After years of grinding away and getting constantly overlooked, 2018 has felt like year Palm Reader have got the break they have deserved for a long time. Their third album Braille has made a much bigger impact than anything they’ve done before and the band have played their biggest shows ever. Whether it was a sold out headline show in London or supporting Glassjaw at Brixton Academy, everything Palm Reader have done this year has felt special. And tonight they wrap the year by celebrating Braille and playing it in full.
Sharkteeth Grinder (3) are a disappointing start to the evening. They attack their set with plenty of enthusiasm but it all falls completely flat. Performing from the crowd or on the bar feels like something so overdone now and it just feels like an attempt to cover for the fact their music is completely forgettable. It doesn’t help that it feels like all three members of the band are playing different songs at times as they struggle to keep in time with each other. And if the band want to refer to their shows as “exhibitions” to make them sound more impressive than they are then they really need to up their game when it comes to the performance.
I The Mapmaker (6) are certainly better. Their emotionally charged post-hardcore is a far more refined package. They don’t really bring anything new to the table but it’s a very solid performance from the band. Their vocalist is very committed to his performance and this gives it a more genuine feel. Spoken word moments in this sort of post-hardcore are certainly overdone but I The Mapmaker don’t overuse them so it never becomes too cliche. There is definitely a lot of potential to I The Mapmaker that they will hopefully be able to deliver on soon.
Speaking of delivering on potential, Loathe (9) are absolutely brilliant tonight. They have constantly been getting better over the last few years and tonight they are on fire. The band both look and sound the part. Backed by two screens even in a venue this size helps them really stand out whilst never distracting from the performance. But it’s the songs where Loathe really show what they are capable of. Not content with being just another metalcore band, Loathe really push the genre into exciting places and the crowd really respond to it. There are plenty of exciting bands emerging in the UK and Loathe are looking like they are at the front of the pack.
Of course when it comes to exciting and interesting UK bands there are still few quite as good as Palm Reader (9). 2018 felt like the year the band have finally been able to smash the glass ceiling they have been pounding against for the last 5 or so years. Braille seems to have really grabbed peoples attention and playing it in full tonight felt like the perfect way to wrap up the year for Palm Reader. Performing the album in full just showcases how much the band have grown with this album. It is easily their most diverse work and in terms of the song writing they managed stuff they never would have been capable of in the past.
The entire crowd singing along to Like A Wave certainly felt like a moment Palm Reader have waited a long time for. No matter how much smoke they cloak the stage in their excitement is clear to see. Inertia remains the highlight of the album with Matt Reynolds once again appearing to deliver his guest vocals. This just felt like such a special evening for Palm Reader and a perfect way to cap off what is undeniably the best year the band have had together.