Let me begin by saying that I don’t normally write about a gig where I have been turned down for a photo and review pass. I cover literally hundreds of bands a year for a number of music magazines so I don’t often get turned down but I was turned down for last nights gig.
That said, once in a while you are privileged enough to witness an event so extraordinary and, so deeply moving that making no comment would simply be a dereliction of journalistic responsibility. I witnessed just such an event at last nights Brixton academy show.
In many ways last night was always going to be an extraordinary event. The Brixton Academy is a legendary venue, the atmosphere at a sold out show incredible. Your choice of support bands was simply genius. In Bury Tomorrow and Stick To Your Guns you selected two great bands to support you. Bands who are not just a great foil for your own music but bands who share your belief that music can change the world.
The message across the evening was a simple one and one shared by all of the bands present, and I include Stray From the Path though they were not playing. There cannot have been a single person in the 5000 strong audience who don’t agree that music can change the world. The love and respect in the room, from the audience and from the stage was humbling. The mosh-pits were brutal, but everyone looked after each other, united in the sheer joy of rebellion and the understanding that we all had 4999 people around us who, for the most part, share our view of the world and our concerns for the future.
There can be little doubt that most of us are united in the understanding of Sea Shepherds message “If the seas dies we die too.” You won’t have found anyone who disagrees about bands selling VIP access tickets. I have loved Blink-182 for years. In June they are back in the UK and selling VIP access for up to £505 a head. Sam was 100% correct when he said this is nothing more than fan exploitation. Not only will I not be paying for VIP access, my son and I are both saying “fuck you Blink-182.” We won’t be attending any of the shows as fans and I won’t be covering them in a professional capacity.
Blink-182 are supposed to be punk band, where is the punk ethos in exploiting fans in this way? Dan from Bury Tomorrow was absolutely right when he said every successful band should be willing to stand by the march stand and high 5 every single person who paid to come and see the show.
In many ways it was humbling to hear Dan say that Architects will never take being able to play their music to their fans for granted. You know, no-one resents bands like Architects achieving the level of success that they so richly deserve. Architects have always been true to themselves and, just as importantly true to their fans. Your success has been well earned and it is a pleasure to have had the opportunity to play an infinitesimally small part in that by buying tickets for your shows, your merchandise and of course your music.
It was really interesting to hear Sam talking about the power of Metalcore music to change the world. This year should be a clarion call for your generation. Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and recent announcements that climate change is already touching the upper-limit that we are warned could lead to global catastrophe. Sam’s call to action is a powerful one. The current generation “will” change the world he said. Sam is almost right, the fact is that this generation “must” change the world.
The problem is that your generation faces a system of government and a world economic system that is stacked against you. You can’t have failed to notice the number of people waving their iPhones in the air last night. That small symbol of corporate greed is a microcosm of the challenge your generation faces.
We know that almost everyone at last nights show had fire in their bellies for the four hours we shared last night. Sadly, as we all return to our lives, we will almost all fall back into the consumerism that supports the world order. We will all be looking to upgrade to the next iPhone model or to buy the next gadget. Most will return to crappy jobs, happy enough to be exploited by a system that further lines the pockets of the multi-billionaires who exploit the poor and the planets resources to make money they can never spend.
This is a system so corrupt, so disingenuous and yet so “normal” that we rarely give it a second thought. It is tragic that we don’t just allow the system to fuck us over, we bend over and hand it the lube. If we are to learn anything from Brexit and Trumps election, it is the fact that people are “sick of this shit.” Anything, simply anything looks better than what we have now. Its not true of course. Brexit and Trump show us that things can get worse. In our “so-called” democracies we have three choices. The first two are “bad” and worse.” The third is the one no-one talks about, real change.
It is easy to sit back and say that nothing I do will change things. That collective apathy is what blocks real change. As a youngster during the 1970’s punk rock changed my life. Growing up in conflict torn Belfast in the 1970’s was no picnic, at 16 I was already on the fringes of paramilitary organisations when Stiff Little Fingers Inflammable Material changed my life. It gave me the courage to change my life, to leave Belfast behind and to seek a better way.
It was a better route for me, but I really believed punk-rock could change the world. It failed and sadly I and my generation have failed yours. Make no mistake we tried. We got out on the streets, we rioted and we fought. We even had some small victories. We managed to overturn the hated Poll Tax but we lost the war. Through the miners strike and the Wapping dispute we fought hard but we lost. Our defeat meant that a way of life was lost. We allowed “money” to destroy our ability to organise.
Your battle is far more important that ours, your battle is for the future of humankind. I am ashamed that my generation has put you in this position, but for the sake the generations to come you must win. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that, in todays world, it is perhaps only music that can be the catalyst for change. Music can unite us. Bands like Architects, Enter Shikari and The King Blues understand this. I beg you all to be that catalyst, last night showed that you understand what is at sake. Never surrender, never give up. Be the change the world so desperately needs.
Finally I applaud you all for the way you honoured Tom Searle last night. Both Dan and Sam showed us that life is fragile and fleeting. I can only imagine how you all felt. How proud you must have been and yet your hearts must have been breaking you wished that Tom had been able to share such a remarkable moment in your history. Tom would have been incredibly proud of you all and I am sure that the whole Searle family must have been bursting with both pride and sadness.
I fell incredibly humbled and grateful to have been present to witness such an amazing evening. I haven’t had the privilege to know any of you personally but I was very proud of you all last night. I shared the experience with my 18-year-old son, both of us proud to have shed tears and experienced incredible highs right along with you.
Architects, and all of the bands who share your ethos, are the future. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring, for trying and for fighting to change the world. I wish you every success and victory in the battles to come.