LIVE: La Dispute @ The Well, Leeds (21/06/2010)

Date: June 21st, 2010
Venue: The Well, Leeds
Support: Le Pré Où Je Suis Mort, Antares, We’ll Die Smiling, Curses
Website: None available


The Leeds stop of La Dispute‘s short stay in the UK almost never happened. Salvation came with a venue change from Royal Park Cellars to The Well saving the band’s only northern date.

Due to technical difficulties with the guest list, the events of Curses‘ set are a mystery. As you can only review what you’ve actually seen, I can only describe their set as a live rendition of their songs, played at volume to an audience within a room. Check out their myspace or head down to a future show to see Curses; the band that got away.

Second on were We’ll Die Smiling, who took to the stage looking to vindicate much of the growing local hype surrounding them. Unfortunately, their set was an incoherent mess. Each song sounded as though it had been written with an old, jerking lottery machine filled with screamo clichés rather than any clear ideas, thoughtful structure or flow. Their efforts lacked any sense of direction or intention with any possible meaning lost in a sloppy, shapeless smudge of hap-hazard banality. On the vocal front, their whimpering and whining down the microphone sounded more like a stubbed toe rather than anything meaningful. Tonight, We’ll Die Smiling sounded like kind of band that give their attempted genre a bad name, sounding exactly how a populist tabloid pastiche of screamo might. Theirs was a set lacking in intelligence, meaning or thought.

Antares on the other hand were the polar opposite. Every single minute of their set bristled with the ferocious intent and frantic energy so lacking from the previous band’s attempts. Even the loss of a guitarist to pedal gremlins couldn’t hamper their tech-violence torrent as it blasted any lingering cobwebs out of the venue. With a new addition to their well gigged set unleashed for the first time, the band stormed the stage with a presence to match their efforts, fully justifying their place as tonight’s highest billed locals. Hopefully we’ll be seeing more of Antares and their jaw dropping brand of experimental hardcore creeping ever higher up into the line ups of future dates in and around Leeds very soon.

The first of the touring party Le Pré Où Je Suis Mort couldn’t have taken a more differing approach to what preceded them. Their brooding, slow building screamo constructions cut a stark contrast to the skin stripping assault of Antares, but they lost none of the expressive power or intensity of their more frenzied precursors. The band’s discreet, reserved stage persona could well be partly down to the language barrier between themselves and their english audience, but their understated presence felt perfectly poised to deliver such a deep and expansive set of multilayered, ambient screamo. This was a performance that ebbed and flowed with subtle, evolving textures and overlapping movements that gently ratcheted up the atmosphere and tension before crashing home in climaxing waves of explosive emotion and breath taking relief.

Much anticipated headliners La Dispute would have had far more to do to follow their touring mates’ commanding set had their ardent followers not charged to the front row to welcome their heroes onto the stage. Hanging onto the band’s every word and screaming every line straight back at them, La Dispute‘s loyal few ignited the night’s dormant dance floor, throwing fists and hands into the air for each and every shrieking syllable spat out of Jordan Dreyer‘s throat. Whilst their fans flung themselves into one another enthralled, those not caught up in the moment may have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Dreyer‘s odd inability to scream into the microphone made for a frustrating and fragmented vocal performance hampered by his determination to swing the mic in every other direction besides that of his voice. Musically the band were solid if unspectacular. Live, La Dispute come across as a more direct take on the Thursday of old and not the brave new hope of post-hardcore many tout them to be. Their set wasn’t bad but it did feel lightweight in comparison to what had gone before it. At the very end, before granting their loyal front row cadre a begged-for encore, Dreyer preached about the need for art and expression and gigs like this one, thanking all those involved for keeping this Leeds date alive when it looked like it would never go ahead.

You couldn’t help thinking that La Dispute had been outclassed and upstaged by two bands with far more to say and fresher was of saying it than the deflating headliners.

Written by Greg Johnson