Gigs That Changed My Life: Employed to Serve
I guess this is an open forum for an opinion piece! This 'Gigs That Changed My Life' series started as a reflection series for our team to look at the gigs that have impacted them the most. I've been fortunate to witness some great moments but lockdown had me reflecting and thinking and it lead me to my answer, though it took a while.
Photo Credit: Sam Lees Photographer
Gigs and concerts all around are a weird one for me. They’re almost weekly in my life with either coverage for Turn It Up Louder or my day job, it’s sometimes hard to form an emotional attachment, though I do have some moments I care for. My first real gig changed my perception of music and got me excited for live events, that show came in the form of Funeral For A Friend with support from Escape the Fate, The Amity Affliction and The Bunny The Bear all the way back in 2011. A show that exposed me to standing gigs, sweaty crowds and classic “screamo” bands. Since then I’ve been almost addicted. The continued excitement of seeing bands like Parkway Drive all the way through to Loathe, both at different ends of venue size but both knowing how to own their experiences live and create a real atmosphere. Moments that stand out and make me want to see them again and again.
Then lockdown hits (spoiler alert I know). We’ve all got major FOMO and miss a whole sector of culture, not to mention much more, but this time has had me reflecting on some of the small moments I really have cherished in 2020. I’d already been to a boat load of shows, some bands for the first time, some for the second, third and more times. All very different experiences, and now I look at how the year has transposed, they all mean something very different. Coming out the other side of this pandemic will be different. There’s the continued fear of losing some of the great venues I’ve stepped foot in: from Omeara through to the Black Heart and more. And even the potential of losing some of the great bands; just this week we lost SHVPES, a great metalcore band that I’ve had the pleasure seeing live and I really expected to see big things for them.
When I stepped foot in The Underworld on March 12th to see Employed To Serve, never did I think this would be my last gig for four months (so far). Nor did I expect it; I don’t think anyone could have. I had some of my closest friends around me whilst seeing other faces I respect throughout the room. Now, I’ve seen Employed To Serve a good 5 or 6 times over the years on support slots and festivals but admittedly not a headline show, and what a moment was to come. Cracking support came from Palm Reader and Cruelty. I’d never seen Cruelty before but they got me, and are now on my playlists: I RESPECT THAT. As for Palm Reader, I already loved them; they're always a great live band, and with new music on the horizon I’m excited to see what they bring forward. Employed to Serve put everything out on that stage! Justine’s vocals roared and joined by new drummer Casey McHale their full sound erupted, filling the room. Crowd-surfs and pits galore is any bands dream and the atmosphere was truly immense. It’s one of those gigs that, even as it finished, I did start to regret not going for a cheeky stage dive for the pure “I did that at THAT show” moment; and with a pandemic in the way of any of those opportunities for the foreseeable future, yes I’m kicking myself even more. I certainly can't believe that a pandemic has kicked me into realising these little moments where I can appreciate the music for what it is, the smiles around me and the opportunities I get to experience. It’s made me so grateful for the music, the moments and the memories.
Now Hotel Radio were very fortunately there to document the show, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t watched it a couple more times since we went into lockdown! If you’re a fan of sheer gut and determination, check out Employed To Serve’s set. I promise you; you won’t regret it.
Employed to Serve recently released a reimagined version of their single 'Harsh Truth', featuring Drew Dijorio from Stray From The Path- check it out here.