Don Broco / Massmatiks – Leeds Key Club – 03-04/08/16
Approaching the Key Club in Leeds I was (maybe slightly unfairly) surprised to see a small crowd of people waiting outside the venue for the Priorities night (1st night) of Don Broco’s current tour. I make my way into the venue to hear Massmatiks getting into the thick of their sound-check. A band I can honestly say I’ve never heard before and whom also had my attention immediately. Their energy and attitude on stage, even in sound-check, is viral. But more on them later.
I make my way to the back to have a chat with the Don Broco boys with you can find here. After a lovely chin wag with Broco, I watch as people begin filing into the sold out venue. If you haven’t been to Key Club before, you will understand that this venue creates the most intense and intimate atmosphere.
With that in mind Massmatiks (8.5) take to the stage and face an eager crowd that has already filled at least 80% of the space in the room. The air is thick and the room is hot but non-the-less the mood of the room is good.
The benefit of this tour is that they get a sort of ‘second chance’. Frontman George gives the Leeds crowd an ultimatum to learn one of their songs in the next 24 hours (for night two). A fair task if you’re going to come back the next day. If you picture Just Jack and Mike Skinner making a Jurassic Park style hybrid with the Beastie Boys and Rage Against the machine, you’re somewhere close to the unique sound of this exciting unsigned band.
They blast through their set with personal stories forming the lyrics of the songs. This made it effortless to connect with them and their music. You can tell that, for a band with no label, only 2 songs on Spotify and in the midst of their first big tour that they’re going to go far.
Check out their tune ‘4am’ here. A song that details that psycho ex we’ve all had.
Night 1 – ‘PRIORITIES’ – 03/08/16
On a night that promises to be the wilder of the two, Don Broco (9.5) take to the sold out Key Club stage to an almighty roar. It’s a weird sensation to know that you’re going to see the same band, two nights in a row and for them to perform two very different sets.
As Broco launch into title track ‘Priorities’, the chaos begins. Not a moment is spared before pits begin to open and carnage engulfs this underground home of music. Credit has to be given to Don Broco in terms of how engaging they are with their fans during a show: eye contact with individuals, high fives and no fear for breaking the flow to engage in a particular moment that demands attention and improves the intimate atmosphere.
Running through Don Broco classics like: ‘Back in the Day’, ‘Yeah Man’ and ‘Hold On’ – I’m taken back to 2012 but in a much hotter, sweatier environment. The room has become like a Nelly video, so hot that condensation is literally dripping from the ceiling and, in the process, breaking the air conditioning. This doesn’t deter the Leeds crowd for even a second. The inevitable Yorkshire chants sing out as Rob praises the crowd for their energy.
You can see, at this point, that the Bedford based quad are just having fun with the set. Getting to play songs like ‘Back to School’ and ‘In My World’ must be a treat – seeing a reaction to songs they may not get to play in a live setting as often as ‘Priorities’ etc. The whole night feels like a celebration of sorts. Almost like a send of for this chapter in Don Broco’s life – enjoying one last hoorah for this catalogue of songs. (The likelihood is that this won’t be the last we see from Priorities, it just has celebratory feel).
We arrive at the close of the set in the form of the blistering ‘Actors’ and I can’t believe how quickly the time went. The gentlemen exit the stage to an explosion of appreciation. A night well spent.
They return to the stage for an encore that’s embraced with open arms and kick into brand new track ‘Everybody’. And my word. It. Goes. Off.
The reception for this song is potentially the biggest of the night. Whether it’s a surprise factor or simply the love people have for this song, it doesn’t matter. As we jump into the main riff and Matt shows off his high notes the whole room is bouncing. If the room wasn’t encapsulated in a giant mosh pit people might have attempted the dance that goes with it. However, the pit consumes all.
We are also blessed with some tracks from Automatic in the form of ‘Money Power Fame’ and ‘You Wanna Know’. The atmosphere is incredible. If you could bottle the stuff you’d be the richest person on the planet.
We come to the final song and in true Don Broco fashion they close down day one in Leeds with cult classic ‘Thug Workout’. Push-up squad, the lot.
A truly fantastic night that even had the band reeling.
Night 2 – ‘AUTOMATIC’ – 04/08/16
On the second of Don Broco’s 2 day residency at the Key Club in Leeds, I show up pre-sound check to talk to the MassMatiks guys (you can read that interview here). Another line of people litters the pavement outside of the Key Club in anticipation of getting that prized barrier spot.
On this day, I was able to spend a lot more time back stage writing up this review. The calmness in the dressing room is impressive. There are no nerves in the air, just people that are genuinely happy with what they are doing. Also, an incredibly welcoming environment to boot.
Let’s jump to the show.
The anticipation in the air for the Automatic leg is filling another sold out Key Club. MassMatiks take to the stage and provide another exemplary performance – this time bolstered by people having had time to learn the bands songs and build a connection. This can be seen in the added enthusiasm from the South East London quartet who rocket through their set loosening the tiles and shaking the foundations of Key Club. Believe me when I tell you that checking out this band while they’re fresh will be a truly inspired decision.
MassMatiks leave to a thunderous applause, and well deserved too.
The Automatic night brings with it an entirely different yet still familiar vibe. The 70’s/80’s driven funk metal album was an honest progressions from Priorities and seemed natural to the Don Broco boys.
As the Leeds crowd and Don Broco (9) quartet gallivant, hand in hand, through the 2015 album, we lose ourselves in the moment. I am standing at the back and admiring the ability these guys possess to make a small venue feel like a wall-less musical temple in which everyone has come together to appreciate the ability to let their inhibitions loose and just enjoy the moment.
For some reason, I found myself thinking about the horrifying events in Paris during the Eagles of Death Metal gig. Not for any other reason than: here we are, defiant, resilient and human – pursuing happiness through this sonic medium despite the threats from radicalism that attempts to destroy our joy. Don Broco and their music are part of the rebellion against those that look to collapse the freedom that each human in that building has the right to. I don’t profess to know every detail of these situations, nor do I attempt to say anything profound. But I couldn’t help get caught up in the moment and connect the two events in a potentially trite and conceited manner but none-the-less relevant.
The show draws to a false close again with Don Broco playing ‘Nerve’ a song I desperately hope to see them play when they tour with Bring Me the Horizon again in autumn. If you haven’t seen the video of them playing it at Brixton 02 Academy, you’re missing out in a big way. This is followed by ‘Further’ which beautiful closes this section.
They exit the stage for a brief time only to return to play ‘Everybody’ and ‘Thug Workout’. If any bands are looking for tips on how to close a show; look no further. After having issues with his in-ear monitors earlier in the show, Rob Damiani (lead singer) explains to the crowd that having bottled crowd surfing the night before because of his in-ears, he had been given a free pass with them copping out on him. He is joined on stage by a girl whom did dive into the crowd the night before (her name I forget) and a portion of the MassMatiks boys. He sets up a wall of death and braces the crowd for himself and the other surfers-to-be and leaps into the waiting crowd. Not only does Rob have, what looks like, the easiest crowd surfing experience of all time. But he manages to pull out his best front crawl on the way to the back of the room. An amazing way to finish the show: stood among the crowd with hugs and high fives flowing freely. Don Broco know how to handle their fans. Treat them like friends.
The show is over and the Key Club begins to empty.
What an event.
Review: Will Paddison
Photography: Danny Peart Photography