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Friday night at O2 Academy Brixton and the crowd are packed tightly for the long-awaited headline appearance by Sheffield five-piece While She Sleeps, who tonight follow upstarts Vein and alternative royalty Every Time I Die to take to the iconic south London stage.
It marks a huge milestone in While She Sleeps’ career, one that has seen them ditch the music industry machine in favour of a true do-it-yourself attitude. Having parted ways with their major label home and turned to the now-defunct PledgeMusic for their 2017 release You Are We, the band averted any slow down in momentum. Lighting further fire under their fans, last year they dropped the acclaimed SO WHAT?, a record which opened up their sound further.
Never ones to sit quietly as things unfold around them, While She Sleeps launched the record with a campaign targeting streaming services. “No one buys music anymore,” the posters stated. “We only need 4 million stream to pay for these posters and our rent this month.” This blend of humour and poignancy have taken While She Sleeps far, mirroring the passion in their sound and their unfiltered relatability.
And it’s this that explodes onto the Brixton stage. Brimming with the confidence of a celebrated band playing the stage for the first time, it’s immediately obvious just how much While She Sleeps mean to the doting audience. Bodies fly as the venue erupts into metal-fuelled euphoria led by the band’s powerful atmospherics. Fans jump on the opportunity to elevate the melodic vocal parts, filling the venue with unified voices. A plea by vocalist Loz Taylor to break the venue’s crowdsurfing record is met with pure enthusiasm, whether successful or not.
But what stands out most is their sheer power. Their encore, a heavy dose of HAUNT ME, Silence Speaks minus collaborator Oli Sykes, and their defining You Are We round off a set cementing their status as alternative homegrown heroes. As all five brim with pride looking over the sea of entranced fans, the closing number feels particularly apt. You are we, and we are you.
While She Sleeps return to the stage at Slam Dunk Festival in May 2020.
Tickets to see While She Sleeps at Slam Dunk Festival 2020 are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.