Date: January 13th 2018
Venue: Satan’s Hollow, Manchester
Support: Amongst Thieves / Citadels / Skywalker
Website: None available
It’s just a couple of weeks into 2018, and already the tours are starting to come in thick and fast. Sadly, one of which comes with a bit of a pothole, as Essex’s Create To Inspire are forced to drop out of their co-headline UK tour alongside Canvas due to a family emergency. Still, the show much go on as they say, and Canvas are happy to lead the remainder of the dates as the sole headline act.
Hailing from over the hills in the city of York, up-and-comers Amongst Thieves  start off proceedings, and unfortunately it’s too a fairly bare room. Just a couple of songs in Alex Morgan runs around the venue’s circular stage, and it doesn’t take much longer for frontman Josh Nash to step around and pace around the front of it himself. Admittedly, it’s mostly post-hardcore-by-numbers that’s being delivered here, but it’s hard to not bang your head to the likes of ‘The Golden Ratio’.
Manchester locals Citadels  are up next and, sadly, the room is still a little sparse. What doesn’t help that is the fact that, though the band are technically proficient for the most part, there’s still a very strong feel that the four-piece are very much still getting on their feet, and are sat firmly at a local band stage. At times they sound like Killswitch Engage in their infancy, which is certainly nothing to scoff at, but some segments in their songs seem incredibly disjointed, and parts of other completely different tracks just melded and shunted together to try (and fail) to fit. It doesn’t help that, until we get to closer ‘Till Death Do Us Part’, bassist Martyn Robinson looks bored of their own set.
Part British and part Czech post-hardcore favourites in the making Skywalker  drape a banner in front of the stage bearing their name before they literally jump into their set. Frontman Jay Kutcher seems physically incapable of staying still, almost like a young Jason Butler, and we’re totally fine with that. A few moments during the set in-between in likes of the infectious yet hard-hitting ‘Blood’ and ‘Sugar’. Older number ‘Survival’ is preceded by a heart-warming and powerful speech from Kutcher, talking of how we shouldn’t devalue or forget to appreciate how lucky we are to live in a country where, even if we don’t like our political system. We have a democracy, and we aren’t plagued with almost nation-wide racism, fascism, homophobia, or oppression. Sometimes, a reminder is needed.
Due to Create To Inspire‘s absence from the remainder of the run, Bedfordshire’s Canvas  are primed up as the only headliners for this run, and, with their traditional tattoo styled teary eye cloaking back of the stage, the lights go down and the band burst into their brand of turmoil ridden and dread binded post-hardcore – let’s call it “sadcore”. Adding to the intensity, fast and stark strobe lighting bursts from behind the band, as frontman Ricky Clarke screams from the bottom of his lungs through the likes of ‘Medicate Me’ and ‘Low’.
Indeed, there’s a true sense that their messages of woe and despair are coming from a deep crevice of catharsis, and truly that’s part of what makes the caustic and dissonant post-hardcore tales of lost and abandoned love and betrayal so easy to connect with. It’s like a more furious and feral Pianos Become The Teeth in their earlier years, and the precise yet intricate drum work from Jon Vernon during ‘Awake’ certainly cannot be ignored, and is almost as impressive as his majestic beard.
It’s not all screeching turmoil though. There are subtle displays of post-rock behind the intense walls of chaos, and brief moments that allow us to breathe, and for the intense emotions wracked with torture to sink in and almost subside, such as in set closer ‘Haunt You’. Along with their conviction and essence of keeping it simple, stripped down, and independent, Canvas may brand themselves to be “a band of worry”, but they’re also evidently one of the elites-in-the-making of the UK’s rising post-hardcore troupe, and that’s a claim that you don’t have to worry about.
Written by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)