Live at Cockpit on Tuesday, 13th December 2005
Average, average and average. Armor For Sleep are darn average. Why are they average? Good question. On the surface every trait possessed by AFS is matched toe to toe by every other successful emo band of the last three or four years. Perhaps it's the regurgitator effect, the over saturated market was and is still full to capacity and casually dwindling and Armor For Sleep have crawled out of the undergrowth at the arse end of this emo infestation. On the other hand, maybe Armor For Sleep, on face value, put on a poor, poor... well okay... mediocre live performance. More on that later.
Impromptu Idiot Pilot replacements, A Destructive Issue kick things off in a much more assertive fashion. Metal is the name of the game in a Bullet For My Valentine, melodic fused with ear catching guitar parts kind of way and slow start aside, the Leeds locals hit their stride and ultimately impress. Although definitely not fitting into the current indie rock Leeds mini-revolution perhaps ADI do still have a chance on a nationwide scale, especially if the formerly unfashionable metal scene witnesses a miraculous revival of Lazarus proportions as industry murmurings incline towards.
In some ways telling you the next band arrive via Equal Vision records is all you need to know. Chiodos are the next in a long and ever increasing line of angular, melodic screamo post hardcore guitar bands pouring from Stateside to our shores. To be fair to Chiodos, they're up there with the best. Live and on reflection (selling their album on the merch stand for a fiver. Score.) the 6 piece have an added element somewhere within their musical mix that diversifies them from a viscous and hard to pin down by nature genre. "There's No Penguins In Alaska" and "One Day Women Will All Become Monsters" are the highlights and Chiodos fit perfectly onto the Equal Vision roster.
Talk about spilling your load too early, Armor For Sleep skulk on stage and unbridle their catchiest, most enjoyable and most immaculately formed pop-rock number first. 'Car Underwater' is over before the crowd even realise the band have arrived and one of the few moments that the crowd may have been collectively up for getting excited about is wasted. Each band member seems completely detached from one another, they show no signs of collusion or chemistry, it almost appears as if they've never even met before. Frontman and vocalist Ben Jorgensen also has a proverbial shocker. Lacklustre and tired. His eyes remain closed for the whole set. Bar occasional between song murmurings and an out of character lunge into the front row, a huge invisible force field appears to have been hastily erected separating band and fan. Armor For Sleep do not put on a good show plain and simple. On album, Armor For Sleep do have a knack for a song, their latest 'concept' album release - "What To Do When You're Dead" - shows real ingenuity and inventiveness but alas, all is lost in the live format. Off night? Perhaps, but when Armor For Sleep leave stage right as indiscriminately as they arrived, you can't help but think these guys need some serious performance lessons.