229 The Venue is quite an odd little venue. Tucked round the side of Great Portland Street station, it plays host to both a music venue and a theatre, and it’s located underneath the International Student House. It’s got a quirky charm about it, but it’s not really the type of venue you’d imagine a four strong line-up of hardcore bands playing. But you’d be wrong, as this is where Brighton bruisers Fathoms will be playing their final London show tonight, on the opening night of their farewell tour.
Taking to the stage first are Reclaimer  from Lincoln. They’re very young, which explains their boundless energy. Some nice dextrous leads are on show from their guitarist, and their frontman has a strong vibe and good presence, but lacks control over his vocals. The crowd is relatively sparse at this point in the night, and they struggle to engage anyone, but they give it a fair go. It’s not a bad set, just a bit messy. They need to tighten the screws a little, but that’s to be expected for a band their age.
Following on from them are hardcore outfit MSRY , and they pack a big punch for a three-piece. Charlie Bishop‘s rumbling guitar parts manage to compensate for their lack of a bassist, and vocalist Kial Churcher is clearly a competent frontman, bellowing with reckless vigour and refusing to stay in one place for longer than three seconds. It can be difficult to tell the difference between tracks – it’s all a bit samey, but it’s decent overall. The brevity of their set leaves them little wiggle room, so they do well to keep it as tight as they do.
Up next are Lifetight , and they’re here to have a good time whether you are or not – a vibe almost epitomised by guitarist Danny Reeves, taking to the stage in a Cher t-shirt, zero fucks given. They manage to entice the majority of the crowd down to the front of the stage, and their chunky breakdowns finally bring some movement to what has so far been a very still audience. It’s a bouncy, cheerful brand of hardcore, which is a perfect compliment to the band’s ethos of positive outlook and self-belief, espoused in tracks like the lively ‘Dreams’ and the aptly titled ‘Energy’. There’s some absolutely monstrous grooves from bassist Elliott Black, and frontman Tom Smith leaps and kicks his way around the stage, looking entirely at home. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable set from the newcomers, and a solid warm-up for the headline act.
Fathoms  are up, and instantly seem intent on delivering a venomous, full-throttle racket befitting of their last tour. The South Coast heavyweights first formed in 2010, and announced their split earlier this year, much to the disappointment of the substantial following they’ve gained in their eight year career. It’s always a shame to see hardworking, DIY bands chucking in the towel, but the boys are all smiles tonight and seem determined to go out on a high.
The set consists largely of material from 2017’s ‘Counter Culture’, but they throw in a couple of older cuts to please long term fans. ‘Deathwish’, taken from their debut album ‘Lives Lived’, goes down a treat with the cluster of fans down at the front of the stage, head banging to every chug. There’s a heavy dose of nu-metal influence here, notably in newer track ‘Slip Away’, and the more melodic ‘Counter Culture’, with a distinct metallic edge to the guitar parts from James Munn and Sam Rigden. It’s clear to see how passionate the band are about the music that they make, and frontman Max Williams throws himself into every track with the gusto and ardour of a man who really believes in what he’s putting out there.
There’s a raw, reckless abandon in the air as the band launch into the frenzied ‘B.E.L.I.E.V.E.’. Polished it isn’t, but it’s their last tour, and you can’t fault them for just wanting to enjoy it. The audience don’t care; they’re hanging on Max’s every word. The genuine enthusiasm and vehemence on display here makes you hope that these guys will make it back to the stage in some capacity, but for now, the curtain closes on one of UKHC’s most tenacious bands.
Written by Lottie Cook (@pixelottie)