Live Review: Mallory Knox and PVRIS at Marquee Theatre, Tempe, AZ – 24th January 2015

By on Friday, 30th January 2015 at 2:00 pm
 

Cambridge alt-rock quintet Mallory Knox have signed on as support for punk rock bands Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens on the second leg of their American co-headline tour, which began on the 23rd of January and runs through the 4th of March.

Doors for the double support, double headline show at the Marquee Theatre were opened at the obscenely early hour of 5 PM, and when I arrived at the venue, the queue for entry was already around the block. As soon as I saw the massive throng of teenagers standing outside, I understood the reason for the early start. I knew I had bitten off more than I could chew, but I bravely soldiered my way in. Luckily for me, Mallory Knox were the first opener, and despite having to play at 6:30 PM, they were right on form to set the tone for the evening.

Judging from the overwhelming number of Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens hats and t-shirts in the crowd, I wasn’t sure how well Mallory Knox would be received. Most of the kids in attendance didn’t seem to know or care who the opening bands were. But their anxious enthusiasm for the headliners quickly transformed into enthusiastic appreciation as Mallory Knox opened with the energetic ‘Beggars’, from their 2013 album ‘Signals’. I wasn’t very familiar with Mallory Knox’s back catalogue, but I did recognize in the set list three of the singles from the band’s recent LP ‘Asymmetry’, namely ‘Shout at the Moon’, ‘When Are We Waking Up?’ and ‘Ghost In The Mirror’.

Mallory Knox at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

Lead vocalist Mikey Chapman was confident and animated in his performance but endearingly self-effacing as he thanked the crowd for showing up early to hear only the band’s “second ever U.S. show”. If Mallory Knox were at all nervous, it didn’t show in their onstage demeanour. All five band members were lively and self-assured, and they beamed with pride at the overwhelmingly positive audience response. After their set, I overheard several young ladies whispering about sneaking out to the merch table to meet the “cute English boys”, so I suspect Mallory Knox may have already won over at least a few new American fans.

Mallory Knox at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

The second support act of the evening was Boston, Massachusetts rock band PVRIS, which according to frontwoman Lyndsey Gunnulfsen is pronounced as “Paris”. PVRIS is a darker, more synth-oriented rock band who released their latest single ‘St Patrick’ last summer ahead of their debut full-length album ‘White Noise’, which came out in November 2014. It was ‘St Patrick’ that generated the most excitement among the crowd, after earlier hits ‘Fire’ and ‘White Noise’ sparked mild recognition.

PVRIS at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

The band apparently had some technical difficulties in the transition between Mallory Knox’s set and their own, and a missed lighting or sound cue made the start of their set awkwardly anti-climactic. Gunnulfsen attempted to draw the crowd back in by prefacing every chorus of every song with the interjection “put your hands up”, and her audience did oblige, but her annoyance with the tech glitches was evident, and overall PVRIS’ set was a bit listless after the fresh ebullience of Mallory Knox.

PVRIS at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

There was a lengthy delay after PVRIS finished playing, as the tech crew began the elaborate set up process for the first headliner, Pierce the Veil. During the transition, I decided to move from my central spot on the main floor and find a position in front of the soundboard, where the sloped floor would give me a better sight line and where I hoped I could avoid the crush of sweaty strangers invading my personal space.

Pierce the Veil at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

I will admit here that I don’t know a single song by either Pierce the Veil or Sleeping with Sirens, and I was completely unable to catch a song title or even a snippet of lyrics in either set, except for the oft-dropped F-bombs. By the time Sleeping with Sirens came onstage, I had moved even farther to the back of the venue and found myself standing among a group of stunned, bleary-eyed parents who were waiting for their adolescent offspring to finish moshing/passing out/puking on the general admission floor. But once again, I must commend the Marquee Theatre for its sound quality, even so far removed from the stage. Both the visual effects and the sound were excellent throughout the venue, and the fans who remained upright were clearly able to enjoy the performances from all vantage points.

Sleeping with Sirens at Marquee Theatre 24 Jan 2015

The contrived, trying-so-hard-to-be-punk atmosphere of the show (commercially sponsored by Rockstar Energy Drink) was a bit too much for me in the end, but the opening support slot was unquestionably a huge opportunity for an on-the-rise band like Mallory Knox. Having already headlined their own UK tour as well as supporting bands like Don Broco and Biffy Clyro, Mallory Knox have clearly honed their live skills over the course of releasing their two LPs. Their style straddles the line between alternative rock and post-hardcore punk, and with the exposure provided by this support slot, their natural onstage charisma could easily win them legions of new fans among both genres.

Mallory Knox will be on tour in America with Pierce the Veil and Sleeping with Sirens through the 4th of March. They are scheduled to appear at Southampton’s Takedown Festival on the 7th of March . A full listing of live shows can be found on Mallory Knox’s official Web site. PVRIS will visit the UK and Ireland in April, taking on a support slot with Lower Than Atlantis; you can find those dates here.

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