Twin Atlantic & Dinosaur Pile Up & Arcane Roots: Cockpit, Leeds

I was genuinely looking forward to tonight’s gig. One of my all time favourite venues (The Cockpit, Leeds) with a line-up that’s undoubtedly up there among the best of the year.

Punctuality isn’t normally high on a band’s list of priorities but Arcane Roots arrive right on time, waltzing casually through the crowd before clambering on stage,barely recognized by anybody who isn’t already familiar with their alternative rock styling’s. Considering the fact that it’s so fucking cold you can see your breath and everyone else’s, it was always going to take a seriously good support act to warm up the crowd. Arcane Roots are all that and more and it surely won’t be long until they make the jump to major headliners with a sound as inventive and strong as theirs. ‘You Are’, from their EP ‘Left Fire’ is already taking on ANTHEMIC qualities with soaring group vocals and hooks packaged with Biffy Clyro-esque off-kilter guitar riffs. Throw in front man Andrew Groves’ uncanny resemblance to Simon Neil and it’s easy to see where the comparisons are coming from but Arcane Roots showed tonight why they’re a different animal altogether. In songs like ‘Long & Low’ and ‘In This Town of Such Weather’ they show an ability to mix electrifying screams and shit kicker guitar riffs with moments of real sentiment and falsetto vocals and tonight’s crowd certainly thaws out, quickly warming to the task of flinging themselves around and (In the case of a few guys down in front) singing along to every word. It’s a fantastic start to the night and it’s testament to the band that the 30 minutes they were given seems to go by in the blink of an eye.

Taking on the poisoned chalice of having to follow that act are Dinosaur Pile-Up. Their drummer Mike Sheils is bizarrely bombarded quite abrasively by the crowd with requests for him to take his coat off and then his glasses. Sufficed to say it’s an odd start to their set, but they’re truly an effortlessly cool band and they don’t pay too much attention before ripping into their set. Effectively playing to a home town crowd in Leeds, their musicianship is a lot more simple but certainly no less effective. They sound like the devilish illegitimate love-child of Nirvana and Feeder, especially during songs like ‘Never That Together’ and ‘Barce-Loner’, all relentless grunge riffs and lazy vocals from talented singer Matt Bigland, driven along by fantastic drumming from Sheils. Who has finally taken his coat off, to the frankly baffling delight of some audience members. There are also some more subtle, atmospheric breakdowns worthy of one-time tour mates The Xcerts in songs like ‘My Rock n’ Roll’, showing why this is another three piece capable of making a lot of different noises, all of them very impressive.

The main course of tonight’s mid-winter feast is unquestionably the mercurial Twin Atlantic who have gone from strength to strength in the last two years. Kicking off their set with the instrumental ‘Serious Underground Dance Vibes’, it’s obvious that both artist and audience mean business as people swell forward for ’Make a Beast of Myself’ and ’The Ghost of Eddie’ both huge tracks from their last album ‘Free’. Twin have reached these heights with good reason and after a busy summer of festivals they’re at their peak. The sound quality is phenomenal for a smaller venue, the lights equally impressive (although it must be said far too bright for The Cockpit, with the first three rows of people constantly squinting) and there’s a healthy confidence oozing from a band that clearly know what they’re doing. Theirs is a massive alt-rock sound and even though some cynics would balk at the fact that their latest work is a lot more ‘radio friendly’ you can hardly call it pop music. Sam McTrusty’s aggressive vocals ring out over fuzzing guitars and pounding bass and it’s easy to see that they believe in what they’ve created, which is some absolutely massive rock songs that will surely be played on much bigger stages in the future. Nobody mention the ‘A’ word though, because tonight the Cockpit’s absolutely fine and tonight’s show has everything. McTrusty kicks somebody out for starting a fight before ripping into fan favorites  ’Caribbean War Syndrome’ and ’Lightspeed’ from their first album ’Vivarium’. Throw in an epic stage dive from a mounted speaker that narrowly avoids Counterfeit’s photographer and results in me and my best friend catching converse prints in the chest and a beautiful rendition of ’Crash Land’ featuring Barry McKenna’s cello skills and it’s a busy night for the band, who end the night with the huge sounding keyboard-led single ’Free’ to leave everybody in attendance in no doubts as to the endless possibilities of a freezing cold Wednesday night in Leeds.