Gig Review by Joe Arnold: John X McClane/The Guts/Tether/Plastics, The Hope &; Ruin, Thursday 4th April 2019

My ears were still ringing for a few days after this one. Local band Plastics kicked off the night with a set resembling Fidlar if their guitarist discovered shoegaze and recruited Siouxsie Sioux on vocals. Frequent alternation between slow grooves and faster paces kept the songs fresh and combined with shouty vocals to create an interesting stream of consciousness effect.

Next was London-based Post Hardcore band Tether. Two vocalists covered a huge range of styles, from piercing screams to low growls, soaring melodies and harmonies, rapping, and even a (perhaps mercifully) brief beatboxing section. The songs were held together by bouncing rhythms and inventive guitar parts that seamlessly transformed from serpentine leads to chugging and screeching feedback. Like the greats of their genre, Tether excels at fusing disparate styles together into a captivating experience.

Due to its members’ tendency to roam the crowd and climb things rather than playing their instruments, the set by Mathcore group The Guts often seemed more like performance art than music. Choking rhythms and caustic, overlapping screams pummeled the audience without respite. Rather than providing melodic relief, the keyboardist instead added to the disconcerting atmosphere with stabbing discordance. It was absolute chaos and it was fantastic.

The recently reunited John X McClane closed the show with another intense set. Roaring vocals overpowered the audience while machine-gun drumming and buzzsaw guitars beat them into submission, with dirty, distorted bass in constant pursuit. Short, brutal songs blasted past in the sonic equivalent of a drive-by shooting. Exhilarating.

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