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Wednesday 12 June 2019

A View From The Back Of The Room: Alien Weaponry & Excursia

Alien Weaponry & Excursia, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff

WARNING!! If you like Alien Weaponry then I'd stop reading now. We do usually try to be positive and supportive with our reviews but this is not one of those times I'm afraid. But if you want an honest account of what this Monday night gig in Fuel was like.

Having got the news only a few hours before that South Wales Edge Lords Sodomized Cadaver weren't playing their scheduled special guest slot, despite drummer Gavin having been on holiday for a number of days already. The idea that this hadn't had any thought put into it about a replacement being sourced is, quite frankly laughable. Especially when just two days again the M2TM final took place showcasing six bands who could have easily fitted on to this bill giving them the expose that so many bands struggle to achieve. It was a golden opportunity missed by all involved.

It also meant that previous openers Excursia (8) were bumped up to main support after a later start time, though the doors were opened at 7pm to make way for the sold out crowd, Fuel's second in three days, they took to the stage, well most of them, their singer was in with the punters and they proceeded to do what they do, obviously buoyed by their new position as special guests they put in a good performance, probably one of the best I've seen from them. Their slightly progressive riffs peeling out of the Fuel PA with a renewed viciousness, that got the ever filling room of partisan headliner fans. They were treated to probably the best set of the night to be honest, so well done them for turning up early. Excursia like the headliners are all young guys (like really young) and we've said before they are brimming with potential, which they seem to be realising. They, unlike so many others, got to display this potential in front of more than the usual 10 people that go to local gigs, it was just a shame that no other band were deemed worthy enough to share that spotlight. Still applause from the crowd meant that they enjoyed this inaugural show of the evening with Excursia and were now adequately prepared to rock.

Yes adequate at term that sums up Alien Weaponry (4) for me I'm afraid. Touted as the "next big thing" (a term I hate) by so many 'major' magazines we first saw this band at Bloodstock last year where they were firmly sitting on the hype train that has lead them to opening the mainstage at Download this year! Myself and Paul, along with numerous members of the MoM fraternity were massively underwhelmed by the bands formulaic riffs and compositions, the only thing different to countless others being the use of their Maori heritage. Still for reasons that are still unclear they are one of the most talked about, almost worshipped bands around at the moment so when intimate headline shows were announced tickets were snapped up. I bought a ticket off a friend who was going. I was going mainly for the Sodomized and Excursia support (though I do wish I would have gone to Bristol for Mortishead and Embodiment instead now) and so I could give the band a second chance as first impressions aren't everything.

When Excursia had finished I looked around the room and saw about 12 people who I've ever seen set foot in a Fuel gig, there were tonnes of people supporting this young band but none of these people have been to any of the other shows in Fuel this year by my reckoning. Still the room was packed out which I guess was the point of the show really, drawing members of the media (I bought a ticket) and some festival alumni to a small bar in Cardiff on a Monday night. What is abundantly clear about Alien Weaponry is that they are not short of finance, they brought their own sound desk to the venue and they have a lot of high quality merch, they also keep it in the family with their parents doing the sound and the selling said merch, they are a very slick operation, which is reflected in the rockstar attitude of the band which I assume is part of the appeal.

Their set was largely forgettable to be honest their music all sounds the same with chuggy riffs and shouted vocals the major theme, it bored me at Bloodstock, it bored me here, but with one exception I was the only person bored. Down the front and even at the back it was manic, pits, bouncing, large sweaty guys pretty much shirtless, they were lapping up while I was still befuddled about the reasons why.

I went from confusion to frustration as things progressed as if every show that was put on in Fuel or small venues such as this had a sold out attendance then every band would have a chance of getting to where Alien Weaponry are. However so many were here just for the "I was there moment" I overheard the phrase "they'll never play venues this size again" so many times it was like talking to parrots, this wasn't about supporting the music or the band but boosting the egos of many who attended so in a year's time they can say "I was at that show, look at me". Moments like that are supposed to be spontaneous, not stage managed, I've seen thousands of bands and not one was for ego reasons, I watch live music because I want to and I love a band because I love them, not because someone tells me too and not because they could be famous in the future.

Obviously I also realize that opinions are like a certain part of the anatomy, so it's all relative but I just don't think Alien Weaponry are very good, they certainly aren't good enough to have this amount of hype about them, there are hundreds if not thousands of bands that could be in this headline slot or opening the mainstage of Download that have been working longer, harder and by extension are better than Alien Weaponry and they are overlooked. I'm not talking underground local bands I mean actual established touring bands, they are more than just a gimmick but unfortunately that sells tickets and get people excited so maybe I'm in the wrong, who knows. Still I'd rather be wrong and honest than right and insincere.

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