Photography: Tomas Adam

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

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  • Black Futures
Arts Club 19/2/19

“We all come from an explosion in the sky/One day there was nothing and the next there was life/And all the rivers and the mountains and the sun and the moon/And then all of a sudden there’s a cloud of doom,” FRANK CARTER bellows, as THE RATTLESNAKES plough into their latest single and first song of the set, Crowbar. The Arts Club crowd explodes in a frenzy of bodies, making it near impossible not to bang your head.

By Tyrant Lizard King, Frank is in the audience doing a fucking handstand! Not on the floor, but on top of a feverish crowd who just can’t seem to get enough of the band’s mix of hardcore punk and alternative rock. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have transcended their punk rock roots. They embrace an arena rock aesthetic, losing none of their razor-sharp edge.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself… Before Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes even take to the stage, BLACK FUTURES’ blend of punk and industrial noise already has sweat dripping from the walls. The dystopian/utopian, boiler-suited duo take no prisoners during their opening set. Everyone is a casualty of their aural and visual assault on the senses. Anonymous dancers stand on either side of the stage waving white flags, before jumping into the crowd and dancing in what little space is available.

It’s a chaotic awakening for someone that wasn’t even aware of the band’s existence until one hour prior. Together, the audience and Black Futures are pop anarchy. This live set is their soundtrack.

Emerging from the gallows, so to speak, comes Frank Carter, along with Dean Richardson, Tom Barclay, Gareth Grover and Thomas Mitchener. This is a band that could sell out much bigger venues across the United Kingdom, but the intensity of playing in smaller venues, like the Arts Club, is an opportunity to revel in chaos. What is more punk than that?

Playing songs from albums Blossom, Modern Ruin and the upcoming End of Suffering, Frank consistently dives into the crowd; walking and surfing atop a sea of fanatics united by music – stopping only to share his sincerest thanks. “I have the best view in the house!” he relays to his sweaty, euphoric audience, still in the midst of crowd surfing their own brethren to the front of the stage.

Frank dedicates the next song in the set, Heartbreaker, to his female audience. “If you have ever wanted to crowd surf, now is your chance to do it in a safe environment.” Smiles adorn every face in the venue, including that of the security who can be seen bracing for another blitz of bodies. “There is no anonymity,” Frank warns as Deano begins to pound into lead guitar. Many women take The Rattlesnakes up on this opportunity and surf their way towards the stage. My wife signals over to me so she can speak into my ear. “What a fucking gentleman!”
Another highlight is Anxiety – a grunge-infused guitar ballad that directly relates to Frank’s personal mental health struggles. Frank suffers from anxiety, but friendships and family have helped him through darker days. In introducing the song, Frank implores the crowd to do the same as he has done in the past: if you find yourself struggling with anxiety, talk to someone.

Frank Carter has come a long way from the frontman he was in Gallows. At times Frank could be obnoxious, and in his own words, “a bit of a cunt”, but in Liverpool, Frank comes across with nothing but sincerity and gratitude. Gratitude towards the fans, towards the band, towards the road crew, towards the support provided by Black Futures, and towards the venue staff. And it’s not long before Frank has ventured back out into the crowd.

Climbing up onto the Arts Club bar, Frank points towards Deano with a sly grin, signalling him to riff into Crowbar once again. “I can do what the fuck I want,” Frank laughs before launching himself into a crowd who greet him with open arms; surfing him back to the stage. The feeling here is mutual, and by the time The Rattlesnakes play the last song on their setlist – the closing track on Blossom, I Hate You – the energy in the room is so intense it’s perceptible by touch. Respect yourself, respect others, respect the music and don’t let anyone bring you down.

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