Feed the Rhino have long been a staple of the UK hardcore/metal scene. Over the course of nearly 10 years, four albums and many tours, the Kent-based five-piece have earned a reputation for their explosive live shows. 2018 looks sure to be a big year for Feed the Rhino, kicking off with the release of their brand new album The Silence and a 10-date tour. These were to be their first shows in several months, so it was with great excitement that we headed down to the opening night at Bristol’s Exchange.
Having been around on the scene for quite some time now, Feed the Rhino evidently have a lot of experience putting together a great lineup, and this tour was no exception. Fellow Kent band Cove were up first, unleashing their fierce, tight melodic hardcore upon a decent-sized crowd for this early in the night. Despite being a relatively new band, Cove did a good job of warming up the crowd and maybe even gained a few new fans in the process.
Judging by the number of Heck t-shirts visible in the room, it seemed that several people were already familiar with the next band who took to the stage. Playing a noisy, high-energy set of songs from their upcoming album Challenger, Nottingham’s Haggard Cat (featuring Matt and Tom from Heck) got everyone headbanging, whether they were familiar with the duo or not.
The third band of the night, Bad Sign, treated the Bristol crowd to a monstrous set packed with mighty riffs and massive choruses. The Croydon trio are already gaining momentum as one of the country’s most promising up and coming rock bands, and with huge tunes like ‘Liars & Lovers’ and ‘Square One’ it’s clear why.
With the crowd well warmed up, Feed the Rhino emerged and launched into ‘Featherweight’ and ‘Heedless’, two singles off the new record, before delivering a blast from the past with ‘Caller of the Town’ from the band’s first album. The crowd continued to react enthusiastically throughout the set, stirring up mosh pits to new and old songs alike. Unsurprisingly for the first night of the tour, the band mixed in classics like ‘The Burning Sons’ and ‘Deny & Offend’ with some new songs they were playing for the first time. These included ‘Losing Ground’, an uncharacteristically slow and melodic ballad which demonstrates Feed the Rhino’s versatility when it comes to mixing chaotic and heavy songs with more tender moments.
After slowing things down for a bit, it was time to ramp the energy up again. Vocalist Lee Tobin knew how to get the crowd going – a passionate mid-set speech about his love for the city of Bristol was met with thunderous cheers and injected even more energy into the already zealous crowd. The rest of the set passed in an adrenaline-filled blur and before we knew it Feed the Rhino were onto their last song. Not ones to go out on a low, the band invited fans to climb onstage and were swiftly joined by what seemed like about half the audience for a chaotic rendition of ‘New Wave’.
While all four bands gave excellent performances that showed off a huge amount of talent, what really struck us at this show was the sense of camaraderie between the bands. In a world where celebrities and musicians have such hugely publicised rivalries and fallouts, it’s lovely to see artists genuinely support and appreciate each other as much as the bands we witnessed tonight do. This made for a wonderfully wholesome, inclusive experience, perfectly representing the UK rock scene as a whole and reminding us why we love it so much.