The anticipation in the air with thick at the Legendary Whisky A Go Go as a mid-week set brought out a capacity crowd on a Wednesday night.
Contrary to L.A. standards, there was no being fashionably late to this engagement as one of rock music’s biggest names of the last decade was moving from their conventional arena-sized spectacle, to the intimate confines of an especially rare club show.
Ahead of their highly-anticipated performance as a part of the Knotfest Los Angeles festivities set for November 5th, UK’s juggernaut in Bring Me the Horizon would take to the stage on the hallowed grounds of the West Hollywood institution for a night that would not only underscore their prowess in terms of performance but would assert the versatility that has made them so integral to the landscape of alternative music.
Kicking off the evening’s proceedings, Sasscore practitioners SeeYouSpaceCowboy tapped into a nostalgic brand of hostility that served well in adding to the energy of the room. Skipping the subtleties, Connie Sgarbossa’s violent rasp quickly resonated in the room as selections like “Misinterpreting Constellations” and "The End To A Brief Moment Of Lasting Intimacy” reiterated that the band did not come to fuck around.
Acknowledging the gravity of the evening, Sgarbossa thanked Bring Me the Horizon for the invitation and referenced the history of the house, “it’s cool to be playing a venue where my parents saw Black Flag and Circle Jerks.”
With the arrival of their The Romance Of Affliction LP set for the end of this week, SeeYouSpaceCowboy did well will introducing their latest chapter stylized aggression, as cuts like "With Arms That Bind and Lips That Lock” and the Aaron Gillespie-assisted “Intersecting Storylines To The Same Tragedy” proved convincing, if not outright commanding.
Punctuating their stage time with "Self Help Specialist Ends Own Life,” the ascending aggressors made a lasting impression with the Bring Me the Horizon faithful in a way that underscored the auspicious outlook of alternative music.
Transitioning into the main event of the evening, the capacity crowd quickly remembered what it was like to pack into a tight, sweaty space as the anticipation reached a pitch. That was evidenced by the fact that the waiting fans broke into a chorus, singing System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey” that was blaring through the PA as the stage was being prepped.
Then the lights went out and the room exalted.
Going straight for the throat, Bring Me The Horizon opened with powerful one-two from their latest Post Human: Survival Horror in the visceral “Dear Diary” and the anthemic “Teardrops” - a contrasting tandem that quickly illuminated just how dynamic the band’s range is. Oli’s unhinged roar on the opener, followed up with such a commanding chorus resulted in a kind of rock n roll rejoice that filled the room.
Bring Me the Horizon managed to pack their arena-sized wallop into the close confines of the club and bangers like “The House of Wolves” were among the evening’s best examples. After asking fans, “Are you ready to tear this fucking venue down?” Sykes then cautioned the crowd, “You can do whatever you want, but if you stand still, you’re a fucking cunt,” before erupting into Sempiternal anthem - a track that set off a powder keg with Sykes reveling in the aftermath.
Over the course of the next four cuts, if not already already evident - it became crystal clear just why Bring Me The Horizon have become so synonymous with the pinnacle of the genre. The infectious hook that anchors “Medicine,” the commanding bounce of “Happy Song,” the cinematic scale of “Ludens,” and the poignant, almost provocative pulse of “Parasite Eve” are all such daringly different songs, yet fundamentally Bring Me the Horizon.
Few outfits have the artistic bandwidth to embrace such versatility and yet, Bring Me The Horizon manages to ride an audio ebb and flow that they command as their setlist unfolds. Tonight, the boys for Sheffield didn’t need pyro, LEDs, or custom risers to evoke spectacle - their performance took on the heavy lifting.
There were especially poignant moments throughout the set that made for memorable takeaways in the 17 song-collection. During “Shadow Moses” the floor delivered a convincing chant, Can you tell from the look in our eyes // We’re going nowhere // We live our life like we're ready to die // We’re going nowhere - an exercise in catharsis given the last near two year stretch.
Despite it’s fresh release as one of Bring Me the Horizon’s newest tracks, the kind of response prompted when Sykes sang the hook of “DIE4u” suggested that the song had long been a fixture in the band’s setlist - an instant favorite judging by the choral support that transformed the club show into a stadium singalong.
Among the highlights of the night however was also one of the most subdued stanzas. Needing only an acoustic guitar, a wash of blue light and his own voice, Oli Sykes asserted his command in a completely different way during bold ballad rendition of “Follow You”. More than a flex of range, Sykes’ ability to connect with the crowd, in an arena or without a barricade, was on full display. Without dancing lights, circle pits, or breakdowns, Sykes was nothing short of commanding and this particular track underscored that fact.
It was the finale of the set however that best emphasized the gravity of the evening. While the narrative had been dominated by the storyline of one of rock music’s most massive headliners cramming into Hollywood club on a school night, the performance of “Drown” illuminated another important point.
As fans began to overwhelm security and take over the stage. Oli sang the soul-bearing song of helplessness and despair surrounded by people of all walks that connected with the track’s message. It was evident given the kind of conviction in which they sang along.
Who will fix me now? // Dive in when I'm down? // Save me from myself // Don’t let me drown
Who will make me fight? // Drag me out alive? // Save me from myself // Don’t let me drown
In much the same way Bring Me the Horizon proved their prowess even without the bells and whistles of premium level production, the fans better illuminated that tonight was not about star power in close quarters but the shared experience that is live music.
Swaying arm in arm with strangers, screaming the words in unison to your favorite song is a spiritual experience - it’s even more meaningful after two years of not being able to do so. Sharing the microphone alongside the frontman the penned the track however - the ultimate.
…Then Yungblud decided to join the party for an encore rendition of “Obey” driving the evening’s climax to yet another peak. The special guest assist was even more spectacular in that both Oli and YungBlud were swallowed whole by the pit, spending the first third of the track trading vocals in the middle of the mob on the floor.
Among the various plotlines of the night, one thing was indisputable. For Bring Me the Horizon, in any setting, the ceiling is intended to be shattered. Tonight not only reiterated that fact, but fans watched it play out in real time.
The bar has been set for a historic week in Los Angeles. Next stop - KNOTFEST.