Following the release of their latest album ‘The Great Depression’ in August of last year, many were left sceptical of the direction in which British-American rock band, As It Is, were taking their music. Vocalist Patty Walters said himself: “We didn’t know who would turn up to these concerts because we were changing our sound so much.”. With his new look bringing out the emo in all of us, it was intriguing to see what they had instore for all tonight; supported by not one, not two, but three bands.
Stoke-born alternative rock quartet, In The Cards, proved themselves a worthy opener. With Amy Colclough’s vocals easily challenging the likes of classic frontwomen such as Hayley Williams and Lynn Gunn. Their sound, that manages to be both progressively classic and hard hitting and heavy, literally kept the room vibrating, getting hearts pumping and sweats growing.
The self-titled Sludge Pop group, Bellevue Days carried the metaphorical baton well, leading the crowds through a non-stop high-energy set. Though they learned the hard way that clearly Stoke isn’t a favoured city when vocalist and guitarist Al Bakovi confessed, “This is our first time ever being in Stoke and I love it, do you guys love it?” only to be met with a drawn out “NO” from the crowd.
When the third, and final, support band, Modern Error took the stage, the tactical line-up of the night was made clear. Each support led on to a higher energy, harder hitting sound, getting the audience riled up for the main article, As It Is. This Peterborough band’s heavier metal sounds getting the crowd bouncing, showing that they know their way around the hardcore scene.
As It Is, made themselves known, choosing to walk on in full stage lights rather than the regularly chosen darkness, lights flooding in gradually. To say the room was swamped with screams is an understatement as the room was practically bursting at the seams. They opened straight up with ‘The Wounded World’, the first single off their new album, and they wasted no time bringing the energy in the room to a max and getting up close and personal with their audience. It’s safe to say I have never been to a gig where girls are literally weeping at the sight of their favourite artists, let alone within the first five minutes.
Throughout the night, the guys in As It Is treated us to a generous mix of old and new tracks to please both sides of their fan base. Their title track ‘The Great Depression’ welcoming the first mosh pit of the night and by there third song waves of crowd surfers were throwing themselves towards the front. Despite vocalist Patty Walters making it clear that they were “all tired and all corpses on the stage tonight”, it was uplifting to see a group that didn’t let the strains of a jam packed tour life get on top of the show they promised their audience.
Halfway through the night, they chose to slow it down, Patty took this opportunity to share a very heartfelt and personal message with the audience, describing his struggles through the past years and admiring the better place he is at now, following on to say: “[this album discusses topics]many people would consider to be very heavy and serious topics but what we believe to be very important topics to be talking about in 2017, 18 and now 19 and that is the conversation surrounding mental health in our scene and our society.
“We really wanted to reconstruct the way in which we talk about those things and portray those things in our art, our music. The way we talk about depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide, in a way that absolutely wasn’t going to glamourize it. Thank you for sharing the sentiment that it is so important to be talking about mental health right now. It may be how we make this world better ,just one person at a time. Now take that shit to society when we are done here.”
To follow on from those few moments of utter honesty and vulnerability, Patty performed the group’s two acoustic classics, “You, the Room and the Devil on Your Shoulder” followed by “The Question, the Answer”, the rest of the band members standing off to the side of the stage, leaving the lead singer and his guitar alone in a spotlight.
They brought their set to an end with some tracks off their previous albums, before finishing with ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)’ from ‘The Great Depression’. Easily a fan favourite, the room surging forward in an attempt to get close to the group one last time.
A beautifully personal show. Patty and the rest of As It Is must be applauded for not only bringing their big name to Stoke-on-Trent, but taking the time to raise awareness for such an important and constantly relevant subject.
Check out all images for As It Is’ set at The Sugar Mill below:
(all photos by Joe Williams)