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Aussies Closure In Moscow light up London

Closure In Moscow Icarus The Owl Atlas Empire tour poster

It’s an unfortunate fact of city life that, quite often, they’re rife with opportunistic scum. Scum that will steal a touring band’s valuables from their van at the very same moment said band is stealing the hearts of the assembled, packed-out crowd. It’s a kind of brutal irony really, but these types know that there are rich pickings to be had around London’s venues, and tonight’s far-flung headliners were the unfortunate victims of such an escapade.

The evening begins well enough, however. First act Atiptoe open up with songs both bright and upbeat, meshing the punchy, noodly parts of someone like Minus The Bear with the crispness and energetic drums of Bloc Party. The rhythm complement in particular is pleasing, with Simon Treasure’s bright beats meshing well with a beautifully sharp bass sound.

Despite the energy of the alt-rocky music itself, the performance itself has a bit too much “stand and perform”; frontman and guitarist Dave Sylvester is emotive, yet barely looks up from his instrument. They’re technically very competent however, so this is more advice to aid future performances of very good material.

Mixing elements of post-metal – the thick, punishing 5-string bass and thunderous drumming – with post-rock’s penchant for sparkly guitar lines and delay pedals, there are splashes of math, post-hardcore and Scottish charm in spades from Atlas:Empire, and it’s a heady mix.

All three guitarists contribute vocals both sung and shouted, and in combinations of solo, alternating pairs, and all three simultaneously. It serves to keep things interesting throughout a set filled with noise, wailing guitars, and the impressively tight drumming of their current fill-in, who joins them on tour with minimal preparation but an abundance of enthusiasm.

Their closing track channels Deftones in a major way, but more than that, it’s also Atlas:Empire at their most direct, and sees Steven Gillies ditching his guitar altogether and dancing in between impassioned shouts and blinding screams, a la Chino Moreno. Quite the head-turner.

The performance is a genuine pleasure from the first song, and one of those instances where you’re glad you came to watch a band you’d never heard of before.

Portland’s Icarus The Owl certainly benefit from The Garage’s fairly recent Upstairs sound system upgrade. The most cacophonous so far, there’s a hell of a lot to process amongst their Blue Swan style, but those paying close attention are certainly well rewarded, and the band do their material – including a variety of cuts from recently released album Pilot Waves – justice.

As with the other bands, that the bass is comfortably audible is welcome. Zach McLean’s lines seem to wander absent-mindedly, but it’s all deceptively under control, fashioned around Rob Bernknopf’s energetic, octopian beats. Jake Gyllenhaal-alike Joey Rubenstein keeps things light up front; his fingers flying over his fretboard as he sings.

Overall it’s just a lot of fun; there’s a great energy, the heaviness is just right for the crowd, and the room is full of smiling faces throughout. A cheerful pit breaks out during their penultimate song, and the good feeling is palpable.

Closure In Moscow‘s reputation precedes them a bit, so I’m expecting good things – as are the rest of the crowd it seems, who, much more familiar with their material than I am, give a blinding response to the Aussies’ opening gambit. You get the feeling of a rockier The Mars Volta, sans much of the proggy wankery – and indeed, audaciously-dressed frontman Christopher de Cinque channels Cedric Bixler-Zavala in tone AND energy, clearly enjoying the crowd’s enthusiasm.

There’s a lovely warm guitar buzz to third track “Seeds Of Gold“, which sees de Cinque cheekily invite the crowd to move their hips. It’s certainly got the appropriate level of groove to warrant a bit of a bop, and neatly shows off Closure In Moscow’s astute song-writing ability – it wouldn’t be out of place on any radio playlist. The rapturous reception is more than warranted.

Again, The Garage’s sound is on point, with absolutely everything mixed to perfection, allowing this newbie’s first exposure to be as crisp as possible. It’s hard not to be drawn in by the mix of upbeat songs, marvellous crowd energy, party atmosphere…and the audacious shiny Christmas decoration on Christopher’s left hand. Shiny? Shiny.

It’s a shame that the group were robbed as they played, and we hope it doesn’t tarnish their experience of the capital too much. Their journey has since been fraught with danger, as they played a venue in Paris the following Friday, as the night’s terrible events at Le Bataclan and beyond unfolded. Europe this ain’t guys; we’d love to have you back.