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Reporting from the lovely Press To Meco and the dashing The Sun Explodes’ gig in London recently

The Sun Explodes Press To Meco tour 2014

Despite still feeling the deep aches in my bones from my Halloween adventures only the night before, I hobbled out again to check out a remarkably varied bill at Surya; an ecologically minded small venue in Kings Cross.

First up are Londoners Chase The Day. I had seen a very early incarnation of the band some years ago, so I had a rough idea of what to expect. However, only vocalist/guitarist James remains from that line-up, complete with his distinctive, transparent bodied guitar. The band have also very recently made the jump from trio to quartet with the addition of second guitarist Manoel, who is making his very first appearance with the band this evening.

Chase The Day mine a seam of solid hard rock, with some grungy overtones. The straight-ahead, no-nonsense tracks carry a vibe not a million miles away from Bush, Queens Of The Stone Age or Foo Fighters. However, this solid foundation is given a noticeable lift by the application of Manoel’s tasteful, bluesy lead parts.

Whilst not necessarily the most original proposition, Chase The Day deliver a tight set of well constructed, enjoyable tracks. The band have clearly taken the jump from trio to quartet in their stride, so it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.

Legend In Japan are a very different proposition indeed. With three girls out front and a chap behind the kit, they kick out brash and scratchy punk songs with an infectious enthusiasm.

Frontwoman Shabby prowls – and indeed crawls – around the stage and beyond, with a compelling stage persona and an amusing line of self-depreciation. It’s hard not to be reminded of bands like X-Ray Spex or The Slits, especially with song titles like “Agitation Propaganda” recalling the spirit of the late seventies.

Beneath the ramshackle, DIY exterior, it’s also clear that Legend In Japan have an ear for a catchy chorus and are more accomplished than one might initially expect. Coupled with the onstage theatrics, their set adds up to be as pleasant a surprise as it is a change of pace from the more considered acts either side of them. More bills should be this varied.

Next up are Monolith favourites The Sun Explodes. This is the first date of a week-long headlining tour for the Carlisle quintet, but they have ceded the top spot tonight to tour buddies Press To Meco for their hometown show.

I had been looking forward to my first chance to catch The Sun Explodes at a club show since watching them at Tech Fest earlier this year (review linky) and they do not disappoint. The cosy little stage at Surya proves to be too small for the band and their gear, so vocalist Dave spends the whole set out on the floor in front of the stage. And even then the stage can’t quite contain them, with guitarist Alex nearly tumbling off the side during one of their more explosive moments.

They start the set with a clutch of favourites from We Build Mountains, with “Serpentine” suffering from a bit of a false start thanks to Jamie’s bass drum pedal choosing an inopportune moment to fall apart, but the minor technical hitch is dealt with swiftly and with good humour. The intimacy of these surroundings really heighten the effect of the band’s command of dynamics, as well as their deft and regular deployment of multiple vocal lines, especially on “Machines“.

We are treated to a new track, tentatively titled “The Unnatural“, which sounds huge and bodes well for the future. “Honour Bound“, from debut release Emergence closes the show in a triumphant fashion, with Dave finally succumbing to his exhibitionist tendencies and stripping to his boxers in the outro.

At its core, the success of The Sun Explodes’ sound lies in their ability to embellish their thoughtful progressive metal with both pure grunt machismo and an almost feminine delicacy in pretty much equal measure. The set ends far too quickly and I’m certainly left hoping that they can make the long trip down from Cumbria to the capital again in the not too distant future.

And so Press To Meco are left to close out the show to the small but enthusiastic crowd. Attendance tonight has probably been slightly hampered by this weekend being particularly gig-heavy in the capital, not least due to the Nightmare festival happening across a dozen venues just down the road in Camden, but ut a smaller than anticipated audience certainly doesn’t dampen their spirits, and they close the show with a bang.

Or, perhaps that should be a pop. A learned friend used the term ‘popcore’ to define Press To Meco’s effervescent sound, and I think that frames them perfectly. Coming across like something akin to a British Blink 182, without the cloying, nausea-inducing saccharine SoCal vibe.

They deliver a sharp set of astonishingly tight, almost flawlessly packaged high-energy songs that practically drip potential from every pore. With both big sing-along choruses and some startlingly heavy passages nestled comfortably alongside each other, they completely hold my attention despite the fact that their music is nothing like what I’d choose to listen to at home.

The relatively straightforward nature of the tracks slightly masks the fact they all know their way around their instruments, something which really comes to the fore in their seemingly effortless execution of three part harmonies, as well as all taking a lead vocal turn.

We are effectively treated to arena-sized songs in a shoebox-sized venue. The music industry is an ineffably fickle creature, but if these guys aren’t packing out venues ten times this size in the not too distant future something will have gone terribly awry. There’s a tangible feeling – which is all too rare – that this could be the start of something really special indeed.