Enter Shikari @ O2 Academy Oxford – 06/10/11

The first support act for tonight’s sold out gig is American punksters Letlive. To the untrained ear, their crazy, energetic sound of hardcore punk could be described as simply noise. Playing even less in their favour is the set up of tonight’s sound system, which only makes the crunching guitar sounds and screeching vocals that is standard for this style of rock, even harsher. But listening past the screams and the sound quality there is definitely something in this performance tonight, which is worthy of much merit.

To the trained ear, this is organized noise; not just empty screaming. Like any punk song, Letlive’s convey a deep passion and meaning, and this really came across in their performance. The front man, who spat out every scream and melody with as much vigour as if it were for the last time, stole the set. His attitude towards and evident passion for what he was doing served as reminder that this music really isn’t all about technical ability, but rather about feeling and capturing the punk rock spirit. Letlive certainly pertained this in their live show this evening.

Next up was a British band of the same hardcore genre. This was unfortunate for Your Demise because it was hard not to compare them with Letlive, who turned out to be much better than their British counterparts. What should have been fast, raw and edgy hardcore (which Letlive delivered so well) was in fact hindered by a stiff and generic performance with a slow tempo at the start. However, there were some redeeming moments for the set, and whilst the tempo was slow, energy levels from the band ran high, and luckily it was this that filtered down the audience, who were manically dancing and crowd surfing over the barriers at every opportunity.

Finally Enter Shikari took to the stage. The whole atmosphere of the room changed, as the stunning lighting effects were kicked into action and the opening haunting beats of ‘Mothership’ were heard. The O2 Academy was suddenly transformed from a local rowdy, gigging venue to an all-night raving Ibiza club. The band were on top form tonight, tearing up the O2 Academy as they blasted out their intricate blend of electro, dubstep and rock-metal. Despite the technicality of their sound, everything for Enter Shikari worked tonight: the guitars, the synths, the growls and the melodies of Rou’s (the front man) vocals all blended and mixed perfectly together. Coupled with their high quality sound was their showmanship.

They pulled everything out of the bag tonight for 100% crowd satisfaction – from a crowd-surfing vocalist who performed a song from the precarious heights of one of the O2 Academy’s bars, to their extensive set which was made up of a good balance between old classics and new material. A truly breathtaking from a really remarkable band.