We arrived as the first support was finishing up. The hall was perhaps two thirds full and the smell currently fresh, yet to be graced with five hundred bodies’ odour; the floor dry, yet to be tarnished by water, lager, blood…
The crowd? As one would expect. A core of adolescents sporting a mixture of bright hair, tattoos, piercings, skinny jeans and short-shorts – spattered by a selection of grizzled veterans, mostly male and over forty, either those that have always had a taste for well performed live music or those that managed to stay up-to-date enough with pop-culture to be genuine fans.
Princess Pavilions, where the event was staged, is not a large venue with capacity at perhaps 600 in the main hall. This proved no restraint for lead vocalist Rou Reynolds, who at one point disappeared offstage eerily cackling “I’m behinnndd you” before shooting his head, like some crazed jack-in-a-box, out of an opening twenty feet up the rear wall. Guitarist Liam Clewlow, in similar creative vein, took advantage of the innocuously positioned boxes that lay directly right of the stage. He clambered skywards, in a possible tribute to King Kong, swinging his guitar around his head like a discus thrower and howling like some injured animal – miraculously never missing a note.
Enter Shikari reek of passion. It is a characteristic common among musicians before they make their ‘big break’, but rarely does it survive the crushingly oppressive nature of the music industry. Shikari still roar around the stage like yobbos doing donuts in a car park, full of the same youthful energy that they demonstrated back in ’07. This is, however, layered with a confidence – that instead of making their performances sloppy – has allowed them to push the boundaries of live performance further with every show.
Watching back through some of the clips captured of the gig on Youtube is similar to studying a stained spoon that you had used to cook heroin the night before. The images on a screen are just a shadow of the experience. A severed limb from a giant centipede. But like all signifiers, they produce a memory that invokes emotion. The emotions invoked from seeing Enter Shikari? A raw elation accompanied by enjoyable pain. My glasses were smashed off my stupid face during the second song, so I spent the majority of the gig staring bleary eyed, like some surfaced mole, praying to strobe flickering deities while being jangled around in flesh rapids.
As headphone music, yeah, they’re good. A concoction of hardcore with DnB and dubstep influences has left Shikari as one of the most original bands of the last decade. To get the most out of them though, I would catch them on tour:
You won’t be disappointed.