When we enter the intimate downstairs room of Patterns, Creeper are just kicking off the proceedings with the enthusiasm and stage charisma of a band playing to a much fuller room (the doors have barely been open 20 minutes). The thing that immediately strikes us is the distinct lack of a barrier between stage and crowd, and one thought crosses our minds: this is going to be carnage. Still, the night is young and Creeper play to a small crowd of which there are a few die hard supporters at the front, singing back every word of the short setlist. Songs such as VCR and Lie Awake soar in the tiny venue, and it’s a shame that more people didn’t get down early.
By the time Blackhole are ready to play, the room is filling up fast, although the crowd are slow to get moving. Frontman (and brother of tonight’s bill topping name) Richard Carter combats this by inserting himself into the dancefloor from the outset, dad dancing to groove laden riffs and sharing the mic with some enthusiastic fellows in the crowd (so enthusiastic in fact, that Carter himself appears dumbfounded). It seems that showmanship and vocals that rip through the heavy hardcore concoction run in the family, and the band do a stellar job of not just warming the crowd up, but heating them into a frenzy that threatens to boil over.
And this is exactly what happens as soon as tonight’s much-anticipated headliners Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes take to the stage. Immediately, the room becomes a blur of bodies that obstruct our view of the stage, with arms, heads and even legs grazing the low ceilings. The band tear through songs off their debut album Blossom, with Carter himself thanking and threatening the crowd in equal measures (perhaps proving a point to anyone who might think that he mellowed with previous project Pure Love).
We do see a more heartfelt side however, when Carter makes his way to the back of the room, up the few stairs to stand at the back and sing an emotional rendition of Loss amongst the crowd. ‘I lost myself, I lost my mind, I lost my patience,’ he croons, proving that his vocal ability can induce tears as well as mayhem. Anyone crying at this point has no chance as he returns to the stage. ‘I don’t usually ask for much from a crowd,’ he says (not entirely truthfully, if you ask us), before demanding complete silence. The next track, he explains, is about his wife’s father dying, and everything he wanted to say at the time about it, but couldn’t. As you can imagine, the crowd obliges… if Frank Carter says shut up, you shut up.
The solemn atmosphere lingers for a few moments before the band launch into the almighty Juggernaut and the crowd jumps back into action. Next we’re treated to a brand new song, a ferocious track that sees the formation of a circle pit (again, at Carter’s request) around a pillar, bodies flying up and down the few deadly stairs. This song is so new, in fact, that Carter admits screaming all the words because he doesn’t actually know them.
It’s Carter’s ability to mould the crowd into anything he pleases, whether that be silent spectators or a thriving mass of moshing bodies, that strikes a note with us this evening. The lack of barrier between band and crowd acts as a physical and mental reminder that there is no idea of ‘you’ and ‘us’ here, a fact made all the more prominent as Frank crawls atop the crowd as they hold him aloft during the blistering instrumental of Paradise. This is all about one man tonight, and he knows that all too well as he decides to play Fangs again – just because he can.
Finally, we come to album closer I Hate You, an anthem of venom and loathing that sees the packed out room reverberating with the lyrics ‘I hate you, and I wish you would die,’ and right now we can’t think of a more fun way of ending a mind blowing set.
By Alice Hudson
Frank Carter plays at Dingwalls in Camden on 30th November, get your ticket fast to avoid disappointment!