Words by Ashleigh Goodwin / Pics by Eleanor Sutcliffe
The only time I’ve been to The Asylum is on a Saturday night, at around one in the morning, blindly making my way around the downstairs room and the smoking area.
A Wednesday night is quite a different experience. As I make my way upstairs to The Asylum 2 it feels like a completely different place – merch tables are lined up in the corridor and people stand chatting by the bar or sitting on the seats around the side, while a dedicated group stand in front of the stage solidly for the entire evening.
Cited as one of British rock’s best new bands by Rocksound, Birmingham boys Beaumont open the evening. They play tracks from their debut Nothing EP such as ‘Cheap Side’ and ‘E-Street’, which they dedicate to William Shakespeare who penned the silent character and inspiration behind their name. They also perform newer songs ‘Hurler’ and ‘Art School’ – a song they introduce with the line, “this one is about burning down a school”.
Spencer Edmonds’ emotive lyricism, combined with guitars and drumming that match it beat for beat, makes for a crowd-pleasing set. Beaumont’s performance is interesting to watch, as you are able to hear a range of influences in each song, sometimes giving off a Mallory Knox and Young Guns vibe and at other times reminiscent of Lower than Atlantis (which makes sense as their new EP was produced by Lower than Atlantis producer John Mitchell). They leave the audience by thanking them for paying attention, before launching into their last song of the night ‘Boys and Girls’ – a mix of heavy guitars and an insanely catchy chorus that gets the audience head banging.
Better Days take to the stage next, and even before vocalist Graeme Costello finishes the sentence “we’re from Newcastle” the crowd is cheering and jumping at his command. Better Days are a real highlight of the evening. Costello has distinct vocals that work well with the atypical pop-punk sound of the quintet and that translate perfectly into a live setting. The band build a solid connection with the crowd, asking them to “show us your dance moves” before playing ‘Without You’ from their Spilt EP.
Unsurprisingly, when the opening notes to ‘This House’ sound through the venue, people are already singing the opening lines. It sounds a bit like Neck Deep, but revised through Better Days’ effortless, unique execution and approach to song construction that draws influences from pop-punk with an emo undertone. The set is cut short, but nevertheless ends on a high, due to the charismatic camaraderie Better Days have managed to create.
Alternative rockers, Lacey, provide the night’s main support, immediately launching into ‘Change the Story’ from their 2015 album Under the Brightest Lights. The crowd is radiating excitement and it’s easy to see why; the way the vocals mix together and are supported by strong hooks make for a catchy catalogue of songs with an anthemic quality.
Again, their relationship with the audience makes them enjoyable to watch – it’s been a while since I’ve been to show with such a high level of audience interaction and I’d forgotten how much richer it can make the experience. As Lacey explain something to the effect of “we’re running on 75% capacity, but are 100% awesome, 82% drunk and will reach full capacity by the end” and that guitarist Josh will pick up the bar tab, the atmosphere is only progressively positive from there.
So, when vocalist Graz asks who is excited for The Bottom Line the cheering increases tenfold. Another highlight begins when they say, “this next song is a cover and we liked it so much we put it on a CD for you”, referring to their 2016 release ‘Dammit’ – their take on the classic Blink 182 song, which is perfectly executed in a slowed down version of the original. Lacey play their newest release, ‘Answers’, which gets a positive reception, but nothing compared to the reaction of the crowd when they end on ‘Tonight’ which is still echoing through my head over a day later.
Upstairs at The Asylum gets progressively more hyped as The Bottom Line’s time draws near. When the lights go down and a red light creeps across the stage, the crowds’ cheering increases as the foursome enter from the back of the room with their guitars. Vocalist, Callum Amies, greets the room with a cool “Hello Birmingham” before continuing, “here’s the deal – I can’t sing and you can…I woke up this morning and couldn’t even speak.” Not that you can tell that his voice is suffering, as their performance is tight, with exact precision across the guitars, drums and vocals.
Before the vocals start, the crowd is jumping high at the first reverb of the guitar, and at the command of the band they split down the middle, creating gang-vocals – a trademark of many of their songs. Nearly each track is intertwined with audience participation, such as getting the crowd to crouch down on the floor during ‘Record Player’ – something of a popular trope in the alternative scene, but one that never gets old as you see members of the crowd laughing and clutching their friends for balance. The crowd is made to squeeze in tight as they sing the chorus, and as Amies balances preciously on the barriers hands shoot up to support him.
The penultimate song, ‘I Still Hate’, you boasts a ridiculously catchy chorus and signature pop-punk riffs that go down extremely well with the crowd. The Bottom Line end with ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ – it would almost be rude not to as they’d covered ‘Smash Mouth’ mid set – both tracks a nod to the influences that are prevalent throughout their music. You get the feeling The Bottom Line could be playing to a venue of a ten thousand or ten, and their performance wouldn’t falter; there would be the same level of interaction, energy and passion, as they utilise the space and crowd to such a great extent. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen the phrase ‘in the palm of their hand’ in effect so intently. The audience is entranced.
It is enjoyable to witness the range of influences that each band draws from tonight, and this is reflected in the audience who are mostly clothed in band merchandise from Bowling for Soup to All Time Low. It reinforces the richness of the genre and sub-genres spanning from generalised alternative rock, to pop-punk to emo elements.
I can’t help but focus on crowds when going to events such as this and I feel it can say a lot about the bands on stage. Seeing The Asylum audience grouping together, dancing amongst their friends and throwing their hands in the air to every beat reinforces the importance of music to a predominantly younger audience. These are defining years in music, where knowledge and tastes are built by attending gigs. It is something special to witness.
The Bottom Line @ The Asylum (2) 24.01.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe – Birmingham Review
For more on The Bottom Line, visit www.thebottomlineuk.com
Lacey – supporting The Bottom Line @ The Asylum (2) 24.01.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe – Birmingham Review
For more on Lacey, visit www.laceyofficialuk.com
Better Days – supporting The Bottom Line @ The Asylum (2) 24.01.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe – Birmingham Review
For more on Better Days, visit www.soundcloud.com/betterdaysband
Beaumont – supporting The Bottom Line @ The Asylum (2) 24.01.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe – Birmingham Review
For more on Beaumont, visit www.facebook.com/beaumontband
For more from The Asylum, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.theasylumvenue.co.uk
For more on Surprise You’re Dead! Music, visit www.surpriseyouredeadmusic.co.uk