Arcane Roots @ Tunbridge Wells Forum, 02/09/2018

“I know that there’s something of an elephant in the room”, says frontman Andrew Groves as he evidently attempts to fight back tears, “but we didn’t want this final show to be a big song and dance”, saying that they just wanted to play the music and have us enjoy it, before erupting into their final song, If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves. An incredible send-off for a momentous band who will be sorely missed by their fans.

The show was proceeded by two warm-up sets from bands that I hadn’t heard of before; Mantra and Parting Gift.

Mantra had a significantly harder job to get the crowd jamming – with only a couple of people standing along the walls of the Forum, Mantra initially seemed like background music to the chatting crowd. However, as they grew more into their element, Mantra demanded the attention of everyone, and the socialites began to become an audience. At points, the band did seem a bit dazed and spaced out during their performance, with the frontman randomly blurting ‘Oh, we’re Mantra, by the way.’ Nonetheless, a strong social media following and this solid performance are just a couple of indicators that Mantra have a bit of potential about them.

Parting Gift, likewise, were a fantastic warm-up for Arcane Roots. In what can only be described as an exceptionally aesthetically pleasing performance, Parting Gift hid their faces through the whole performance, bursting in psychedelic and ethereal rock that encouraged a heavy sway from the crowd. After the Roots set, we headed over to the merch stand and met Parting Gift’s guitarist, who was extremely warm, welcoming and grateful for our support. Great stuff.

The atmosphere was palpable as we approached the figurative curtain call for Arcane Roots. The crowd, comprised of what seemed like less than 100 people, whispered and mumbled in anticipation before a small ticking noise grew steadily in volume. After a few minutes, the band took to the stage to burst into a rendition of Off the Floor.

The band meandered through their greatest hits from their outstanding discography and closing with a preview of their upcoming EP in the form of Landslide, which released as a single earlier in the year. the crowd did not stop moving throughout the entirety of the set and were evidently desperate to make the most of their short time with the band – sometimes to an annoying degree. As Andrew took a moment to explain the “elephant in the room” that I alluded to previously, a member of the crowd shouted “NEXT SONG LETS GO!”, causing Groves to stammer, stop speaking, and whisper to himself. As some members of the audience laughed at this, others looked crestfallen that someone had taken this moment away from the band. It certainly did come across as rude and killed the heartfelt vibe that engulfed the room moments before.

I have never had a bad time at an Arcane Roots gig; each time we’ve looked at a single, album, or performance from this band we’ve given them close to 5 Bytes every time. Truthfully, this time was no different; this was very close to being the perfect show in my eyes. The only way that it would be better would be to have a more appreciative audience, with one small group seemingly taking the performance for granted, and at times ruining the performance for others.

Andrew Groves assured us that this split was the best thing for Arcane Roots as he explained that “I wanted to make a classical version of Melancholia Hymns; I wanted to make a super fucking heavy version of Melancholia Hymns”, explaining that the split was best for the band to make the best things they can. Although, he did seem to confuse members of the audience as he stated that “I won’t be the front man anymore, but together we’ll still be making music.”

Either way, this is a monumentally sad movement for any Arcane Roots fan and the alternative music scene in general. Arcane Roots are one of the most unique, inspirational, and genuinely talented groups in the UK. They’ve still promised to honour the rest of their October Tour Dates but mentioned that these would be rather stripped-back and more relaxed. You can find those below.

Arcane Roots will be dearly missed. They went out with a bang, though, and with hope, we can see a few more smatterings of unreleased tracks here and there over the next coming months, alongside their final official EP.

4.8 / 5 Bytes

Will Wilkins
15 – MANCHESTER Gorilla
16 – LONDON Hoxton Hall
17 – LEICESTER Cookie
19 – BRIGHTON Rialto Theatre
20 – BRISTOL St Thomas The Martyr
22 – NEWCASTLE Think Tank
23 – EDINBURGH Caves

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