Cancer Bats @ Stiff Kitten, Belfast

With Gacys Threads, Hoax
31st May 2013
Review by Melanie Brehaut
Photography by Paul Verner

If the atmosphere is anything to go by, tonight’s gig in the Stiff Kitten will surely be a belter! The culmination of a three date mini-tour of Ireland, this evening marks the return to Belfast of Canada’s Cancer Bats after a three year absence. Judging by the anticipation on everyone’s faces, it’s clear that they are long overdue and very much welcome back.
First on the bill tonight is London-based five piece Hoax.

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An unassuming looking bunch who have only recently formed and already have an EP out (‘New Oceans’). They step onstage and immediately launch into their catchy brand of groove-driven hardcore, all gnarly guitars and roaring vocals.
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What lifts them above the ordinary is a mix of clever time changes and well crafted, melodic songs – as well as the quirky humour displayed by Irish vocalist Adam Carroll.

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At one stage he leaps into the crowd and starts hugging people! A few slut-drops later (!!!), he bounds back onstage for final number, ‘Mind Game’.
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In short, an intimate, funny and powerful opening set.

Next up is local lads Gacys Threads.
Bounding onstage to a hero’s welcome, they hit the ground running as singer Aaron Vance paces the stage like a caged animal, beating his chest and roaring like a man possessed.
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Their sound is one of galloping beats and huge, meaty riffs in the vein of Converge (cited as an influence on their Facebook page) and Lamb of God, but louder, and faster…and shoutier!

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Pausing in between belting out their short but sweet hardcore metal numbers (which includes some new material from upcoming split EP with Colossus Fall), Vance announces that the gig is being filmed for a DVD, and demands that everyone goes crazy for said filming.

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The result has him (and the rest of the band) grinning ecstatically! Just before their last song, he leaps into the rabidly headbanging crowd and chaos ensues: a wall of death and concurrent moshpit, anyone? – before clambering back onstage for ‘Black Heart’.
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The band leave the stage as they’ve left the crowd: spent, sweaty and beaming.
It falls to Cancer Bats to follow up such a storming set…an they do it?
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As if you need to ask…with the crowds’ excitement at fever pitch, the ‘Bats stride onstage to the siren-like wail of ‘Rats’, and proceed to kick ASS.

The headbanging whirlwind that is frontman Liam Cormier is in brilliant form vocally and immediately connects with the crowd, shouting “Belfast! Let’s make this a night to remember!” with predictable results.

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He is surely a photographer’s worst nightmare, barely standing still for a second, all flailing hair and contorting body as he belts out song after song to perfection.
That’s the beauty of a CB gig; they don’t fuck with their sound the crowd can (and does!) sing along to every word ecstatically.

Drawing heavily from recent album ‘Dead Set on Living’ (‘Bricks and Mortar’, ‘Old Blood’, ‘Drunken Physics’), they also dip occasionally into older territory, including dedicating ‘Shilleleagh’ to Belfast, to the noisy delight of the crowd.
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Their fusion of punk and metal, which sounds so innovative on their albums, is even better live; it’s a combination of a no-nonsense punk show and the power and devotion of a metal gig.

Tonight, they are flawless. Even Cormier’s banter, touching on Belfast’s weather and the expense of ferry travel here, is personal and witty.

As darkness descends and the opening strains of ‘Sabotage’ fill the room, the crowd goes NUTS, and the momentum continues into Pneumonia Hawk.
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Their final number follows an amusing aside from Cormier as he explains that they don’t do encores and they’re just going to “dance to R. Kelly and party with you guys” after their last song.

Sure enough, after a blistering ‘Hail Destroyer’, the stage goes dark and the, ahem, ‘illustrious’ Mr Kelly’s ‘Bounce Bounce’ fills the room!

It’s a funny and slightly surreal end to a mighty set, as Cancer Bats triumph yet again!

 

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