Date: November 18th 2017
Venue: Tufnell Park Dome, London
Support: Napoleon / Polar
The Dome in North London is a really charming little venue. At 500 capacity, it’s the bigger sibling of sister venue Boston Music Rooms next door, and manages to feel more spacious than the similar sized Camden Underworld whilst lacking none of the intimacy. Tonight, it’ll play home to Canadian hardcore five-piece Counterparts, who seem to have amassed quite a following this side of the pond, if the queue outside the door is anything to go by.
Opening tonight is Exeter tech metal outfit Napoleon , and judging by the mob of fists seen punching the air down at the front, these guys have brought along a fair few fans of their own. Frontman Wesley Thompson does a great job at interacting with them too, oozing charisma as the band power through a solid set of compelling, atmospheric grooves, and there’s an underlying punk element here that at times feels reminiscent of early era At The Drive-In. There’s certainly boundless energy on display, but occasionally it feels a bit rushed – though, in fairness, their short set time is likely to blame for that.
Next up is Guildford’s Polar , who are met with rapturous applause as they take to the stage. “It’s good to be home,” grins vocalist Adam Woodford, before launching into the blistering ‘Blood For Blood’ from 2016’s ‘No Cure No Saviour’. In a whirlwind of technical, dexterous leads juxtaposed with gritty breakdowns, the quintet leap from one song to the next, with barely enough time to breathe between the frenzied ‘Glass Cutter’ and the soaring ‘Black Days’. This is raw, scathing melodic hardcore at its finest, and if there’s another UK band doing this genre with as much finesse and aplomb, they’re keeping very quiet.
It’s been a great year so far for Ontario’s Counterparts , who released their fifth album ‘You’re Not You Anymore’ earlier this year to much acclaim, and there’s been a buzz around them recently that can almost be physically felt in every corner of this packed out room tonight. Storming onto the stage, they waste no time jumping straight in with caustic rager ‘Bouquet’, the intro track from the aforementioned record, and the crowd respond accordingly as pits open and fists fly left, right, and centre.
With the hype surrounding these guys recently, it’s easy to forget that they’ve been around for ten years now, and so it’s almost surprising when they dominate the stage with the fervour and conviction of veterans. The setlist consists mainly of tracks from their most recent effort, but a few gems from their back-catalogue are inserted here and there, like the sombre ‘Witness’ from 2013’s ‘The Difference Between Hell And Home’, which is powerful but still doesn’t quite compete with the searing rawness of their impressive new material. It’s captivating to see just how far these guys have come.
The band grin from ear to ear at the enthusiasm of their fans, and seem genuinely humbled by it all, which is refreshing. An onslaught of crowd surfers bombard the stage throughout the set, giving hugs and high fives and screaming into the microphone themselves, much to the amusement of frontman, Brendan Murphy. “Come do my job for me! I’ll still get paid for it, so who cares,” he quips, but he may have got more than he bargained for as a torrent rush the stage during set closer, ‘The Disconnect’, making it no longer possible to see him. Still, if you want to come back again, Counterparts, there’s no doubt that London will welcome you with open arms.
Written by Lottie Cook (@pixelottie)