TAKE a dose of inebriated passion for music, amazing energy, massive sound and insatiable enthusiasm for performance; stir it up and bare it all on the live stage and you get five hyper dudes from Sheffield, increasingly known by the collective name of While She Sleeps.
Last Sunday, on a hazy evening in Singapore, WSS, on their debut tour of South East Asia, gave up a by-the-numbers regular show as seen on videos of all their standard shows in the West… No! Of course I’m kidding: It was a crazy, heavy metal, hardcore-as-phuq rock and roll show I’ve ever seen!
WITH some local heroes thrown in – the likes of which you never see unless you were at the venue; the kind of ones your mum would not be proud of you for checking out – the WSS was feverish from the start. The metalcore quintet’s Brainwashed Asia Tour 2015 is specifically to promote their second album, Brainwashed, which was released last March.
1.0 Weather & Venue
The weather was favourable except for the haze issue which felt like a never-ending problem on the day, but it only added to the mood. Everyone was damp, dirty and in the mood for some kind of retaliation. The show happened at Neverland II, St James Power Station – a typical place in Singapore for an indoor gig, to add more value it is nearest to Vivo City Mall and Harbourfront MRT station. It was a cool place to hang out and enjoy some loud music with friends; in fact it’s a pretty famous place for gig maniacs around Singapore and JB.
2.0 Dudes, Chicks, Sikhs & More
The crowd at WSS Live in Singapore 2015 was met with a ton of enthusiasm from hardcore and metal fans local and from faraway alike including Indonesia and Malaysia. Skinny jeans, sneakers shoes and WSS t-shirts were the typical scenery and mostly teens and 20-something made up the dominant group at the show. The crowd was waiting since 2 in the afternoon for the gates to open while the band was doing sound check inside. It was a long period of waiting until about 6 in the evening, when the organizer finally announced they wanted to check our tickets and tie hand tags onto gig-goers.
3.0 The Show
The show started around 6.30pm, when SG’s Tomorrows Ever Ending took to the stage. They showed that they were the local band with the heaviest stuff which kind of sounded like Parkway Drive-meets-Cannibal Corpse; definitely a good way to kick off the show with technical guitar playing and elegant drum fills.
I was however, more interested in catching the second local opener, Exhibitors, who were a potent mixture of melodic and hardcore stylings. “This song is for my girlfriend!”, yelled the extroverted frontman without hesitation, before the band screamed into one of their songs, “Deceased”. It was my first time seeing them live and with this crowd-stirring beast they had already won my attention with the clever effect of a phone ringing at the end of the song.
Finally, the most awaited moment had come for all the metalheads in the building: dark lighting, a giant, looming sound emanating from the kick drum, and the band members stalking onto the stage one by one – the intro itself just really did half the job and gave goosebumps to all of us in the crowd.
WSS wasted no time in kicking off their setlist with their current set opener, “Brainwashed”, which instantly inspired the craziness of the crowd until it seemed like the barricade wouldn’t hold them much longer than the end of the song. It really felt like the crowd had already been ‘brainwashed’ by the track and I must say that the security had their work cut out in pushing back the crowd to get a second to prop up the barricade again.
Stage-diving, crowd-surfing and sing-along action seemed normal in those opening 20 minutes as the band crashed through favourites “This Is The Six”, “Death Toll” and “Our Courage Our Cancer”. It was quite simply a crazy – international level – hardcore show with moshing and circle pit action yet the most memorable thing that night was the dive made by vocalist Lawrence Taylor and guitar player Matt Welsh from the stage poles: they climbed the poles and literally fell onto the crowd. Stunts like this really underlined the mutual satisfaction and impact of the gig and the fans totally loved it.
“It’s our first time here and you guys have been really amazing,” barked Taylor into his sweaty, abused mic. A solid performance especially from the frontman who was tirelessly amped and energetic; screaming, leaping and headbanging on every single song.
Middle of the set, and WSS launched into newer anthems like “Trophies of Violence” and “New World Torture” which were bursting with aggression, mental riffs, and planet-sized breakdowns. By the time they were about to play “Seven Hills”, they let one of the fans play Welsh’s guitar – I found it so cool to let your fans rock with you there on stage.
The crowd was deafening by that point and the show continued on that level with “Crows” and “Dead Behind The Eyes”. It was like perfect closure for the band to end their set with the fiery anthem “Four Walls” and after it was all done and dusted, they hung around with the fans for hours outside the venue.
It was really heartening to see how much WSS really appreciate their fans. After watching their performance, I could tell that for all the nine years of them doing this, it has been all good.
The show which ended close to 10pm (daylight-early for us crazy young hearts) went as perfectly as anyone could have wished for. Big up to the organizers for a kick-ass show and looking back I’m just relieved that I survived WSS without any physical or emotional injuries.