This is the first time that a band has toured and I’ve managed to make it to more than one date. Therefore, it’s only fitting that I seize the opportunity to compare the shows that Arcane Roots played at the intimate The Boileroom, Guilford and the more sizable Scala in London. I’ll also be discussing the support acts for both shows as the impressions they left were somewhat contrasting…

22/10/17 – The Boileroom (SOLD OUT)

Support from Fizzy Blood:

These guys are absolutely fantastic and undoubtedly have a solid future ahead of them. As they rattled through highlights throughout their Summer Of Luv EP ( amongst other tunes, the energy they exhibited was utterly unrelenting. Unfortunately, this demonstration of vigour failed to be replicated by the crowd which ultimately left something to be desired. Nonetheless, the performance of the band themselves was near flawless. Get involved with this band. – 4.5/5 Bytes.

Arcane Roots:

With the rate at which the boys are gaining popularity, I was utterly enthused when I saw that they would be gracing the bijou Boileroom. It’s a venue I know well and have grown to love, but you can’t deny the fact that it feels as though the Root have outgrown venues of this calibre. Prior to the band gracing the stage, there was a buzz in the air, a tingle of sheer anticipation. The intention to open the night with Before Me is surely in place to promote an atmosphere that amplifies the anticipation, for the point at which the tenacity of the show picks up and, clouded the conversations taking place between more ditzy fans, it worked.

As soon as Matter kicked in, the crowd appropriately followed. What followed was what can only be described as a ‘sweatfest’. Hit after hit that spanned from Left Fire to Melancholia Hymns, it made for an incredibly well selected and thought through set. The peaks and troughs in pace ensured that a special atmosphere was maintained, whilst the brutal energy promoted by the angular riffs, stampeding rhythm section and boisterous vocals that Arcane Roots so expertly boast.

The only shade cast upon this show came in the form of considerable technical difficulties. I’m pretty sure I head Andrew mention ‘too much wet’, whatever that means. It was a shame that we had to put a pause on the set, however, when it is due to an element that is outside of the band’s control, it’s extremely difficult to penalise the overall quality of the show. Mend, move on.

I’m far from the next Mo Farah, but I’m a relatively fit and healthy dude – I was clinging on to what little oxygen was circulating the packed-out crowd of this evening. Attempting to match the standard of energy set by the band was an absolute chore, but one I was more than happy to endure. I cherished this performance, it won’t be long until intimate shows will be a thing of the past for these guys. – 4.5 Bytes.

2/11/17 – Scala (SOLD OUT)

Support from Gold Key:

Following the recent release of debut album, Hello Phantom, I was eager to see what Gold Key were all about. They walked onto the stage looking surprisingly unenthused – you would’ve thought that playing a venue of this size would’ve been a big deal for a band who are relatively small. Truth be told, they seemed out of their depth here. Their sound failed to fill the room, partly because the frontman’s vocals had no support from his fellow band members, it meant that they were simply not strong enough. The actual songs themselves sounded flat and failed to engage the crowd in any way. Credit where its due though, the rhythm section sounded tight which at least provoked the occasional head bob. – 2/5 Bytes.

Arcane Roots:

Finally. Us fans had been waiting a little longer than we had originally expected after the show that was originally due to take place on the 5th of October had to be rescheduled. To be honest, it seemed as though the guys had endured a torrid time on their travels: “After much decision I’ve decided that I really hate touring. 3 vans. 1 toe. 1 hospital trip. 1 severe infection. 2 drum stools. 1 mic stand. 1 merch delivery chased across Germany. 1 van only 10 minutes from the Calais ferry with it’s wheel hanging off.” – that’s what Andrew posted on Instagram the day before the Scala show was due.

Luckily, the rescheduling didn’t seem to be too much of an inconvenience as the show managed to stay sold out. The place was full to the brim when the time came for the music to start and, once again, that tingle was back. Unsurprisingly, the setlist was exactly the same as the show that I had previously seen them at, however, this time around there were some variants to the tracks that they played – extended breakdowns and outros suggested to me that they were perhaps relishing this moment a little more than they would have been at the Boileroom. Again, this is hardly surprising, this was a bigger occasion and so would have been approached with considerably more grandeur.

A striking element about Arcane Roots, aside from the obvious technical proficiencies that they boast as musicians, is the way in which they manage to work their audience. Unlike most artists, they don’t rely on gimmicks to get the crowd moving – no hand claps or pre-planned mosh pits – the music speaks for itself and it genuinely becomes physically impossible not to move in tandem with the riffs. It’s always a laugh when we as mere mortals attempt to sing along with Andrew – no chance.

Naturally, the intimacy that made the Boileroom so great was somewhat lost, which while a shame is a testament to the way in which the band are headed. I remember seeing them play the main stage at 2000 Trees in 2016 and thinking ‘this is the type of audience that they deserve’ – energetic, entirely invested into the music and fundamentally rich in numbers. Once again, a sell-out show at Scala feels like a more accurate representation of the crowds that they should be raking in and, from here, the only way is up. Indigo is particularly worth a mention, as a track it exhibits a slightly more pedestrian pace, which raised questions for me as to whether or not it would be a well-suited addition to their live set. It sounded stadium worthy and I have no doubt that soon, they will be dominating arenas. – 4.5/5 Bytes.

By Aaron Jackson

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