Iwrestledabearonce @ The Garage, London

14th August 2012,  Review & Photography by Graham Hilling
http://www.the-concrete-shell.com

It’s a disappointingly empty start to the evening at the Garage tonight with possibly the worst turnout I’ve seen for a good long while. Sad considering all of the bands tonight are from the USA and have travelled a fair way to be here, this is part of a very large world tour and you’d expect London to more of a highlight than this….even with a small venue like the Garage it is no fun for a band to play to just a handful of people, especially when you’re in a hardcore band and the audience is as much a part of the whole as the music….
Still, first band up tonight, For All Those Sleeping, make a valiant attempt to inject some life into the assembled gathering. Hailing from Minnesota and playing metalcore with screamo and clean vocals and some nice breakdowns there’s a lot to like here. Some of the lighter moments sound out of place live but in general the set is pleasingly heavy with much of the material lifted from their latest outing “Outspoken” which was only released in June 2012. The lyrics are refreshingly serious (although, live you’d be hard pressed to catch too many of them!). It would be good to see them where they can interact with a proper crowd, I think they would be a different band live.

For All Those Sleeping
For All Those Sleeping

Next up are Vanna from Boston. Thankfully there’s a few more punters now but still nowhere near what would be considered busy. There’s clearly a good few people who have come along especially for this band. No surprise either because Vanna are a surprisingly tight unit. Following on from where For All Those Sleeping left off Vanna play music in a very similar vein, heavy music with clean and dirty vocals, perhaps a little less scream than the previous band. As is normally the case at these gigs where there is shortage of time and a large band list, sets are kept small and Vanna barely play for 30 minutes, cramming in a variety of songs including “We Ate The Horses We Rode In On” and “Safe to Say”. The breakdowns are nice and well developed too and all in all, Vanna put on a pretty cool show.

Vanna
Vanna

Next up is change of style in the form of Oceano. These guys are a deathcore band from Chicago and they have suffered from various lineup changes in the past, and had trouble getting a stable setup going. This evening, they’re playing as a four piece with the single guitar of Nick Conser to drive the sound along.

For All Those Sleeping
For All Those Sleeping

Despite the fact that most of the recorded material has had the benefit of two guitars there doesn’t appear to be too much lacking from the sound and in many respects the simplicity of a single guitar enhances and makes it less cluttered. Huge vocalist Adam Warren dominates the stage and makes for a mean presence, clearly frustrated by the lack of audience and urging what few people were watching to “come on!”.
While the songs are pretty generic and the vocals themselves almost a parody at times (being almost TOO low!) Oceano put on a pretty decent display, with no shortage of energy or commitment, and the drumming of Daniel Terchin makes for a good solid base to drive the music forward. Songs like “Inhuman Affliction” and “District of Misery” won’t win any awards for their originality but in a live context they hit the spot.

Iwrestledabearonce
Iwrestledabearonce

There’s even a small pit after a punter is handed a bottle of water from the stage and Adam Warren declares “….follow that motherfucker round!” – Certainly at least some of the matallers are having a good time!
I Wrestled a Bear Once are a band that don’t fit into any neat boxes or genres and unlike the other bands on the bill tonight have carved out a niche for themselves that is deeply seamed with originality and at times, simply strangeness! You only have to look at the song titles to see there’s something a little bit “abnormal” at work here – “Karate Nipples”, “See You in Shell” and “Danger in the Manger” to mention just 3. Both bassist Mike Martin and guitarist Steven Bradley really do look demented at times during the show, with Bradley flinging his guitar in all directions and pulling faces that wouldn’t look out of place on the Joker in a Batman flick.

Iwrestledabearonce
Iwrestledabearonce

With the replacement of vocalist Krysta Cameron (due to pregnancy) by Courtney LaPlante a little while back, it was interesting to see what the band would sound like. I can report that they sound as good as ever, LaPlante has a decent singing voice and does a fine job on the shouting front. While her live performance looks a little indifferent at times the antics of the rest of the band goes a fair way to offset this.
Starting the show tonight with a cover of “Jump” by Van Halen sets the scene and the band run through a shortish set of material from both of the albums, notable tracks are “You Ain’t No Family”, “Karate Nipples” and “It Is “Bro” Isn’t It?”. The music is such a mix of genres with so many twists and turns, that you could not possibly conceive that it would work on disk, let alone live but miraculously it does (most of the time!). The newer songs flow better than the older stuff but they all share an eccentricity that is both delicious and intriguing (for me at least!).

Iwrestledabearonce
Iwrestledabearonce

This is quite challenging stuff at times! Sadly, The Garage is still pretty empty though, although the small crowd is appreciative of IWABO. I guess this is testament to the fact that this is a band that is never going to attract a big audience because their music is so far removed from the norm – they are definitely not going to appeal to everyone but, if you’ve an open mind they are definitely worth a listen, who knows where you may end up!

Oceano
Oceano

 

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