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36 Crazyfists Live @ Barfly Birmingham 2008
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36 Crazyfists Live @ Barfly Birmingham 2008

The penultimate leg of the 36 Crazyfists’ warm up tour before their main stage appearance at this year’s Download Festival recently wound up at the Birmingham Barfly. Just days before the festival, it promised to be a warm up gig not to be missed.

After fighting through a sea of sweaty, testosterone charged bodies to catch a decent view of the stage, Brock, Steve, Mick and T were in full eye line. The Alaskan four piece exploded into the set with the literally heart stopping and aptly named After My Heart Stops, whipping the crowd up into an immense and uncontrollable hysteria. 36 Crazyfists thrashed their way through their each track as if their lives depended on it, with the hero worshipping crowd lapping it up like dogs deprived of water in a heatwave. Notably, a large percentage of the male audience were even topless within seconds of the intro kicking in.

With the Barfly close to bursting at the seams and die hard fans practically ascending the stage to be close to their heroes, never before had it looked so miniscule. With an abundance of deliciously sick guitar strokes and swift running basslines teamed with Brock’s relentless hyperactive energy and the penetrating force of the kick pedal driving the set, which virtually gave me palpitations it was clear that 36 Crazyfists were principally a band that existed to play live.

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Feeding off the crowd and wanting to remain close to them, Brock incessantly threw himself into the sweat sodden pit of adoring fans throughout the set. For anyone not going to this year’s Download Festival, tonight’s gig was the next best thing, if not the best. For one night only, the Crazys had miraculously transformed the venue into a small festival tent, creating the same buzzing atmosphere reminiscent of a festival performance, which swept the crowd like a tsunami. The show had the intimacy that the larger festival stage lacked. The monstrous sound which encompassed big guitar riffs and reverberating drum strokes literally sent spasms through me as if I’d been struck by lightning. The interaction between the band and the crowd was awe inspiring, with Brock and his buddies displaying unadulterated appreciation of their fans and paying tribute to them for their support and loyalty by rewarding them with a breathtaking and memorable show which seemed unimaginably possible to be topped.

Half way through the set Brock dedicated the brilliant Skin and Atmosphere to the largely outnumbered female audience and heckled “How many girls in the room? How many boys?” which was met with a raucous roar from the male fans in the crowd. “****ing Yeh!!” he bellowed “Girls, this one’s for you”.

With crowd participation being high on the band’s agenda in their live shows, a memorable highlight was when Brock pulled Crazys devotee Al out of the crowd to perform Destroy the Map. While he sung his heart out alongside his idol, Brock exhorted fans to sing along with him. Pure brilliance.

The set was predominantly made up of firm crowd favourites such as Midnight Swim, the Heart & the Shape and Elysium, with only two tracks from the new album The Tide and its Takers, The All Night Lights and We Gave it Hell making an appearance.

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One of the really stunning elements of a 36 Crazyfists show is the sing-along mentality and participation of the audience that manifested from beginning to end. This was something I’d never seen before at a hardcore band gig. On observing the crowd, at least 95% of fans knew every word to every 36CF song, and it unquestionably fuelled the band’s performance even more. For those that have never experienced a 36 Crazyfists show before, what are you waiting for? Go out and see this band. Not for the fainthearted, 36 Crazyfists are the ultimate hit for adrenaline junkies and dedicated metalheads everywhere. If crop circles, crowd surfing, sing-alongs and mind-blowing live performances are your bag, a 36 Crazyfists gig is certain to tick every box.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the boys after the gig and was pleasantly surprised by how down to earth and friendly they were. It was fantastic to see how attentive and genuinely interested they were in their fans, taking time to have a few beers with them, pose for photographs and sign autographs before being packed off on the tour bus. This was clearly a band that still remembered the reason they were there in the first place - the fans.

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Review - Mel Jones
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