Mallory Knox is one of those bands that I have seen live more than others; a total of four times altogether. The first time was when they played the main stage at Slam Dunk South 2014, the second time was their 2014 headline tour, third was when they headlined Butserfest 2016 and the last time was during their 2018 tour, their first without their now-ex lead vocalist Mikey Chapman whose departure had been announced two months prior. Said 2018 tour was assumedly done so they start to show that band had a life after Chapman's departure and was also an opportunity to show off the new songs that they had started writing since, of which they were all pretty impressive. Now along with their fourth album about to come out, Mallory Knox is about to embark on a new tour, marking their first proper steps out in the band's new chapter, starting in their hometown of Cambridge...
As a first-timer to the Junction, I can see how impressive the size of the room is; there is potential for a great show. The turnout for MK was at that moment of a medium amount, neither big or small, meaning that dependant on whether the crowd increases or not the show could end up being both intimate as well as a whole lot of fun. First up are the support bands, who I neglected to check out before this show, so I'm heading in with no opinion of them, no expectations and looking forward to seeing what they can offer.
Starting with a suspenseful intro, the first support Endeavour gets things started. Their set is solid but the only polite criticism I can give is that they need more energy as their set is somewhat lacking in that department and it seems what energy they do have is half-hearted, staying mostly stationary. Shame really because their singer, Shawn Radley, has a nice voice. Despite this, the band's pop-punk/emo/post-hardcore/The Gospel Youth-esque sound seems interesting and seemingly well-polished enough that some people will most likely check them out, even if they only have something like two or three songs on Spotify (as their photographer/videographer told me beforehand). An odd comparison maybe but their sound reminded me of how the UK rock scene sounded five years ago. A certain standout track is their slow jam "24 Hours". The song's lyrics may be generically positive but such sentiment is always something you can get behind, evidenced by how this song gets the five-piece's most crowd participation in all their set. I mean who doesn't love a slow jam? They end their set with a room that's nicely filling up.
The second act of the night, Dead Reynolds, simply start their set by walking on stage with no intro and simply take a moment for themselves to get ready and begin. Their sound is different from Endeavour and feels like a more hard rock direction or at least Endeavour without the poppy element. Also unlike Endeavour, they seem comfier on stage, if a little awkward at times. Dead Reynolds' set is one full of riff-laden rock that at times doesn't even bother with interludes between songs, opting to go straight from one song into the next. Such a set delivers them commendable crowd participation and even a few moshers. Their last track, “Dust”, serves as an energetic finisher and a culmination of the energy that's been building up for their whole set. Does anyone wanna tell their lead singer Callum Waterfield that he looks a little bit like Wil Wheaton?
With the supports out the way, the stage is changed around for Mallory Knox. Now one important thing to note is that this show is not just an album release show but its also a hometown show, meaning that most likely the expected outcome is one hell of a fun night. After their intro song (“Rock 'n' Roll Star” by Oasis) plays, they open with "Guts" the most fun song off the new album (which is also ironically the albums closing song) before going straight into "Livewire" and their set properly begins. Now sadly after two and a half hours of buildup, the crowd doesn't seem all that into it at first. Don't get me wrong, some people are into it but it takes their third song "Beggars" (the first song of the band's first album) for a mosh pit to properly open up. From there though it doesn't drop and the energy stays the same, not wavering much and staying accepting for a setlist full of old bangers but only a certain handful of the new stuff, i.e. only the new songs that have already been released. Such a setlist choice leaves me wondering why they haven't included any of the newer stuff, I mean the new album was now out and some people may wanna hear songs that they heard today live but, hey, you know what? It's a small detail and doesn't ruin the night's festivities.
As for the band's presence on stage, from memory of previous shows, MK weren't a band that moved around a lot because their music was so good they probably didn't need to, so whether the initial lack of energy from the audience is a testament to people's reaction to the new album I'll leave up to you. On the topic of previous shows I remember how when I last saw them, their first tour without Mikey Chapman, they had a reworked sound which is still present in the bands current set. It's fine for most songs but personally, it took me 'til the first verse to recognise "Sugar", and "California" loses its big chorus feel. The main plus from the slightly new sound is that lead singer/bassist Sam Douglas voice does seem to suit all the songs now. As a frontman he is, and I say this in the most polite way I can, lovably miserable with some of the things he says. He's not the kind of person to hide that aspect of him but it does leave me wondering, during a certain point of the show, when he asks the crowd to "f@#%ing show" him what they've got if he was asking or angrily demanding. As the show goes on, the crowd genuinely get more and more into it, proudly singing the bridge to "Getaway" and, upon request, jumping to "Wake Up". The Cambridge spirit comes out more and more, which is all so interesting to a non-Cantabridgian such as myself (that's apparently what someone from Cambridge is known as, or at least that's what the internet tells me. Maybe it's a "Camber", I don't know).
By the end, in the new chapter of their life MK have remained strong and showed that they still have a life as "Better Off Without You" ends an hour-long set full of classic MK tunes with a nice sprinkling of the new stuff. Yes, as it is album release day they could've thrown in some more newer songs but that doesn't stop the show ending with a crowd that, due to the lingering hometown spirit, is just thankful for the opportunity to celebrate what this band means to them. They even demand an encore even though sadly on this night in particular for whatever reason they're not gonna get one. Despite hardship and not knowing what's coming next, Mallory Knox continues.
Overall Score: 3.5/5.