When you spend a long time waiting for a gig, you worry that the gig will not live up to the hype. This was the case with this gig from the wonderful folk at Shallow Leisure in Colchester. I had wanted to see the headline act Svalbard for ages, but I was worried their debut in Colchester would not live up to the hype generated for the gig. Thankfully, the gig smashed all expectations.
Svalbard weren’t the only band making their Colchester debut. Opening act Terra also had that honour. The most abrasive of all the acts tonight, Terra’s dark atmospheric black metal may have made some in the crowd uncomfortable; but those who enjoy this form of dark arts, loved every second of it. Whether you liked this band or not, there is no doubt they made a lasting impression on the audience and won me over completely. The set was intense, brooding, mystical but more importantly, it was gripping. If you love a bit of atmospheric black metal, listen to Terra.
If you offered me the chance to see Telepathy every day I would jump at the offer because they never ever disappoint. Telepathy once again proved why they are one of Britain’s best underground secrets; what they play is just so damn special and beautiful. Opening with ‘Saccade’ and ‘Cystine Knot’, it was business as usual for the local lads as they smashed yet another venue. Since I first saw the band back in 2012, they have grown massively in terms of performance and confidence. Every time guitarist Richard Powley confidently raised his guitar after a well-executed bit of fretwork, I could not help but cheer. The new material sounded incredibly promising and the influence of Pelican and Cult of Luna was clear, yet it was not a carbon copy and it sounded very much like Telepathy material. On the basis on the new songs performed that night, their new release could easily make a few top 10 end of year lists.
Up next was a band which had returned to The Waiting Room with Radio 1 airplay under their belts, the mighty Jøtnarr. Despite starting the set with some sound issues, they bounced back to play another blinder of a set. ‘Sunless’ from the excellent Burn and Bury was as hauntingly beautiful as ever, but what was also impressive was the new material. In the band members’ words, the new material was ‘pure cheddar’. Embracing a more screamo element to their music, Jøtnarr are continuing to push their sound and embrace new elements. Only time will tell when the new material is released, but I can tell it is going to be great. Ending with fan favourite ‘Waldeinsamkeit’, the band had completed yet another excellent appearance in their home town. For my seventh time seeing them, they have proven that they never fail to impress.
Finally, it was time for the main event. As the opening to ‘Perspective’ rang out, the fans knew we were in for a treat. Svalbard have been hyped up a lot by the underground and the media but the hype was justified, they were astonishing. One of the best performances The Waiting Room has ever seen, nothing but positive vibes and sheer happiness for everyone present. ‘The Damage Done’, ‘The Unnatural Light’ and ‘Disparity’ were played with the passion and drive that so many bands lack, it was just awe-inspiring. The crowd loved it too, there was a conga line, a human pyramid, people taking shirts off and people being picked up; it was an utter joy to be a part of. “Thank you for coming out Colchester, it’s a lot better than staying in and watching The Voice” remarked guitarist/vocalist Serena Cherry to which someone replied “it’s shit after Tom Jones left anyway“. After the set, the band were swamped by fans saying thank you and there was even a queue at the merch stand. Go support this band, they deserve it.
With over a hundred people in attendance, the strength of Colchester’s scene was once again demonstrated. Keep it up lads.