Bands like Citizen don’t come around often anymore!
From the grit in Mat Kerekes’ uniquely haunting voice to the booming fuzzed up bass tone of Eric Hamm.
The emo quintet have consistently delivered massive choruses crafted with lyrics as angst-filled and hopeless as they are eerily relatable.
Now, returning to the UK for a short run of shows its safe to say that the gang of Michigan’s finest brought Manchester’s The Deaf Institute the full package. Crowd surfers rejoice.
London based Honey Lung opened the night, letting their blend of quirky riffs, melancholy vocals and noisy percussion resonate throughout the now packed room. Their short but sweet set managed to perfectly encapsulated the band’s rebellious demeanour as each member frantically bounced across the small stage. Musically the band seem to be in the process of finding their sound, however all of the key elements are present. Most notably, the insanely catchy lead guitar licks reminiscent of something cut straight from a Pinkerton- era Weezer record. Keep an eye out for these guys, some big things could be right around the corner.
While the crowd began to grow restless with anticipation the shrill screech of speaker feedback took hold of the room before being dwarfed by a deafening roar. As the noise subsided Mat Kerekes finally stepped into the luminescent blue light, a well worn Nike hat covering the top half of his face and shadowing his eyes. In that same second the short moment of calm was swept away into the storm of the band’s opener, Jet.
As the chorus drew near the hyped up audience were already rowdy as ever. Various circle pits were opened near the front of the stage as sweaty fans pushed and pulled their way to the front of the chaotic crowd before a commanding yell pulsed through the speakers, “Sing it!”; causing the venue to descend into a mass of cathartic chants and pointed fingers.
Following on from Jet came the booming choir sample of the band’s second single In The Middle of it All. Moody bass groves and ambient guitar riffs managed to keep each and every audience member entranced throughout as drummer Jake Duhaime played his absolute heart out. After a brief pause the band then launched in to some older fan favourites including Do You Sleep Anymore, Roam the Room and The Night I Drove Alone; leading to a sea of crowd surfers and stage divers alike.
Throughout the set, wholehearted smiles could be spotted on each of the five members. Guitarist Nick Hamm playfully discussed his love for The Jersey Shore before opening up to the room of sweaty strangers “This is the first time we’ve ever played these songs live”. Despite Citizen’s rather bleak persona, the atmosphere was one of determination and fun. A new chapter for the now eight-year-old group had begun and they seemed as excited and passionate as ever.
As the electrifying set came to a close a cheer emerged from the balcony and quickly worked its way down to the stalls before echoing round the room, the fans wanted more. Not having a chance to leave the stage the band quickly exchanged glances. A small smirk appeared on the vocalist’s face as the final song of the night, Flowerchild was played.
With the night concluded, Citizen were free to leave the stage knowing they put on one hell of a show. The new material sounds absolutely immense live and goes to show just how far the band have progressed from their humble beginnings. Whatever they take on next, it will most certainly be worth checking out.