Live Review: Touche Amore - O2 Academy 3, Birmingham 22/02/2017
Since releasing their latest album ‘Stage Four’ in 2016, an album that packs a lot of emotion, Touché Amoré have finally made it across to England to finish up on their European tour. Joining them is American hardcore band Angel Du$t alongside Departures right up until this Birmingham date, when unfortunately one of the members of Departures fell ill, so here’s wishing him a speedy recovery.
To fill in for Departure’s, Elliot Babin; drummer of Touché Amoré, took centre stage with a solo set performing songs from his side project ‘Warm Thoughts’. Warm Thoughts is a punk/emo band from Los Angeles, with a revolving cast of Babin and his friends, and formally known by the name of ‘Dad Punchers’. This set highly contrasted what was to come with a different kind of intimacy that felt more vulnerable, rather than the aggressive intimacy you expect from hardcore. However this contrast worked well and kept the night exciting and despite the heavy contrast, the emotion matched that of what was to come later from Touché Amoré.
One of the most memorable songs played was ‘Your Haircut Man’, which overall is a pretty simplistic song about being in love with your flat mate, but your flat mate being in love with some one else. Despite the simplicity, Babin performed it with such raw emotion, which captivated the crowd and had me unable to turn my head away. What made this set even more unique is that it was performed solely with a guitar and vocals, whereas it would usually consist of other instruments and some harsher tones when performed as a whole. It was this solo act that gave me the same vibes of watching a solo Pinegrove set, which just shows how much this set contrasted with what was originally expected of the night. The contrast can also be heard by listening to Warm Thoughts on record, which replaces the Pinegrove vibes with more Joyce Manor-esque vibes instead.
Next up was one of my favourite bands in hardcore, Angel Du$t. The last time I saw them perform was way back in 2014 when they played with Turnstile, Nai Harvest and Broken Teeth at Leeds Brudnell Social club. After seeing them back then, I expected a high amount of energy and fun from their set and had high hopes, and I was not disappointed. Angel Du$t really stand out within hardcore, offering quick catchy songs that transition into each other perfectly, whilst also delivering a unique stage presence with some awesome dance moves here and there from lead singer Justice Tripp (ex Trapped Under Ice). The whole band really know how to get the crowd going and make things fun and you can see a lot of energy from the whole band, especially from drummer Daniel Fang. The set itself included a lot of songs from their latest release ‘Rock the Fuck on Forever’, whilst also not forgetting their roots and including some older releases too. At the end of the set came a surprise as Jeremy Bolm came on stage to sing alongside Angel Du$t which got the whole crowd pushed towards the barrier screaming every word to ‘Set Me Up’, which really topped off the whole set.
After such an energetic performance, and a quick chance for Bolm to cool down, on came Touché Amoré, starting with the first song from Stage Four; ‘Flowers and You’. This got the crowd singing along straight away showing just how well received their newer songs are. Alongside this came a mix of songs from their discography including some old favourites such as ‘Great Repetition’ and ‘Home Away from Here’. What I love about Touché Amoré is the emotion every song carries, and this emotion translates right onto the stage with them as you see every emotion on Jeremy Bolm’s face, and the intensity of Elliot Babin on drums. The only problem with the set was the barrier and Bolm pointed out his annoyance towards this, and did his best to interact with the crowd as much as he could. Then as the final song came before the encore, he jumped over the barrier into the pit and everyone fled to crowd around him and sang every word to him as he handed the mic to various fans. It’s this intimacy and interaction with the crowd that make gigs like this so much fun and so memorable, and made this one of my favourite gigs I’ve been to in a long time. Jeremy Bolm knows more than anyone just how to interact with the crowd and keep everyone engaged the whole way through and he delivered this perfectly tonight. If I could, I’d have gone tonight’s gig over and over again for the pure intimacy of it all.
Words and Photography by Hayley Fearnley