A few months ago, Enter Shikari announced their next worldwide tour, on which they were to promote their great new record The Mindsweep. The lineup of the North American leg ended up being one of the best tour packages in a long time. At the show at the TLA in Philadelphia, support came from Stray From The Path, A Lot Like Birds, and I the Mighty, an opening lineup that can itself draw mass numbers. I was lucky enough to photograph what ended up being the best show of 2015 so far.
Kicking off the evening were I the Mighty, who recently announced details of their forthcoming sophomore record Connector, which is due out this June. Their seven-song set further proved how well their music is translated into a live setting, complete with immense energy and charisma to boot. The first three songs came from their Equal Vision debut Satori (“A Spoonful of Shallow Makes Your Head an Empty Space”, “Four Letter Words”, “Speak to Me”) while the final three were from their perfect EP Karma Never Sleeps (“Escalators”, “The Dreamer”, “Cutting Room Floor”). In between was their brand new single “Playing Catch with .22”, one of the more pop-based tracks in the band’s catalog. Be on the lookout for another track from Connector in the coming weeks and be sure to catch this band in your town. You won’t be disappointed.
Next up were A Lot Like Birds, who are the second-half supporting band paralleling first-leggers Hundredth. ALLB are known for their rousing live show, which was publicly solidified on 2014’s Warped Tour; their set on The Mindsweep Tour was no different. Their set was split between tracks from their debut record Conversation Piece and 2013’s cutting concept beast No Place. This was my first time seeing “Kuroi Ledge” performed live and it proved why A Lot Like Birds are one of my favorite bands in this scene. Previously touted as “too prog for the hardcore kids and too hardcore for the prog kids”, ALLB have successfully set up camp in a niche all their own and have gained new fans and cemented old ones along the way. Fill-in bassist Matt Coate has exceptional stage presence and, while we all miss Michael Littlefield, it seems he’s doing a killer job thus far. Closing with the devastating “What Didn’t Kill Me Just Got Stronger”, jaws were dropped and hands were raised. Be sure to catch ALLB and I the Mighty supporting ’68 after their time on this tour.
I recently saw Stray From The Path for the first time at South By So What?! Festival and they struck a certain chord with me; on record, they came across as another Sumerian band stomping ground but live, I realized it was the next best thing to seeing Rage Against the Machine. Their (anti-) political hardcore sound flourished and made me realize why they were on tour with Enter Shikari. Supporting the release of 2013’s Anonymous, SFTP got everyone’s blood rushing and feet jumping. Frontman Drew York was as enigmatic and electric as I last left him in Dallas a few weeks prior, and their sound resonated fivefold in a club setting. Their addition of the Ramones‘ “Blitzkrieg Bop” caught me off-guard and made me a happy camper.
Enter Shikari are in a league of their own. Their sound is unlike any other and they have garnered a mass appeal over their nine(!) years as a band. While rightfully massive in their homeland, Enter Shikari appear to act as a “best kept secret” in America, playing (and selling out) medium-sized venues with their arena-worthy lights and performance. Prior to their set, they kept fans entertained with a creative countdown, complete with a remixed audio track of what sounded like a 1960s movie theatre announcer: “Attention: four minutes to showtime”.
Beginning their set was The Mindsweep opener “Appeal & The Mindsweep I”, starting off soft until exploding into action with frontman Rou Reynolds shouting “I AM A MINDSWEEPER! FOCUS ON ME!” While the record came out in January, everyone around me knew every single word to the multifaceted track as they were shouted through smiling mouths. Following with fan favorites “Destabilise” and “Radiate”, Reynolds left the stage and walked through the crowd to perform “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi” atop the bar, a gesture commonly seen amongst the history of Shikari shows. The Mindsweep single “The Last Garrison” translated remarkably well with a back-and-forth from the crowd to express their “war cries”. After swiftly performing my personal favorite “Juggernauts” (from 2009’s Common Dreads), the band played through four Mindsweep songs in order, as appeared on the record (“Never Let Go of the Microscope”, “Myopia”, “Torn Apart”, “Interlude”) and then crescendoed into “The Paddington Frisk”. Closing their set with “Mothership” and “Anaesthetist”, Enter Shikari successfully got me and everyone around me mindswept off of our feet.