There are no two ways about it, iwrestledabearonce are weird. They play a strange mix of heavy metal, electro, hardcore and jazz and tie it all together with a soaring female vocal which shouldn’t fit the music and yet, strangely, does. They have also hovered somewhere near the tail end of massive success for far too long, which was clearly evidenced by the ¾ full Garage on this Friday night in London.
Support bands For All Those Sleeping, Vanna and Oceano did their best to warm up a crowd who were, unfortunately, deeply resistant to moving or at least looking like they meant to be here, and hadn’t just stumbled into the Garage looking for the toilet or something. I actually really liked Vanna, who do that oh-so-popular metalcore thing, and do it extremely well. Sadly their vocalist started losing the will to live early on, as the audience stood rooted to the spot and stared at him vacantly despite his screaming, bouncing, imploring and finally begging. Eventually he gave up and just started flipping the crowd off at every opportunity. Which was novel.
Oceano, too, did their best to get people moving, and by this point had managed to catch the newcomers as the venue started to fill up and create a little bit more of an atmosphere – and even a moshpit (if you can call two kids having very violent seizures a moshpit). Oceano have a slightly darker, heavier sound than I expected but with the general theme of the evening being ‘let’s do it and see what happens’, it did work with the gig as a whole.
Finally, iwrestledabearonce ambled onto the stage and began with a cover of Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, getting their set off to a flying start and seeing everyone surge forward like they JUST remembered what they had come here to do. With vocalist Krysta Cameron off selfishly having children, Courtney LaPlante (Unicron) has stepped in on this tour, something a number of people present didn’t seem aware of, and after a track or two really didn’t care. The woman has charisma, and on top of this the same ability as Cameron to go from guttural Exorcist-style screaming to beautiful, otherworldly vocals without even a breath in between, meaning the show lost nothing due to her presence in the frontwoman spot.
Playing a good mix of tracks old and new, IWABO seemed to really get into their stride by the time they hit ‘It is “Bro” isn’t it?’ and had people clambering over each other to get closer and crazier with each song. ‘Button It Up’ was another high point, all operatic build up and permanent breakdown, with the band themselves tripping over each other in their haste to see as many different points of the stage as possible, and having a little rock out when they got there.
The overall theme on this evening was madness. Complete, unexpected madness with a dash of oddness on top, and IWABO really hit their comfort zone by the midpoint, bringing the energy higher and higher as the set wore on and then ending and walking off, leaving everyone feeling a bit deflated and confused, but definitely ready to keep partying thanks to LaPlante’s suggestion of an afterparty, and incitation of an “afterparty” chant.
Security were pissed. Everyone else was ecstatic.