What happens to emos when they grow up?
Quite a lot actually, and it varies. I learned this at Finch’s gig in Brixton Academy to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their debut album What It Is To Burn. The crowd was a definitive grown up emo of the last generation type of affair. Myself and my accompanying friend? We’d grown into hoodies-under-denim, tattooed, facial hair sporting c***s, but there was plenty of variety in the crowd – scene kids (or adults now), hipsters, punks, goths, metalheads and very mainstream (grown out of the attire) types. All bases were covered.
In all seriousness though, it was clear from the crowd everyone was here because they were into Finch the first time around and it goes to show Finch are a band who have appealed to all walks of musical life in their time. I myself got into Finch around the time What It Is To Burn came out, thanks to a VHS featuring a bunch of music videos (Letters To You by Finch included) that came free with a Kerrang! one week. Coinciding perfectly with my just starting to feel ways about things and stuff, which was also caught by both Funeral For A Friend and Silverstein’s debuts, though not to the same extent. Admittedly I was listening to death metal while also religiously worshipping Iron Maiden and Metallica as well, but Finch man, they spoke to me – and I wanted Nate’s curtained parting and chin beard.
The point? Finch played a pivotal role in my formative adolescent. Having only seen Finch once previously in, the now dead and gone, TJ’s in Newport where I sang until my voice was lost and moshed until I was drenched in sweat, there was no way I was going to miss this (at the time one-off) gig in celebration of the 10th anniversary of What It Is To Burn. I wasn’t the only one though as the initial gig in Shepherd’s Bush that I had tickets for soon had to be scaled up to Brixton Academy and initial dates added. So, ten years in the making, there I was to sing every word to their debut album right the way through – this time in a sold out Brixton Academy to the band themselves instead of on my own in my bedroom using a remote control as a mock microphone.
First up though, Mallory Knox. An on-their-way-up five piece who have begun to make ripples in the music scene in the hopes of starting waves. Given the setting and the event, this is probably one of the biggest gigs they’ve played to and it’s comprised of an audience who are diehards for the band their supporting – some conversion required. However, they do a decent job of it. Whilst there seems a little uncertainty in the performance that could require a confidence boost and a bit of fight, the songs themselves are there. I found myself recognising a few songs based on very minimal prior hearings, but there I was singing along to Beggars and when Lighthouse came around both my friend and I were having a little sing-song with – pints in the air. There’s definite promise here.
The main event though, and the reason everyone is here; besides possibly wanting to relive their youth – ten years, ten f***ing years. Quite content loitering at the still heaving back by the bar up to this point, it’s time to worm my way to the front. Dipped shoulders and evil eyes were not preventing me from doing what I came here to do; sing until my throat is sore. It is immediately clear from the moment the opening strains of New Beginnings wash over the crowd, and the place erupts, that everyone is here to do just the same – not a single lyric throughout is not sung right back. Or screamed.
The songs and their accompanying sing-a-longs come thick and fast as the band work their way through the album, which encapsulates the songs that most might know like Letters To You but also the album tracks that you’ve always wanted to hear live and finally are. It’s not just a nostalgia-fest though, these songs genuinely mean a whole lot to crowd gathered here and beyond that the band are on spectacular form. In between tracks both Nate and R2K (Randy) engage the crowd with some equal parts playful and grateful banter. It does make you wonder why they never quite struck it as big and lasted as long as some of their peers, of course not assisted by the hiatuses and break ups, but maybe this will remind them that we’re all still here – ready to see them, and ready for new music, ya know, whenever they’re ready…
The gig itself though is brilliant, with both band and crowd working in a considerable partnership together that finds the band announcing that this is the best Finch gig they’ve ever played. Now, I’m far too cynical to believe that, and think it hasn’t been said everywhere else but it goes down so well it doesn’t even matter and everyone just sings back harder and louder. The long and short of it though? An amazing gig, from a band that could clearly still do so much more, that feels like a reward for the fans as much as a celebration of the band and their debut album. I got to the front at the barrier, I sang every word, I got crushed and heard songs live that I thought I’d never live.
What more could you ask for?