Formed in 2002 with almost thirty releases to date, American band The Saddest Landscape have once again returned to Europe, bringing with them fellow Topshelf Records band Frameworks and The Tidal Sleep from Germany. The local support, Someone Said Fire [6/10] kick-started the night with a high-energy set, and did well maintaining interest in the gathering crowd. The vocalist gave an active performance, often coming down from the stage, running between walls and interacting with the crowd, which definitely livened up the gig and set a precedent for stage presence for the following bands. Their set of progressive hardcore was strong instrumentally except for the guitar, which seemed slightly sloppy compared to their recordings and could be improved upon. The frontman used a variation of vocal techniques and managed to successfully switch between screams or varying tone and clean, atmospheric singing without creating a feeling of disjointedness.
The Tidal Sleep [6/10] played a lively, post-hardcore set meeting a good crowd response for a 2nd support band, with one person enthusiastically shouting along for a large part of their playing time. They played a mix of songs from their album released in July this year and some older releases, and their live renditions stayed true to studio recordings. The vocals were pretty typical of the majority of post-hardcore bands, but instrumentally they performed above and beyond a lot of bands in the same genre, with every member playing with extensive skill.
Next up were Frameworks [5/10], an American melodic hardcore five-piece who played well but overall caused the energy to dip. It was hard to maintain interest in their set as the vocalist seemed entirely disengaged and looked like he could fall asleep at any minute; the vocals themselves were strong but for a live performance there was something lacking. In contrast, their backup vocalist was highly energetic and really immersed in the set; his screams were very emotional but didn’t detract from his guitar playing. Most of their setlist included tracks off their most recent release and debut album, Loom, which was released in April this year, but their second last song was a White Stripes cover, ‘Fell In Love With a Girl’, which they released on a split with The Saddest Landscape and was met with a positive reaction.
Headline act The Saddest Landscape [5/10] ended up with a crowd only marginally larger than it was at the start of the night, which isn’t that surprising considering it was a Monday evening. A couple of people stood up against the barrier once they arrived on stage and there was a mounting sense of excitement. First on the setlist was ‘This Heals Nothing’, a track off their second most recent album After The Lights released in 2012, a crowd favourite and good way to being the performance. Between songs the frontman, Andy Maddox, joked about the band not knowing the setlist and there was a friendly and casual atmosphere in the venue. They played a mix of their most popular songs from multiple releases, ranging from their 2003 album Lift Your Burdens High For This is Where We Cross, to Exit Wounded, their most recent full-length album from last year, appealing to long term fans and recent listeners alike. Although the songs they played were well selected and performed skilfully, they played only six songs and their total playing time was less than thirty minutes, the same length as the first support band, which was a disappointment. Additionally, the small crowd, barrier, and the fact that the vocalist’s movements were restrained by having to play guitar as well as scream created a distance between the band and the viewers, which killed the vibes to an extent. This was also accentuated by the fact that the vocals were far too quiet and oftentimes could not be heard at all, despite the fact that the three other bands’ sound levels were fine for all vocals and instruments. Overall there was something lacking from The Saddest Landscape’s set; the expectation of an invigorating performance from such an emotional and high-energy band with over a decade of experience was not fully met, but otherwise they played well and the crowd seemed generally please with the gig.
(Photo courtesy of Michael O’Connor)