Occasionally you have to come out of your comfort zone, the things you are familiar with and like, to accept new challenges. So this was the case with me going to see a gig of a band I had never heard of before and a style of music I was not familiar with.
I arrived at the Eventim Apollo where a sea of young people were waiting in line for an almost sold-out show of down under band Chase Atlantic. The turnout was great, despite the show being moved at the last minute to a different venue and date due to the recent events at the O2 Brixton Academy.
Before hitting the stage, two supporting artists preceded the band. Xavier Maine and Running Touch. Both had a 30min slot each, which well served to warm up the venue. I am not sure how many fans of the two solo artists were there, but judging by the reactions of the first rows, they deserved the spotlight, as the audience seemed very engaged and supportive.
Both artists performed very well, despite Xavier nearly falling on stage – a little gasp from the audience, he recomposed and carried on as if nothing had happened.
Watching Xavier, you could tell he was truly excited about playing at the Apollo, supporting Chase Atlantic, to the point of forgetting the lyrics to one of his tunes – without shame, he asked the audience for help, which came prompt. Toward the end of his set, Mitchel Cave – Chase Atlantic’s lead vocalist – was invited on stage to sing together (and to take a cheeky picture with), and the audience exploded in screaming!
I feel the need to address something, this attitude from the audience continued for the whole show, nearly non-stop; one may ask what’s the point of watching somebody playing live if all you do is scream your lungs out, together with other thousands? It got to a point where I could hardly hear the music! To me, this will remain a mystery.
Enough of my rants, back to the gig. While I wasn’t too keen on Xavier’s style, even though he delivered a good show, with vocals on point and great moves, I was particularly impressed by Running Touch’s talent for playing different instruments during his set. His style, as a whole, reminded me of famous South Korean bands, his name may not be as big, but he has all the cards to get there. The way he moved and sang, how he switched from playing the guitar to the synths, all coupled with a warm and soft voice, did the trick for me. He started the set singing on a high ladder and ended it by playing in the pit, on the bars, where different hands were trying to touch a little piece of him. He played some old singles and material from his debut album ‘Carmine’, off which, the track Juno is my favourite; I have to say, this track, and some of the others, sounded much better live, worth seeing him next time.
At this point, the audience was ready for the ‘Big Show’. I was left in awe by the extraordinary lighting and visuals of the stage. The band had camera guys taking live footage that was kaleidoscopically projected on the screens throughout the whole performance. The images from the show were breathtaking, especially the ones picturing phone flashes looking like little dotted stars in a red ocean.
Chase Atlantic sounded just perfect. While generally this is not my cup of tea, I respected their eccentric style, experimenting with RnB/soul and different genres, creating something unique. The best part of the gig was the saxophone played by Clinton Cave! Being a child of the 80s/90s, I got accustomed to the sax, it was a key instrument to many of the greatest pop and rock tunes of the time, and hearing it again was like eating comfort food (stirred fried noodles or Italian pastina for me) on a cold winter night.
The band kicked off the set with ‘Stranger Things’ and Mitchel Cave coming in with a freaky balaclava covering his head entirely, leaving only two holes for his eyes and from which his little braids were also coming out. The first song already had the audience jumping up and down and singing along – as mentioned, the screams were a big part of it. ‘Beauty in Death’ and ‘What You Call That’ followed. By the third song, Mitchel had decided to take his mask off. During ‘Swim’ the audience fully came in, being incited by Mitchel to ‘sing louder’ and to ‘make some fucking noise’.
‘Too Late’, ‘Drugs & Money’, ‘OHMAMI’ followed, the last three were a little slower but Mitchel still showed a lot of stamina; by then Clinton was playing on the big amply and Mitchel was shirtless telling the audience, once again, to ‘make some fucking noise’. This was also the point they finally took a little breather, saying how everything was ‘so incredible, fantastic, amazing and unbelievable’ and asking the audience whether they were ‘really, really ready’ for the ‘best fucking night of their life’. It was then on to ‘Swim’, with a final ‘a cappella’ moment from the audience, which Mitchel appreciated, saying they should all ‘be in a choir’. Another breather with a drum solo, and the band was back on with ‘Cold Nights’, followed by ‘Paranoid’ with a great solo from Clive’s sax.
As the show went on for a further, roughly, 30min, 6 more tunes were performed, before hitting the end with ‘Out The Roof’. By now the audience looked exhausted from all the bouncing, screaming and singing, but everyone called for an encore, the band came back on stage shouting ‘do you really, really want more songs, lets fucking hear it!’. Chase Atlantic ended their performance with CHXSE, with jet smoke cropping out from the back of the screens and drum kit.
It took some time for all the people to leave the venue, especially as a very long queue was forming at the merch. I considered that as a sign of a great evening and performance.
Beauty in Death
What You Call that
Drugs & Money
Like A Rockstar
Out The Roof
Words & images: Anna Marchesani (Nocturna Photography)