Bounce, they all said. But sometimes the audience bounces, and sometimes they make a few furtive hops, look around quickly, settle slowly: a brutally effective way of finding out everything you need to know about the act on stage.
The first two warmups had the hardest time of it. ROAM came in with the energy of a school band punching above their weight, asking on two occasions how many in the crowd had heard of them (a few dozen, perhaps fifty at a stretch). Their brief set never quite got off the ground despite the presence of a clear core fan base, but closing number Hopeless Case at least provided a taste of pleasing potential.
Then there’s that bit from the end of Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, where the young version of Wyld Stallyns disappears from the stage only to be replaced a moment later by a slightly older version of themselves: eerily similar to watching five guys from Eastbourne swapping out for five guys from Canberra. But where ROAM brought little in the way of stage presence, making up for it with sheer nervous energy, Hands Like Houses had charisma to spare, yet few selections from latest album Dissonants managed to stick in the memory for very long.
With both of their predecessors having struggled to get much bouncing out of anyone, Young Guns brought the audience to its feet almost immediately. Lead singer Gustav Wood spent much of the forty-minute set atop a carefully positioned apple box which, despite its apparent gimmickry, allowed him to connect all the way to the back of the hall, managing to sway folk into bringing out their mobile torches (and a couple of genuine lighters) for one of the slower numbers. Signing off with the astonishingly anthemic I Want Out, they left an audience fully primed for the long-awaited main attraction.
And we were not disappointed. The crowd was warm, the band was loud, and by the third song – the power pop paean to sixth-form angst that was Emily – we were bouncing all over the fucking place. As Young Guns had before them, Lower Than Atlantis also gave voice to a sense of community outsiderhood which their fans eagerly embraced, and there were folk clambering onto each other’s shoulders to get a better view and dozens who took their turn to crowdsurf over the barriers and into the arms of the patient security team.
Arms pointed everywhere; thumbs were up, smiles were broad. Some bands can convince you to bounce, but Lower Than Atlantis don’t even need to ask.