By Jase Walker
Continuing my restless run of shows after Download because who needs a good night’s sleep after a massive festival? Not me, evidently. Tonight’s show takes me back to the Star and Garter, a short walk away from my abode in Manchester for Dragged Under supported by Defences and Immerse. Both Dragged Under and Defences are touring following both having shows at Download festival with Dragged Under continuing their shows into Europe for more festival appearances including the famous Hellfest in France.
It’s unusual to see the Star & Garter with its blinds up, let alone having the windows open but this doesn’t seem to deter Immerse shouting for the audience to stand up and move forward. It’s my first time hearing of these guys so I’m not quite sure what to expect, but that’s the joys of checking out the support acts, you never know! From the get-go they seem to sit somewhere between metalcore and post-hardcore, I really dig their sound already! Solid riffs, vocals that jump between cleans and uncleans and some solid grooves in there too, definitely my cuppa. A lot of movement on stage is great to see as well, I can only imagine how much energy that’s taking given how bloody warm it is in here right now.
It’s also surprising how many people are filling up the venue for the support acts too, Manchester is doing the scene proud. Immerse have a great ear for writing a catchy hook matched with a solid groove, each song jumping back and forth between poppy choruses and aggressive verses. I’m really digging the singer’s higher pitched uncleans with a slightly raspy tone, reminiscent of the likes of Sam Carter and Jon Mess. Really solid set from these openers and despite the odd technical issues (which were dealt with quickly), it’s been a great introduction to them, and they’ll be a name I’ll keep an eye out for in future.
Next up tonight is Defences but with a slight line-up change as Will (one of their singers) unfortunately couldn’t make this date due to work commitments so we have a stand-in for tonight. Time for a bit of djenty goodness in Star and Garter tonight! We’ve clearly got a few solid Defences fans in here tonight that wasted no time in getting right up close to the stage for a good old-fashioned bounce. The dual singer dynamic works so well for their stage performance too, getting right up in the face of the audience and giving them something to focus on. The low end chuggy sounds of Defences fills the room and their fans at the front are flinging themselves around and getting stuck in.
The crowd acts like a mirror to the band, both trying to out-do each other at headbanging the hardest in the breakdowns. The dynamic of duetting voices, one clean, the other growling in support, is something I genuinely wish I saw more of. It’s one thing to have one singer pulling double duty with backing tracks but seeing it done live with two separate singers introduces a fantastic way of layering vocal melodies. Defences are keeping the momentum going following their Download show and it shows, this show in Manchester is showing no signs of hitting the brakes. If you want a showcase in how a band can be djent and pop at the same time, Defences are it.
And finally on this incredibly humid evening in Manchester, Dragged Under take the stage and get started with a sound that is very much at odds with the two support acts but variety is always good! I’d love to say this was straight forward American punk but there’s quite a bit more in the mix here, a bit of grunge, a bit of hardcore, a bit of good old rock and roll. Whatever it is, it’s got heaps of energy and the crowds eating it up, I can feel the floor bouncing up and down under my feet as everyone goes wild. Some of this reminds me quite a lot of the likes of Four Year Strong, where it occupies that sort of area that should be metalcore but still feels resoundingly pop punk.
One thing I know for certain is that everyone here is having a fucking great time and they’re making sure Dragged Under knows it. It’s also pretty hilarious that some of the less sober people in the audience keep shouting stuff out and they clearly can’t understand slurred Mancunian. It’s absolutely baffling how they didn’t get booked for Slam Dunk, these guys are ideal for somewhere like that, they’d go down a storm on their main stage! There’s a solid chunk of the audience that knows the words to almost every song and they’re singing it loud. With every passing song, the crowd gets more and more wild, the central pit takes up a vast majority of the floor and I’m having to keep an eye out for flying arms but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Dragged Under are giving so much energy to this show, they’ve a well hiked stage performance and clearly everyone here has been chomping at the bit to see them play live in the UK. These guys have blown the roof off Star and Garter tonight, so much so that I’ve actually had doubts about the structural integrity of the flooring with how much movement their crowds had. It takes some real balls to jump into the middle of the pit with a guitar in your hands, and not only that Immerse’s singer gets up for a brief guest spot too – legitimately top class showmanship there.
I hope the rest of their tour goes a bit smoother than the start of it, as I found out from their guitarist, Fluff, in an interview with him earlier (the next night in Camden was cancelled due to a throat infection – Ed). Great show tonight from all the acts and this tour should be a fantastic platform of exposure for Dragged Under. Hope it goes well!
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