by Izzie Ruffle
London, UK - May 6th, 2023
Dying Wish were the openers of the evening. The American metalcore band from Portland, Oregon, who were nominated for “Best International Band” at the UK’s Heavy Music Awards, are fronted by singer Emma Boster, who wasted no time in riling up the crowd with anti-capitalist messages and themes of disestablishment.
A backdrop of red and purple lights flooded the band onstage, as crowd-surfers poured over the edge of the barrier, a small glimpse of what to expect as the evening progressed. Despite being the first band to play that evening, a slot that can sometimes come with a hesitant reception from the crowd, Dying Wish had total control over their audience. Their set was nothing short of an ultimate display of raw talent and energy. They’re a band who have already accomplished so much, and from whom to expect massive things in the future. Their shows with Counterparts have only served to prove this.
Swiss deathcore band Paleface were next to take the stage at Electric Brixton. Their set started with a recording of an initially quiet, but growing increasingly terrified voice, crying and screaming in fear, something which immediately grabbed the attention of the crowd. Vocalist Marc Zelli donning a black mesh top, took to the stage like a fish to water. This is a band who are in their element when performing, and this reflects in the reactions of the audience in front of them, if anything by the sheer amount of crowd members surfing over the front barrier.
Paleface have a unique sound in the genre of deathcore, with elements of rap mixed in, and a stage presence to rival the late Freddie Mercury, anyone who’d attended the concert without hearing of the band before were certain to leave as fans after watching their performance. Closing their set with their latest single “Best Before Death” – Paleface left the stage sweaty, exhilarated and with one final message – “For now, this is motherf*cking PALEFACE!”
Kublai Khan TX are no strangers to the London metalcore scene, and their presence tonight was highly anticipated by the crowd. There was a palpable buzz in the air before the Texan giants took to the stage, and as soon as the band came out, madness descended upon the Brixton venue. Within the first three songs, a fan had jumped from the stage, over the pit, and into the crowd. Guest vocals from Gabe Becerra, the touring photographer, only served to hype the crowd more, as he bounced across the stage with the energy of a bull in a China shop.
Kublai Khan’s set was a testament to the band’s tenacity and power, having formed in 2009, they’ve gone from strength to strength, building a dedicated fanbase globally. The final show on their tour with Counterparts was a culmination of energy and excitement which could be felt from the stage, to the front doors of the venue, and likely beyond.
Fans continued to crowd surf across the pit and at one point a man in a full Shrek mask could be seen being pulled over the barrier by security, in a moment of joviality contrasted by the dimly lit room and even darker themes of songs including “Resentment” and “Self Destruct”
Kublai Khan have proven to be a hit among UK crowds time and time again, and the final date of the tour was no different. Vocalist Matt Honeycutt announced they’d sold out of t-shirts before even reaching London, and promised to take a photo with the crowd at the end of their set that night, the biggest to date, and have it printed on t-shirts specially for the occasion. Closing their set, Honeycutt addressed the crowd saying “Last set of the tour, let’s make it count – This is Loyal To None!” before being joined onstage by Sam Reynolds of Dying Wish for guest vocals, another big hit with the crowd.
“Y’alright Coronation Street?!” exclaimed Counterparts vocalist Brendan Murphy as he took to the stage wearing a banner that read “Hip Hip Hooray,” a brief nod to the nationwide, and somewhat controversial occasion taking place that day in London: the coronation of King Charles III. The melodic hardcore band and headliners of the tour, hailing from Hamilton, Canada, had been openly excited about tonight’s show, and for good reason, as it marked their biggest headlining show on UK soil to date.
“This song is about my dead cat,” exclaimed Murphy, “it’s called Whispers Of Your Death,” an announcement that had the entire venue in uproar. The song, released in 2022, is a testament to the power of love between man and animal, and the inexplainable grief felt in moments of ill health, especially over the past two years when so many turned to their pets for company and comfort in the midst of the pandemic.
Despite the dark and, at times, turbulent themes of their music, the band remained upbeat and had a tumultuous hold on the crowd that was second to none.
Counterparts have been a staple in the hardcore scene for over a decade and have been making waves since forming in 2007. Their latest album, “A Eulogy For Those Still Here” serves to fill the gaps left behind by conclusions. In a quote prior to the show, Brendan explained
“I think I deal with things by preparing myself for the end - With so much of this record I’m mourning the loss of someone that’s still alive or saying goodbye to something that hasn’t left yet.”
It’s a sobering and relatable statement, and the ability to convey this feeling throughout their latest album, as well as live performance, is a talent that Counterparts have not only refined, but perfected.
Playing tracks across their seven-album discography throughout the night, there was certainly something in the show for fans from any era of Counterparts.
“This song’s about murder!” Exclaims Brendan before launching into "Your Own Knife," towards the end of the set, a statement met by screams of excitement and pure joy from the crowd up and down the venue.
Their final show of the tour, and biggest night to date, was an explosive, emotional and exciting affair, with fans two-stepping to songs both down in the pit, and up on the highest balconies of the venue. It may have been the end of the tour for the band, but it’s certainly the start of something very, very exciting for Canadian heavyweights Counterparts.