By Jase Walker
Every now and then I get a band through the grapevine where everyone in my social circles legitimately will not stop talking about, Spanish Love Songs is one of those and tonight they’re hitting De Helling in Utrecht for the last date of the tour. It’s been a wild ride for the last month but finishing up in Utrecht and having the privilege of chatting to them as well is something I will never take for granted, they were bloody lovely too!
For the tour their main support is Heart Attack Man and for the UK dates it was Suds, but in my case for the European dates, it’s Shoreline. It’s my first time at De Helling and much like my experience through the rest of the Netherlands, this venue is fantastic.
Shoreline kick things off and admittedly the vocals are a little quiet compared to the guitars so I might have to move back from the absolute front of the stage a bit. They’re delivering the sort of energy that emo and post-hardcore is well known for though, bright, riffy and bursting at the seams with gusto. These guys hit with all of the raw grit of early Rise Against, +44, Funeral For A Friend, all that exciting riffy goodness and blistering fury. Looking around I can see a fantastic turnout for these as well, they’re clearly into the band as well, barely a static person in the room.
Seeing bands like this, as I’ve noted with others such as Static Dress and the like, I feel very much like we’re at a “passing of the torch” moment where the bands I grew up with as a millennial are fostering the next generation of bands and Shoreline are a fantastic example of this.
Heart Attack Man kick off and this feels a lot closer to the Americana style of pop punk with elements of Blink 182 and Green Day. I’m a bit further back this time as I made the mistake of surrendering my spot as I went to grab a beer, definitely sounds a lot better from further back though. The punchiness of their sound hits really hard and you wouldn’t think this is the last show of a pretty extensive tour, they’re getting a great response to their show as well. There’s stronger influences audible of the likes of Lit, All American Rejects, and Anti-Flag as the set moves on. The sort of stop/start riffing and alternate picking melodies shows this off immensely but their choice of some guitar effects has a strong undercurrent of a band that found their way into music through Nirvana.
The crowd aren’t letting a Saturday night go to waste either judging from the amount of crowd surfers and the like either. I can see there’s a pretty visible pit going for them down the front as well, they’ve spent a bunch of time shouting “Fuck the Browns” which I’m guessing is some sort of diss on their American Football team as well, that’s what people do for American bands right?
At one point someone throws Lightning McQueen from the Disney Cars film on stage which ends up in a big spiel about never having watched it, with the drummer wearing it as a hat; last tour date shenanigans. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band start a song with someone jumping on stage to do a trust fall into the crowd either. This sort of stuff wouldn’t go amiss in the pop punk room of Manchester’s Satans Hollow on a Saturday night, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this set and the amount of *weird shit* that’s happened through the whole set has left me with a real smile on my face, great set.
After a brief moment outside and speaking some terrible Dutch to some locals, I’ve now been adopted and found my way pretty close to the front for Spanish Love Songs, right next to the pit as well so let’s see if I can take notes properly in the thick of it. The crowd is electric for Spanish Love Songs, everyone is losing their mind for every single song of one of the best bits of modern emo/pop-punk. They epitomize an earnest, humble band that’s here to have an amazing time every bit as much as the throngs of people who’ve turned up to sing along to every song. I’ve spotted the band photographer moving through the crowd and I absolutely do not envy her having to navigate the constant sea of moving people clearly having the best Saturday night bouncing away to the ebb and flow of Spanish Love Songs’ set.
There’s no shortage of crowd surfers during this set either, sometimes being so absurd that you can hear their singer crack up mid song at the sheer absurdity of it. I don’t think there’s been a single moment where the pit in the middle of the crowd hasn’t been losing their shit, the build up to the peak in every song has seen them all waiting for that one moment to one-up each other for going wild and it’s a real joy to be in the middle of it all. I’m definitely one for a show where you choose violence and living for that one riff or breakdown but something about being in the middle of a crowd that loves music on a real emotional level is quite something, I’ve seen this with the likes of Casey and Being As An Ocean before and every time it’s truly beautiful.
There’s been that many crowd surfers the singers even had to give a quick PSA to say that it’s all good but please don’t hit the pedals or the lights, I’ve had to juggle a couple coming overhead and took a couple of hits to the noggin but it’s all good! It’s really hard to overstate how much I’m enjoying this show though, it’s sounded fantastic, the band is clearly not exhausted despite this being the last day of the show and they’re giving absolutely everything to it. I don’t think I’ve ever related to a song harder than “Stay alive out of spite”, it’s almost like it was written about my entire reason for even being here.
Legitimately this set has been fucking fantastic, after watching all the stories from friends of mine back in Manchester, I’ve been hugely looking forward to this show and it’s been everything I could have wanted. It’s sounded great, the experience has been incredible, what an immense band Spanish Love Songs are, they’ve made a fan out of me.
Stay alive out of spite.
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