Despite having less than half of Manchester’s Club Academy to play to, The Color Morale took to the stage with overwhelming energy. The group held their stage presence throughout their six-track set, even through the times when the vocals became lost under the heavy riffs and bass. Though not to discredit the rest, the leading force of the group was vocalist Garret Rapp, who lifted the crowd from not moving at all to never being stood still within a couple of songs. By the third, ‘Demon Teeth,’ Garret was jumping to the barrier, holding tightly to a fan’s hand as he serenaded the rest, with a few toward the middle even joining him in unison. Perhaps their only downfall was how each song seemed so similar to the last, although that could have been down to the sound, but it still left a slightly underwhelming feeling at the end of their set. No doubt they’d translate better in a different setting, but for Manchester Club Academy, the sound seemed a little gravelly.

The Color MoraleThe Color Morale

Next to storm the stage was Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!, a surprising five piece with a rather clever band name for all those Goonies fans out there, coming from Paris. Though the band didn’t seem to have the same stage presence as their predecessors, the crowd had already been hyped up enough to engage and move for them. The sound became slightly better for their seven song set, each track noticeably different than the last, with their most memorable performance being their cover of Ke$ha’s ‘We R Who We R’ which was an instant crowd pleaser. Even those scattered at the sides and toward the back couldn’t seem to stop themselves from at least doing a little shake. By this point, there was no going back, Chunk! had the crowd hooked for the long haul and all it took was an incredibly catchy hardcore cover of an average pop song. Perhaps it’s something for more bands to consider. Best of all, each of them looked genuinely happy to be there, especially lead vocalist Bertrand Poncet whose smile didn’t seem to falter even once and it worked. They were having the time of their lives and it showed, and it transferred like an electric current to the crowd, shocking the last few standing into full engagement.

Chunk! No Captain Chunk!Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!

The air of infectious happiness from the French five piece flowed seamlessly into We Came As Romans’ set as the band took to the stage all smiles and ready to put on a good show. We Came As Romans have yet to branch away from the smaller venues on their UK tours, despite a huge turnout at 2010’s Never Say Die Tour that took place in Manchester’s huge Academy 1, but they were not deterred. They are a band that are simply grateful for the fans they have and are there to put on the best show they possibly can, and they didn’t disappoint.

Their stage presence never lacks, they have a synchronicity in some songs with the way they twist and turn around the stage, moving along to their famously heavy riffs. They are a simple band. They’re not preachy; they hold a sense of honesty and are unashamed of who they are. They have lyrics to move you, but they also want to go to ‘Big Hands’, a nightclub in the heart of Manchester, after the show to party. Album-wise, they have come leaps and bounds – with screamer Dave even taking on some singing parts – though it can be hard to transition this into a live setting as vocals often get lost under the sound of the instruments. But, that was not the case for this set. Throughout the show, singer Kyle Pavone showed his impeccable growth as a vocalist, going from strength to strength through every song. They all projected an aura of confidence in their music, which is something special for a band that has yet to move up the venue ladder. They are a band of entirely talented individuals, still humbled by what turnout they had, and it’s something a lot of bands could learn from.

We Came As Romans 2We Came As Romans

However, the only thing to bring it down was the content of their set. It is no secret, no matter what band you go to see, fans love to hear older material. It’s not entirely a bad thing, but even though the fans still sing along with the new material, which shows great promise for the band, the biggest reaction and movement always seems to come during songs from the albums that came before. ‘Glad You Came’, another pop song put to a hardcore beat, gets the crowd dancing together, but the biggest pits seem to open when the band dive into ‘To Move On Is To Grow’ and ‘To Plant A Seed.’ Perhaps because the latter of the two has quite a few catchy hooks strewn throughout – “The first note that was ever sang” and “Our vision for this world will not die when we are dead” being the repetitive highlights – that are guaranteed to get stuck in the head of any listener. Their encore consisted of a new song ‘Hope,’ giving everyone one last chance to show the six-piece what Manchester was made of and with hands raised, they sang every word back.

We Came As Romans 3We Came As Romans

Overall, the performance by We Came As Romans was visually thrilling; even if you weren’t a fan of their music, they certainly showed they were one you’d at least enjoy the theatrics of. They continually show that good songs are nothing without a great stage presence, but when the two are put together, they are undeniably unforgettable.

Photos by Kelly Hamilton.