I wasn’t aware Hawthorne Heights were still making music. The once famous emo rockers from Ohio have faded away in recent years and so to see them back in the UK again was a surprise. I’m not sure what compelled this reviewer to go to this gig. It was either a sense of morbid curiosity or a moment of nostalgic weakness perhaps, and so to put it lightly there were not many expectations going into this.

Already Heard gets to the Barfly tonight just in time to catch Lower Lands play, a band that have been with headliners Hawthorne Heights for the closing part of this mammoth 40 date tour. However, based on this performance, it almost wasn’t worth showing up. There is nothing to distinguish these lads from any other pop-rock band out there at the moment. They are pretty sloppy live and they fall flat tonight. I would say it was a disappointing start to the evening but there were so few expectations that this just seemed inevitable. (1/5)

View on Flickr. Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

The crowd’s attention picks up a little bit for Burn The Fleet, with a lot more crowd participation, some sing along moments and a band that sound a bit tighter live. This is still nothing groundbreaking; it is decidedly average emo meets hardcore in the worst way, but not entirely offensive either. These guys actually seem to have a fan base and are not totally unlistenable so best of luck to them. (2/5)

View on Flickr. Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Now it’s time for the “main event” as it were. As Hawthorne Heights take the stage the crowd at the Barfly mysteriously swells and there is suddenly an atmosphere to an otherwise depressingly flat evening. Maybe everyone was applying their eyeliner in the toilets or something. Anyway, the band play a competent and mixed set, front-loaded with material of their new EP. Songs like ‘Hate’ show a band with little or no progression as front man JT Woodruff wails “I hate my job and I hate my life, I hate everything in this world. I swear to God if I had a knife, I’d cut my heart out and give it to her.” Same old Hawthorne Heights then and ‘Hate’is symptomatic of their new material. If I had not heard it myself I wouldn’t believe those were actually the lyrics; it might be the most genius self-deprecating parody ever but somehow I doubt it.

View on Flickr. Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

When it comes to the hits though, the energy in the room really picks up. ‘Saying Sorry’ and set closers ‘Niki FM’ and the iconic ‘Ohio Is For Lovers’ are nostalgic classics that everyone has fond memories of. Hawthorne Heights are not a bad band live, however their new material lacks the same lustre that their earlier albums exuded. Singing along to ‘Ohio Is For Lovers’ reminded me of everything that is great about Hawthorne Heights, sadly the rest of the set didn’t. (3.5/5)


Words by Tom White (@whiteywitters). Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

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