Tonight the Great Hall played host to the opening date of the Kerrang! Tour: a nationwide exhibition of the hardcore music magazine’s favourite bands from the past year while incorporating some more famous names to tantalise readers and fans alike. This year they spoiled us with Fearless Vampire Killers, Tonight Alive, Chiodos, and the main act Black Veil Brides. What a crazy night it was.
As I enter the Great Hall I’m immediately surrounded by a variety of piercings, iron-on patches, chains and hairdos in addition to a lot of makeup and face paint. It’s surprising how most of the audience are young teenagers: I even saw one kid there, who can’t have been older than eleven, chain-clad with his mum. I take up my position at the bar, and move ten minutes later to a pillar after I’m asked several times by elaborately dressed underage girls to get drinks for them. I didn't of course!
Fearless Vampire Killers and Tonight Alive are first up, the latter giving a sensational performance. The sound quality is astonishingly good for a metal gig: we can clearly hear every note the guitar plays under the singing. The singer, Jenna McDougal, has a brilliant voice which matches the style of their music particularly well. I know a lot of bands with a female singer in this genre get compared to Paramore, however it’s not just the sound but the immense stage presence McDougal creates that
means Tonight Alive could really make it in the big leagues.
After crashing through tracks such as ‘Wasting Away’ and ‘Listening’ McDougal commands us to “make a circle pit for this one” as the band finish with ‘What’re You So Scared Of?’, bringing even more mayhem to an already hectic crowd. The fans fist-pump the air and sway the trademark rock hand-sign of horns in time with the rhythm. Although the crowd are evidently delighted with the performance, the biggest cry of the set goes out as McDougal asks us to “raise the roof for Black Veil
Brides”. Anticipation, there is much.
As post-hardcore band Chiodos take to the stage I realise I’m standing next to a mother clutching a cup of water, looking distinctly more worried. I question why, before I’m answered with a horrific
pig squeal from frontman Craig Owens and an enormous mosh pit opening up. The air is rife with glowsticks and body odour as the sweat fest moves frantically with the band’s music. Flashing red lights and guitar theatrics dominate the stage as Chiodos churn out ‘The Undertaker’s Thirst For Revenge Is Unquenchable’ and ‘Caves’. The crowd stretch their arms as far as they can, yearning to grab hold of Owens’ amusing t-shirt slating Harry Styles before ripping it as he launches himself into
However, by far the biggest reaction is for Black Veil Brides. As the members walk on stage one by one, the shrieking intensifies. Then all of a sudden, lead vocalist Andy Biersack rushes out with guitarist ‘Jinxx’, and as the first screech of the guitar rings out the Kerrang backdrop falls to reveal their ghostly new album cover, full of skulls and mist. Strobes flash as Biersack stretches a grin at the BVB army, before pouring out the vocals to ‘I Am Bulletproof’. The crowd are going mental: a
kid goes flying across a pit as Biersack growls “welcome to the church”, before the band explode with ‘New Religion’.
Although the set is mainly based around songs from new release ‘Wretched and Devine’, there is a smattering of older tracks that hype up the crowd more than sugar and Monster ever could. ‘Rebel
Love Song’ provokes all kinds of reactions, from a group of kids ferociously headbanging to an old couple staring into each other’s eyes and mouthing the words. Biersack tells us all “you have everything you need in your heart”, stating “we’re not gonna save you, you’re gonna have to save yourselves” before ‘Perfect Weapon’ begins, urging the mosh pit to open up even more.
After a section where Black Veil Brides “turn it down a peg” (cue teenagers rushing to ignite their lighters), they end appropriately with ‘In The End’, arguably their most popular new song. They all run around the stage as the song develops, covering every inch of the area as the crowd reach their crazed peak, the lights flash again and again until the last guitar riff rings out and the stage goes pitch black. Black Veil Brides leave Cardiff as heroes of hardcore rock, and a thousand faithful fans
leave convinced that their idols have already made their year.