This Slaves review was written by Ben Duncan-Duggal, a GIGSoup contributor. Edited by Natalie Whitehouse
“We will not be playing at Dismaland on the 25th September. Some silly sausage pretending to be the organiser invited us to play a gig there and we naturally obliged. Turns out it wasn’t genuine. Got done, good and proper.
“All is not lost though. As we know many of you had made plans to pay us a visit we have decided to play our own show in Weston Super Mare that night anyway!”
And that was how the rising rock duo Slaves reacted to what was perhaps the first real setback they’d encountered since the beginning of their explosion in popularity. It’s an explosion which, in less than a year, has led them from playing tiny venues in places like Wolverton (yeah, me neither) to their first arena tour.
Yet, clearly, even rising stars clearly have to deal with their fair share of shit. The question was whether they could turn it into a good thing, a two fingers up to the promoter in question.
At first, it’s looking doubtful. The support set, by a local screamo band who assure us that “this is so last minute… like, 6 hours before,” is poor and poorly attended. The two weren’t necessarily related, but neither helped each other. Standing in an empty nightclub above a row of kebab shops in Weston-Super-Mare, listening to a band which sounded like Slipknot without the passion or aggression, it was easy for the crowd to wonder why they’d bothered.
In hindsight, these thoughts seem stupid. A listen to any of Slaves’ recorded material reveals that. It is simply made for being played live (it is punk, after all). It builds and then drops, patterns familiar to young people who might not otherwise be interested in guitar music. It’s quick. It doesn’t hold off on the overdrive. There’s shouting; but never screaming. There’s a sharp contrast between verse and chorus.
The crowd responds in kind, elbows flying. Halfway through the gig I go to the bar to get a drink of water and stand by the side of the stage drinking it. There, almost from the band’s perspective, the energy is clear; the crowd does not appear to be a collection of individuals. It is instead one being, a mass of humanity. And they’re all moving in exactly the same way.
And it’s not as if Slaves have peaked. That show makes this clear, by showing their debut album, released this year, as their best work so far. Pieces of it are littered throughout the set: from the 100 ton hit of ‘The Hunter’ as the opener to the intimate mid set breather of ‘Are You Satisfied?’
All these pieces show the diversity of the band, even within a genre can be as restrictive as punk. Slaves are energetic, and they are always energetic, but they never let that quest for energy restrict them. They show, like many of the best bands from history, that there are many different routes to the same feeling.