Having formed in 2007, Los Angeles five piece Touché Amoré have spent the better part of the last decade forging their reputation as one of punk's most important current bands. This is down to the band's sound covering the whole spectrum of the genre, with the angry guitars of hardcore, the life affirming tenderness found in indie, and the frantic, blast beat drumming you'd normally find in grindcore and powerviolence. Then there's Jeremy Bolm, a frontman who writes lyrics that outpour details of his life and leave everything bare, making it easy to connect with their songs.
Ahead of their summer show at Liverpool O2 Academy, we had Belgium shoegaze outfit New Moon who were armed with powerful dynamics and a space-like lightshow. Next was a different kind of beast in the form of Dangers, who delivered crunchy punk 'n' roll riffs, while their hyperactive frontman screamed manically while leaping into the crowd and starting the pit himself.
Following that were Loma Prieta, who are one of the best bands in the screamo game right now. There's crushing aggression as well as moments of glacial blissfulness to counter the brutality, not to mention battering rhythms that feel like the world is ending.
Despite the incredibly high standards already set by the previous bands, Touché Amoré immediately exceeded them as they opened with crowd-pleaser 'Amends'. The audience's reaction only demonstrated the sense of release people get out of listening to Touché Amoré, and the live experience amps it up to the max. There's a relatability and raw openness to the lyrics, and Bolm's execution encourages people to let go too. It made the gig a truly cathartic experience.
Whether it's the themes of leaving of a legacy in 'Just Exist', or independence in 'Steps', people really connected with these songs on a throat-sacrificing level. It's one thing for a band to have people singing along to their songs, it's another to have people damaging their voices to them. The crowd may have collectively out-screamed Bolm, but he still gave a solid performance, as did the rest of the band. The guitarists and bassist headbanged while swinging their instruments with each heavy chord, and Elliot Babin was a never tiring machine on the kit. Bolm yelled every word with 100% sincerity and interacted easily with his fans. For 'Honest Sleep', he stood amidst the crowd during the delicate bridge to prepare them for the stormy finish.
Touché Amoré were a band giving it their all to people who they mean the world to. Things got especially touching for 'Condolences', a lyrical exploration of one's own funeral and after-life, and a morbid scenario many people have themselves thought about. Even by Touché Amoré's emotionally intense standards, this was a spine-chilling moment as everyone felt connected when they yelled in unison 'we are the same.'
They closed on arguably their best song '~'; a statement of utter defiance with lines like 'I'm parting the sea between brightness and me', soundtracked by the band's instrumental middle ground of flourishing beats. The song ended with 'if actions speak louder than words, I'm the most deafening noise you've heard, I'll be that ringing in your ears, that will stick around for years', and it's safe to say this show will stick around in many people's memories for years.
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