I Reviewed Bring Me the Horizon @ Belsonic 2016 Without Mentioning Oli Sykes

I’ve waited years to see Bring Me the Horizon. The last time they visited the island of Ireland was 2011, when they played The Academy Dublin, a sold out show (capacity of about 850 people between main standing area and upper balcony area, according to Wikipedia which is probably wrong, but pretty much close enough) that came at the swell of their popularity on the metalcore scene.

With the release of Sempiternal, they moved on from songs that sounded a lot like a CD skipping and evolved into something that was raw, painful, and utterly relatable while also being something I could listen to. It was the first time I listened to Bring Me the Horizon and felt a connection to the music. Blessed With a Curse and Chelsea Smile are songs that are played regularly in clubs and have been since the beginning of my time in them and probably before, but no one likes to think that the party started before they walked in but I hadn’t felt the lyrics until Sempiternal reared its head. Indeed, That’s the Spirit came at a time when I needed it most. Avalanche, BMTH’s current single, read like every fibre of my emotional distress last year.

Belsonic, now located just behind the Titanic Centre Belfast, was announced a few months ago, and I admittedly checked a few times to make sure it wasn’t a fake festival poster. It wasn’t. Thankfully. I’d watched them live at Wembley and had no idea what to expect from an outdoor gig, as the atmosphere in a packed, sold out mammoth like Wembley Arena (not to be confused with Wembley Stadium) would not reflect on a gig that was to happen in broad daylight that hadn’t sold as many tickets as it probably had to potential to. Five of us piled in my boyfriend’s car and took the two-ish-and-a-bit hour drive up to Belfast in our stride (well, my boyfriend did. The rest of us ate and complained about being squished in together). I wasn’t feeling 100% (it turned out to be the literal flu) and by the time we got inside the venue, I was done with everything and wanted to go home oh the joys of flu. The sound of support band Don Broco playing was doing nothing to soothe my headache, as they reminded me of what Lower Than Atlantis used to sound like before they were a good band (I still have flashbacks to an All Time Low gig in Glasgow, 2013 when Mike was saying ‘You know when you’re 40, and your wife’s a minga’ and just not getting why they had anyone watching them. Thankfully their subsequent self-titled album was full of bangers and they’ve improved tenfold since then). I was also massively distracted by the number of people wearing Drop Dead clothing, until I remembered we were in the UK and that they had free delivery on orders over £15 and that I too was wearing Drop Dead so I wasn’t in a position to be amazed, and by the demographics that were present, as the crowd seemed really young which surprised me a little. Generally speaking, though, since BMTH‘s sound evolved, they are in an in-between stage where they’ve lost a lot of fans for maturing, but gained a lot of new fans who may not come to see them solely based on the fact that they’re still playing songs from Suicide Season and There is a Hell. Appealing to old and new fans is always difficult; there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ setlist for anyone and BMTH have notoriously rough crowds. The sound may be softer but the fans aren’t! Also supporting BMTH were And So I Watch You From Afar, a Belfast-based four piece instrumental band that got the crowd going far better than Don Broco did. I’d never really listened to And So I Watch You but the guys I was with were big fans and they seemed to get a really positive response.

At this point I wanted my bed, and was counting down the minutes until BMTH came on stage and then the minutes from that point that I could get into the car again, but as soon as the opening bars of Doomed played, I forgot all about being sick and it probably had to do with paracetamol finally kicking in too. It was still bright out but the atmosphere shifted suddenly and the crowd packed in towards the stage. For non-music fans, or passive gig-goers, the atmosphere at something like this is difficult to describe. In a setting like that, filled with fans who are craving music that speaks to their souls that they can scream along to like no one can hear them, the band could sound absolutely atrocious, have everything go wrong on stage, and fans wouldn’t care in the slightest. Indeed, there were some vocal issues that were barely noticeable, and the sound didn’t travel all that well – to the point that if I didn’t know the words to all the songs, I wouldn’t have known what was happening for a good section of the set – but at the time it was such a non-issue. BMTH are a powerhouse on stage and absolutely ripped through a 15 song set. The amount of people screaming the c-word at the stage would’ve been out-of-contextually bizarre in any other setting, but the venom with which the words are spit on record and live warranted the well-directed vitriol of the crowd. The only other times I’ve seen a jump-up is that even what it’s called though? I’m getting old successfully executed were during Slipknot sets – that infamous ‘When I say ‘Jump the fuck up’, what you gonna do?’ line referred to as the ‘zero bullshit’ bridge during Spit it Out has become synonymous with successful moshpits and possibly broken bones. Many bands have attempted it but almost all have failed. For me, getting down on the ground when you’ve got wonky knees is difficult, plus when you spend the entire gig clinging to your best friend’s hand for dear life just in case you get sucked into a circle pit of doom it’s hard not to fear accidental death in these situations there’s a sense of almost not wanting it to work out, just in case one of you loses an arm. However, it was expertly carried out and the crowd were thankfully more intent on having fun than mindlessly bludgeoning each other to death in the name of metal, which was reassuring. I have zero complaints about the setlist – except I do want to someday hear Join the Club and Crooked Young live, though that’s not a complaint at all, just a wishlist – and found the whole experience to be almost spiritually cleansing. It felt good to scream the words and not care about anything for an hour and a half. By the time it got to the encore, I didn’t want it to end. Closing out with Blessed with a Curse and Drown, it felt weird to be abruptly ejected from the intensity of the set into what was still basically broad daylight. It was jarring, to say the least, but still nice that we got back on the road before it got dark out. All in all, BMTH was a stellar experience and I’d thoroughly recommend making the effort to see them if they play somewhere near you. It’s taken 5 years for them to make it back to us, and if the UK do leave the EU there’s a fine chance they’ll find it difficult to travel to places within the EU within the next two years (just a caveat, if you will). Get ’em while they’re touring, or sit on your ass waiting for BMTH Live at the Royal Albert Hall (in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust) to be released. Or do both. It’s worth it.

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