Unfortunately having missed out on early support, Brighton’s Gnarwolves, I was instead firstly greeted by the warm and lush sounds of The Dangerous Summer. Opening with a personal fave, 'Work In Progress' was a great start; its brawny riffs and fiery vocals with singer/bassist AJ Perdomo’s gravelly tone hit me in the gut right away. It’s the darkest track in the highly underrated melodic-rock band’s repertoire. Upbeat, lighter numbers like the summery and charming 'Where You Want To Be' and the driving rhythm of ‘War Paint’ sounded really lovely in the Ballroom’s acoustics. And the quartet overall seemed content and confident; efficiently delivering their second solid UK support slot set that I've witnessed this year.
With multiple 'Broco tees in close proximity, it was clear that a large portion of the crowd were eager for a ‘Bro down. And soon enough Don Broco strode out, sharply-dressed and cocksure as ever, to the sounds of what appeared to be a dubstep rendition of their hit 'Priorities'. After greeted with immense cheers, they kicked straight into said song to the crowd’s utter delight. The thing is with Donny B is that you know what you're gonna get - they've almost become your new favourite musical. It's the same routine you've seen before but you just can't get enough of it. After pulling off what's become the legendary 'walk' routine, they ploughed into a new album fave, 'Fancy Dress' which included yet more amazingly cringy synchronised moves as well that gloriously hard-hitting chorus. New single 'Hold On' brought the funk with Tom's smooth basslines sounding slick even from at the far back of the room.
As I've learnt on many occasions now, the Bedford lad’s set wouldn’t be complete without a good ol' muscle-flexing 'Thug Workout'. If you're not familiar with this part of the “routine”, I’ll elaborate - Singer Rob Damiani picks out the men from the boys, so to speak, and has them start the song with a session of push-ups right there in the pit under the spotlight. Once enough girls are impressed or once they've collapsed in a puddle of sweat more like, the hardcore track kicks off. Which is exactly how it played out that evening; the thrashing oldie went down a storm and got everyone well and truly fired up. They continued with the more poppy and upbeat swing of 'Whole Truth' and closed their unfortunately short (24min) set with the stunning 'Actors'; guitarist Simon thrashing his six-stringed friend wildly, but impressively always in control from start to finish.
The beaming fixed spotlights were a humble yet low-key backdrop for Lower Than Atlantis. It may have been a modest set-up for your usual headline act, however these four humble gents simply looked as pleased as punch to be there at all when they appeared just before 10pm. Especially since frontman Mike Duce had been apparently ill on and off throughout the tour. However as they jumped into recent single ‘Love Someone Else’ any apparent ailments took a backseat. The crowd instantly lapped up the poppy number and the band sounded strong and assertive. Followed by World Record classics ‘(Motor) Way Of Life’ and ‘Beech Like The Tree’ was a positive and winning combo and Mike insisted on everyone bending down and jumping up before the latter’s final chorus. “If you’ve seen us, before then you should know what to do!” he eagerly goaded before dropping the frontman schtick to awkwardly whimper “Woah, I can’t believe we’re here!” – You can take the boy out of Watford but you can’t take Watford out of the boy.
And that’s the lovable thing about Mr Duce, as his bandmates usually leave him to do the talking on stage, what we get are the genuine thank you’s and surprised gushing that you’d hear from a close friend who’s just received a birthday present. Awkward and stumbling over words, probably partially due to feeling a little under the weather, he finished by saying “I have no idea what I’m saying but just...thank you!” Uncomfortable speeches aside, they dug into their new album and pulled off a winning performance of the melodic and catchy gem, ‘Go On Strike’ and the Truman Show inspired ‘If The World Was To End’; drummer Eddy particularly confidently striking like indeed it was his last gig. “It’s alright isn’t it?” the cocky singer replied as the band received a mass of cheers as to who has purchased their major label debut.
The room’s atmosphere elevated as the ballsy and hard-hitting ‘High At Five’ soared across the floor, and a fairly impressive circle pit formed as the rapid wrath of ‘Marilyn's Mansion’ took hold of the crowd. Despite lead and bass guitarists Dec and Ben holding fort with poise at the front, it was at this point that ill-heath started to take its toll on the young gent centre stage. New track ‘PMA’, which I was really looking forward to hearing live, ended up being marred by a lack of strong and cohesive vocals compared to the sharp punchy and charismatic number that you hear on CD. The title-track of debut album Far Q on the other hand sounded commanding and aggressive as ever; the thrashing punk hit’s contrasting spitting vocals proving easier for Mike to belt in his more than usual croaky bellow.
“I feel like Superman right now. You guys are helping me get through this!” And despite being quite a cheesy line, the closing portion of their set was decidedly stronger. The inclusion of two ballads was a surprise, however evidently needed for the band to recharge. ‘Scared Of The Dark' and ‘Another Sad Song’ sounded lovely in their stripped down acoustic form and guest vocalist Madeleine Poncia’s appearance and sweet harmonies were a treat. When the time came for an encore, Lower Than Atlantis happily introduced their “song about STI’s” and with big smiles pulled out ‘Deadliest Catch’ with a new vigour. A throng of nearby spectators’ air drummed their hearts out and eager crowd surfers started to surge the stage just as the music suddenly paused. And in a soap-opera moment, Mike then hollered “Oi! Excuse me security, who do you think you are? The fucking Gestapo?” before going straight back into the song, where the band left off.
It wasn’t entirely the shit hot party I’d expected (lead support Don Broco would’ve come close to overshadowing their headliners had it not been for a shorter set) but none the less, Lower Than Atlantis got 100% for effort and powered through with one man almost down. For the majority, they pulled off a cracking hour long set which showed off their wide range of melody driven alt-rock hits through their now stellar three album catalogue. Having just been announced as support for US pop-punk stars’ All Time Low on their forthcoming Don’t Panic UK Tour in February 2013, they’ve got time to sharpen their performance and stock up the medicine cabinet. Just in case.