O.G. Loko’.
6) Tonight’s bands may all be at different stages of their career, but all three played to their strengths and jostled with each other for the title of highlight of the night. By putting on an arena-ready show that casts themselves as bonafide metalcore superstars, Of Mice & Men just about steal the night from those eager supports. It’s a safe bet to say that they, along with Beartooth and Issues for that matter, are going to be playing far bigger gigs the next time they’re over.