Live review from Heavy #14:
2. Perfect world
3. Until The End
5. Again And Again
There was a pleasing cyclical nature to Last Digits’ Heavy #14 performance: last time they played the Underground was at last November’s Songs Without Words show. That night, they eschewed lead singer Edmond Chin for a dive into a post-rock-meets-post-hardcore sound. The result was a brooding diversion into meditative, almost sludge rock territory. With Edmond back on board, the band was restored to its usual early-noughties aesthetic, paying tribute to alt-rockers Taking Back Sunday, Alexisonfire and Linkin Park.
Even with Edmond at the helm, bassist Mann’s inventive, fuzzy, bass noodling shone alongside Kelvin Lee’s staccato fretwork. The dexterous guitarist gave the impression he could rip loose and pull off something a lot more intricate, but chose to keep it tight with mostly down-tuned riffing and the occasional high-pitched solo embellishment.
Edmond’s between-song monologues went on a little too long for the first band of the night, yet his hoarse shouts through Perfect World and Tameless had all the emotional venom of Chiodos’ Craig Owens. He explained Until The End was a song about sticking together as a band, despite whatever changes or challenges life throws at them. Though it would have been good to hear Stay It Strong performed with the lead singer at the helm, Last Digits proved an accomplished first act of the night, kicking off a diverse line-up with a riff-heavy set.
– El Jay
Live review from Songs Without Words II:
2. Perfect World
3. Stay it strong
5. Again and Again
‘Post-hardcore…How the heck does that work?’ punters wondered ahead of the Songs Without Words II opening band’s set. It all started back in September when the quintet was set to play a show at The Wanch, but lead singer Edmond fell ill.
So the gang decided to do something that would strike fear into the hearts of many less self-assured bands: play an instrumental set. Spoiler: it rocked. Chris B, who’d been trying to put together another instrumental night for months, spied an opportunity and signed up the Edmond-less Last Digits for last week’s night at Orange Peel.
It was a nonchalant affair as the very unphased now-trio took to the stage to play their usual set, sans singer. What resulted was half an hour of rhythm-led jamming almost verging on drone rock as Kelvin’s staccato guitar and Mann’s bass riffs melded into a fuzzy pulse.
Without vocals, Last Digits’ usual angst-ridden early noughties emo aesthetic – think Taking Back Sunday or Alexisonfire – was stripped back to a sound with the desert rock atmosphere of Kyusss or down-tuned riffing of Audioslave.
Tracks like “Again and Again” lent themselves well with dramatic pauses and high-pitched fretwork. However, songs like “Stay it Strong” felt like a karaoke backing track – half of the experience was missing as the music amped up and pared back for the distinctly blank chorus-verse shifts. Had the music been designed for post-rock purposes, there’d have inevitably been more embellishment to replace the confessional lyricism.
Should Edmond be worried about getting ditched? Last Digits with vocals is a completely different animal, but the band’s foray into instrumentalism was a success, and one that could, and should be revisited.
– El Jay