In a year that has already seen Slaves listed on the sound of 2015, announce their album ‘Are You Satisfied?’ and most recently play a BBC radio 1 live lounge that surely has to be up there on the greatest covers list of all time, its fair to say the Kent two-piece have already achieved more than their fair share and with this show “the best of the tour”, there is no sign of them slowing down on their journey to the top of British music.
The first band of the three, all championing the punk revival was Crows [7/10]. The four-piece, who took to the stage with such vigor, evoked a centre mosh almost from the get-go, with their ferocious rock awakening the early arrivers. The front man had the energy of an over-excited child and even looked like one at points when he clung onto two mic stands, one in each hand and shook his head forcefully. Lots of stomping, head banging and hanging off the barrier into the crowd matched with the band’s raw and ragged rock. However, they did appear to lack chemistry, with each musician remaining in their assigned space, which left the model-faced vocalist in charge of involving and exciting the crowd.
Glaswegian trio Baby Strange [9/10], have been around for a while now, with their first single making waves back in 2013. Consisting of Johnny Madden on vocals and guitar and brothers Aiden and Connaire McCann on bass and drums, the band blasted through their list of grunge songs, with a particular highlight coming from last year’s track ‘Luver’ which saw building riffs and fast paced drum beats forcing the crowd into nothing but chaos. Dedicating the eerie guitar driven single of ‘Pure Evil’ to the young group leading the mosh, ‘ooh aah tired of my generation’ was screamed back to the band by adoring attendees. Their snappy garage-rock delighted the Brummy crowd, as they finished on debut single ‘Friend’, which saw flying legs and one big swarm of movement. If it weren’t for the headline band being so monstrous, they would have proved a tough act to follow.
The last time Slaves [10/10] played The Institute was part of the NME Awards Tour, which saw them on the edge of something big. Strutting onstage to recent B-side, ‘I Shine My Shoes With A Dirty Vest’ blaring through the speakers, they set out to prove that despite the bands getting smaller in size throughout the evening, the sound could clearly get bigger. With guitarist Laurie Vincent dressed in an orange boiler suit and drummer and vocalist Isaac Holman at the ready, they prepared for what was to be an explosive set to say the least. Beginning with ‘White Knuckle Ride’ a track taken from their self-released 2012 album, the duo embarked on a storming set composed of tracks taken from the new album and those from their small but impressive back catalogue. ‘Live Like An Animal’ a single released that day made its appearance, alongside the sneering tone of recent single ‘Cheer Up London’.
Highlights came from ‘The Hunter’ and ‘Where’s Your Car Debbie?’ which was played after the usual anecdote of the song. Potentially the most unforgettable moment came when Vincent launched into an unearthly guitar riff leading into perhaps a spontaneous performance of their cover of Skepta’s ‘Shutdown’ which had only been played live once before, in the Live Lounge itself. ‘Feed The Mantaray’ saw a man who may or may not also be their merch guy dressed as the famous ‘mantaray’ crowd surfing and leaping around the stage in a silver costume, with Holman stating ‘what a stupid song.’ The set ended with ‘Hey’ a track bound in recklessness, through its quickening riffs and screams “watch out for those kids.” The song saw both guitarist and drummer crowd surf, with Holman hanging from the lights at one point, before completing the track and leaving the crowd in more than high spirits. One thing that can definitely be said is that Slaves’s shows are performances; they are far more than your average gig.