Attendance at midweek gigs in Plymouth can go either way and thankfully the icy cold wind was not enough to keep people away and when opening act, alternative rock four-piece Maplerun, from Greece, hit the stage there was a reasonable crowd of about a hundred people pressed around the edges of the room or hugging the bar.
Opening with 'Pills' and continuing with 'Bombs', from their newest full length release 'Restless' they managed to coax a few people out of the shadows. 'For You' from their debut release 'House on Fire 'managed to get heads nodding appreciatively as the crowd started to defrost but the real crowd warmer of their performance was a rather good version of System of a Down's 'Toxicity', which had people singing along and becoming much more animated.
Their final song, 'Lack Of Words', again came from their 'Restless' album; a good opening act.
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I was intrigued as to how support act 'R.S.J.' would shape up, given the tongue in cheek humour that their videos depict. There was nothing disappointing in their performance at all, particularly impressive given that the band were all apparently battling a virus, you would never have known.
Their set was packed with an infectious intensity which really brought the crowd alive, as soon as they hit the stage, vocalist Dan leapt into the void in the crowd in front of the stage, successfully encouraging a pit to form. I was impressed that he managed to continue to sing as the pit developed around him.
Their set was made up from tracks from their newest release 'Higgs Boson' as well as their two previous releases, including 'Together We Are Taller', 'Nice Day Out' and 'Running With Scissors' during which Dan launched himself back into the now, slightly wild pit. As support acts go, there were nothing short of superb.
With the venue reaching a comfortably full capacity, headliners American Head Charge showed no negative signs of the their past battles with severe addictions or the tragic death of guitarist Bryan Ottoson, returning with the classic line-up of vocalist Cameron Heacock, bassist Chad Hanks, keyboard player Justin Fowler (who was sadly absent from this performance), drummer Chris Emery and guitarist Karma Cheema with the addition of guitarist Sin Quirin completing the line-up.
The general feel of their performance was positive and relaxed, they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves with Cameron announcing midway through their set, with a smile, that the Plymouth crowd were the most violent of the tour so far and that they were fun to watch. I suspect this to be quite likely, given that they launched collectively into frenzy from the moment the band opened with 'All Wrapped Up'.
They continued with a set that spanned their three full lengths including 'Set Yourself On Fire', 'Americunt Evolving Into Useless Psychic Garbage', 'Effigy 23' and the crowd pleasing tracks that everyone remembers them for, 'Just So You Know' and 'Loyalty'. Also a couple of tracks from their latest self released EP 'Shoot', 'Sugars Of Someday' and 'Writhe'.
American Head Charge
The crowd's reaction speaks volumes about the quality of their performance and although there was, slightly disappointingly, no encore from American Head Charge, one final high point was when bassist Chad paused as he left the stage to give a set-list and plectrum to the most diminutive female Metal head it has ever been my joy to cross paths with. Well deserved, as she did battle at the front with people double her size for the greater part of the set.
Definitely a good evening's entertainment and one that I am glad I made the effort brave the weather and check out.