FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND
- Native Kings
Huzzah – MySpace lives! And ear expanders, and Chris Moyles, and the pink death bear on your bag; they’re all fashionable! You may dick around on a public green space, kick-flipping a skateboard thinner than cracker bread, without suspecting the careers of your peers are overtaking you! Pre-WhatsApp, prepubescent, you are the life of the world. There’s the bitter taste of Red Bull at the back of your mouth, but you’re alright. How it feels to be young and slightly agitated…
The Kazimier has promised time travel before. What’s bizarre is finding nostalgia in a part of yourself you’d thought had been burned to death by GHDs. Out of all the bands that emerged during the mid-noughties hardcore boom, FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND were one of the best. Are. They are, not were. It’s gratifying and unusual to know that. Sure, they were tertiary to my particular neck of the woods, but they were popular, and good songwriters. They were Kerrang!-approved. I head along tonight to see what emo looks like as it’s staring around at the ruins of itself, because those with us who flirted with it are now old enough to do so. Unless you’re the hardest of hardcore fans, there’s no other reason.
First, some solid support. NATIVE KINGS (genuinely being natives) are fun from the get-go, juicing up a stack of fairly average dance-rock clatter with a range that makes each track distinctive, if toothless. The Sound Of Victory lets their bassist work a bit, which is good since he seemed bored til now, letting frontman Cameron Warren do all the heavy lifting. This is a band, by the way, that have an eyeless owl as a mascot. Yes, “Mad Clive” sits on the lip of the stage, possibly hoping for Twin Atlantic to come and take him away to a place where music like this still gets airplay.
Warren’s excellent vocals save us in time for THE VESTALS, who couldn’t be any more self-consciously chic if they dabbled in coffee science as a side project. Case in point: they open with their singer’s mouth projected in monochrome on a screen that shows the obligatory Donnie Darko scenes for their Bunnymen cover. They motor along in a summer-camp haze that’s actually quite nice. I want more of it, although I suspect they never would’ve played this sort of crowd 10 years ago. A sign of emo’s survivors softening their inner circle? You hope so. We should’ve gotten along with the indie kids back then anyway, showed them our spiky belt collection.
When FFAF turn up, it’s to a well-filled room. Before a note is played, they admit to not noticing how many people are here, and congratulate us for it. Cute, but – what? There’s 200 of us, max. This is a band that fought their way into the charts, that released two or three touchstone records. It’s a sobering start, and Matthew Davies-Kreye struggles to get a bunch of lads shouting requests under control.
Luckily, they gear up to breakneck speed and sustain it. The group do hit a few clichés on the way: there’s the guitarist with a Pantera T-shirt, riffing away despite the fact his textile idol would have no care for his music if they’d ever met; dick jokes are welcomed; barely five minutes pass before the inaugural jump-in-the-air-with-knees-tucked-in. Yet the will of the fans is satiated, and a circle pit gets going after a couple of songs.
It’s great to be back in a dim, sweaty box where choruses charge through you like chariots, all sort of the same, as open-hearted as it’s possible to be. The only track I remember entirely is Streetcar, and that gets knocked out in the first third of the set. The rest dribble and fragment into my brain, warming memories of summer fields. If screamo/emo/whatever-the-fuck deserved much of the scorn thrown at it, then this is proof there were bands worth sticking around for, who will do the same for you.