By Louis Amor, Third Year Zoology
Entering the venue, I felt a unique energy and anticipation from the crowd gathered outside the stage room. For many, this was their first time seeing Model/Actriz, given that this was their 7th ever show in the UK, and their first in Bristol. I overheard conversations about their unique, complex sound, and how it would be recreated in a live setting. I was lucky enough to know that they pull off this impressive feat effortlessly, catching them a few months prior at Wide Awake Festival in London. I was astonished at the ability of the four-piece band at the ability to accurately replicate the multi-layered, industrial sound of their debut album Dogsbody.
Once the doors to the stage were opened, we were greeted by the ominous set-up of the support act, Jerome. Front and centre of the stage was a large desk covered in all types of electronic equipment connected to each other with an entanglement of wires. This was all in the control of Annalisa Lembo, who was in total command of the pace and movement of the show, constantly switching between the pieces of her set-up to make fine adjustments to their jagged sound. I particularly liked the progression of these tracks, which often started danceable, but would switch suddenly into abrasive, trippy electronic noise. This was backed by equally hallucinatory visuals which served as the main light of the stage, almost turning Lembo into a complete silhouette.
Between sets I ran into Model/Actriz vocalist Cole Haden. He was absolutely lovely to both me and another fan in conversation with him. He seemed to be taking in the Bristol culture exactly as expected, going out for a cider before the show. He compared the city to Boston, praised the student culture, and stated he liked the vibe of the place. This was much more relaxed, chill Haden compared to the dominating, eccentric performance he gave during the show, but his love for the fans during the performance was apparent. He was very flirtatious to the crowd, speaking softly in a playful, frisky way.
During the explosive track ‘Mosquito’, Haden stepped into the crowd, but couldn’t make it far in given his tangled microphone cord. Following the song, he teased the audience, claiming he wanted to get in there and say hello, “lets see if we can make this work Bristol”. Once in the crowd, he made individuals part of his captivating performance of the track ‘Amaranth’, staring into the eyes of audience members, occasionally holding their hands, and even embracing others during tenser moments of the song. I loved the variety of responses from the individuals involved in these interactions, some nervously giggling and others reciprocating his seductive energy. However, once the rest of the band kickstarted the bombarding chorus of this track, Haden was the centre of the sweaty, unforgiving mosh pit. This didn’t affect his performance whatsoever, as he continued to deliver a powerful vocal performance even whilst being knocked around. To me, Haden is the physical embodiment of the playful nature and personality at the heart of Model/Actriz’s music, resulting in an incredible frontman.
Whilst a lot of the attention of the audience was geared towards Haden within the crowd, the rest of the band delivered an absolutely mind-melting, relentless set. The challenging, vigorous sound of Dogsbody is unlike any other album I’ve heard, it’s so left field from the current post-punk scene is almost baffling to believe that a typical guitar, bass and drums are the source of its sound. In person, it is even more staggering to have the raw driving energy behind the tracks blasted at you as they replicate the sound perfectly. Both guitarist Jack Wetmore and bassist Aaron Shapiro slashed at their instruments, often flailing the around as drummer Ruben Radlauer provided a pounding rhythm to their wild sound.
“We’re sorry we had to kill you”, proclaimed Haden, still talking gently to the audience as he said his goodbyes. He was right, by the end of the show the crowd was sweaty and drained of energy, providing the band with the perfect opportunity to end the show with the beautiful, slower paced ‘Sun In’. It was an abrupt change of pace, but a wonderful song to end with, presenting a different side to the typically high-paced energy of the band. Haden’s vocal performance here was heartfelt and emotional, and the instrumentals were subtle but moving. Model/Actriz have crafted such a strong, distinctive sound which comes across as enthralling live, but with songs like ‘Sun In’ you cant help but be excited about which direction they’ll take their sound next. What’s certain is that after that show, you’ll be dammed to miss it.
Featured Image: Louis Amor
How crazy do you go in a mosh pit?