Live at The Well on Wednesday, 11th May 2011
Rolo Tomassi are one of the most innovative and intriguing bands of recent times. You'd be hard pushed to find a band this side of The Dillinger Escape Plan who've shown such disregard for the general rules of music, and in doing so have split the vote like no other band has in recent times. Thankfully, their disorientating sound makes for an absolutely brilliant live spectacle, and there are enough people with good sense in the city to pack out the Leeds Well tonight in anticipation of Rolo Tomassi's evening of synths and shrieks. Local mob Antares are given the unenviable task of warming up a crowd who neither get into their set, nor show any sign of wanting to. Their fiddly progressive noise isn't the most accessible you'll hear all week, and although the talent on show is impressive, with a running time of just over a quarter of an hour the lasting impact of their set is lost the second they walk offstage. With a longer set and a crowd who'll acknowledge their existence they may up their game, but it's highly doubtful that many here tonight will be there to give them that chance should it come around.
Holy State, as main support, have some of the audience on side, but that's about all they have going for them. Their brand of indie is as boring as it is anonymous, and there are many bands that could have set the tone for the evening better than this lot - see Pulled Apart by Horses for further info. The front row may be happily bobbing along, but the rest of the crowd look bored rigid, and all their set really inspires is an exodus to the bar upstairs. Holy State don't manage to set any real tone to the gig, and leave that job up to the headliners themselves.
Rolo Tomassi are no strangers to tearing up support slots - having seen them slay the crowd at last year's Slam Dunk Festival and giving The Dillinger Escape Plan's following a good kicking on their last UK tour, it's slightly disappointing that their supports couldn't do the same for them. However, this just means the crowd has more to give for the headliners, and this is exactly what Rolo Tomassi inspire; their set is a non-stop barrage of energy from both crowd and band alike, and things threaten to boil over even before the final notes of synthesised opener of 'Katzenklavier' have rung out, the floor having already been opened up in preparation for a seething mosh pit.
When the band bare their teeth with 'Agamemnon', the crowd go several shades of mental by crowdsurfing, stage diving or even just by throwing themselves into said pit, which by now has been transformed into a tornado of bodies. Rolo Tomassi's live performance never fails to disappoint, and anyone who was taken in by vocalist Eva Spence's diminutive frame will think twice about judging a book by its cover when they hear her paint-stripping scream. The songs come thick and fast, and there's no time to stop and catch your breath; 'French Motel', 'Party Wounds' and 'Abraxas' seem to pass by in a blur, and the energy levels are maintained for the slower tracks such as 'Titanomachia', 'Kasia' and a brilliant performance of the 7 minute-long 'Cosmology', which sees the main set drawing to a close.
Returning to the stage for an encore of an insane rendition of 'I Love Turbulence', Rolo Tomassi finish their set on an almighty high, even by this evening's lofty standards. Tonight they have once again proved themselves to be one of the most invigorating bands out there, both live and on record, and with music that is both big AND clever, they have proved that you can go against the grain and still put on a killer live show. Rolo Tomassi might not be everyone's cup of tea, but that's not likely to deter them from playing blistering shows like this at every opportunity, and for that, we should be grateful.
raging prog hardcore...we've released an ep on Holy Roar Records but not done much else!