Live report: Ithaca at The Victoria, Birmingham

Fucking hell, The Victoria is a sweatbox. It’s not even at capacity for the visit of Ithaca and it’s not even that warm outside, but that hasn’t stopped the mercury rising to uncomfortably sticky levels inside the tiny room above a not-particularly-large pub in the second city.

With that in mind there wasn’t really much of a need for the support bands to warm things up – but that didn’t stop them having a decent stab at it. We arrived too late to catch Dutch, but Broken Lungs certainly seem like they warrant further investigation – they mixed a tonne of Every Time I Die influence with a load of chaotic energy with promising results.

Also worth another look were Tornends, a stompy hardcore four-piece who definitely have something about them, even if it probably didn’t all pan out quite as planned in this show. They’ve certainly got riffs and weight behind them, though, and their vocalist-drummer was hugely impressive. A bit of tightening up on their songs and a bit more stagecraft and they could really turn some heads.

Before we move on to Ithaca, I was honoured to get the chance to interview vocalist Djamila Azzouz for a special episode of our podcast. Here it is:

And so to the show, where Ithaca made good on the potential of a couple of EPs earlier this year with a stunning debut full-length album. The Language Of Injury is a record packed full of throbbing riffs, spat vocals and head-splitting feedback. All of which, you’ll be delighted to know, translates perfectly to the live stage.

On stage – particularly one as tiny as The Victoria’s – Ithaca are a whirling dervish, a real force of nature. From the furious drumming of James Lewis and noodling bass gymnastics of Red Simsey, to pocket rocket vocalist Azzouz and the glaring guitarist duo of Will Sweet and Sam Chetan-Walsh, every member is a master of their instrument and the result is a quite glorious cacophony of hardcore, mathcore, post- and full-on metal.

They manage to pack a barrage of gnarliness into their 30-minute set, drawing mainly from that glorious album mentioned above. ‘New Covenant’ and the title track both sound even more ferocious live than on record, while the ‘Youth Vs Wisdom’ chant of not being here to make friends has quickly become my mantra for adult life.

By the time they round things off with ‘Impulse Crush’, The Victoria has been well and truly laid to waste – not a bad showing for Ithaca’s first ever show in the second city.

Note: apologies to headliners Leeched that we weren’t able to stick around. I became a dad six weeks ago and am currently operating on minimal sleep, while Chris had spent the day before living the emotional rollercoaster of watching Aston Villa get promoted at Wembley.

We’re both in our thirties so these kind of things take it out of us in ways that a younger buck simply wouldn’t understand. So, we listened to our ageing bodies and headed home.

Sorry Leeched. But, if you set was half as awesome as your merch, we’re confident it would have been quite the show.

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