I’m going to take a stroll down memory lane to Friday 24th January 2020.. At the time it was just another incredible Slipknot gig to add to the ticket stub collection, little did I know that it would be my final gig of the year and likely my final gig for a long time. There’s no doubt in my mind that out of all the activities that the current pandemic is stopping us from attending, live music is top of the miss list for me.
It would be easy to say that 2020 has been a complete write off when talking music but thanks to some serious hard work and creative ideas from some bands, this hasn’t entirely been the case. Some bands have flourished with more time in the studio while others have found genius and inventive ways to still bring us live music in some shape or form. Today I want to take some time to talk about the bands who I think have made the most out of an awful situation.
There’s one band for me who have stood head and shoulders above their peers in 2020 and that’s Trivium. Not only for the way they’ve handled not being able to tour but for the release of what I believe is their strongest album to date with What The Dead Men Say. There have been some artists who have chosen to completely avoid releasing any new material without the option to support it with a world tour, but Trivium (among others) have chosen to give their fans something to enjoy during this awful period. So massive props for that!
It’s not just the release of a spectacular album though, Trivium have done their absolute best to bring us live music in the form of live streams which has led to their new moniker – The Kings Of Streaming, which this humble writer believes is a more than fair nickname given what they’ve given us over the past year. Each of the four members has their own Twitch channel where they provide different means of entertainment with some of them really becoming highlights of my year. Watching Matt Heafy learn and perform Toss A Coin To Your Witcher as well as playing What The Dead Men Say in full has been enough to stop me going stir crazy in a world without live performances.
Their greatest achievement however came with a full live show from Full Sail University – A Light or a Distant Mirror. This was a top notch professionally filmed live show where viewers paid a small fee to experience the closest thing to the real life experience and speaking as somebody who needs gigs to function, this was a much needed fix. I still have fond memories of watching along live with Luke and losing our minds with each song played by the Florida four piece.
Even if you couldn’t afford to join the boys for this monumental event, they still have something for you as Trivium have now done two brilliant free live shows from their own studio with The Deepest Cuts I & II. Two unique live performances of songs the band rarely get to play, the first of which featured a cover of Power Trip’s Executioner’s Tax as a tribute to Riley Gale who tragically passed away this year. It was truly a memorable moment which we would never have gotten if not for Trvium’s dedication to still bringing us live music. From a fan who lives and breathes this stuff, I say thank you.
It would be unfair not to also bring up Code Orange who have, like Trivium, released a brand new album despite not being able to tour it. Anybody who is into Code Orange will already know how incredible Underneath from earlier this year was. For all the praise I just gave Trivium for their live shows, I must point out that Code Orange were the first band on my radar to give us a live performance without fans in attendance as they performed Last Ones Left for free on Twitch all the way back in March when all this started.
But what about events outside of performing live? One of my favourite stories to come out of this new world of not being allowed to do fuck all is the emergence of brand new band Salem. With Will Gould not being able to go out on tour with his band Creeper (another band by the way who released a stellar album this year), he instead got together with his friend Matt Reynolds to go jam in their practice room and have some fun. What came of that session was a new side project and an EP’s worth of tracks that were released last week to critical acclaim.
Not only did Salem manage to form and release one of the surprise hits of the year (Destroy Me has not left my head in a month) but being a relatively small and unknown band, they’ve managed to get around the UK’s questionable rules and regulations by announcing a few small shows in London and Southampton. Meaning some lucky buggers who managed to get tickets will finally get to see some live music this year, and judging by the high quality of Salem’s new EP they’re going to be in for one hell of a show! Yes it sucks I can’t see Creeper live this year, but if the birth of Salem is what we get instead, you won’t find me complaining.
There are hundreds of bands I’ve not had chance to touch on like Steel Panther who have managed to use their hilarious online presence to stay at the forefront of people’s minds, Fever333 who have been releasing killer tracks all year round and Blink 182 who comically released a song all about their time in lockdown called Quarantine. All in all, what could have been a truly disastrous year for music has turned out to not be all that bad, in fact it’s been pretty damn good.
Are there any bands I’ve missed out on who have been doing great work through these dark times? Please let me know over on twitter @RespawningUK or @MikeyGalaszia and I’ll check them out.