The Tech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself Tour, if you’ve been under a rock for the past four months, is a pretty big deal around here. Not only have we managed to get our humble name on the tour poster by promoting the shit out of it, but it features three bands very close to our hearts. Cyclamen contains a couple of personal friends, and are the reason I came to be involved on Heavy Blog at all (lucky you!), Chimp Spanner is an utter maestro and a leading figure in our own favourite is it/isn’t it djenre ‘djent’, and Aliases are an exciting prospect on the British tech-metal scene, featuring ex-SikTh guitarist Graham ‘Pin’ Pinney. Good times to be had, for sure.
I couldn’t really not go then, could I? Expectations were naturally high – which is often a recipe for disappointment – but how was it? Well, gather round children, and let me tell you…
Due to a VERY slow-moving line I missed most of supporting band Once A Wolf, but they sounded pretty fair from what I could hear outside – their vocalist certainly had a good set of lungs!
For me, the night proper began when Cyclamen, the band of Japanese mastermind Hayato Imanishi, took to the stage. When I last saw these guys play with The Safety Fire and TesseracT some six months ago, they appeared very much as they were – a new band, still finding their way in a live setting. Tonight’s performance blew me out of the fucking water.
Their confidence was evidently increased ten-fold: Hayato’s stage presence was towering (no mean feat considering his stature) and guitarist Olly Steele’s recent stint touring with Monuments had clearly allowed him to find his on-stage groove. Whilst by no means a slouch of a performance those many moons ago, the whole experience felt tighter and more measured. The choice of songs was superb – hitting the heavier moments of Senjyu, playing both tracks from their split EP with Haunted Shores, and slipping in the fantastic “Never Ending Dream” and a re-vamped version of “Djent Djent” (the name of which Hayato refused to acknowledge) as a tribute to their oldest material. The crowd got super pumped, and I saw more than one person walk away with a Cyclamen record in the hands.
Next up were saucy simian syndicate Chimp Spanner, the one-man project of one Paul Ortiz fully fleshed out with Monuments’ own Adam Swan on bass, personal friend Jim providing additional guitars, and the sublime Boris le Gal on drums. The anticipation in the room was palpable – more than one iconic yellow ‘pookie’ t-shirt on display, and an excited murmur rippling around the room as the guys soundchecked.
Said excitement leapt the second At The Dream’s Edge‘s intro “Galaxy Rise” began, and exploded when the sublime opening riff of “Supererogation” kicked in – and I don’t think it dropped throughout the entire performance. The song choice was excellent – tracks such as “Bad Code“, “The Mirror“, and “Harvey Wallbanger” showcasing Ortiz’s impressive songwriting skills to any who were yet unfamiliar. A particular highlight for me was watching Boris. Apart from being a fantastic drummer, his showmanship marks him out as a brilliant choice to take on the road, pulling faces a the the crowd and showing off with his sticks; successively spinning and throwing them around, never missing a beat.
They could have played At The Dream’s Edge in its seventy-minute entirety and the audience still would have been disappointed when they finished. Stunning.
The unknown quantity coming into the evening was Aliases. This was a bold move – to have a band with only one released track (“We Never Should Have Met“) headline – but nevertheless, there was a sense of curiosity within the crowd to see what Pin had been up to.
Familiarity turned out to be unnecessary as Aliases occupied the stage with the professionalism of a band much more seasoned than their year or so would normally have allowed. Vocalist Jay Berast was immediately up in the audience’s faces, commanding everyone’s attention, even when being slapped by guitarist Leah Woodward. Multiple pits broke out in the relatively small room, particularly when the aforementioned track began.
What impressed me most about the night was the quality of showmanship on display from three relatively untested bands. Cyclamen reside in different countries for much of the year, coming together to practice only when shows are imminent. Similarly, Chimp Spanner’s live line-up was hastily put together only after agreeing to do this tour, and as I said Aliases have only released one song to the world, and played but a handful of shows – the previous three on this tour included. I’d advise anyone able to do so to catch one of the dates remaining on this tour (so Peterborough, Brighton and Coventry) to do so – you won’t be disappointed.