About this time last year, I attended my first BEAT:CANCER show, which was something of a voyage of discovery in what felt like a parallel scene, with a good number of people I rarely saw at other shows I attended, and a number of artists that I’d never come across before.
Click Click: 005: BEAT:CANCER Winter Tour 2018: 13-October 2018
Needless to say, a return visit to this year’s Winter Tour was thus necessary, particularly as once again it had a number of artists that I really wanted to see, and a couple I’d never even come across before.
This desire to attend, mind, was severely tested after a heavy night out the previous night, some 100 miles west in Bristol – and an extended journey home, not to mention something of a fuzzy, tired head – but I made it in the end, even if I did have to miss out on the headliners to get some much-needed sleep.
It has been a surprising amount of time since I last saw Paresis live – according to my records, over five years – and in the time since, there has definitely been an advance in his sound. It is still, at base, an aggressive, metal-influenced industrial blast, but along the way it has been upgraded, resulting in a much more…rounded sound. Adding a second member, too, onstage really helped, with a better depth to things and the use of two guitars at points meant for a scorchingly heavy hit. Paresis remain something of an outlier because of their metal influences, but that doesn’t mean you should overlook them, especially as they now sound so good.
The return of Deathboy to live shows recently was, to be honest, something of a surprise, as I thought that Scott had rather lost interest in doing it. But other shows recently had suggested something of the old fire still remains, and here they had a better, more receptive audience and with the live group back to a four-piece, they sounded fantastic. Let’s be honest, too, the Beat:Cancer shows generally seem to attract a younger audience than some of the other shows in the same venue, and from comments afterward it was obvious that they had been playing to a number of people that were previously unaware of them. The breaks and drums and guitars, then, even after so many years since most of the material was written, still sound fresh and remarkably new, and the set was a highly entertaining half-hour that didn’t need to rely on nostalgia to enjoy it.
Following these two bands that I have been long-since familiar with, what was interesting to me was that much like last year, two of the artists were entirely new to me, and both were intriguing live bands, but in very different ways.
The first of these was VIEON, who lined up with three band-members onstage, all of which were behind a bank of electronics (although I’m led to understand that Adrian was mixing live visuals). The sound was somewhere between synthwave and, well, to put no finer point on it, Mind.in.a.box – not exactly a common influence, but here the heavy use of vocoders and other vocal treatments made the comparison obvious. This would be more of a problem if the songs weren’t so interesting and richly detailed – frontperson Matt Wild is clearly an exceptionally talented electronic musician (and quite the whizz on the keytar), and it was also notable how clear the sound mix was, suggesting an attention to detail on every level. They lost me a bit when they dipped into the more synthwave-esque sections, but the rest has certainly interested me enough to go and hunt them out online.
I’m still wondering exactly how I’ve missed Sirus until this point. Part of that may be down to the fact that I wasn’t able to attend Resistanz 2015 – which as I recall they played at – and probably also down to the fact that I’ve not really been paying particular attention to DWA releases either in recent years, my broad musical tastes having moved in a different direction.
Whether I like them on record or not is another question – and I’m still very much undecided on that, after picking a few tracks at random the other day – but live they were an awful lot of fun. They looked like they’d come direct from the set of some awesome cyberpunk movie, and unusually for a band in their sonic sphere, they have a live drummer and two vocalists. For me that use of twin vocalists – one male, one female, with very different vocal styles – adds a layer of mystery and style (especially as, critically, it was mixed correctly so that we could hear both of them) and certainly makes for something that grabs your attention from the off. Musically, too, they aren’t really your average aggrotech band, either, dropping in savage drops of bass and rhythm from dubstep and grime, and there is a general feeling of a restless intrigue in what sound they could create.
Ok, so at times it is all a bit by-the-numbers cyberpunk doom-and-gloom in the lyrics, but maybe that’s their way of approaching the hellhole of politics in recent yeats, holding the mirror up against dystopian fiction that was never meant to become real. Perhaps I’m digging too deep, though, and looking for something that I don’t need to find – as this was just plainly an enjoyable set from a band that get credit at the very least for trying to be different.
The aforementioned need for my bed and a good night’s sleep meant that, in the end, I missed out on headliners Xenturion Prime, who I’m told put on a good show.
Even without seeing them, though, this was once again a well-organised, busy night, with a little delay between bands here and there, but nothing to try the patience. Mark has an able team of helpers around him as he puts on these shows, and it is great to see everyone “mucking in” as necessary to make things happen, especially with the proceeds from these shows going to great causes. Long may the series of shows continue, particularly if the quality of bands stays as high as so far.