I’m not sure why, but there’s an unwritten rule which states that if you go to see a band live, then you don’t wear one of their t-shirts to the gig.
If you’re a seasoned gig-goer then you’ll know that, these days, wearing something with a different band’s logo on is the done thing. With that in mind, it felt slightly bizarre watching The Borderline fill up with fans all wearing exactly the same thing on Monday night: a plain black t-shirt with a huge white emblem bearing the initials ‘WSS’.
While She Sleeps’ logo is perhaps more widely known than their music at the moment, but as they took to the stage at Soho’s most iconic music venue it soon became clear that all of that is set to change. These guys have already filled up O2 Academies up and down the country, but this was a much more intimate affair, with just a couple of hundred people crammed into the tiny venue.
Excited fans clung to speakers at the front of the stage, perched on stairs, and peered out from behind pillars to get a good view, clearly ecstatic to be so close to all the action. It was plain to see just why While She Sleeps had called this the Reunite tour: playing much smaller venues such as The Borderline, Kingston’s Fighting Cocks and Brighton’s The Haunt has done exactly that – it’s reunited them with the people and places that have helped shape them into one of the UK’s finest hardcore bands.
The first support act of the night was Dead Harts, who set the tone for the rest of the show with fast, pounding, drum beats, rasping vocals, and a serious amount of energy. Frontman Matthew Baxendale screamed relentlessly into the microphone, jumping around the stage, hanging from bars on the ceiling, launching himself off speakers, and commanding the attention of the room as it slowly began to fill up with wide-eyed metalcore fans.
Next up was the absolutely mental Feed The Rhino. They were met with whoops and cheers from the crowd, who went wild as soon as the band started to play. Despite the tiny stage, they managed to jump, kick, head bang, and crowd surf their way through a raucous set, playing relentlessly from start to finish. Lead singer Lee Tobin threw himself from the stage again and again, disappearing into the crowd to continue each song from the floor, surrounded by fans who belted out every word along with him.
The rest of the band remained on stage, where they instructed the crowd to start moshing (not that they needed much encouragement!) and helped to launch a steady stream of crowd surfers off the speakers. Their stage presence alone meant that these guys could have easily headlined the show, but instead they provided the perfect warm-up for the band that everyone was there to see.
Anticipation had been mounting in the lead up to the third and final set of the night, with fans comparing notes on previous gigs and stage divers gathering to plot their routes out into the sweaty sea of bodies. At last, While She Sleeps exploded onto the stage, launching straight into the distinctive opening notes of their latest single, ‘Death Toll’. Loz Taylor’s raw, powerful vocals filled the entire venue, sending the crowd into a frenzy and prompting a surge of crowd surfers to make their way across the room and onto the stage.
As the band built up more and more momentum, the fans went even wilder, with crowd-pleaser ‘This is the Six’ prompting deafening cheers and yet another wave of crowd surfers. Despite all of this craziness, While She Sleeps were note-perfect, proving that they are more than capable of not only treating their fans to a good time, but also giving a highly polished performance.
The atmosphere was electric, and as the show reached a chaotic climax it became clear that these guys are more than ready to take on the likes of Reading and Leeds this year. It won’t be long before playing tiny venues like The Borderline is a thing of the past for While She Sleeps because, with such phenomenal stage presence and a back catalogue of killer tracks, they are set to be huge.
This is a reminder of While She Sleep’s rising greatness:
Written and photographed by Liz Murray