Gig Review: Against The Current at Rock City

Words: Gemma Cockrell
Photos: Martin Borrett
Wednesday 06 December 2023
reading time: min, words

Returning to Nottingham for their first headline show here since 2016, Against the Current brought their Nightmares & Daydreams tour to Rock City…

Main Image (28)

This show was the first of the UK leg of the tour, which has already toured around Europe and Asia in the past couple of months, following a few days off after their Paris show on Sunday, which was livestreamed on Veeps. Having interviewed the band ahead of the show, I found out that vocalist Chrissy Costanza had been feeling unwell towards the end of the European leg of the tour, but the break clearly worked wonders as you would have had no idea as she bounded onto the stage with high energy and impeccable vocals.

But before we talk about their set, let’s dwell on the support acts for a little while. Call Me Amour opened the show, with their fusion of dark electronica with sonic guitars. A mere few days after the release of their debut EP Revolution, they were clearly ready to bring these tracks to a live audience, and vocalist Harry Radford (formerly of the band Yashin) knew how to captivate an audience – albeit a slightly reserved, very British one.

From immersing himself in the crowd and asking fans to film videos to upload online to feature in one of the band’s upcoming music videos, to standing on the railing of Rock City’s balcony while performing, he definitely brough some much-needed hardcore energy to warm up the crowd on a very chilly November evening. They even brought out Mikey Chapman, formerly of Mallory Knox, to provide some guest vocals during the set.

Next up, after an impressively short changeover period, was Canadian singer-songwriter LØLØ, who brought her brutally honest pop rock tunes to the Rock City stage. She captures the ‘diary entry turned into song lyrics’ appeal that many of Gen Z’s up and coming pop stars lean into, crossing upbeat pop sounds with spunky energy and pop punk-infused guitars, similar to artists like Olivia Rodrigo.

While her vocals were slightly drowned out by the volume of the instruments at times throughout the set, songs like u turn me on (but u give me depression) and debbie downer got the crowd grooving, with lyrics that would particularly be suited to a teenage audience who are perhaps going through their first heartbreak or grappling with anxiety and mental health struggles. They may not always be the most mature, but they sure are catchy as hell.

It is an absolute pleasure to witness a band who are so fulfilled and empowered by the music they are creating, who are in full control of their future

And now it was time for what we’d all been waiting for. Against the Current wasted no time and got straight to work debuting their new releases to their first UK audience, kicking the set off with their recent single “good guy”. Since band’s last headline tour, they have parted with their former record label Fueled by Ramen and gone entirely independent, and they are clearly thriving as a result of this decision.

When listening to their newer material, it’s as if you are hearing a band who are rediscovering the things that made them fall in love with music in the first place, and there is no song that this is truer about than blindfolded, the first song that they released independently. The lighting of the stage was used to translate the lyric “all my pink skies have been painted red,” as it switched between the two shades throughout the duration of the song.

While their more recent releases truly shone during the set, the performances of their older material also felt infused with a newfound energy. Strangers Again, from their sophomore record Past Lives, flowed seamlessly into blindfolded, the two songs complementing each other perfectly despite being from very different eras of the band. Meanwhile, Chrissy Costanza’s vocals on tracks like Roses from debut album In Our Bones were stronger than ever before, infusing the song with a new lease of life.

The second half of the set saw the band include an acoustic section, made up of Past Lives’ lead single Almost Forgot and the track Chasing Ghosts from In Our Bones. The former lent itself perfectly to the acoustic setting, perhaps even better than its original form, while the latter powerfully transformed into a full band performance in the latter half, when Will Ferri switched from the acoustic guitar that he was playing for this portion of the set back to the drums that he is more often seen sitting behind. A master of all instruments, he was the star of this section of the show.

Truly immersing herself in the UK’s culture, Costanza opted to ask the crowd about Nottingham’s football teams. However, she did not realise how much of a difficult question this would prove to be. Firstly, there are two (County and Forest, of course) and secondly, it appears that the crowd that were in Rock City that night weren’t fans of either, with most people booing… both teams. Costanza, appearing very confused, questioned why us Nottinghamians didn’t seem to even support our own football teams, but assured us that she still loved the city no matter what.

The main set concluded with Wasteland, where Costanza did her signature back bend move, before an encore of their biggest song to date Legends Never Die (an exclusive song for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship) and weapon, from 2021’s fever EP. Red lighting filled the stage, as another nod to the hues mentioned in the lyrics to the song’s chorus: “I see red, My blood is boiling and it shows, When all you are is a weapon, You shoot 'em down 'til you end up alone.”

It truly feels like we are in the midst of a completely new era for the band, with their first full-length project as an independent outfit on the way in 2024, and it is an absolute pleasure to witness a band who are so fulfilled and empowered by the music they are creating, who are in full control of their future. For me, that has always been what Against the Current has been about: deciding your own fate, choosing your own path, and shaping your own destiny.

Against the Current performed at Rock City on 29 September 2023 and you can buy tickets for the rest of their upcoming Nightmares & Daydreams shows here


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