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Review: SCALER @ SWX

In their biggest headline show yet, Bristol’s SCALER brought their relentless, yet highly danceable instrumentals to an exhilarated home crowd.

By Louis Amor, Third Year Zoology

This would be the fourth time I’d seen SCALER, so entering SWX I thought I had a good idea of what was coming. I honestly couldn’t had been further from it; this was by far the most ambitious show I’ve seen from them. Their loudest sound, their wildest visual production too.

The night started almost immediately after doors, with electronic artist and producer Thomas Ridley kicking starting the evening with an impressively fluid set. Starting with almost mere ambience, Ridley progressively layered his sound, almost in a narrative manner, into to high energy techno, getting the crowd moving. What sounded so natural and flexible, was being tightly controlled by Ridley, who frantically moved between his pieces of equipment to set the pace of his sound, it was almost like he was doing a two-person job at points.

Following this, yet another Bristol artist, Grove, gave perhaps one of the most lifting and inspiring sets I have ever seen. While Groves energetic mix of dance music and hip hop would be enough encouragement to move, it was their beautiful message of love, and wonderful, warming engagement with the audience which really facilitated the dancing of the crowd. You could feel the pure joy and passion Grove has for their music and message, and this formed the foundations of an empowering set. These 2 support acts were a fantastic start to the evening, getting the crowd warmed up for what would be a highly intense shift in energy.

Upon walking on stage to the loud chorus of cheers from the audience, SCALER’s unique and special presence on stage was immediately clear. Standing in front of the fleet of lights and mind-melting visuals, 4 beacon like silhouettes break up the strobe lighting and powerful lasers hammering the audience, totally in command of the chaos that surrounds them. For such a complex, multi-layered and ever-changing sound, it is amazing to witness how they play in such a casual nature, whilst also maintaining a fiery energy.

They wouldn’t be alone in delivering this energy for long however, as multiple guest appearances took charge of a handful of tracks early in the performance. This included the return of support act Grove, who delivered a stellar performance of their vocal feature on the track ‘Remain in Stasis’. The vivacity of this track in particular was unbelievable, a perfect summary of the incredible sound SCALER has crafted over the years, striking the balance between electronic, techno music and rhythmic metal-like guitar riffs. The reciprocal energy from both the band and the crowd during this song was stunning, it was by far the most active SCALER crowd I have been a part of; a really special moment of the show.

SCALER @ SWX | Louis Amor

There was hardly any time to breathe during the extensive set, as SCALER continually transitioned fluidly between tracks, spanning the entire length of their discography. At times, songs would be chopped and mixed with completely different songs, before somehow naturally returning to their original state. This meant at any moment, the dance-worthy rhythms of their more recent sound could suddenly turn into screeching guitars and rave-like synths. No matter what was playing, the audience were constantly right behind the band, the core of which was a ruthless mosh pit which did not stop moving throughout the entire length of the show.

It’s clear to me that what made this show, SCALER’s largest headlining set to date, so special, was beyond the extra lasers, mental visuals and smoke machines, it was the special connection that SCALER have crafted with this city and its audience. Through consistently playing here over their career so far, we have been able to the evolution of this band as both artists and performers, and that special, homely connection, brought me so much joy during that set.

Featured Image: Louis Amor

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