A review of SOiL, 12th November 2009
Posted by Peter
On the 12th of November 2009 I went to see SOiL at the Westcoast Bar in Margate, England, and decided to review the gig for my Last.FM profile. As it’s been a while since I’ve made a blog entry I thought I might as well post it here as well.
My first thought upon arriving at the Westcoast Bar in the seaside town of Margate was how damn small the place was. We shuffled in through the double doors after descending down a flight of stairs and found ourselves a small corner fairly near the stage but unfortunately near a set of speakers as well. Local group Sentinel kicked us off bang on time which I was pleased with, and the place quickly filled up at that point.
To set the scene a little better there were roughly 300 people crammed into an area not much larger than your living room. I do exaggerate slightly but there really was literally no room to manoeuvre as you can see in the pic below, although in fairness the prospect of Soil playing a lowly venue in an absolute shitheap of a town drew what was probably the largest crowd in the venues history. The place got very hot very quickly as well, thanks in part to an energetic performance from the band on stage that got the crowd in the mood. For what it was I did enjoy it, screaming vocals aren’t usually my thing but the musicianship was excellent and the vocalist managed to get through the set without collapsing, credit where it’s due there. I’m not all that good at placing a lot of music into one specific genre, but I’d say they were a hardcore band with screamo influcences.
Forever Never were up next, giving themselves a rather cheesy entrance theme of sorts but at the same time whipping up a lot of interest in what was to come. I’ll start by saying they were absolutely brilliant, easily the band of the night for me after providing catchy songs, fantastic stage presence and vocals that reminded me a lot of Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria fame. Last.FM users have categorized the band as playing metalcore/groove metal which I think is fairly accurate, although they also showcased a very progressive sound. I was particularly impressed with the drummer of the band, he played his heart out and ended the set with a short but sweet drum solo to finish an extremely enjoyable performance. My friend who was with me was also impressed with the bass playing, but he was practically next to a speaker that was bigger than he is so I doubt he heard much else.
After a 20 minute beer break The Defiled took the stage, again with a cheesy entrance theme to accompany them. The guys looked like cast-offs from Marilyn Manson’s Spooky Kids auditions, and from looking at the silly hairstyles they had, one guitarist spitting all over the stage and another sporting a goofy facial mask I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be pretty. As it turned out I was right, I was less than impressed by what I was listening to at first although I did gradually change my opinion towards the end. At one point they demanded two circle pits to get going on either side of the room what I wasn’t all that enthusiastic about, it might be down to me getting older but I wanted to enjoy the music rather than attempt to kill myself and/or other people in a venue where you couldn’t swing a cat if you tried. Fortunately the people on our side either couldn’t be bothered or realised it simply wasn’t possible, I didn’t really care either way as we avoided a battering. On the whole I did enjoy one or two songs but ultimately I was less than impressed by this band. Again it’s hard to place them in any one genre, according to their artist page here it suggests they’re a gothic metal band but to me they sounded like they were playing, erm, industrial screamo I guess.
After a change in sound guys and a few last minute adjustments to their instruments Soil took to the stage, much to the delight of a very excited crowd. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t a fan during their heyday and I’m certainly not now, but my girlfriend is into them so I said I’d take her. With that being said they started out with a couple of heavy songs causing a mosh pit to erupt early, but with the size of the venue nobody was safe from it. After the second song a few people started a chant for their most popular hit Halo, to which the singer responded “ok, shall we just play that song and get the fuck outta here?” The audience seemed pretty happy with that idea which was a shame, Soil have had a lot of difficulty following up on what’s become a classic in the hard rock industry and it was obvious that most people had come just for that one song. Still, the band handled it nicely, the singer stating “we’ve got a long night of hearing my voice first!” One thing I noticed about the band at this point was their lack of any real stage presence. Sure, they sounded excellent but they sort of… stood there. I quickly realised that I’d probably be less than enthusiastic about performing in a run-down glorified basement in a God-forsaken corner of England in mid-November if I were in their shoes, not too many years after most likely selling out big arenas across the world – every single person only giving a shit about Halo back then too I reckon, ouch. Having said that the singer did seem genuinely happy to be there, although how much of that was “I’m lying because I don’t want to be booed off stage for insulting your home town” or not I don’t know. He was fascinated by the ghost-town feel of Margate above all else, and to give you a brief history on that the recession, local youths terrorizing the streets at night along with a vastly superior shopping centre recently built nearby has rendered Margate completely useless as a town, one which once thrived as a result of its seaside attractions. Most of it has been closed down and left to rot, basically. Anyway, after that piece of banter with the audience it was back to business, and again I have to reiterate the fact that I’m not a Soil fan because I have no idea what songs they played for the most part (I have since found a setlist however). They played a decent mix of old and new songs, and I must admit I did enjoy the slower more mellow songs like Picture Perfect taken from the new album of the same name. Eventually of course they ended with Halo and I had to keep drunk guys from battering my missus throughout that one by giving them a hearty shove whenever they came within breathing distance. Good stuff on the whole though, certain songs were a little ‘samey’ but Soil were enjoyable enough on the night as was the entire night on the whole.
Tickets were £10 for the gig which I thought was fantastic value. For that I got three decent bands and one average one, but I think four out of four would have been too much to ask for that price. Soil did say that they’d like to come back again after being pleased by the “fucking awesome” crowd they played to, but again only they know whether they meant that or not. I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t come back, but I’d definitely see them again if they did.