Prefab classroom mid-2006: I spy a print-out of the Hours album cover, stuck to the front of a friends school journal. “Who are they?” I ask, to which I receive something along the lines of “Eh, Funeral For A Friend? They’re the best band ever!”. Probably. It was a long time ago. But you get the jist.
Cut to October 2008: I attend my first live FFAF gig in the Academy Dublin. My new roommate and I fangirl afterwards over the fact that we have found someone else with the same level of appreciation for this group of Welsh musicians, as it’s been a while. Neither of us know it yet, but this new-found friendship will blossom as we help each other through high and lows, and go on to create a shared blog about life and music.
It is now April 2016, almost 10 years after I first listened to that “Hours” album and I have just witnessed the end of an era. Funeral For A Friend walk off stage after playing Hours in its entirety (along with a few other classic tunes) and as I wipe a black-stained tear from my face, I feel slightly lost.
Supported by London-based band Zoax and US rockers Shai Hulud, the night is off to a great start. Zoax are feisty and energetic, with a great post-hardcore sound. With hints of synth in the same league as BMTH’s newer releases, the result is edgy, heavy, yet melodic. Cork-man Adam Carroll climbs the balconies (like, literally climbs up the balcony) and sings in the crowd to a couple of slightly awkward looking spectators, but is all in good sport! Shai Hulud enter with a much heavier sound; slightly reminiscent of Deftones, which is smooth-moving and a little more low-energy.
Then as the guitar slides into “All The Rage”, we all know what we are here for. The band plays through 11 tracks with simple presence and clean playing, showing that there is no need for stage flourishings or laser shows – the crowd and band are here for the music. Between tracks, we get some intimate and quite emotional moments from frontman Matt, who went into more depth than usual about what these songs mean to them, and where they come from. As the night goes on, Matt gestures and controls the crowd like a symphony conductor, hitting the points and drops we know so well, with the swell of moshing bodies singing their lungs out. From track to track, we remember the pain and elation of first loves in the back seats of cars, relive traumas recovered, share in the oppression of society, and welcome each other as equals. Matt treats us all to an acoustic B-side after Hours ends, along with some other songs from the band. Yet the highlight of the night was when former guitarist Darren Smith joined the stage for “Juneau”, after which the night ends with one of my favourite tracks “Escape Artists Never Die”.
It’s hard to describe how certain bands affect you through your life, just as much as a band cannot predict how their music will affect others. As the band readied for their final song, an emotional Matt admits that this whole experience started with them using music as a way to get some things off their chests, and that they had never imagined that anyone would ever like, and listen, to what they had to say.
I think Funeral For A Friend will continue to influence and touch people’s lives, even if this is the end. We wish the band all the best in their futures, and to anyone who feels this is the next step. See you on the other side.
Words by Aoife © Photo by Ryan Macfall.