Sound Control, Manchester
10 May

The day before they released their critically acclaimed 2014 LP, Home, Like Noplace Is There, The Hotelier’s lead singer Christian Holden posted a lengthy note on the band’s Tumblr about their place in the scene, their relationship with the music industry and the focal points of their upcoming record.

“Our new album deals with some real dark stuff. So to all my brooding and slightly damaged friends, have your happy album or Rugrats in Paris nearby. It’s partly about my experience with friends and loved ones in the past three years which were very complicated, toxic, and abusive. But laid within is a lot about the deconstruction of self for personal growth and transformation. I hope it helps you live and stuff. Apparently we are emo now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

The album he was referring to was one of 2014’s most confounding and slept-on treasures, and the band were quickly pieced into a narrative that portrayed midwestern 90s emo as enjoying a second coming. The record is more than just a revivalist routine though – layered into the coming-of-age lyricism and existential crises was a clear intensity and a sense of ambition built by a band who were only beginning to flex their muscles. Emo? Sure, but delivered in such a way that melodrama is replaced with sincerity, and exaggeration is softened by self-awareness.

This same formula made their live show memorable. They are about to release their new record, the more broad and expansive but equally exciting Goodness, and the set was made up mainly of new material that translated perfectly to the live setting. Holden’s vocals sounded just as good as they do on record, remarkable considering the strenuousness of the songs and the length of their touring schedule, and the sheer emotion was nicely tempered by the band’s onstage manner. Skyward anthems like An Introduction… and The Scope Of All This Rebuilding were huge and evocative, but the band were not totally consumed by their music.

During Your Deep Rest – a song about suicide, addiction and shattered relationships – the stage was invaded by another of the bands they are touring with right on the crescendo. Somehow, it added to the moment. It seemed as if, to some extent at least, the peace they’ve found in their emotional outpouring has allowed them to get on with being a band and being young musicians touring. There was a palpably energising quality to this show – a feeling that the thorny, overwrought complications of the everyday could be beaten down by transparency and hopefulness. Apparently I am emo now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.