Defiance, Ohio are one of the last bands I’d expect to see in my locale. Despite the fact that it’s put on some pretty amazing shows over the past few years with bands from all over the place, Defiance, Ohio just seem like worlds away, part of a scene that doesn’t tend to reach us, that we can only read about.
When local promoter, zine author and all-round nice fellow Henry Applecore booked them for a date on their third UK tour, then, it was clearly one that every punk in Northampton would not want to miss. And, yes, all 12 of them showed up, and more. We spent a while at the merch table buying records and shirts, discussing the difference between currencies from around the world, racism, Defiance, Ohio’s charity work and other such nonsense before heading over to watch the bands.
Using the same setup of acoustic and electric guitars, violin, drums and lots of shouting, local folk-punkers Elfonso opened the show in a similar fashion to how Defiance, Ohio would later close it. The key difference was, brilliantly, that all of their songs were about video games: Zelda, Sonic, Nights into Dreams and Guild Wars were all covered in a nerdy 20 minutes of tight, catchy tunes by a band seriously worthy of sharing the ‘stage’ (well, corner of the floor) with an obvious strong influence.
Next was Madeline, who has been on the road with Defiance for some time and had Theo and Will helping her out, providing simple bass and drum backing for her folky tunes. Using a quiet, muted electric guitar set her apart from countless acoustic singer-songwriters, making her songs soft and mellow and letting her great voice fill the venue. Although she slowed things right down after Elfonso’s energetic opening, she was charming enough to get away with it. I’d never heard of Madeline before, but I was definitely impressed, so keep an ear out for her if she’s new to you too.
The room was full by the time Defiance, Ohio started, and they proceeded to put a smile on the face of every single person. Overflowing with energy and passion, they ripped through an amazing set that lasted nearly an hour. My favourite Defiance album is Share What Ya Got and I was initially worried that I wouldn’t hear much from it, as it’s about six years old at this point, but they played a selection of stuff from all of their albums, as well as a couple of new tracks, and I was happy to hear "Kathleen" and "Solidarity" among others thrown into the mix.
Teething troubles such as Geoff’s guitar breaking showed a different side to the band as they powered on with the set rather than waiting for him, and we got to hear a slightly stripped-down sound for a couple of songs, but they were soon back on track, playing until every member was drenched in sweat and the crowd were begging for more. With their great live show, Defiance, Ohio showed why they’re one of the top three folk-punk bands around today and gave one of the best performances I’ve seen so far this year.