Almost a year to the day that Rolo Tomassi headlined The Oval Space in London (24th February 2022), the enigmatic post-hardcore, mathcore, progressive and experimental rock band returned to the capital for their biggest headline show to date.
Taking place at The Electric Ballroom in the heart of Camden Town, there’s a potent sense that tonight is a big deal. Not just because it’s Rolo Tomassi’s biggest headline show to date but because it’s the final date of this current tour and their support are two extremely high-regarded bands.
The first, Heriot, were also supporting Rolo Tomassi when they played last year which made this the perfect chance to see just how far the sludgy, distorted hardcore metal band has come.
It’s been a hell of run for Heriot over the past few years and their name has become synonymous with quality metal noise. Both on record and in the live environment. The Electric Ballroom is a stage they were made to play on, and although they have some unfortunate technical issues, it’s still a resounding showcase of what they’re capable of. You don’t often see the Ballroom this packed out for the first band on, but that’s the kind of draw Heriot have.
It’s a tsunami of heaviness, layered and intricate, the fuzz and buzz of the instruments matched by the roars and howls of the vocals. Musically, Heriot are brilliant, but where you really notice their progression is with their confidence. Whereas The Oval Space show had them seeming a little over-awed, here, they are in their element and able to work through the tech issues to the delight of everyone in attendance.
Holy Fawn have come all the way from America to be on this tour and there is no denying their brand of heavy shoegaze music is the ‘odd’ one out on this bill. Yet, they create one of the most mesmerising experiences that turns any naysayers into instant fans.
Dramatic beauty and heavy intensity, the hit of dopamine that they deliver is unforgettable. The track, Seer, alone has some (including us) gob-smacked in its brilliance. So unforgettable is their set, that it seems that Rolo Tomassi will have a hard time following them. That’s how good Holy Fawn’s show was. A band as capable and confident as Rolo Tomassi was in danger of being over-shadowed by the support.
Of course, this being Rolo Tomassi, you kind of know deep down that they’re going to bring it and bring it they do. It means a hell of a lot to them too, making it known that this being their biggest headline date ever is something they can’t quite process.
Which wouldn’t count for much if the Ballroom was half empty and everyone looked bored. That’s not the case here at all, and all of that can lie at the feet of a set that draws heavily from their latest album, Where Myth Becomes Memory. No bad thing as that is a stellar release and tracks like Almost Always, Labyrinthine, and Mutual Ruin sound so much bigger live.
It’s a set that encapsulates the exceptionalism of Rolo Tomassi. Where they can deliver blistering noise that makes your teeth ache. Then wow with dreamy melody and complex tone shifts. They’ve earned this platform and if they continue on this trajectory, bigger venues and bigger crowds seem a guarantee.
Rolo Tomassi with Holy Fawn & Heriot at The Electric Ballroom, Camden, London (15/02/23)
Rolo Tomassi - 10/10
Holy Fawn - 9/10
Heriot - 8/10