A night of high-octane energy and powerful instrumentation organised by Counterparts was ready to unfold in front of the crowd that was sat waiting in Sound Control and after a few murmurs from the audience and some very juxtaposing music to what everyone was about to see, the lights went down so the night could begin.
First on during this packed evening was Ohio-based Knocked Loose, and not only did their set pack a punch but it started the evening off strong which truly left an impact on the near-sold-out room. Starting off with Oblivion’s Peak, the band kicked everything into gear explosively with massive amounts of energy getting the crowd fully engaged with their tight instrumentation and stellar vocal performance. After a very brief introduction, Knocked Loose dropped in to All My Friends which yet again not only showed the prowess this band has in terms of their instrumentation, but also in their ability to get a crowd moving within a matter of seconds. One unfortunate aspect of Knocked Loose‘s set was how short lived it all felt, though next came a blistering rally of tracks starting with Billy No Mates – one of the major highlights of this set – and ending up at Small Victories.
Coming in next for the Ohio band was No Thanks which was possibly the only song in their set which seemed to land less successfully than the rest which was a true shame especially as Counting Worms came through the PA with a massive surge of energy from band and crowd alike. As Knocked Loose‘s set came to a close, two more tracks flew by in the shape of The Rain and Deadringer. The latter truly solidified why this band’s following is so strong in not only the UK but Europe and US alike. Even though this was Knocked Loose‘s first ever string of UK shows (on this Counterparts tour), it certainly didn’t feel like it. With the band’s pure amount of energy and the fact that there was never a moment without at least a good handful of the audience moving, it seemed as if this band have been here many times before. With a set as strong as this in not only energy but instrumentation alike, they showed themselves to be a tough act to follow. [8/10]
Landscapes took the stage next and unfortunately was a somewhat underwhelming performance. Coming off the end of Knocked Loose‘s energetic and almost flawless set it mean they needed to bring their A game which instrumentally they did, but one thing that was evident was their lack of crowd interaction that Knocked Loose had. Starting their set with Aurora, the band very quickly showed that they new not only how to construct a song but how to portray their musical ability through their tight and well calculated instrumentation. Moving on through their set, Landscapes powered through their tunes with very minimal talking to the crowd through the majority of their time on stage; but songs like Radiance, Embrace and Death After Life spoke volumes for them. One noticeable thing between these first two bands was the amount in which the crowd felt the energy and were generating, and for whatever reason it wasn’t as powerful or as energetic as it has been with Landscapes‘ past performances.
Coming next in this set was a track which did partially rectify that issue as Neighbourhood managed to get many in the crowd moving and yelling back words. It was this moment and many like it in this second half of Landscapes‘ set during songs like No Love and Heaven Ascended that helped truly reflect what this band is actually like in terms of energy. Closing off their set was Escapist – yet again a track which shows Landscapes‘ musical knowledge and flawless instrumental ability. Overall, Landscapes did give a very entertaining set full of strong vocal performances and tight instrumentation, but after following such an energetic set it almost felt a little lack lustre in execution with not many people getting as involved as there were for openers Knocked Loose. [7/10]
Last up before headliners Counterparts was Expire, who despite nearing their final days brought their usual energy to Manchester. This may have been the last time many people in the room would get to see them but Expire brought everything they had. Kicking off their set with Bark, Expire were quickly displaying the right musicianship and high-octane energy many in the room were accustomed to. From the offset, the crowd were moving along with front man Joshua Kelting making it a night to remember not only for Expire but for the audience too.
As Expire powered through songs like Regret, Pretty Low and Just Fine, there was a clear indication at how much this meant to them as they spoke about how Manchester is almost like a “second home”. However, there was an issue that was evident as with Knocked Loose – as they powered through their set things seemed to almost pass by as tracks like Reputation, Forgettable, Old Habits and Fighting The Slip started blending into one.
As Expire continued to exhibit the level of hardcore that they have been putting out since their humble beginnings in 2009, and after plowing through Spit Out, Focus, Sleep Lost and 3:65 the band were now drawing to the end of what was an explosive and well-planned set. With Abyss, Expire‘s set was nearly done to make way for Counterparts and it was hard for many people in the room, especially with it being Expire‘s final Manchester date. However, it was a set to remember not only for how well Expire played in every aspect of their set, but also how the crowd got behind them like they have many times before for a mosh full of energy. [9/10]
Closing off this night of emotional and energetic highs were Counterparts, the band who many in the room push to the front for. As the band took the stage, it was clear that the audience were ready with many moving around and shouting before they had even struck their first note. Kicking off with Compass, the band proved themselves early on and started off strong – not only in terms of their instrumentation but also in terms of the energy they were displaying.
After a few quick interactions with the audience, Counterparts were soon, similarly to every band on this show, crashing through numbers old and new all the while keeping the audience engaged and moving – either by shouting words or moshing. After blasting through Wither, Outlier, Slave and Stranger, the band were truly bringing there all in to the show especially when the band brought out members of Knocked Loose, Landscapes and Expire to help them out on a few tracks at this point and later in the set.