Pitch black. A backlit console out of a vintage sci-fi movie. Every minute a thundering bass tone shaking the crowd at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. and a recording counting down to “The Launch.” As the countdown begins, a palpable tension begins to ratchet higher. The group of concert goers assembled is an unusual bunch for the 9:30 Club, normally catering to the indie-pop/indie-folk scene, tonight a motley crew of who we’ll call “The Initiated” arrived. Punk Kids, Metal Heads, sporting sleeveless jean jackets with dozens of band patches, studded metal, leather, non-ironic industrial boots, man and woman alike all focusing on the stage in anticipation. And then at the appointed hour, it begins, like all of Enter Shikari’s albums, a soft build up to the magnum opus. The crowd roars, as first chords of “The Spark” came through the speakers, and the band walks on stage. Without further ado, Enter Shikari proceeds to take the roof off the 9:30 Club.
“Are you staying awake for the liftoff, tonight? You’ll never believe the sights tonight The sights tonight, the sights..”
Though mellow compared to many of their legacy tracks, Enter Shikari’s “The Sights” was a perfect track to open the set with. For those who are unfamiliar, speaking in undertones of fear at the future, but a willingness to explore in the hope of finding something great, Enter Shikari’s lyrics are a mix of political discourse sung in equal parts electro-punk a la The Prodigy, UK styled Drum & Bass, and as much metal as you can pack into five minutes of chaos. The set wasted no time powering into classic tracks like “Solidarity” off their 2010 album Common Dreads and “Anything Can Happen In The Next Half Hour” off their debut album Take To The Skies, quickly turning the normally reserved floor of the club into a seething mosh pit. The high point of the night came on the shoulders on the sonic juggernaut of a track, “The Anaesthetist” off their 2015 album The Mindsweep. Though not a sold out show, Enter Shikari brought every bit of expected energy and then some. The crowd’s energy was easily that of a group twice the size, and the exchange between the band and crowd was a true spectacle. For this photographer, it was almost enough to set my camera gear aside and wade into the pit. To those uninitiated, I’ll leave you with a lyric from the track “Rabble Rouser” as both a warning and an invitation, “Warning, this escalates quickly.”