Enter Shikari at The Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, 17th Dec 2012


The Roundhouse in Chalk Farm is teeming with teens. Interested by the fact that metal core quartet, Enter Shikari, come from my neck of the woods and by the fact that they won Kerrang’s award for Best Live Band this year, I am getting a second taste of their live show.  So, I am not surprised by the tender ages of their fans, just resigned to enjoy the enthusiasm they ooze.  “I woke up this morning and thought – YES!” exclaimed an overly excited fan, (face showing no sign whatsoever of any emerging stubble).  I watched the young chap bustle his way through the throng, already tightly shoulder to shoulder, knowing that he and all his kin live by the rule – No Stubble.  No Fear.

Canadian southern metal growlers, Cancer Bats, are supporting again for the second night of residency in the iconic venue.  They are embraced by the crowd who are already churning up the pit by making circles in which to pulverise each other; girls and boys alike; song or no song.  Firing up this crowd is not difficult; they are gagging for it.  Playing the likes of “Hail Destroyer” and finally their cover of The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”, ensure that the security staff are busy pulling surfers from the rails and escorting them out with welcome bottles of water.

Warmed up and charged with adrenalin, the crowd are ready and the countdown commences.  Enter Shikari appear, dressed, as usual in unassuming weekend shirts and jeans, achieving their sense of community rather than their rock star statuses.  Frontman, Rou Reynolds, merely sports a favourite bobble hat.

First up are the opening tracks “System” and “Meltdown” from their recent album “A Flash Flood of Colour”.  The release of energy is immediate, lights are flashing and the pit is bubbling.  “Sssnakepit” is next with its mix of gentle intro, heavy rock beats, dub step and melodious chorus.  It is a meaty invitation to “come and join the party”.  When it’s over, a gigantic scream of appreciation emerges from the midst of flailing arms and legs, confirming that we are most definitely where the party is at!  Maybe that’s why the band have just released their very own “Sssnakepit” brew and the crowd here tonight help provide mental mosh pit footage for the new advert, delighted at having their five seconds of fame.

“Antwerpen” has a similar effect with its onslaught of tumultuous opening bars followed by a tinkling keyboard interlude.  Tastes of electronica weave in and out of huge riffs and this song demonstrates Rob Rolfe’s diverse talents as a drummer by securing all the ever changing beats within it.

Always up for a bit of banter in between songs, Rou is concerned at the antics of his fans and begs their attention.  “Oi, lads, simmer down; stroke each other’s backs; stroke your hair or something; we’re not even playing anything!”

As if this crowd requires any further encouragement, bassist Chris Batten, surfs the crowd briefly for “Ghandi Mate Ghandi” and Rou teeters precariously high on the monitors before the song ends with escalating momentum followed by the bowling punches of distorted, electric frequency waves.

It is chaos.  Wonderfully organised and well-rehearsed chaos.  Just for a moment, respite falls as Rou takes his seat behind the keyboard.  His poignant vocals herald the gentle intro of “Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here”.  Lighters flicker and wave; just for a moment.

During the encore, “Constellations” is delivered like a hymn with its soaring melody and heartfelt words that describe the difficult decisions we must make for the best in our lives.  Finally, “Zzzonked” packs us off home with a punch and the audience ambles out, derranged and exhilarated, wrapping their shredded clothes around them and clutching what is left of their Santa hats.

Enter Shikari are a band that have everything on offer.  Not only is their energy unrelenting, they can make unlikely connections between rave, dub step, indie, rock and metal and deliver material that flows with unique elegance.  Every song is made of lyrics that spin socio angst into poetry; their messages and arguments getting through to their young listeners; they provoke the urge to make changes to our world.

I don’t think that sharing the same postcode makes me biased, but it seems that the Enter Shikari community is what it is all about; the loyal following that grows by the day, fuelled by the band’s political messages for a better world, and of course, there’s the music.  For some it is a confusing mix of genres slapped together; for others a very clever experiment, crafting shapes and dimensions that result in solid and totally outstanding masterpieces.

This review is also available at www.stereoboard.com

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