So, this show wins points for being bizarre given that it fell right in the middle of Brighton's The Great Escape Festival meaning this potentially brilliant night of hardcore got moved. To mid-day. Indeed, the show was advertised as a "hardcore matinee performance" (say what?) and so the Cancer Bats as headliners would hit the stage at 3:15 in the afternoon, a bizarre time to experience a headlining hardcore act [Living an hour from New York City, reading this is mildly weird. - Ed.]. The venue itself was small and intimate, perfect for the hardcore treats that awaited the crowd, which was a good size given the time of day.
First up was Sigh and Explode from Norway, a band who I think really had been dragged in to make up the numbers as they did not belong in this environment. They were perfectly adequate the little that I saw of them, as I arrived somewhat late (hey, it was early!) and was also busy drinking overpriced Carslberg.
Second up came Hexes, who are opening this tour across the UK. Hexes are an interesting band; indeed, any band that appears to have taken their name from the Harry Potter series immediately poses questions to the audience. A little investigation and you find that Daniel Carter on vocals is from the UK pop-punk band A who released Hi-Fi-Serious in 2002 and that he boasts writing collabarations with McFly. Yet, despite all this, Hexes are indeed a perfectly good hardcore band, technically adept with the ability to write and play good songs. Their live show, however, does suffer from occasional flat vocals and drumming; their songwriting is also somewhat uncordinated, with the occasional and unpredicable blarings of electronics which add very little to their sound except confusion. All in all, the Hexes are on the up, with an opening slot at this years Reading Festival Lock-up Tent, but new material and plenty of work is needed if this band is going to progress from opening for other people.
Next up came Ghost of a Thousand, who had been added to the bill for this, their hometown show. GOAT (an amusing acronym which the band do not utilise) promptly began to rip the little Barfly to pieces, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with an energetic and tight performance, using songs from their first and only release alongside new and unheard material. Frontman Tom Lacey perfectly balanced anger and energy with brilliant vocal delivery despite admitting that normally at 1:30 on a Saturday he can be found in his pants watching "Friends" re-runs. GOAT are a band which have been quiet for a while but remain on an upward trajectory and for very good reason; their material is raw, aggressive and catchy and the samples they gave of their next release bodes extremely well for their future.
Johnny Truant, another band gracing the stage in their hometown, took the stage and quickly fired through a set which leaned heavily on their upcoming release No Tears for the Creatures. Truant are a band which have been around for a surprisngly long time, yet continually seem to fall a yard short of what is expected of them, stifiling their abiity to gain exposure and popularity. Their live show was good, but seemed to lack something which made it anything more than that, only ever exploding into life with crowd-pleasing favourites. I suppose maybe I just do not find them that interesting, and whilst energy was in great supply, real excitement was continually lacking. Whilst I am yet to hear Johnny Truant's new material, I doubt it will finally be the release to break them out of a stereotypical metallic hardcore mold and give them real momentum.
Finally, out came the Cancer Bats. The band are proving to be this year's snowball band, which rolls and rolls, gathering more and more of a following on the back of a gut-busting tour schedule and their new release Hail Destroyer. Placed at the head of a scene that some (lame) music journalists are beginning to dub "popular hardcore" (say what?) I would find on leaving the venue that the 'Bats' are currently gracing the front cover of UK magazine Kerrang! with the byline 'the shape of punk to come.' Putting over-hyped music journalism behind us, the Bats hit the stage at a million miles per hour, opening with "Hail Destroyer" and "French Immersion," arguably their two most well-known songs. Liam Cormier once again demonstrated his superb stage presence by throwing himself around the stage, eventually resulting in a hilarious collision with and consequential destruction of Mike Peters' drum setup and at least two broken microphones. Indeed, such was the energy; he was almost kicking the army of photographers at the front of the stage out of the way in his quest to engage with the crowd, as he spent at least half the set on the front row barrier, chanting with anyone who would join him. That, it turned out, was everyone. With two albums now, the Cancer Bats have the ability to play a well-balanced and crowd-pleasing set, from the mass head-banging inducing "Deathsmarch" to the closer "Pneumonia Hawk" with hardly a pause to catch your breath. As the lights went up and a large group of dazed, brusied and confused people poured out into the street at 4:30 in the afternoon, one thing was clear: Cancer Bats are here to stay.
Ghost of a Thousand 
Johnny Truant 
Cancer Bats [9.5]