La Dispute/Two Inch Astronaut

Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, England
24/05/2015

The past few gigs that I’ve attended have been absolutely phenomenal. Funeral for a Friend in Leeds earlier this year, followed by The Used slightly later and even Muse a while back have been breathtakingly spectacular. Obviously the FFAF and The Used shows were a slightly more scaled down affair than Muse (the latter taking place in the Manchester Etihad stadium playing to a crowd of tens of thousands, the formers playing for much smaller but more close-knit fans at the Leeds University Stylus venue), but shows like these not only allow you awestruck interaction with your favourite bands but also offer you the chance to hear your favourite songs live and right in front of you, a truly memorable experience.

La Dispute and Two Inch Astronaut are two bands that I knew very little about. I’d occasionally listened to the former on Spotify and found their unique blend of spoken word lyrics, hardcore influences and delicate instrumentation certainly refreshing, although the delivery of the lyrics themselves was something I couldn’t quite embrace, as vocalist Jordan Dreyer’s distinct style was an extremely large contrast to other vocalists within the hardcore scene. And for their support, Two Inch Astronaut, I knew even less. Thankfully, I was expecting my preconceptions of La Dispute to be changed by seeing them in person, and I was not left disappointed by either band.

So when Maryland-based, self-styled “influential street jazz” three-piece Two Inch Astronaut took to the stage at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, a delightfully intimate little venue, I didn’t really know what to expect. However, when they launched into their first song, I was impressed. What appeared to begin as a Weezer-esque, punk excursion quickly turned into a full-blown combination of jazz, hardcore, punk and mathcore that not only immediately cements them in my perception as a band worthy of the audience’s time and patience but as purveyors of a truly unique sound. I honestly couldn’t compare to anything with ease the sound that this group of three American guys is capable of producing; I suppose if I had to it would be like a mixture of SikTh, pre-Only Revolutions Biffy Clyro, and perhaps Oceansize. Despite their music being an angular blend of time signature changes, screams, shouts, dissonant chords and crushing breakdowns, the crowd nonetheless eagerly ate it up, setting the atmosphere for La Dispute later. With the audience suitably enthralled with their brand of abrasive, jarring punk, the three-piece deliver a stunning series of tracks from their latest release Foulbrood. Songs such as Part of Your Scene and Cigarettes, Boys, and Movies repeatedly demonstrate the individuality that this band has to offer, and by the time they walk offstage the audience is in raptures, and the band they’re supporting almost becomes a distant memory with the impact they leave.

However, the Brudenell Social club does succeed in going absolutely fucking mental when La Dispute take to the stage and immediately proceed to launch into King Park, a definite fan favourite. The fast-paced drums and the abrasive chords coupled with Dreyer’s emotive, certainly poetic lyrical style gives the audience the instant adrenaline shot they’ve been craving since they got the tickets. But Dreyer is so much more than a simple vocalist; he is a true storyteller, and as he narrates King Park, detailing the emotive story of a young man’s suicide and the effect it has on the surrounding community. I was personally stood relatively far back in the venue, as I doubted whether my review would be the same if I’d spent two hours at the front being repeatedly elbowed in the face (not a bad thing), so I often found myself paying a considerable amount of attention to exactly what Dreyer was singing, screaming and shouting, and his distinct narrative style interlaced with his bandmates’ harsh and soothing instrumentation was truly something to experience live.

A lot of La Dispute’s material this evening came from their most recent release, 2014’s Rooms of the House. It has been critically met by fans; some praise it for its newfound artistic direction, moving away from the band’s original hardcore roots found on Wildlife and their vibrant, volatile 2008 album Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair, although some fans claim they are no longer the band they fell in love with. It is, however, hard to understand that latter argument, as aside from being a truly mesmerising storytelling experience, La Dispute still succeed in dishing out the heavy. Despite (up until now) not being particularly familiar with the band, one of my personal favourites is First Reactions After Falling Through The Ice (La Dispute are truly unparalleled in terms of naming their songs) and when they play that shortly after their opener, the room is absolutely alive with passion and fury to a staggering degree. However, the pinnacle of their set is at the end with their encore, The Last Lost Continent. It is a twelve-minute epic, boasting soaring soundscapes and brutal vocals mixed with perfect cleans, so when La Dispute break into it the audience goes mental once again. Dreyer stagedives and lets the crowd sing his expressive lyrics; “Though we’re not sure who we are, we keep our heads up”, adding to the overall communal feel of the venue. It is a perfect ending song and an end to the evening – it’s surprising that a song of this length is so well received, but La Dispute have the crowd eating out the palm of their hands at this point and they’re capable of anything. The Last Lost Continent is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a while, and I left the Brudenell Social Club thinking that La Dispute is one of the best bands I’ve heard in a long, long while, too.