Whilst the tweens may have arrived for headliners, The Hunna, its the evening’s openers who deserve all of tonight’s column inches and tomorrows download boostings.
Turning the expectations of the evening completely upside down, the Riots turn up synth heavy, sexualised and full of outward confidence, ultimately offering something radically different and, genuinely, shocking to an audience too early into their music career to realise that traditional emo stylistics (sculpted rock lyrics, grunge-inspired seriousness, groomed designer outfits) need not be the only methods of creating emotion in music.
And whilst the soundtrack really is first class (think Springsteen meets New Order), it’s Snake-hipped, charismatic frontman Travis Hawley who pivots the whole show. Part Johnny Thunders style, part Brandon Flowers vocal, part Michael Hutchence flamboyant sexualisation, Hawley delivers the type of frontman performance many can only wish for, and a one which roots the Riot’s sound into danceable grooves and upbeat pop.
Standout ‘Take me back to your love’ provides a microcosm of the band, both with their scratchy guitar licks, electronic backing and the ease with which Hawley nails soaring vocals whilst pulling off a rock star pose and winking into the front row. The too cool for school crowd break within the first song, and Hawley has them singing backing vocals by the second.
On tonight’s bill Night Riots offer something so unique that it’s difficult to know how anyone can follow them, or what to make of their performance. Whatever it is though it carries a ‘danger watch out’ sign. A masterclass performance.