The Underworld is a sweaty place at the best of times. This is probably down to a combination of it being a very small space underground in which around 500 people (I still fail to understand how this place can supposedly fit that many people in) get their rocks off accompanied by one of the least effective air conditioning units known to man. Tonight sees the Underworld attempt to reach new levels of sweatiness however. This is partly because Circa Survive's fanbase is one of the most dedicated on the circuit and partly because the tube is horrendously warm as well at the moment, meaning that everyone is already sweating by the time they arrive.
Halos take to the stage a little after 8pm to the general indifference of the majority of the Anthony Green hungry crowd. They immediately get down to playing an impressive opening set however. The quintet have a little of both tonight's headliners and the more visceral moment of Sunny Day Real Estate about them as they plough through indie songs that burst into jarring heaviness at extremely satisfying moments. There's more than a little post-rock about them too as they progress through the twists and turns of their songs. Certainly a band to watch out for in the future, especially considering they haven't even recorded their debut full-length yet.
The reaction to Circa Survive taking to the stage is much less muted than for their support act. The band are greeted like the major league rock stars they could very well turn into in the future. Launching straight into new album track "Get Out" there is a surge forward towards the stage which Green immediately owns. Despite having a voice is marmitey to the extent that you will either love it or loathe it there is no doubting that he is a brilliant frontman. Whether crazy dancing around the tiny stage as if in the middle of a bizarre trip or manically high fiving the front row Green is hard to take your eyes off during the duration of a Circa Survive show. The set progresses with the biggest reactions coming for older material (especially "Act Appalled" which is only played after repeated requests by audience members). There is a sizeable chunk of new material but it doesn't dominate the set (a shame for me as new album 'Blue Sky Noise' is by far their finest work to date). New songs are still given the same riotous singalong treatment as the older tracks however, causing Green to tell the audience "Yeah, we have a new record out in a couple of weeks...but I guess you lot already downloaded it for free". The shame in the lack of new material may be restricted to those, such as me, who are less favourably disposed towards the band's older material. For the minor problems with Circa Survive's set arise not from any performance issued but from the quality of material on air. Songs like "The Great Golden Baby" may be popular with the die-hards but are simply not as good as more recent efforts. This is emphasised by the fact that the band chooses to conclude their set with a superb "Imaginary Enemy", a song from the new record. The five members leave the stage looking like they've had a great time and the audience leaves with smiles on their faces and the knowledge that the band will return to London to play an even larger show at the Scala in September. Whatever gripes I may have about some of their older material there's no question that Circa put on a good live show and this was a fine evening of American experimental rock.
Halos - 7/10
Circa Survive - 8/10