Live Review: Hacktivist (Southampton Joiners, 02/11/12)

Photograph taken at the event by Connor Ockwell

Here is an older article written for the late GUITAR-CAFE.CO.UK, which closed its doors a few months ago, for whom I interviewed Hacktivist in the back of their dingy and freezing tour van. Considering the amount of attention they have been receiving recently, especially with regards to their performance at Download 2013, I felt that it was time to dig this up once more.

It’s a positive review, which I believe scored the show a 4/5. As they are being toyed with as a possible ‘next big thing’, I’m relieved that I was won that night.

Supporters Seething Akira are a humorous concoction of electro, dubstep and rap, clashing both electronic beats and acoustic drums for some abrasive fun. Their bizarrely and ironically titled finale ‘Neil Buchanan’ contained more obscenities than a track named after a kid’s TV presenter might usually call for. All in good fun and all in poor taste, they were great openers. Sadly, the following band, the equally entertaining Visions had to close their set early after a technical mishap. Still, in the time that they got onstage, they drove some exhilarating metal home, leaving an ear-ringing mark.

Tonight’s headlining act are proud activists of the enigmatic ‘djent’ movement. The addition of rap by front duo J Hurley and Ben Marvin, on paper is something that many metal fans might spit upon. For those metalheads, and in fact anybody in attendance who weren’t quite sure what the controversial ‘d-word’ means, Hacktivist were happy to give everybody a very loud lesson in how it works (and it definitely does).

That pure flow of energy doesn’t halt until the very end, as when they weren’t performing a track there was a rumble of deep, earthquake-inducing bass. For their whole set, they were bathed in similarly deep blue light, barely visible, taking the form of silhouettes against the giant ‘H’ logo draped behind them. It is just the atmosphere that their sound called for – a stream of dark, heavy anger. And as if that wasn’t enough to express their fury, Hurley turned the air bluer still. “Fuck the fucking police. Fuck them. Let’s make a fucking change… you need to fucking wake up!” It’s nice to meet you too. They even found room for a metal cover of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s ‘Niggas in Paris’.

It is a clear sign that everybody is on the same wavelength when the closing track, their breakthrough track ‘Unlike Us’, can successfully be introduced with “you know what time it is!”. Sure enough, as the frontmen jumped, so did the audience.

Having had such a short history, and have only just released their debut EP, Hacktivist’s catalogue is small, leading to a disappointingly brief set, clocking in at just 25 minutes. Still, we are tantalized, and they are well worth keeping eyes and ears on.

What we loved: Having the audience wrapped around their collective little finger.

What let it down: Hacktivist’s set was extremely short

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