«

»

Twin Atlantic + Dinosaur Pile-Up + Arcane Roots @ O2 Academy 2 Birmingham, Friday 2nd December 2011

It’s a Friday gig at the 02 Academy 2 Birmingham, so it’s an unusually early start to see a bunch of new rock kids on the block. Back after a pretty successful few months, to round of their year, it’s time to bounce along with Twin Atlantic.

First up, Arcane Roots from Kingston, a three piece who play an eclectic mix of vocal melodic rock (think Kings of Leon), screamy grunge plus full on jammin’, man – they are an intriguing mess of genres – difficult to pinpoint. Be interesting to see how these guys develop – and even though it is early (they’re on at stupidly early time of 6.45pm) the venue is near half full, and they go down well.

Next up the cheekily named Dinosaur Pile-Up from Leeds. Allegedly their name came from a scene in the original King Kong where a load of dinosaurs fall down a mountain and end up in a pile – so funny lead singer / guitarist Matt Bigland thought it would be a great name for the band.  Musically, they are clearly inspired by Nirvana and have a great bass rhythmical beat going on.  The drum kit takes up most of the tiny stage, how they find the space to move beats me. As the crowd begins to fill the venue, they too, go down well, and get the crowd clapping along. Another young band of talented individuals who will also be interesting watch where their musical journey takes them.

So bang on 8.30pm, on to a blue-lit moody set, come Twin Atlantic, to a huge scream from the crowd. I saw them at the Academy 3 earlier in this year, playing to a maximum of couple of hundred fans; tonight they’re playing the Academy 2, capable of holding up to 600 fans,  and this gig is pretty much sold out.

Formed in ’07, Glaswegians Sam McTrusty (vocals and guitar) Barry McKenna (guitar), Ross McNae (bass) & Craig Kneel (drums) are Twin Atlantic. Noticed after the release of their mini-album ‘Vivarium’ in 2009, they have toured internationally with the likes of Biffy Clyro, Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance, Blink 182 amongst others. They’re finishing off their year of promotion for their first full album ‘Free’ with their largest UK tour so far.

McTrusty appears on the tiny stage with his band mates, and punches the air, like a returning hero; they’re straight into ‘Serious Underground Dances Vibes’, followed by new single ‘Make A Beast of Myself’ – the crowd bounce and sing-a-long – these guys are obviously up for the gig. “Thank you Birmingham… glad to be back…”

The audience is well into the band, bouncing exuberantly and energetically throughout the gig. McTrusty’s stagecraft continues to get better and better  – he’s chatty and keen to get the audience fully involved, encouraging them to clap and bounce, and inviting everyone to “party.” The crowd knows all the words; for  ‘We Want Better, Man’ “Get a fucking grip….” rings out around the room. McTrusty at one point stands on the barrier that holds the crowd back, arms in the air and then leaps into the crowd, guitar in hand, for a bit of crowd surfing. ‘Crashland’ is an acoustic affair, ALL the crowd singing all the words, couple of people sitting on their mates shoulders (to the concern of the bouncers who shine a warning light on them), audience group hugs do the rounds, and McTrusty looks suitably impressed by the everyone’s efforts.

The encore gives us ‘Yes, I Was Drunk’ – “Thank you Birmingham we’ve got two songs left…” then a riff, and bang, we’re into ‘Time For You to Stand Up’ followed by title track ‘Free.’

According to lead signer McTrusty, “Music’s been dumbed down and homogenised. There are lots of people who don’t believe in it anymore. But we’ve made a record with substance – we’re giving people something to believe in again.” Tonight’s crowd certainly believe.

When I saw Twin Atlantic earlier in the year, I thought they gave a good gig, but wondered how far they were away from sounding like the bands that inspired them. After a summer of gigging, Leeds and Reading festival appearances and a US tour, this has clearly done them the world of good – they are coming into their own, making their songs far more ‘Twin Atlantic’ rather than sound-a-like. They are energetic, the crowd responds in full flow, the set far more professional than their young years. This year’s school report has to be “Great year boys, progressing nicely” – Twin Atlantic are carving out success the hard way, gigging tirelessly. Will they be able to rise to the next level? They’re clearly building an exuberant and loyal fan base, and tracks are getting breaks on UK and US radio airtime. The real big break could come with the next album – a standout track, showcasing their great live performances and, what you need in the modern music industry, a lot of luck and that chance break. Once again, a good night was had by all. All in all good end to 2011 for Twin Atlantic – just what will 2012 bring?

********

Setlist:

  1. Serious Underground Dances Vibes
  2. Make A Beast of Myself
  3. The Ghost of Eddie
  4. Eight Days
  5. What is Light? Where is Laughter?
  6. Wonder Sleeps Here
  7. Apocalyptic Renegade
  8. Edit Me
  9. Caribbean War Syndrome
  10. We Want Better, Man
  11. Lightspeed
  12. Human After All
  13. Where is My Mind
  14. Crash Land
  15. Audience and Audio
  16. You’re Turning into John Wayne

Encore:

  1. Yes, I Was Drunk
  2. Time For You to Stand Up
  3.  Free

********

Listening:

Free (2011)

Vivarium (Debut mini-album) (2009)