Live Review: Trash Boat / Broadside / Homebound / Death By Shotgun @ The Talking Heads, Southampton - 17/09/17

Written by Maddy Howell

Since the release of their debut full-length last year, St Albans’ Trash Boat have proved themselves as a force to be reckoned with in modern UK pop punk. As the final tour of the 'Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through' album cycle before they begin work on album two, the quintet return to Southampton for a night set on celebrating their work so far.

Late additions Death By Shotgun open proceedings, bringing the crowd into a scattered formation with their infectious, emo-influenced take on modern pop-punk. Armed with the task of warming the audience up, the Bournemouth quartet prove to be a refreshing start to an otherwise straight pop-punk dominated line-up, rattling through tracks from their latest EP, 'Life’s A Beach', in an efficient and impressive fashion.

Following the openers, Homebound bundle onto the stage in a fireball of energy, with frontman Charlie Boughton attempting to hype the crowd up and encourage participation. Besides producing a few shuffling feet and a couple of vague singalongs, the Farnham quartet fall short of bringing much energy to the floor in front of them. Luckily, the band display enough vitality to compensate for the entire room, with their set providing the perfect moment for a pop punk drinking game, packed with enough hand motions, spins and fake American accents to floor even the most tolerant.

Main support for the night comes from Virginia’s Broadside, last seen on these shores with Australian pop-punkers With Confidence. From the offset, they make it evidently clear that they’re the tightest sounding band on the tour, with their catchy brand of pop-punk blending seamlessly with their post-hardcore influences. With a setlist leaning heavily on latest album 'Paradise', tracks such as Donald Trump protest Puzzle Pieces demand attention, with high octane riffs accompanying vocalist Ollie Baxxter’s passionate crooning. Their set comes to a close on Coffee Talk, sending the crowd into a frenzy of finger-pointing and singalongs, finishing on a high that seems set to continue until the end of the night.

As KURUPT FM’s Heart Monitor Riddem echoes throughout the room, Trash Boat make their way onto the stage. Although the crowd appears sparse, the opening notes of Tring Quarry hit and a pit opens instantaneously. With the entire room bursting with energy and Tobi Duncan’s vocals sounding stronger than ever, the St Albans quintet are a never-ending blur of synchronised jumps and shouty vocals, ticking all the pop-punk boxes whilst their hardcore infusions enable them to stay fresh.

With a set packed full of material new and old, it’s in 2015 track Boneless that Trash Boat present their ability to craft angst-ridden anthems for the downtrodden youth. As Duncan laments: “I’m sick, I’m sick, I’m sixteen,” he’s met with a surge of fingers pointed in his direction, as the words are echoed right back at him.

However, as the band power into Pangaea the cracks in their live performance begin to show themselves, with the shoutier vocals proving strained and discordant in parts. The rest of the band pick up the slack, with the guitar solo and breakdown initiating the start of the night’s crowd surfing action. Prior to Catharsis, Duncan asks the crowd for some assistance on the more difficult notes and they wilfully oblige, the centre of the venue blossoming into a garden of raised fingers.

As their set draws to a close, album closer You Know, You Know, You Know takes on a more sensitive role in the band’s set. After a doleful moment to discuss the death of a family friend, Duncan dedicates the track to those struggling with suicidal thoughts, before kicking into a hook-filled tale of mental struggles and unwanted thoughts. After an emotional performance, the band leave the vocalist alone for a while, as he announces that this is the first time he’s simultaneously sung and played guitar onstage. Backed note for note by the crowd, he rolls into a heartfelt rendition of Brave Face, with the rest of the band re-emerging halfway through to bring the song to a close.

The night concludes on 2016 hit Strangers, with Duncan’s opening scream of: “I won’t hold you down,” initiating the biggest crowd surge of the show. It’s a perfect three-minute summary of the band and their live performance, with mass singalongs, heightened emotions and the perfect balance of energy and passion.

Trash Boat continually prove themselves to be one step ahead of the rest of their scene in terms of live performance, and it’s in moments like this that it’s evident why. Their refusal to stick within the often-appealing confines of the genre and their ability to push their sound outside of the box is what enables them to remain fresh and interesting, and hopefully, their reinvention doesn’t stop here.