On a drizzly afternoon and Download Festival, nearing the end of their set, Black Peaks mumbled that they would be touring with Heck, who had also played that weekend. It was a fleeting moment, but one in which many said “did he really just say that?” Having witnessed both, including the previous incarnation of Baby Godzilla, one could only imagine the possibilities of what such a tour would entail. Heck have graduated from an erratic band with a couple of songs, to an incredibly erratic band with a full set of absolute ‘bangers’; their ability to destroy any venue is astounding even after seeing it so many times. Black Peaks meanwhile released an album that challenged the listener, before being given the chance to open for Deftones at Wembley Arena and taking the challenge confidently. Now the two have combined for their own tour, the dream has become reality, and Wolverhampton’s Slade Rooms is where I saw this actuality realised.
On this night it was Heck who played first out of the two headliners. They opened with the lead single from their new album Instructions, ‘Good as Dead.’ It took mere moments before they were in the crowd. Moving into ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’ and ‘Mope’ the band began to get more creative as the audience responded well, hurling bodies and mic stands in any direction. The floor at the Slade Rooms must have been clean because every person in the pit slipped over, and if anything that is a testament to the hygiene standards of the Slade Rooms. It’s hard to document exactly what was going on, because that would imply someone even knew. There were those who enjoyed throwbacks to ‘Powerboat Disaster’ and ‘The Three Legged Race.ist’, but when guitarist Johnny Hall climbed a table he’d found, and the crowd began to move that table around the venue into literally every single corner, sense lost it’s focus, and it was just about the moment, whatever bonkers envisioning of it that was. Heck are one of the best live bands around, and their willingness to bond with the audience so intimately isn’t a gimmick, they back up their onstage antics with brilliant songs. Their performances are like a fight, but in the end, everyone is a winner, just a severely beaten one.
For reference of the table shenanigans, here is a video captured by ‘Videographer’ and ‘Capturer of Visuality’ Joshua Crawley.
There was a suspicion that Black Peaks may be upstaged by Heck purely because of the lack of onstage antics. Don’t get me wrong, they are entertaining live, but coming after Heck must be a daunting task for even the most seasoned musicians. Naturally this did not phase them, and they took their performance in their own way, the power of the songs, and the incredible vocals of Will Gardner and his beautiful mustache. The band opened with the latest single from Statues, ‘White Eyes’, before going into an old song, from their original moniker Shrine, ‘Closer to the Sun’. When they played ‘Drones’ was when the crowd finally recovered from their earlier beating, that single note chorus, screamed at such an intensity, eviscerated the front row … well near enough. ‘Saviour’ and ‘Set in Stone’, with its extended intro, managed to make sure the pulverisation was complete before the real crux of the set. In a reverse from their album order, ‘Hang ‘Em High’ going into ‘Say You Will’ are ten incredible minutes at a live show, which must be witnessed to be truly appreciated. The former’s brutal throat-lacerating breakdown, which Gardner spent screaming into the floor of the press pit, heading into ‘Say You Will’, a song with a near perfect build up from subtlety to intensity, absolutely beautiful. Ending with ‘Glass Built Castles’ one can be left a hot, sweaty, and smiling and what they just witnessed.
Here were two of the greatest young bands around, and their billing together was genius. Congratulations to the Slade Rooms for being brave enough to host this tour. If the live shows of both these bands can measure, and build on, what was seen last night, there’s no reason they both can’t go incredibly far with their music. Both have vast swathes of potential in their respective fields, and it’s great to see two of these bands touring together.
Worst part: Turns out the lyric in ‘Breakers’ isn’t “God is in my balls” but Heck wouldn’t say what it really is, the crazy fiends.