Live Review: Counterparts, Polar and Napoleon – G2, Glasgow – 15/11/2017

There’s something of a culture clash as one approaches Glasgow’s heralded Garage tonight. A sea of psychotic harlequins are chugging energy drinks and throwing gang signs as they prepare for iconic hellraisers Insane Clown Posse’s performance upstairs in the main room of the venue. Outside, they share the same space as modestly clad punters in hardcore hoodies making their way to Ground Floor venue G2, where Canada’s finest metalcore exports Counterparts are set to perform tonight as well.

Tonight’s bands could all be considered veterans in hardcore’s dog-years age system and openers


are the youngest with six years of touring under their belt. Drawing a respectably sized crowd, their set comprises a variety of songs from their breakthrough EP ‘What We See’ and debut album ‘Newborn Mind’. With an emphasis on the technicality guitarist Sam Osborn produces, Napoleon’s performance is sharp and precise and flows consistently which makes it difficult to divert your focus away from the stage. While a setting this intimate works for them, imagining their tight grooving translating elsewhere is a tough prospect. (3.5/5)

Guildford’s Polar have always been able to translate their sound to bigger venues, despite feeling like the undercard of the 2010’s metalcore explosion, while their contemporaries in While She Sleeps and Bury Tomorrow have accomplished more. But it’s by no means caused the fire in their bellies to settle as they dominate G2’s compact stage. Playing a largely material from last year’s superb ‘No Cure, No Saviour’, their performance is a blow-by-blow smackdown of chunky riff after riff, while frontman Adam Woodford revels in delight with the chaos occurring onstage. Unfortunately, the ecstasy on stage isn’t replicated in the crowd’s response save for a small handful of punters losing it up front. (3.5/5)

“Glasgow, we don’t know what it is about you guys that make all your shows so fucking crazy,” Counterparts frontman Brendan Murphy energetically ponders in between songs as muffled sounds of whooping Juggalos pour through the walls. “But we always love coming here.” While this type of patter is often dished out at every show on a tour, the audience certainly prove their worth, as people begin stage diving before the two-second intro to opener ‘Bouquet’ is finished.

Playing a hefty chunk of songs from this year’s album-of-the-year contender ‘You’re Not You Anymore’, Counterparts are on a mission to blow minds and push the crowd to peak physical intensity. Without any eloquent stage set up or even so much as a backdrop, these songs speak for themselves as the expanse of punters throwing down, pitting and stage-diving during ‘No Servant of Mine’, ‘Haunt Me’ and ‘Rope’ gain as heroic a reaction as firmly established cuts like ‘Witness’ and ‘Burn’. Even 2013’s ‘Outlier’ gives Brendan a chance to perform the rare piece of clean singing from the Counterparts back catalogue, before the pairing of minute-and-a half ragers ‘Thieves’ and ‘Choke’ feel like all-out war.

After closing with a triumphant performance of ‘The Disconnect’ (which features the audience a cappella chants of the song’s signature “I fucking hate the world, and I fucking hate myself” line), any prospect of an encore are unfortunately cut short as Brendan takes to the stage to announce that bassist Tyler Williams has cut his hand open mid-performance. “We gotta get him to a hospital, but please make some noise for yourselves Glasgow, that was amazing,” he states, as the audience raptures into thunderous cheering and applause. It’s a reminder of Counterparts’ mantra of putting everything into their live shows, even if their members have to bleed for it, and tonight’s show from both artists and audience members is a testament to the force of hardcore music both physically and emotionally. (4.5/5)

To quote Insane Clown Posse on the matter: “Music is all magic, you can’t even hold it, it’s just there in the air, pure motherfucking magic, right?”


Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)


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