I’m gonna prelude this review by saying that I’m in no way shape or form a fan of I Prevail. In fact, it would be a fair assessment to say I severely dislike their music. You might say I loathe them even. I find their brand of post-hardcore/pop-mosh/whatever dumb genre name you call them rather tedious and utterly lacklustre. It’s formulaic and while that in itself isn’t an issue, when the music lacks any form of honesty or even emotion it just fails to resonate. But I must be going insane because these guys sold out the Corner Hotel on this year’s April Fools Day and had everyone except me going absolutely nuts.
The joke was completely and entirely lost on me tonight.
Opening up tonight’s proceedings were the local pop-punk/alternative rock outfit of The Beautiful Monument.
Now, I do have a lot of sympathy for most opening bands. I mean, you get the shortest set, often the worst mix and probably the most nerves as you’re often playing to a half-empty and dead-pan room. But regardless, I still couldn’t look past the fact I just wasn’t that into this local outfit.
Sure, four-year years ago I would’ve frothed at the mouth at their choruses and their harmonies but that was four years ago. I’ve heard this same style of alternative, poppy rock with big singalongs and beefy riffs enough times to realise that it just doesn’t stick with you long enough to make any real impact. Add the fact that the mix was really muddy and incoherent and the band hadn’t much in the way of stage presence and I just wasn’t sold on them. But seeing as I had never heard of The Beautiful Monument before, I won’t dismiss them completely and would be interested to see them in a different setting to see how they really hold up.
Now, last year I saw Void of Vision do their tight, metalcore thang with Hellions and I was super impressed by their performance. They were tight and engaging and they really caught my eye. However, tonight they were far from the top of their game, sadly.
Similar to The Beautiful Monument before them, the mix was as thick and dirty as a mud-pie and just as enjoyable to eat. The band came off sloppy and underwhelming as a result and their stage presence went the way of being ham-fisted and disingenuous as we kept being told to “pick it the fuck up” and “get this room moving” between the nu-metal riffs and heavy breakdowns. I get that a band has to do what they can to get the crowd involved in their set as much as possible, but that initial spark should come from the actual music, with their pleas for physical movement amongst the watching eyes simple reinforcing said music. With Void of Vision, however, tonight really lacked that spark.
We now arrive at tonight’s main event: I Prevail.
Opening with ‘Come and Get It’ and ‘Love, Lust and Liars’, it was almost as if a switch was turned on for the crowd. Everyone from the front to the back got right into this galore of clean, poppy choruses, generic riffs and dull breakdowns, all adorned with big grins and glowing eyes aimed at the stage. And yeah, I’ll give it to those fans, they were watching a pretty good show. Despite my vast dislike for the songs being played, I will admit that I Prevail know how to put on a good show.
Following on from that, the band launched into single ‘Stuck In Your Head‘ which I will openly admit that I actually enjoyed. It’s arguably one of their most pop-punk songs and features minimal screaming and few breakdowns. This honestly works well for them as these guys can construct some pretty great melodies and when they focus and work on that, the song just comes out great! So live, it only naturally went down as the best track of the night as the whole crowd harmonised with the band and stuck their fists in the air. Combined with some of the best lighting of the entire set (and some of the best lighting I’ve seen at the Corner), this easily took the fucking cake for best song of the night.
I Prevail are also extremely tight and proficient when it comes to performing live. Of course, it obviously helps to play to a click track yet there’s a real skill within that itself. Plus, I Prevail really focus on and bring home the heavier tracks from their catalogue, getting right into the chugging guitars and down tempo breakdowns to move the crowd. Would I call it a “risk” to make that setlist choice? No, not really, but it was nice to see them not just phone it in for the songs that had the most power chords and easiest, catchiest melodies.
Another credit to this band is their high level of crowd engagement. Vocalist Eric Vanlerberghe would often talk with the crowd and banter with the other band members, at one point going around the stage and “roasting” each member. This then led into a medley of strange yet very cool covers from Avril Lavigne, Puddle of Mud and even Drowning Pool as guitarist Dylan Bowman defended his inability to keep a girlfriend for more than a single day.
Honestly, this part of the set was actually a lot of fun and it really helped to break up the night’s events.
But… isn’t all of this kind of obvious? I mean, you don’t get to have this kind of out-of-the-gate success and solid support if your band is shithouse at playing live and contain the stage presence of a wet rag. And I Prevail don’t fit that wet rag category live. So, yes I most certainly expected I Prevail to put on a good performance and yes, they sure as hell did. It was just a shame it was for such average fucking music! Tonight was what I would call a “nice” gig, yet I don’t know I would go around saying that I truly “liked” it. But look, at least this wasn’t the show with Harbours opening – that beef just never seems to go away.
Finally, all I’m left to ask myself is: Am I so out of touch? No. It’s the children who are wrong. And I’m only 18!
All photo credit to Maddie Bell. Also, yes, I went tot this show so that my brother/editor wouldn’t have to suffer it. You’re welcome, Alex. [Yeah, cheers – Ed].
Also, yes, they played their ‘Blank Space’ cover. I just figured it was such an obvious inclusion that it wasn’t worthy of a mention.