Music, News, Review

Pendulum @ Victoria Warehouse review – Drum ‘n’ Bass in your face

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Featured image and gallery: Ameena Ceesay


These Aussies may not have a lot of records to their name after 22 years together, but their mix of alternative and drum ‘n’ bass has made quite the impact. Seen in their collaborations with bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, remixing dance classics from The Prodigy and successfully capitalising on early 2010s dubstep in the form of their side project, Knife Party.

The opening act kicks off at a disadvantage. Shockone plays to a mostly empty building given the start time, and his DJ set only manages to win over half of the attendees. For every one person flailing their arms, there’s another hunched over on their phone in blissful ignorance.

Fellow supporting act Scarlxrd, who had previously joined up with Pendulum on ‘Mercy Killing’ has his work cut out. He has the benefit of a full crowd, but as much as he prances about trying to coerce some energy out of the onlookers, he suffers the same fate as Shockone. That is until his performance of the single ‘Heart Attack’, in which faces finally perk up and the majority engage in a bout of movement.

The pressure is on Pendulum to salvage the evening. The crowd’s impatience immediately shatters as the lights shut off. On the big screen we get a title card intro, akin to a video game cutscene, before launching into their opener, ‘Crush’.

“Ladies and gentlemen. We understand that you are here for some drum ‘n’ bass. But that may not be the case….” As the performance is underway, a disclaimer sounds over the PA before transitioning into ‘Blood Sugar’, which mutates into a snippet of their remix of The Prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’. 

That’s as good as it gets when it comes to the music itself, as it becomes repetitive at points, with the staging and lighting doing much of the heavy lifting. We have visuals of grey and orange smoke shaped into the form of a human body during ‘Come Alive’. ‘The Island’ sees sweeping shots of an overgrown city, which leads into an interlude where the vocals and imagery take a backseat, our eyes overstimulated with strobe lighting, scattering after every beat drop. 

Despite this being the strong suit of the set, none of it matters to the crowd. Unlike the previous performances, they sing, clap and cheer without prompt. When lead vocalist Rob Swire asks the crowd to “make some fucking noise,” he’s already beaten to the punch. Whenever Swire attempts a monologue between the set, remarking on having performed in front of 20 people in Manchester years ago, it falls on deaf ears. It carries through to the encore, ‘The Tempest’, and after the show when the congregation start piling out, making it one of the more vocal crowds seen (and heard) in recent memory.  

While bordering on style over substance, the utmost respect goes to Pendulum for steering through what could’ve been an awkward night into one of ecstasy. An upscale warehouse rave that guarantees pure verve.


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Ameena Ceesay

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