It's difficult to properly articulate the second-hand embarrassment one goes through when watching Maverick. It's one thing to wax nostalgic on the bygone era of nu-metal, attempting to appreciate the context in which bands like Korn and Limp Bizkit thrived. It's another entirely to watch a band attempt to replicate it in the year of our Lord, 2017, while similarly attempting to ape the posturing of acts like Hellions and Ocean Grove – all to an audience of roughly 30. Describing it honestly feels like kicking a band while it's clearly down, but it's such a uniquely terrifying situation for one to find themselves in. Maverick very clearly have greater ambitions, but their cringe is much harder than their crunch.
Faring far better is Amends, a recently-reshuffled act featuring alum from bands such as Vices and Thesis. Once more in the realm of emo and pop-punk, the band has recalibrated and brought more of a focus to alt-country and indie rock, which plays to its strengths far better than their previous genre traversing. Truthfully, anything would have trumped their predecessor, but even out of context, Amends put on an impressive showing. The set ends with a surprising cover of Converge's “Dark Horse", further showcasing the strengths of this revitalised project and cementing their one-to-watch status.
Adelaide trio Grenadiers, put simply, go twice as hard as most bands with half the recognition. One craves for the day that the first term that springs to mind for them is not 'underrated'. These devils deserved their due yesterday, meaning tonight is zero exception. Fresh from finishing album number three, the hard-and-fast band churn through some key new tracks that once again up the octane, tapping into big-swinging indignation and belligerence by ways of churning bass, stick-breaking drums and snarling riffs. That's not even mentioning stalwart tracks like “Summer”, “Factotum” and “Old Uncle Scratch". With the amount of noise this band makes, it's only a matter of time before everyone else's ears prick up.
A few variables of this particular event could have resulted in both a better vibe and a bigger audience – picking out a Sunday night, for one, and not to mention opting for the main room of the Oxford Art Factory when the Gallery Bar was completely free and available. Still, there's no time to get bogged down in the minutiae when '68 kick into gear with the kind of octave-heavy guitar dissonance one can feel directly in the chest. Having served as more than ample support for two less-than-deserving headlining bands (Hellions and Bring Me The Horizon), it's a great thing to finally have the duo get their name up on the marquee.
Their latest LP, Two Parts Viper, entirely validates this step up, and hearing some of its key tracks recreated in the live setting seals the deal completely. Having a guitar strapped to him does not hold frontman Josh Scogin back at all – as a matter of fact, in this environment it enhances the dynamic between himself and drummer Michael McClellan, who's singularly one of the more impressive folk behind the kit you're likely to see. Their powers combined add considerable weight to the blend of chaotic post-hardcore and heavy rock that '68 offers – and, as fiery and boisterous as it is on record, it's all the better when it's being broadcast directly into your face.
However sorely unattended, '68 are an ever-evolving and ever-intriguing act that take zero prisoners in the live environment. Statistically speaking, you missed out big time.
Suss the full gallery after the jump!