Date: March 13th 2018
Venue: Academy, Manchester
Support: Le Butcherettes / Death From Above
After some unstable and somewhat problematic fleeting returns here and there since their initial split back in 2001, it seems like we’re finally seeing a fully-fledged return of El Paso post-hardcore favourites, At The Drive-In. The past 12 months have seen not only their first full-length of 16 years in ‘in•ter a•li•a’, but also an EP in ‘Diamanté’, and now a solidified touring schedule.
Tour openers for their 2018 UK run are Mexican garage punk (and frankly eccentric and erratic) trio Le Butcherettes  who come across as a colliding amalgamation of Björk, Juliette Lewis & The Licks, and a more experimental The Hives. Vocalist and ringleader Teri Gender Bender is the main focus here, occasionally wailing loud noises between songs, flexing out into weird shapes, and at one point strips down from her green boiler suit outfit to a red dress that she begins to tear at whilst singing her heart out. It’s… interesting.
It’s the first time that Death From Above  have been to the UK in a couple of years, and also their first since dropping the 1979 from their name. With a new record under their belt, their set consists predominantly of cuts from the more hard rock influenced ‘Outrage Is Now!’, and the likes of ‘Holy Books’ and ‘Caught Up’ shine as bright highlights, along with Sebastien Grainger jumping from behind the kit for a short while during its title-track. There are a few potholes along the way with technical glitches, especially during ‘Freeze Me’, but there’s still a duo out there yet to claim the two-piece crown from these Canadians.
It’s not long before post-hardcore legends At The Drive-In  rear from the darkness behind the stage curtains, and right from the off they plunge us right into ‘Arcarsenal’, the opener from the revered and hugely influential ‘Relationship Of Command’. Immediately they follow right into the burst of ‘in•ter a•li•a’ opener ‘No Wolf Like The Present’, and it’s here that vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala starts throwing his microphone stand around like he’s at war with it.
Indeed, At The Drive-In‘s set throughout is consistently adrenaline fuelled and fast-paced; Bixler-Zavala rarely manages to keep still, all the while his impressive pipes belt out songs like ‘Quarantined’ and firmly established flagship hit ‘One Armed Scissor’, the latter of the two seeing most of the Academy floor yelling back “Cut away! Cut away!”.
Admittedly the consistently volatile mic stand throwing gets a little old after four or five songs of doing almost nothing else, but it’s hard to not be impressed by the tight form and youthful energy of a band who’ve really not been at it full-time for nearly two decades. By the time we reach closer ‘Pattern Against User’, it truly feels like the Texan troupe never left us at all.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)