This weekend, the majestic Reading & Leeds Festivals will be bringing a close to what has been a fantastic summer for festivals. From The Rolling Stones conquering Pinkpop to Metallica winning over Glastonbury, and from OutKast reuniting to The Libertines causing Hyde Park mayhem, you could definitely say that it’s been a summer of successes all around. One band who has been present on festival posters worldwide this summer is California’s metalcore giants Of Mice & Men. Having made waves over in the US a few years back with a massive fanbase, the last couple of years have seen that popularity make its way over to European shores, with a Spring tour this year having sold out completely. As the Austin Carlile-fronted quintet prepares to finish their summer in the UK, they made time for one last solo show at the Tivoli De Helling in Holland’s new capital of live music, Utrecht.
Before Austin and his men took to the stage just after 9:30pm, it was up to Frankfurt metalcore-quartet The Green River Burial to show the sold out crowd how it’s done. Fronted by vocalist Mert, with backing vocals added by bassist Phil and guitarist Mo, their set peaked with a frenetic rendition of Disturbing Tha Peace’s Move Bitch (Get Out the Way), which featured tons of crowdsurfers teenagers all trying to get a piece of Mert, who spent a lot of time engaging with the crowd. Closing on Reinvent the Real, the show ended on bassist Phil taking the microphone to rap in German before crowdsurfing. As support acts go, they were exciting, ferocious and energetic. Quite why they aren’t as big as Dutch counterparts The Charm The Fury or England’s Bury Tomorrow is a mystery, but after tonight’s crowd reaction, it’s pretty certain that The Green River Burial will see a big spike in popularity.
Of Mice & Men swiftly followed 30 minutes later, with the lights dimming as frontman Austin Carlile took to the stage to sing the opening line of 2014s Public Service Announcement, before the rest of the band joined him onstage. Kicking off with such a ferocious song ensured that the bodies were flying everywhere, as security pulled out a rumoured 57 people over the barrier throughout the show. Without stopping, they went straight into older cut The Flood, with Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby’s guitars smoothly intertwining under Carlile’s howls and growls. O.G. Loko followed, further inciting chaos before Aaron Pauley’s smoothly sung vocals made for the first big crowd sing-a-long of the evening. Let Live, the 3rd song in a row to be played from 2011s The Flood, was preceded by a request for the whole crowd to go wild, as the song sped up and slowed down at rapid pace. It was the first real highlight of the night, with the 450-strong crowd singing at the top of their lungs. Feels Like Forever slowed the pace down slightly, with its anthemic nu-metal elements giving the crowd a chance to relax ever so briefly, before the hectic Bones Exposed followed. Opening with a prolonged drum intro, the song quickly kicked in with full-on rage from Carlile as he growled and screamed over the crowd before Pauley’s clean chorus saw plenty of hands in the air. For a few girls it got too much, with plenty of water being handed out whenever a crowdsurfer wasn’t kicking security guards before being escorted away. One crowdsurfer even managed to get onstage, with Carlile embracing her with a big hug. As Bones Exposed’s jangly, whammy-induced solo brought the song towards its close, recent single Would You Still Be There (possibly the bands most radio-friendly hit to date) proceeded to get the whole room bouncing to its powerful chorus.
At this point, the disappointingly short show was already well over the halfway mark. You Make Me Sick saw a massive circle pit erupt during the intro, before the anthemic alt-rock balladry of Another You saw the whole crowd sing along to its chant of “so I’ll carry you with me”. With the whole show so far only consisting of songs from Of Mice & Men’s 2nd and 3rd albums, it was about time that they pulled an old song out of the bag. This came in the form of the evening’s standout song, Second & Sebring. Opening with brutal vocals and sharp guitar stabs, the song ended with romantic piano’s and clean vocals, which the whole crowd sung alone as the band quickly stopped to take in the glorious site in front of them. Glass Hearts then quickly came along with its electronic drums/keyboard intro as Carlile continuously launched himself towards the crowd, reaching out to hold the hands of many fans. Closing the main show on a crazy version of The Depths, the band then swiftly came back for an encore which consisted of recent comeback single You’re Not Alone. Once again proving their worth, the crowd sung along at the top of their lungs for one last time as the band left the stage just short of an hour.
What the show lacked in length, it certainly made up for in power, energy and brutality. Austin Carlile is a true frontman, with his fellow band members being equally talented at their respective roles. Often, you get a band where one member stands out head and shoulders above the rest, yet with Of Mice & Men there is no standout member; they’re all equally as good as each other. And thank god for that, because that’s exactly what makes the band such an enthralling live experience.
You can view more pictures from the show here.