Live review from The Underground Christmas Show:
1. We Wish You A Merry Christmas
2. You Reap What You Sow
3. Honey, Shall We Dance Again?
4. Can’t Stop My Crush On You
5. This Is Resolution
6. Stab Me Alive
Of all the bands playing at The Underground’s first-ever Christmas show, Ignite The Hope drew the largest crowd. The room filled with excited chatter as the band tuned up – or should we say tuned down. All signs pointed towards a heavy and energetic show – the band’s first UG appearance in eight years. The band threw themselves into the festive theme by kicking off with a post-hardcore-style rendition of Merry Christmas.
Vocalist Henry wasn’t the best singer, but he instilled a lot of passion and showmanship into his exuberant performance. His lyrically-dense sing-shouting approach made him sound a bit like Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, which matched the pop punk elements of second song You Reap What You Sow. As the guitars revved up, whoever was on the sound desk got a bit overexcited with the light show, showering the band in a headache-inducing strobe effect that didn’t really go with the song. Nevertheless, the crowd fed off the party atmosphere, with hands waving as the band segued into a Linkin Park-influenced backing track and vocal interlude. The band gave off the angsty emo flavour of Taking Back Sunday, but the lightweight growled sections brought to mind Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck.
By third song Honey, Shall We Dance Again, a huge crowd had formed. There was a slightly awkward long pause while the guitarists tuned up again. Henry leaped off the stage enthusiastically, as both guitarists and bassist Hei played a driving riff in sync. The song evoked The 1975 in its pop sentimentality, and guitarist Calvin applied an organ effect to play a waltzy-Stranglers-esque section that gave the performance a camp, gothic feel. Playing up to the song’s theatrics, a la Panic! At The Disco, Henry strained his voice as he reached the upper register.
Fuzzed-out noodling took off like a swarm of bees on Can’t Stop My Crush On You, before vocals and guitars chimed in sharp melody. Guitarist Kin and Hei ran on the spot, while Henry’s meandering falsetto echoed Chochukmo’s Jan Curious. In a classic Hong Kong band style, there was quite a lot of talking and explaining in between songs. Henry revealed the song was about a guy trying to get a girl’s attention in a lot of different ways, and that he’d put the lyrics on Facebook for fans to sing along to.
Final track This Is Resolution began softly, but the PA began buzzing just as the song started. A skittering, echoey drum track kicked in as Henry started singing rather off-key. As Kin’s tremolo picking gained speed and volume, the vocalist became strained and difficult to listen to. He was so busy running around and working the crowd that his vocal power and consistency suffered as a result. The track recalled newer Bring Me The Horizon in its slickly-produced synth/screamo melding. The song peaked when Kin stepped forward for a rapid shredding solo.
There were elements of Sugar Bro in the band’s encore, Stab Me Alive, which wrapped heavier sections with pop punk warbling. Calvin showed himself as the most talented player onstage: unpretentious yet effective, his smooth technique held the show together. With a punch of classic rock riffing and a long shout, the show was finished. The band may have slipped up a few times in execution, and the vocals could have been more polished, but the band radiated fun throughout their set, and drew the most adoring crowd of the night.
Live Review from Underground 61:
Dressed in matching black shirts and looking slick with groomed haircuts, Ignite the Hope started out looking a bit emo, but soon made it clear that rock-metal anarchy rules. Bands with piss-take, misleading goody-goody names straight from a preacher’s mouth are always sooper-cool. (Shepherds the Weak are another awesome example and playing next Underground.)
ITH’s set was marked from start to end with ground-shaking bass and drums and big, discordant, punk screaming – with some strained higher end vocals – something the crowd went nuts for with some serious moshing and head banging going on in front of the stage. “R U fucking ready?” Yep, as good as we’ll ever be as Guns N Roses-style guitar riffs ricocheted off the walls knocking down everything standing in their projectile paths. Not so much a single line of melody, just an aggressive screaming lead guitar adding to the Great Wall of metal-rock.
The final song saw Innisfallen’s drummer guesting on vocals in a great move that added a brilliant dynamic to the band’s sound. That little guy in glasses is one kick-arse screamer delivering a burst of creepy hardcore metal vocals. (See Nick Spodac, you can’t judge a nerd by its cover.)
Ignite the Hope ignite the hope by smashing everything else around that is pussy.
Isobel S. Saunders
Live Review from Underground 43:
a bit more to the punk side of the rock spectrum with just a touch of death’s essence, they keep it coherent and logical while still making a fair amount of hopeful noise. they step into the rhythms and styles of quite a few types of metal and punk but never very far, instead largely sticking to fairly middle-of-the-road indie rock with just a bit of begging attitude. named ignite the hope, all i really pick up is optimistic despair. they’re very good at that though. with a different vocal style and a little more focus on all things dark and complex, they’d make a very respectable death metal band. an additional lead guitar would make them even more focused and excellent.