Written and photographed by Robin Ervolina for Shockwave Magazine
March 24th, 2017
How I have never listened to Enter Shikari before today is beyond me. Now that I have, I can’t stop.
I’m on a plane headed to Baltimore, MD to cover one of my favorite bands, Being As An Ocean. It occurs to me just before takeoff that I should probably cue up some songs by headliner Enter Shikari and get a little familiar with their musical stylings. This is an embarrassing admission, but I’m not going to come out of the gate acting like I’ve known them forever. This review comes from the newbie in the crowd, the girl with the camera strapped around her neck and the grin glued on her face. This write-up comes to you from the photojournalist who downloaded one CD pre-flight, and the rest of the catalogue upon landing. Yes, I iTune Subscription’d the crap out of Enter Shikari.
I’ve now had several hours to listen to most of their songs, and annoy my friends and family with multiple enthusiastic “listen to this” links via Facebook and text. I’m primed, pumped, and ready to experience a new favorite band for the first time. The photographer to my left is too, but he’s not new. He tells me he’s seen dozens of Enter Shikari concerts. I ask what to expect. Jump shots? Crazy lighting? Righteous riffs? He says I should expect to fall in love.
I do, of course, but you knew that. The stage goes dark, and a strange cylindrical object illuminates stage left. Chris Batten (bass) touches it and the lights change, eerie sounds emerge, and this wizardly object starts off a nearly 20-song setlist. A majority of the songs come from 2007’s Take to the Skies, but fans are also treated to a few songs from their last release, 2015’s The Mindsweep. There is some crazy frenetic energy bursting from lead vocalist Roughton “Rou” Reynolds. I adore watching him move around the stage, never able to predict where he’s going, what he’s thinking, or what he’s going to do next. I’m honestly relieved when my time with the lens is over. I scurry out of the photo pit to enjoy the show.
My observations as a new fan are pretty simple. This UK outfit is sincere, unconstrained, and display ridiculous intelligence through their lyrics and instrumentation. Fans are literally launching themselves into the air, riding their peers over the rail, only to be embraced by the strong arms of Soundstage security … only to return again, feet in the air, one song later. The fans on the rail know every word. The fans to my left know every word. When “Anesthetist” is up to bat, I lose my shit, reverently, but still. I know this one, having played it multiple times since takeoff. I sing the chorus at the top of my lungs. This endears me to a girl who tells me to get ready for the encore, when the entire crowd chants a line from “Stand Your Ground; This is Ancient Land.” She whispers it like a secret, and I’m inducted into the fold. When that moment comes, the room is silent, and one voice starts the recitation.
“And still we will be here standing like statues. And still we will be here standing like statues.”
It sends chills down my spine, and I actually start to cry. It’s like Times Square on NYE after the ball drops and everyone sings “Imagine” in one accord. The unity is thrilling and humbling. As much as I’m drowning in the emotion, I’m instantly buoyant when they return to the stage for a three-song encore. When the lights come up and the music ends, it’s easy to understand why Enter Shikari fans have been falling in love with them since 1999. My only wish is that I’d know them sooner, so I could love them longer.
Rou – Vox/Electronics
Chris – Bass/Vox
Rory – Guitar/Backing Vox
Rob – Drums/Backing Vox