The first gig of the year for yours truly was expected to be a barnburner, as Bury Tomorrow brought the battle to Stylus on the grounds of Leeds University Union on a wintery Thursday night.
O to feel young again, after so many unforgettable memories of gigs witnessed between these four walls. Like holy ground, simply descending the staircase to Leeds Stylus brings back memories of simpler times and primer days.
The little temperature widget on my phone flashed up with a big, fat “-1°C” as I left work to set off for the venue. The ground iced over after a remarkably bitter day, and this is what I have often come to expect from January days, as though a storm takes hold every single week. Such is the British Isles climate, but with the days growing longer minute-by-minute, day-by-day, spring is thankfully on the way.
I entered the venue in the thickest winter clothes you can imagine. The wind tunnels of the union building shut out behind me as I entered the main room, already filled to the brim with people as the opening act started. The darkness and desaturated colours of the outside world would be replaced by the vibrance of colours, the plethora of lights, and the Skittles-dressed abundance of dyed hair, clothes and personalities – each larger than life. To Taste the Rainbow is one thing, but I certainly experienced it tonight.
It made me feel euphoric to witness so many kids and young adults to be so choc-full of energy for the bands to be seen. I remember my very first time at Stylus, to see Architects with While She Sleeps amidst Slam Dunk 2012 Festival. My hair was blonde then, my fringe was long, and I was a youthful seventeen years old. I didn’t really understand much of the world back then, but what I did understand were two things: I was there to have the time of my life, and to see my favourite bands play.
I wondered how many people were attending their own first gig here Kingdom of Giants broke the ground not a minute later than scheduled, and for a band I had no prior knowledge of, they knew exactly how to start a party.
From personal experience, I’ve come to know winter gigs to be the most notorious in trying (and struggling) to loosen up a rigid and frozen-cold crowd. The six brought their metallic metalcore sound all the way from sunny Northern California to frozen West Yorkshire, and the crowd became heavily involved without a problem.
For a band I had always heard so much about, to see We Came As Romans made me realise just how long tenured they were. They proved a personal highlight for me, as I’ve always heard such rave reviews about them. In terms of quality of setlist, it remained varied with a healthy fluidity of chart-busting, bone-obliterating hits designed to bring your skeleton tearing through your skin. Of course, you could not fault the audience for knowing more than full-well who the gang were, and what they were all about.
The main event saw Bury Tomorrow grace the stage, hailing from sunny Southampton. Returning heroes from our side of the sea, now an established household name in metalcore history, the world-travelled veterans put on a spectacle that the sold-out Stylus crowd were sure to remember for a long, long time.
I cannot fault the stage presence of the band, who have been doing this long enough to know exactly how to entice their audience. Jammed to the rafters, it at times proved difficult to manoeuvre at all, owing to the rabidity in that capacity venue.
After another electrifying night at the old University Union, I recall walking back towards the City Centre to catch a bus home. -1°C still, but feeling a whole lot toastier than I was before, thanks to the performances I just witnessed. And I couldn’t help but think back to when I was like so many of the younger members of the audience: impressionable, full of life, energetic – living their best lives.
Bury Tomorrow continues to light up the United Kingdom and Europe alongside We Came As Romans and Kingdom of Giants this February, with their tour reaching France, Germany and Austria. Bury Tomorrow dropped their seventh album, fittingly named ‘The Seventh Sun’ this past year, and is now available to check out across Spotify, Apple Music & Amazon Music.
We Came as Romans came out with their sixth album ‘Darkbloom’ back in late 2022, and is available to listen to now. From out of Michigan, USA, see what’s happening by clicking here.
Kingdom of Giants are on the move with their album ‘Passenger’, released back in 2020. With new music coming soon, the Californian outfit is one to keep an eye on. Find out more by checking them out here.
Daniel Tomlinson is a freelance writer from the east coast, UK. With university degrees in Digital Film and Television Production & Writing for Performance and Digital Media, he hosts his own blog full of thoughts and musing at grxssroots.com. (Editor Note: On this occasion, Daniel also came to the rescue as photographer for the night! Thank you, Dan.)