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Post-hardcore supergroup Get Involved with two of London’s own

Get Involved Zoax Love Zombies Old Blue Last poster

Last week we mentioned we mentioned we were going to see American post-hardcore band Get Involved! when we talked about their video for “Get Involved.” Well, we went and we watched and we listened. How about that?

Free shows can be hit or miss with attendance, but with this one billed to open at 8pm, it seems everyone had ample opportunity to get some dinner down their necks and so the turnout was already pretty good by the time the opening act took to the stage at 8:45pm.

First up were Love Zombies, who combine “California sunshine with south London punk.” A pop/rock quintet with an edge, principally from London, they’re fronted by the energetic and engaging American Hollis J, who undoubtedly has reams of experience with a mic. Their stage set-up was simple (a mic-stand adorned with their name, and Hollis’ custom checkerboard mic), but from the get-go it’s clear they know what they’re doing.

Between Hollis’ punky Dorothy ruby boots and the Carrol-esque song “Eat Me” there’s was strong theme of children’s literature cut with swathes of energy. She’s a tornado of energy; between flailing legs, her bouncing around the stage and shedding layers of her many skirts, it’s hard to take your eye off her.

One song carries a palpable “One Way Or Another” vibe, and you can’t help but feel the Blondie vibe. It’s theatrical and colourful, and playing the last song with one shoe off epitomises the set; slightly wacky and off the cuff, but ultimately disarming and charming.

It wasn’t exactly our usual fare, but not at all unenjoyable.

Following were Monolith favourites Zoax. Simon’s spoken about them even within the past month, and this is our fourth time seeing them in the last six months, but we can’t get enough of them. They’re one of the finest live bands in the country right now, and it boils down to the essence of their show: yes, the music is important, and it is very good, but it’s not about showing how good they are; no, their show is about making friends. They’ve likely stood in enough crowds and watched enough other bands themselves to know that there’s nothing worse than zero chemistry between those on the stage and those in front of it, and so rather than attempting to wow the punters with fretboard histrionics, they utilise their charisma.

Their prime weapon is Adam Carroll, the Cork County charmer. Dynamic and engaging, he spends a good amount of time interacting with the crowd, cracking jokes and eliciting smiles all round. Backing this up are all the vocal chops you’d want from your vocalist; cutting between fierce roars and soaring cleans at the drop of the hat, and even in the same sentence.

Whether he’s using audience members as a mic stand, or wriggling to the back of the room on his belly, a good 80% of the audience’s eyes are on him at any one time, and that’s a testament to his pitch-perfect showmanship.

Whenever Carroll is on the floor, Joe Copcutt thunders lines mic-less from centre stage, all whilst delivering his sublimely textured low-end. The gorgeous sounds coming from his bass during the opening bars of “Mind Game” are record-perfect, and highlights how well the soundman is doing his job. Elsewhere, the guitars of Daniel Prasad and Douglas Wotherspoon are angular and insistent, whether they’re stabbing out riffs or creating effect-laden atmosphere. Standing right near the front, you get a real feel for how calculated what the pair do is – again, it’s not showy or overly technical, but instead just displays good, solid songwriting.

The four instrumentalists are tight as can be, and a mention must be made of drummer Jonathan Rogers, who absolutely canes my neck across the six song set – which includes everything from debut EP XIII, as well as newer song “We Are Living“, which is a very tasty cut indeed, and promises good things for the full-length they’re currently writing.

It’s a hard act to follow, but with the wealth of experience at the disposal of Get Involved!, you figure they stand at least a fighting chance. The band features former members of Glassjaw and From Autumn To Ashes on guitars, as well as Thursday‘s drummer, but it’s vocalist Derrick Karg who cuts the most imposing figure, all wild eyes, sharp cheekbones and muscular frame.

It’s a shame that much of this potential impact is squandered; Marcus Russell Price’s bass is incredibly overpowering, drowning out the guitars in particular, and this is a problem for much of the set. It’s a shame, because the band’s pedigree does show through in glimpses. Karg’s vocals are strong and his presence remains animated throughout, even to a slightly indifferent crowd.

That being said, there’s a clear difference in motivation between American and British audiences, and calls for a response from the crowd fall on deaf – or at least very heard of hearing – ears. It’s Wednesday and I think people are a bit tired. An awkward happy birthday song for the merch girl gets some token response, but we are awfully polite and it’s not nearly as raucous as she probably deserved for being half-way around the world.

Overall it’s a shame, because the band have some good songs – their recently released debut EP Silk Cuts is quite catchy – and the try very hard, and are at least somewhat rewarded – until Karg is dropped whilst crowdsurfing to the back of the room. Nothing he’s not dealt with before, but it’s a bit of an allegorical bump for their first UK show.

So all in all, three very different styles of fronting yielding different results, but no-one could really go home ashamed of themselves or the effort displayed.