Review: Blind Channel/Ghøstkid/Rock Band From Hell – Thekla, Bristol

Thekla, Bristol
Friday 29th March 2024

Review and photos – Rob Wilkins/Celtography

Usually, when I rock up at a gig and join the queue, I feel amongst my peers. People with “Monsters of Rock” battle jackets, grey hair, a certain circumference, and a determination to find a nice spot close to the bar and the toilets to watch the stage without getting too close.

Tonight though is very different. The queue appears to be one I would expect for the club night that follows the gig. Mostly female. Mostly young. Mostly buzzing with excitement and a determination to get in and stand as close to the stage as possible.

I get chatting to the young lady behind me, who is there with her parents. She is almost in tears as she tells me it is her first-ever gig. That her parents have bought her all the way from Kent as the London gig was 18+. That Blind Channel are her favourite band ever and that she simply can’t wait as it will be the “best night of her life”. Those in front and behind share her excitement and as the doors open there is a real feeling of anticipation as my queue mates show their ID to the door team if they want a coveted alcohol stamp for being over 18 (no idea why I am not asked! I may be 59 but I pass for younger don’t I?)

I say this not to poke fun, but to celebrate that this band is appealing to an audience that is new to the genre. Without bands like this, rock and metal will die a slow death along with those that remember AC/DC at Donington and the NWoBHM when it WAS new and fresh.

An example is the reaction to the first band on stage, Rock Band From Hell. I can pretty much guarantee that few of the crowd had ever heard of them, and even fewer would attend a gig that featured them as the main draw, but the reaction they gave the Finnish trio, as they powered through a set of Pop Punk, certainly gave the band a reason to give energy back in spades. With no bassist, vocalist/guitarist Jani Tillman and stripped-to-the-waist partner Jere Siivikko – alongside drummer Mikko Nykänen – powered through a brief but really enjoyable set. Check out “So What” and “Why Don’t You Die” and enjoy the injection of energy their brash music will deliver.

A real change of visual followed with the dark menace of Ghøstkid. With vocalist Sebastian Biesler bending genders in a black lace dress and hair in bunches, alongside a range of visually striking characters as if from a horror movie, their music walked a line between brutal and melodic that was as fascinating to hear as they were to watch. Almost immediately one of the band went into the crowd and as the set progressed they gripped those watching in the palm of their hand and squeezed. Opening with “Hollywood Suicide” the seven songs flew past and I particularly loved “Supernova”. Visually and musically a real contrast with what was to follow but thoroughly enjoyable and I am sure some of those youngsters in the crowd found a new taste for something darker.

Finally, the screams as the lights went out and the headliners took to the now clear stage. Thekla is NOT a big stage and the six members of Blind Channel utterly filled it!

You can see immediately how they have taken some of the characteristics of bands that appeal to a wider sub-section of youthful music lovers and developed them. Each band member has a different look and personality but all wear versions of the same black and red uniform with white trainers. Watching the all-female front row of the crowd you could imagine the debates around who your “favourite” band member was and why.

Twin vocalists Joel Hokka and Niko Moilanen have contrasting styles. One more rap-orientated (including a superb delivery on “Violent Bob (Deja Fu)”) and one melodic. Their physical size also distinguishes their performing styles. Flanking them, Joonas Porko (guitar) and Olli Matela are a whirlwind of action, while behind them, the sound is thickened and made complex by Aleksi Kaunisvesi’s samples and occasional dual drumming with Tommy Lalli.

Their set is non-stop! An early curfew led to a 10 pm end and they managed to beat that, but still compressed in 20 songs! Opening with “Dead Zone” and swiftly on to “Where’s the Exit” it is clear that they are a Finnish force to be reckoned with. Thekla is a metal boat with a low ceiling and by the third song, there is a sheen of condensed sweat on every surface.

For me, the most enjoyable thing about their set was the sheer musical variety of their material. Fast songs, slow songs (the simply sublime “Die Another Day” was my absolute highlight), rap, growling, poppy, a cover (B.Y.O.B.). You name it, they handle it with aplomb. By the time we get to the encores of “Flatline” and “Happy Doomsday” and the second encore of “Dark Side” I have made my way to the back to watch, and I notice my excited adolescent from earlier. She has the biggest smile and clearly, the night has lived up to her every expectation. More though, either side of her, so do her parents!

That’s what Blind Channel are doing, bridging generations with the breadth of their material and sheer personalities. Rock and metal needs more bands that can do that if it is to stay relevant. Look and learn those finding their way in the business.

Blind Channel Social Media Links:
Website || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter || YouTube || TikTok

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