Superstar: Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes in Bristol

It’s quite rare that a crowd can shout “I FUCKING HATE YOU” to an artist on stage and it can be a compliment.

It’s quite rare that a crowd can shout “I FUCKING HATE YOU” to an artist on stage and it can be a compliment. That said, at the O2 Academy in Bristol last Wednesday, Frank Carter seemed to be loving it. Following the release of their fifth studio album, Dark Rainbow, this was Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes’ second date on their UK/EU tour.

My friend and I arrived at the venue half an hour before doors opened, and even then, the queue outside looped further than around the corner. O2 Priority made it (thankfully) quicker to get in, although the benefit of getting into venues quicker thanks to my network carrier continues to feel just a little bit questionable to me. Moral arguments and provider privilege aside, we rushed straight to the front of the pit, where the first warm-up Hot Wax was already set up and ready to perform. 

Despite the fact that Vodafone users were still filtering in when the band began, they still performed as if it were a packed venue. As a relatively new and underground band, they seemed filled with energy and a desire to leave their mark on the audience in a way that would last with them. The Hastings trio began with some heavy noise-rock shout-sung tracks, which didn’t initially seem to land with the crowd. I always find that early-stage bands noticeably have the challenge of trying to convince the crowd that their music is worth listening to, all the while playing to a group of people who couldn’t care less about what they’re performing and just want to see the main act.

As their thirty-minute set progressed, they seemed to acclimatise to both the stage and the audience, although with hindsight you could still tell that this was a much less experienced band than the next two. There was some nice on-stage chemistry, with their bassist performing some excellent lines. They waited afterwards in the bar to meet fans, but I was rushing out to get my train so didn’t get to speak to them!

After another thirty-minute wait, The Mysterines arrived on stage. I never thought that I’d see someone play an electric guitar with a cello bow, but with many bands you often see them try new, quirky ways of playing instruments to get some sort of signature. From the first song, their professionalism shined through, and after a while, I forgot that it wasn’t a Mysterines show that I had come here to see in the first place. With strong vocals (albeit slightly washed out due to the mixing and the general raucousness of the front), clear guitar riffs, and some nice moments of the band playing at one another, the stage floor was completely theirs. They were still able to stand out from other indie bands thanks to their rockier sound, and their clean performance proved them to be a band worth seeing again, especially doing a longer, solo set. 

Finally, we got to the main attraction of the night: Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes. I was incredibly excited about this as I’d seen him live a couple of years ago at Reading, and I met Frank at a promotional event for the album a week before this performance in London.

In his full black suit, the second he stepped on stage he absolutely reeked of stage presence. Even without knowledge of his whole music catalogue, Frank Carter carries the sort of personality that commands the crowd, who went crazy to every single track he performs. You could tell that he was loving it as he went into his first song, Can I Take You Home, with loud and dramatic guitar riffs leading in between the choruses. Having listened to his new album earlier that week, I was initially worried that some of the songs didn’t have the drive or uniqueness to make it a truly phenomenal album or live performance. But, watching him perform Can I Take You Home (and others from the album) live made me understand the entire point of this album. This was an album that was created to be performed LIVE. His vocal delivery and stage presence along with the whole band made each song electric with energy. It was hard not to be amazed by the delivery of this song, and every song thereafter.

One thing to note was that the crowd was overwhelmingly male, with mosh pits being aggressively controlled by a handful of extremely large men pushing and shoving people out to the side. Frank seemed to be aware of this, signalling for a female-only mosh pit midway through the set – and even stopping a song at one point to help someone in the crowd who seemed unsafe, checking that everyone else was also fine, and then proceeding to the next track.

Through the crowd chants of DEANO (for Dean Richardson, lead guitarist) and the crowd reciting the anthem, “I Hate You” excitedly, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes delivered an incredible night out – and I would 100% recommend you see one of their shows before they stop touring as a band!

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