Music Critic Rosie Rivers reviews Hot Milk’s headline show in Birmingham, praising the band’s immense energy
On the 24th of November 2023 Birmingham was graced with the presence of pop-rock band Hot Milk to showcase their debut album release ‘A Call to the Void’, accompanied by up-and-coming metal breakthrough Modern Error and female-dominant psychedelic punk group Witch Fever. Whilst a relatively new listener of the Manchester based alt-metal band, fronted by Hannah (Han) Mee and Jim Shaw, I had been eagerly anticipating this show following a stellar performance at Download Festival earlier in the year which entranced me to further explore their brief, yet adventurous, discography. Birmingham City Centre that Friday showcased a spectrum of alternative fashion as Hot Milk concert goers browsed the Christmas Markets clad in torn jeans and denim battle jackets DIYed with makeshift patches fashioned from old band t-shirts.
Birmingham’s O2 Institute2 was flooded with a diverse crowd of rock-enthusiasts, raring up for a memorable gig. Eventually, after a crowd-warming playlist (with the mandatory three claps during ‘Sorry You’re Not A Winner’) the lights dim and the excitement of conversations inflated to cheers as Modern Error precedented the show with ‘[I] Modern Age’; the opening introductory track to their 2022 album ‘Victim of a Modern Age’. The immersive sound intensified with a crescendo as apprehension bubbled from the crowd before Modern Error kicked off their set with a bass-heavy riff that vibrated up from your feet and into your chest. Without time to process this great wobbly feeling, the drums and guitar pounded the venue with the sound of ‘Separation Scars’, a song with vocals reminiscent of My Chemical Romance in their earlier eras, yet with an instrumental sound that was both unequivocally ‘Modern Error’ whilst also deeply nostalgic to the music that welcomed me into the alternative scene a decade ago. Their fleeting set enthralled the expectant crowd, and it wasn’t long until we were presented with our second act for the night; Witch Fever.
Witch Fever’s music displayed a staggering contrast to Modern Error, though the performance carried the energy of their predecessor with vigorous gusto as they erupted into a politically motivating set, reflective of what I would imagine going to a home-town punk show in the 90’s would have been like. Lead vocalist and frontwoman Amy Hope Walpole gripped the attention of the audience as she strutted across the stage and down into the crowd dragging a microphone lead comedically threaded through by venue staff and security and positioning herself atop the bar in true rockstar fashion. Witch Fever’s set was unapologetic in its non-conformity and brought a much needed feminine-energy to a heavily male-dominated alternative scene.
The suspense grew as the crowd awaited the main act, and a deafening applause erupted as members Han, Jim, Tom, and Harry bounded onto the stage, commencing their set with ‘HORROR SHOW’ off of their new album to waves of headbanging. Both Han and Jim provided impressive and technical vocal performances, and the echo of the audience reflected their enthusiasm as hundreds of voices screamed “Horror Show can’t look away!” – and you couldn’t look away. The mesmerising performance swiftly transitioned, and the pits did not disappoint. Particularly, ‘ALICE COOPER’S POOL HOUSE’ lead a jumpy and energetic crowd to an experimental sound and a catchy guitar riff as the lights strobed over the sweating masses. The intensity of the mosh pits, only continued to exceed themselves, as a space opened on the floor for ‘Bad Influence’ from 2022 EP ‘The King and Queen of Gasoline’. As the moshers collided to a heavy thrashing of drums, the crowd visibly swayed and tipped to the movement as courageous crowd surfers clawed their way over heads to get over the front barrier.
The show slowed into a melancholic atmosphere, as Han introduced their most well-received song from their debut album ‘BREATHING UNDERWATER’. This anthem lead a chorus of voices in catharsis from the crowd, showcasing a more heart-rending side of Hot Milk’s music. The moment of rest to catch your breath was not long lived, though, as it was prompted almost immediately by their most popular song ‘Candy Coated Lie$’; a dance tune to re-energise the onlookers. For the final chorus, a fan at the barrier was pulled on stage to sing the chorus – and was really impressive! This song was the most connected I had ever felt with the people around me at a concert. The vibes were unmatched.
Hot Milk are blazing rapidly through the scene, and this performance showcased an immense energy unlike any pop-rock band I’ve seen coming up in a while. They’re a force to be reckoned with and definitely a group to keep an eye on over the coming years.
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