Live events have so many nicknames, this wasn’t just a gig at a little venue down the road nor a concert with back up dancers forming an army across a stage. This was aspects of each, the connection of audience and artist but both an elevated and dynamic production. Frank Carter is the performance. Every eye, camera, fist in the air was directed at him. Carter doesn’t just take the role as leader of the band but more leader of ten thousand people all stood ready to salute him with their beer of choice.
Alexandra Palace is a venue that being a girl who loves her quirky dingy venues of the north felt well at home in. With its ten thousand people capacity, the layout is a dream. The staff of the bar, the food stalls, cloakroom and security are all a dream. Everything is structured swiftly and easily with even a £1 bus willing to take you to and from the station. The ease and stress-free qualities really do mean that you are there to listen to music, meet new people and have a good time, something we all let slip but something we all really do appreciate.
The night started off with Cleopatrik and Ho99o9. A great response for Cleopatrik across this tour but personal acclamation for Ho99o9 who created a joyously abrasive set that is definitely something needed to be seen again. They brought their love of hip hop and the madness of punk to build a band ready to be talked about! Hopefully, the future will bring them a more dynamic performance to combine all of the already cinematic ideas to create something more fluid.
Following Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes from their first stunt at Download Festival, it is obvious that this was a band ready to shake up the live industry. With a determined and passionate manager, Matthew Greer (ATC Management) every aspect of the band is well in check. With their strategy on building their profit on international tours and dates to creating new bucket list moments for the band, one being the sold-out show at Alexandra Palace. Whilst their brand is taken care of Dean Richardson (guitarist/songwriter) and his new graphic design business YUCK. The bold and minimal artwork that separates them from pervious music and campaigns is really impressive and ca be seen from digital to real world advertising. They worked to “challenge a perception of the band with a modern direction that stood out amongst a genre so eager to rely on the past.” This is something you definitely see and feel during their shows when I think about it now. It was just colour. But colour is so important and was so needed to describe the emotion and story of each movement. There’s a reason why we say we feel “blue’.
When Carter hit the stage, you knew that a true performance was about to begin. The new album, End of Suffering, took center stage and ignited the crowd. A clear drift from their punk roots, Carter became more of a slinky and seductive showman. Classics like Juggernaut left the crowd kicking and punching in a true punk rock form as well as Carter himself. The next song was Wildflowers and something to be admired is the qualities the band strive to teach and educate their audiences. Inclusivity is something that is looked over a lot in daily life. In the music industry the gender divide is atrocious and is something that is being talked about more often than not. If you would love to know more, please read my article on The Music Industry and Its Gender Divide. With festivals such as Statement festival responding to sexual harassment in the music industry in Sweden creating a safe space for women. Although, not the same scale, Frank dedicates “Wildflowers” to a woman only mosh pit for women to enjoy this experience, something so important and commendable. Of course, you’ll find men in their anyway, a few taking advantage of having a lot of women in the same space.
The lighthearted banter was loved across the gig, “You don’t boo me, I’ll get in there with you” and with the classic “oh fuck it” British humour in he got. Of course, to battle his way through the crowd to go see his mum and out of nowhere you’d hear “oi move I’m going to see my mum.” Something that sent the whole venue into bursts of laughter. Frank isn’t afraid to climb into the crowd or on top of. He is “one of us”. Finishing the night with their anthem “I Hate You” never have you seen a punk song about hate fill a space with so much love. Something that becomes so apparent is that Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes is something so much more than the music, than the “gig”. Who knows what the next chapter, campaign or album will bring this band.
As I have mentioned Frank bravely displays his struggles with mental health via Instagram. A striking post from last year that I had found shortly after writing this has completely changed my perception. It was a picture of his face, a little bruised, puffy eyes and incredibly fragile. In the caption, Frank admitted to feeling broken and dehumanised and told his fans that touring and being so physical in his performances, he got “beaten the shit out of”. Of course it’s labelled as Punk Rock and I can only imagine how tiring and relentless it must be now I think about it. In the post he says he does it as it is the only way of damaging himself where no one could stop him. The adrenaline numbed the pain but the worst part of all of this was that he was celebrated for it. Seeing this post of course it brings out the darkness of mental health that no one dares to touch on. How do we really expect this to carry on? Not knowing this at the time of the event, I stood there cheering as he dived face first into a pool of people. As a crowd, it was exciting, amusing, unforgettable! Looking back it is sad, confusing and heart breaking. At the end of the post, Carter goes on to explain his support system which he touched on many times during the show, he revels in the importance of talking about how you feel. Frank shows that even people you look up to still need support and that it is okay to not feel okay. Something we all need to hear, even if it when you are covered in sweat surrounded by other very sweaty strangers. I hope this reality isn’t the same now and that other performers in the industry never have to face this.
Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes are truly a band to admire for their work and the movement they are willing to create. To be open and honest is something we all struggle with but Frank doesn’t just hide behind his music, although the story of the lyrics are strong and powerful, to be able to share in more ways than one is very courageous.