LIVE REVIEW: Cancer Bats @ Sin City, Swansea

Where would you expect to see one of Canada’s most notable bands since ALEXISONFIRE, a random Wednesday evening? If you answered “in front of a Soup spoons in Swansea”, you would be surprisingly right. Towards the end of their Psychic Jailbreak UK tour, CANCER BATS play at one of Swansea’s most infamous venues: Peach Town. Doubling as a nightclub in a college town, it might not be the first choice for a hardcore gig, but it’s an interesting mix of aesthetics.

Live Graphic Nature @ Sin City, Swansea. Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography

The evening opening is GRAPHIC TYPE. They immediately started making a name for themselves as one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from the UK metal scene in a long time and there’s a very good reason for that. Their live set is a marvel at a normal gig, but with a stage close enough to the ground they can (not literally) take their show to a whole new level. Singer Harvey Freeman can walk into the crowd and encourage them to move properly, forming a wall of relentless crowd-killers who don’t even back down from the singer who walks past the stage in vicious fury. They’re arguably the most visually cohesive band on the lineup, with the band themselves wearing hooded waterproof jackets for their entire set – you really have to respect their commitment. GRAPHIC TYPE carry on with the same energy as bands like NOOSE did on their first outing, using their raw, aggressive energy to electrify those who came out early to catch their set in such an intimate venue. Their fierce confidence leaves no hint that they will soon be the future royalty of the hardcore crowd.

Rating: 8/10

Witch Fever live in Sin City, Swansea.  Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography
Witch Fever live in Sin City, Swansea. Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography

It’s always a tough act to follow an opener when they manage to invigorate a crowd on the way GRAPHIC TYPE have succeeded, but doom punk outfit WITCHES FEVER are more than up to the challenge. They mean business and instantly jump into their performance, lead singer Amy Walpole prowling from one end of the stage to the other, keeping his eyes fixed on the audience like a panther who has just laid eyes on his dinner. Their sound is deafening with all the force of a ten-ton truck and the darker tones inside mimic the buzzing sound of BLACK SABBATH – a sound that the audience can pick up. They take absolutely no prisoners and defy expectations with their sound and message behind every song. This is underscored as the entire group is called out by a soon-to-be-falling thug as soon as Walpole takes it upon themselves to lecture them in front of the entire audience – and rightly so. Although many bands fear facing disrespectful spectators, WITCHES FEVER have no problem letting the whole room know that they refuse to be confined by gender and are here only to push the boundaries of sound and image. They are exactly what punk should be.

Rating: 8/10

Cancer Bats live in Sin City, Swansea.  Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography
Cancer Bats live in Sin City, Swansea. Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography

CANCER BATS became one of those festival staples that return year after year and play a solid set that most audiences are sure to know two of the three songs from, but it was far from a festival set. To Peach Town, BATS perform their own show with their own rules, or lack thereof, and make the most of every second on stage. Seconds into their set, the whole room is enveloped in a mosh pit that spins around the central pillar in front of the stage – or as the leader Liam Cormier calls him, “less of a pit, more of a mosh ditch”. He’s so enthusiastic about it that he even tries his hand at a little Welshman (and is one of the few non-Welshmen who doesn’t absolutely slaughter the expression “shwmae bechgyn”).

Their set continues with high energy levels as the fast opener of Hail Destructive echoes throughout the room. The pit speeds up to the point where the rest of the room can catch a breeze and feel the ground move with them. Their whole set feels less like a concert and more like a reunion of old friends, because Cormier and the rest of the band takes time to chat with the audience mid-stream via the microphone. He feels unique and CANCER BATS may be the only group that can pull it off so well. Halfway through their set, we are greeted by a guest appearance from brooklyn Doran, whose name can’t even be heard properly amid the cheers of the crowd, as she gets up to perform with the band. And she really works. Faithful to the record, she sticks to Hammer and is just amazing – someone really needs to make sure she has full functionality on the next CANCER BATS released and is used correctly.

Cancer Bats live in Sin City, Swansea.  Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography
Cancer Bats live in Sin City, Swansea. Photo credit: Megan Jenkins Photography

As their set nears the end, the room regresses further into chaos. Bass player Jaye R. Schwarze it ended up in the crowd with its mic stand and its bass engulfed by the mosh, and the guitarist Etienne Harrisson swings his guitar around his head at a pace that makes him feel like he’s about to take off. It all culminates when Sabotage begin; a crowd favorite cover of a BABY BOYS song that will always be a treat, even among the most casual listeners. Along with the mess comes arguably the toughest mosher of the night, who takes the stage to sing the track with the band – a fitting reward for someone who shouted all the lyrics tonight. The closing track Lucifer’s rocking chair is a last chance for the crowd to unleash their energy and they don’t disappoint, jumping in unison to bounce the ground with them. CANCER BATS is a group that, despite its long presence on stage, will always manage to attract crowds. No matter how many festival appearances on the main stage, they will always return to perform in these intimate venues and give fans the show they really want as they continue to improve themselves.

Rating: 10/10

Check out our photo gallery of the action from the night in Swansea from Megan Jenkins Photography here:

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About James K. Bonnette

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