40 min read

Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

Ah, where do I even begin with the absolute powerhouse that is Don Broco? These lads from Bedford, UK, have not only carved their name into the rock scene but have done so with a style and swagger that is uniquely their own. From the first riff to the last note, Don Broco is a rollercoaster of energy, emotion, and undeniable talent.

Before they take to the stage, the already busy venue has a couple of great Nu-Metal bands on the undercard, Namely OCEAN GROVE from Melbourne Australia and TRASH BOAT from St Albans, here in Blighty.

Up first are our antipodean brothers OCEAN GROVE, a band that the O2 Academy are all too familiar with, but I hang my head in shame, they are a new one to me. So as the pulsating lights dim and a hushed anticipation fills the air, I find myself standing on the precipice of a sonic abyss, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Australian nu-metal sensation—Ocean Grove. A band that defies genres and rides the edge of musical chaos, Ocean Grove have become a beacon for those seeking an electrifying experience. Their opening set at the O2 Academy, is not just a gap filler; it is a journey into the uncharted territories of Australian nu-metal, an odyssey that leaves the audience immersed in the sonic tsunami crafted by these musical maestros.

Before delving into the electrifying live experience, a nod to Ocean Grove’s discography is essential. The band emerged onto the scene with their debut album, “The Rhapsody Tapes,” released on February 3rd, 2017. This sonic odyssey served as an introduction to the band’s distinctive blend of nu-metal, alternative rock, and electronic elements. It was a declaration of intent, a promise that Ocean Grove would not be confined by musical boundaries.

Their sophomore release, “Flip Phone Fantasy,” dropped on March 13th, 2020, further solidifying their status as genre-defying trailblazers. The album was a testament to their evolution, pushing the boundaries of nu-metal into uncharted territories. With Dale Tanner on bass and clean vocals, Sam Bassal on drums, Andy Szetho on guitar, and Twiggy Hunter on lead vocals and bass guitar, Ocean Grove has created a sonic alchemy that transcends traditional expectations.

The band’s distinctive style doesn’t stop at their music; it extends to their stage presence. At the Don Broco gig, you couldn’t help but notice the uniformity of the band, well kind of, each member were wearing the same sneakers. I wonder how many noticed it amongst the Kappa and band merch being worn on stage. This subtle yet striking aesthetic choice added a layer of cohesion to their chaotic presence, symbolizing the unity that defines Ocean Grove.

As the crowd buzzed with excitement, the venue was engulfed in darkness, and the haunting opening notes of “Junkie$” echoed through the speakers. The frenetic energy that erupted from the stage was nothing short of a musical tempest. Twiggy Hunter’s vocals, a balance of raw power and melodic finesse, commanded attention, setting the stage for an unforgettable night.

“Superstar” followed, a sonic assault that showcased Dale Tanner’s versatility as he seamlessly transitioned between bass and clean vocals. Sam Bassal’s thunderous drumming, Andy Szetho’s intricate guitar work, and Twiggy’s raw vocal delivery created a cacophony that echoed through the venue.

“Sex Dope Gold,” with its infectious groove and electronic nuances, served as a demonstration to Ocean Grove’s ability to blend diverse influences into a cohesive sonic narrative. The crowd, now a sea of undulating bodies, responded with an energy that mirrored the band’s intensity.

“Cali Sun” and “Neo” further demonstrated the band’s genre-bending prowess, with Andy Szetho’s guitar riffs cutting through the air like sonic blades. The stage presence of Ocean Grove is not just a performance; it’s a full-body immersion into the music, a journey guided by the ebb and flow of their sonic currents.

“Guys From the Gord” and “Silver Lining” continued the onslaught, each song a wave crashing against the audience’s senses. Dale Tanner’s clean vocals provided a respite amid the chaos, he and Twiggy had changed places adding a layer of depth to the sonic experience.

“Ask for the Anthem,” a nu-metal anthem in its own right, showcased the band’s ability to create infectious hooks that linger long after the last chord fades. The crowd, now a chorus of voices echoing Twiggy’s lyrics, became an integral part of the sonic tapestry.

The climax of the set arrived with “Sunny,” an anthemic closer that left the audience in awe. The fusion of nu-metal aggression and melodic undertones reached its zenith, and as the final notes reverberated through the venue, Ocean Grove had not just performed; they had orchestrated a sonic journey that left an indelible mark.

The reaction from the crowd was nothing short of electric. The mosh pit, and the unified chants were a testament to the band’s ability to connect with their audience on a visceral level. Each song was met with a roar of approval, and the venue became a sanctuary where fans could lose themselves in the sonic pandemonium.

The nu-metal community, a diverse tapestry of music enthusiasts, found common ground within the walls of the O2 Academy, Ocean Grove’s music served as a unifying force, transcending individual tastes and creating an atmosphere of collective celebration ready for the main event.

In the aftermath of the gig, conversations buzzed with excitement, and the crowd spilled into the night with a shared sense of euphoria. Ocean Grove had not just delivered a concert; they had created an experience, an immersion into the nu-metal abyss that left fans hungry for more.

As the stage is cleared the crowd are still buzzing from the sonic onslaught, I couldn’t help but marvel at the nu-metal force that is Ocean Grove. Their ability to seamlessly blend aggression with melody, chaos with cohesion, and individuality with unity sets them apart in the vast sea of musical acts. Their set was not just a performance; it was a testament to the unbridled creativity of a band unafraid to ride the sonic waves wherever they may lead. And as a new fan, I eagerly anticipate the next chapter of Ocean Grove’s musical odyssey, ready to dive back into the depths of their genre-defying brilliance, Live Music and early doors yet again delivers.

The O2 Academy crew are slick, in no time the bands kit is removed off the front of the stage and out via the ‘pit’ Before long we’re up and ready for the second of tonight’s new bands, TRASH BOAT, a band that OCEAN GROVE have toured with earlier this year and now class them as besties.

As the stage lights dim once more, the buzz of anticipation reverbes throughout the venue, I find myself standing in the pit smiling at the thought of a second musical hurricane to slam me full on in the face, as I await the British nu-metal force that is Trash Boat. With Tobi Duncan’s unmistakable vocals leading the charge, Dan Bostock and Ryann Hislop’s guitar wizardry, the bass talents of James Grayson, and Oakley Moffatt’s thunderous drumming and face-pulling antics, Trash Boat deliver a sonic assault that leaves mere mortals drenched in the fury of their nu-metal prowess.

Before the stage ignited, a nod to Trash Boat’s discography is in order. Emerging from the UK punk scene, in fact they have been tagged with many genres, including Nu-Metal, Alternative Rock and Indie. Trash Boat unleashed their debut album, “Nothing I Write You Can Change What You’ve Been Through,” on June 17th, 2016. A raw exploration of emotional depths, this album laid the foundation for Trash Boat’s signature blend of aggressive punk and melodic rock nuances.

Their sophomore release, “Crown Shyness,” followed on July 20th, 2018, further solidifying their status as a force to be reckoned with. With anthems that explore themes of mental health, societal discontent, and personal struggle, Trash Boat has become a voice for the disenfranchised, resonating with fans who find solace in the cathartic release of their music.

The stage is set, and Trash Boat’s backstory, a narrative of resilience and authenticity, echoed in the hearts of fans. The band’s DIY ethos and unapologetic approach to their craft have garnered them a devoted following. Not only do they deliver sonic intensity, but they also embody the spirit of unfiltered expression, unbound by conventions.

As the opening chords of “Synthetic Sympathy” reverberated through the venue, Trash Boat unleashed a sonic storm that engulfs the audience. Tobi Duncan’s vocals, a perfect storm of guttural screams and melodic clarity, cut through the air like a sonic blade. The band, a synchronized force, create an atmosphere of controlled chaos that continue the tone for the night.

“Silence Is Golden” follows, the interplay between Dan Bostock and Ryann Hislop’s guitars weaving intricate patterns that danced alongside Tobi’s vocals. Trash Boat’s ability to seamlessly transition between moments of aggression and melody was on full display, capturing the essence of their nu-metal roots.

“Vertigo” and “Bad Entertainment” continue the brutal onslaught, each song building on the momentum of the previous. James Grayson’s multifaceted bass work added depth to the sonic tapestry, while Oakley Moffatt’s thunderous drumming provided the backbone that propelled Trash Boat’s sonic juggernaut.

The crowd, now a moshing sea of bodies, became an integral part of the performance. Trash Boat’s music is not just heard; it’s felt, experienced, and shared among the sweaty, ecstatic masses. The visceral connection between the band and the audience is a testament to Trash Boat’s ability to create a communal experience, a haven for those seeking refuge in the chaos.

A moment of camaraderie unfolded during “Liar Liar,” as Trash Boat rallied the crowd with this new song, they get the fans to chant “P.I.S.S.I.N.G.” repeatedly, claiming they had Cambridge to beat, as expected Leicester groan and raise the bar to a new level, Sorry Cambridge. The energy created in the room was infectious, with fans embracing the irreverent spirit of Trash Boat’s punk roots, those not in the mosh pit were nodding their heads like the Churchill dog skate boarding on a cobble street.

“Alpha Omega” and “Don’t You Feel Amazing?” kept the frenetic pace going, the crowd singing along to every word. Tobi’s stage presence was magnetic, a captivating force that held the audience in rapt attention. Trash Boat’s ability to command the stage with both intensity and vulnerability showcased the nuanced approach they bring to their live performances.

As the set reached its zenith, Trash Boat unleashed the anthemic “He’s So Good.” The venue, now bathed in pulsating lights and enough smoke to hide Jack the Ripper, and the residue of sonic euphoria, stood as a testament to the intensity of the night. The crowd, left exhilarated and exhausted, had been on a sonic journey guided by Trash Boat’s ferocious energy. The bands influence extends beyond the sonic realm; they are champions of social causes and advocates for change. The band’s charitable donation to the LGBTQ+ youth charity AKT showcases their commitment to making a positive impact on the world. Trash Boat doesn’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk, using their platform to effect change and support marginalized communities.

Their ability to foster a sense of unity among fans was evident in the diverse audience that gathered at the gig. Trash Boat’s music transcends boundaries, creating a space where nu-metal enthusiasts, punk aficionados, and everyone in between can come together in celebration of raw, unapologetic expression, isn’t that what music is all about after all.

In the aftermath of the set, conversations buzzed with excitement and shared memories. Fans, heaving in the hot sweaty hall, their senses still tingling from the sonic hurricane that was Trash Boat. The mosh pits, the chants, and the palpable energy in the room were not just moments in time; they were the essence of Trash Boat’s live experience.

As I wait for the headliners DON BROCO, I couldn’t help but feel a profound appreciation by the great crowd in tonight, for Trash Boat’s ability to create an immersive, cathartic live performance, yet another great support band.

So once again the stage is cleared into the pit and then out the back revealing the stage set up, a somewhat dystopian Kew gardens type scene with various sized ‘balls’ akin the Portmeirion and the 60’s Sci-Fi show Prisoner… yes, I’m really that old but still getting down with the kids.

Anyway, let’s rewind a bit to their humble beginnings in 2008 when Rob Damiani (vocals), Simon Delaney (guitar), Tom Doyle (bass), and Matt Donnelly (drums) formed the band. Little did they know that their journey would take them through four studio albums, each a testament to their evolution as musicians and storytellers.

Kicking things off, we have “Priorities” (2012), a debut that hit the scene like a sonic hurricane. It was a bold introduction to their eclectic sound, blending elements of rock, pop, and funk in a way that only Don Broco could pull off. Tracks like “Actors” and “Whole Truth” became anthems for a generation seeking something fresh and unapologetically real.

Fast forward to 2015, and we find ourselves jamming to “Automatic.” The album delivered a sonic punch, combining infectious hooks with Damiani’s charismatic vocals. Hits like “Superlove” and “Money Power Fame” showcased their ability to craft tunes that stick to your soul.

Then came “Technology” in 2018, a game-changer that saw them exploring new territories without losing their signature edge. This album was a masterclass in genre-blurring, with tracks like “Come Out to LA” and “Pretty” pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo.

Now, let’s talk about their latest masterpiece, “Amazing Things” (2021), a title that pretty much sums up the listening experience. This album solidifies Don Broco’s status as genre-defying wizards. With anthems like “Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan” and “Gumshield,” they continue to prove that they’re not afraid to break the mould and create music that resonates on a visceral level.

And just when you thought they couldn’t get any cooler, in 2023, they dropped a live album, “Don Broco: Live From The Royal Albert Hall,” in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust. It’s not just about the music with these guys; it’s about making a difference and using their platform for good.

Now, let’s talk about the cherry on top of the Don Broco cake— their latest single, “Birthday Party.” Released in September 2023, it’s a testament to their ability to stay fresh and relevant while staying true to their roots. The infectious energy of this track is a reminder that Don Broco is a force, and they’re not slowing down anytime soon.

Of course, we can’t forget the incredible talents that make up the Don Broco family. Shoutout to Rob Damiani’s electrifying vocals, Simon Delaney’s killer guitar skills, Tom (Tommy Tumbles) Doyle’s solid bass lines, and Matt Donnelly’s powerhouse drumming. Also, let’s not overlook the touring members, Marc Okuba (Veil Of Maya) on Guitar and Peter Daynes on keyboard, who add that extra layer of magic to their live performances.

Speaking of live performances, Don Broco has shared stages with some of the biggest names in the business. From arena tours to festival main stages, they’ve left their mark alongside acts like Bring Me The Horizon, 5 Seconds of Summer, and You Me At Six.

So, with that out of the way, ahead of us we now have an of unbridled energy and fan frenzy as Don Broco Sets the O2 Academy, In the heart of Leicester, Ablaze. Tonight, the O2 Academy has been transformed into a cathedral, or more a garden, of chaos as Don Broco, the masters of mayhem, take the stage for a night that will be etched into the memories of every fan lucky enough to witness the spectacle. From the very first chord to the final explosion of facing ripping, thunderous bass, the high-energy, crazy vibe of a Don Broco show in full force, it will leave the O2 Academy Leicester trembling in its wake.

Rob Damiani hits the stage like a juggernaut being restrained by a super tanker. Tonight, sadly, he is sporting a neck brace as he’s hurt himself, but its not stopping his energy, the crowd are going nuts. The sonic assault kicks off with “Gumshield,” a thunderous opener that smacks you in the face, hard and relentlessly. The crowd, a sea of eager faces, instantly erupt into a collective roar as the band launch into the anthemic “Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan.” The energy is intense, as the O2 Academy, once again, becomes a melting pot of sweat, smiles, and rampant enthusiasm.

The atmospheric “Pretty” is up next and sees the setlist continue to unfolded, it would seem the band are alternating setlists through-out the tour, a different journey through Don Broco’s discography is revealed to the zealous crowd, each song becomes a chapter in a sonic adventure. “Come Out to LA” and “Actors” from the “Technology” album (2018) once again showcase the band’s evolution, blending infectious hooks with a mature sonic complexity. The crowd, a mix of die-hard fans and new converts, revel in the dynamic range of Don Broco’s unquestionably crushing sound.

“ACTION” follows, with the crowd now becoming a pulsating organism of movement and euphoria. The energy onstage is mirroring the frenzy in the audience, or is it the other way around? creating an electric feedback loop of pure, sweat filled adrenaline which paves the way for a sing-along session with “Superlove,” from the “Automatic” album (2015), and “Bruce Willis” yet another fan favourite.

Don Broco aren’t just performing tonight; they are orchestrating a riot of joy, and the hot crowd are lapping it up with eager enthusiasm. The nostalgic chords of “Priorities,” a throwback to their debut album of the same name (2012), sends waves of excitement throughout the venue. It’s a moment of pure sonic time travel, a reminder of the band’s roots and the song that introduced many to the infectious sound of Don Broco.

An acoustic interlude, a rare treat for the fans, comes with “Yeah Man.” The stripped-down rendition, a first since 2017, provides a brief respite before the band catapult into the relentless energy of “Revenge Body” and the anthemic “Endorphins.” The crowd, now a unified force, sing along to every word, creating a hot, sweaty atmosphere of communal celebration.

Then, the room explodes as the band unleash the infectious energy of their latest single, “Birthday Party.” The title song to this UK tour. There is a sign from a fan saying it’s their birthday, two days ago is written in a small hand written font, which doesn’t go unnoticed. The O2 Academy Leicester has now turned into a giant dance floor, with fans jumping, singing, and embracing the euphoria of the moment. It’s proof that Don Broco has the ability to create music that not only resonates but compels people to lose themselves in the sheer, unadulterated joy of the “Live Music” experience.

Set closer, “Everybody” maintains the momentum, the crowd have become a chorus of voices echoing the band’s anthems. As the main set reaches its climax, the anticipation for the encore is reaching fever pitch. The unmistakable chords of “Fingernails” rattle through the venue, a track from their “Technology” album that demonstrates their ability to blend heavy riffs with infectious melodies.

And then, the moment every Don Broco fan had been waiting for—the anthemic “T-Shirt Song.” The O2 Academy Leicester has momentarily become a sea of waving shirts as the band delivered the grand finale. The crowd, now a mass of jubilation, revels in the culmination of an unforgettable, hot and sweaty night.

From start to finish, Don Broco’s performance at the O2 Academy Leicester has been a masterclass of live entertainment. The crazy vibe, the infectious energy, and the band’s seamless connection with the crowd that creates an experience that surpasses the boundaries of a typical concert. Each song, a sonic journey through their discography, is a reminder of why Don Broco is revered not just for their studio albums but for the unparalleled magic they weave, live, onstage, injured or not.

The fan love is evident in every cheer, every mosh pit, and every outstretched hand reaching towards the stage. Don Broco wasn’t just playing for the crowd; they were playing with them, creating an atmosphere of unity and euphoria. The O2 Academy Leicester had become a playground for the sonic madness that is Don Broco live.

As the final chords of “T-Shirt Song” echo through the venue, and the last remnants of confetti, rattled from the overhead gantry, settle, the euphoric fans leave the O2 Academy Leicester. Don Broco have not just performed; they have orchestrated a symphony of joy, leaving every fan, with a heart full of memories and a desire for the next chapter in the chaotic journey that is a Don Broco concert. In the evolving landscape of music, Don Broco still stands tall as a beacon of creativity, authenticity, and downright fun. Whether you’re a long-time fan or just discovering their sonic universe, buckle up for a wild ride with Don Broco—you won’t be disappointed.

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