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Hacktivist - Sound Control, Manchester 14.12.2016

On behalf of 3 Songs & Out, I was lucky enough to be granted access to the Manchester show, at Sound Control. Personally I am a massive fan of ZOAX and Hacktivist so this was a real honour.

First up on this mixed bag of a lineup was Bad Sign.

Bad Sign were a band I previously knew nothing about and had never heard of. I think it would be fair to say they surprised me massively, being only a 3 piece band I had no idea what to expect, but when they took the stage they had a real air of experience, they had amazing stage presence, with the guitarist holding nothing back, as soon as they started their first song, he was off of the stage and into the crowd. Band members playing their riffs in the middle of a moshpit was a different experience for me, atleast. Sadly, the sound let them down a little, with the louder, heavier vocals being perfect, but the chorus' being drowned out by the thunderous kick drum, which was a shame. One song I took from their set was their newest single 'Intermission' it translates into their live performance exceptionally, with the guitarist, again, making his way into the crowd, this time he decided he was going to mount the bar and merch desks, jumping on them both whilst simultaneously managing to play his chords perfectly, a real skill. 7/10

Next up were ZOAX.

After listening to their album and previous EP's on Spotify, the only fear I had about ZOAX was that they wouldn't be able to translate their songs into their live performance as well as they had the potential too. I was wrong. I was blown away. Making their way on to the stage, it was clear for all to see that ZOAX were no stranger to Manchester, as they received rapturous applause. The lions share of ZOAX's set belonged to songs from their debut self-titled album. From the minute their first songs kicked in, it was evident that Adam, the vocalist, was born for the stage, I have never seen a vocalist put so much into a performance on a bill where they might not necessarily 'fit in'. Although their set was interrupted by a minor technical defect, Adam wasted no time in getting the crowd involved, and frequently picked people in the audience to have a chat with, or to interact with, this was clearly appreciated as a lot more of the not-quite capacity audience were captivated and gave more attention to the rest of their set. One stand out song from their set for me personally was 'The Bad Blood', a song infused with bitter vocals, heavy riffs, but also a melodic like chorus, which had the crowd singing along. ZOAX are a band that really impress me with their live show, and clearly won over a bunch of new fans, as at the end of the show there was no shortage of adoring fans sporting new ZOAX merch. I sense there is a lot more to come from this band, and they are definitely on my list to see again when they play locally. 8.5/10

Next up.... HACKTIVIST.

I literally have no idea how I'm going to translate their show into words, and I have no pretense that I will not be able to do it justice, if you ever get a chance to see Hacktivist live, do not hesitate. They are a truly unique experience.

I have seen Hacktivist previously, in a much bigger venue, to a much bigger crowd, but I can honestly say, they were nowhere near as good. Hacktivist shine in the smaller, grittier venues, which is exactly what the Sound Control basement provided for them. Again, the majority of Hacktivist's set is taken by songs from their album 'Outside The Box'. Bouncing on to the stage to 'No Way Back', the crowd instantly react, and instead of mulling around during the switch-over from ZOAX, a tsunami of fans instantly make their way to right infront of the stage, due to lack of a barrier. This does not seem to phase either vocalist who waste no time in getting right into the faces of the adoring fans who eagerly scream every lyric right back at them.

'Hate' and 'False Idols' are up next which are met with a, at first, mellow chorus of head banging from the fans, who are loving the stage presence from Hacktivist, with each band member not staying in the same spot for longer than 30 seconds (bar the drummer, of course). Following those songs, we were treated to Hacktivist's title track, 'Hacktivist', proceeded by 'Taken'. Words fail me when I try to describe the atmosphere when the first chords to 'Taken' were played, electrifying, to say the least, followed by Hacktivist's acclaimed cover of 'Niggas In Paris'. Up next was the title track from their surprise EP 'Over-Throne', which dropped in close proximity to this run of shows, it was good to see that fans had wasted no time in getting to know the words, it is also worth noting that Timfy really pushed himself during the live performance of this song. The next chunk of the set was kicked off by a lengthy, and impressive, freestyle by frontman J, which signaled a grimier segment of their set, as Buszy followed it. 'Deceive & Defy' and 'Elevate' both came in quick succession, there were moshpits, stage dives, and plenty of headbanging. It was a spectacle to behold, these are definitely two of my favorite Hacktivist songs. The *final* song of their set was 'Outside The Box', which slowed the tempo right down and delivered a great message to the fans, who listened eagerly. This is where there was supposed to be an encore, but the stage was too small for them to vacate so the crowd just cheered until they played more. Kicking off the two song 'encore' was 'Our Time', which didn't feel like it warranted it's place so high up, or even on, the setlist, I am afraid to say. This view was reflected in the crowd activity, which slowed right down. That was until the band jumped right into 'Blades', with the rhythmic beats and clean vocals going down well, preceding J and Benji's respective rapping which ended the show on a high. 8/10

Review - Luke Percival

Photos - Trash Monkey

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