While I recognized the name Biffy Clyro, I only started to pay attention to the band after they became the latest temper tantrum target for the once great artist known as Trent Reznor. In a tweet sent right before the massive Reading Festival across the pond in the United Kingdom, the Academy Award winner was upset that some “whoever the fuck they are” band was not only following Nine Inch Nails, they also “fucked him” on production. Not knowing a damn thing about Biffy Clyro, I decided it was time to give them a listen (I have a thing for bands from the UK that have zero following here in the States). As it turns out, the three piece band from Scotland is making far more interesting music than Trent these days and as you can see from this video, they blew Nine Inch Nails off the fucking stage.
So that brings us to Valentine’s Day 2014 and one of the final nights of a brief west coast run for Biffy Clyro. I found myself back at the El Rey Theatre for a second night in a row, which makes me laugh since I had been to the venue only twice in the past 12 years before that. The night started off rather painfully with a boring set from openers Morning Parade. Dull riffs, dreadful vocals and totally uninspiring, watching Morning Parade are about as exhilarating as watching paint dry. Diet One Republic at best, no need to waste any more space discussing the 40 minutes of my life I can never get back.
With the venue near capacity the band kicked off their largest Los Angeles headline show to date with the slow building Different People found on their most recent studio album Opposites. I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t know what to expect from the crowd as Los Angeles has earned its reputation for shitty crowds for a reason. Yet once the crowd instantly drowned out vocalist/guitarist Simon Neil, I knew we were in for something special. The energy continued right into That Golden Rule as fans bounced off each other and even sang along to instrumental sections of the song.
An unplanned highlight of the night came during the third song, Who’s Got A Match? In fine rock star fashion, Simon Neil ate it hard on the drum riser and fell flat on his face. Despite what looked like a painful trip, Neil kept at it and finished the song with his teal blue Converse facing the crowd elevated high in the air. Check out a great photo from Twitter of the accident down below.
The show continued on with Neil planted firmly on two feet as the band mixed songs from their past two albums effortlessly. Sounds Like Balloons got the boys up front moshing for the first time that night while God and Satan became one massive fucking sing-a-long. Another highlight was the appropriate Spanish Radio, seeing as how Biffy Clyro has a better shot of getting played on one of those in Los Angeles versus our pathetic rock radio signals KROQ and whatever they are calling 98.7 this week. Stripped down a great deal from the album, it once again gave the crowd a chance to breath after a rowdy take on Bubbles.
It didn’t matter what era of Biffy the songs came from, the crowd knew every last line. Armed with only an acoustic guitar, Neil serenaded the crowd with Folding Stars, much to the delight of a few jock types who stopped banging around to allow one of the smaller guys to sway upon the shoulders of a pal. I don’t think the band’s debut album Blackened Sky was released in the United States; however thanks to modern technology everyone lost their minds when it came time for 57 to make an appearance. Perhaps file sharing isn’t always a bad thing?
Clocking in at nearly two hours, the set finally closed with a ferocious run through of The Captain. With sweat dripping from each member of the band, it didn’t matter that the El Rey was 1/80th the size of Reading or Leads, Biffy poured every ounce of energy into the song.
Upon returning for a three song encore that included the songs Opposite, Stingin’ Belle and the band’s biggest UK hit Mountains, the band took a moment to thank the crowd. While some stage banter was unintelligible under those thick Scottish accents, everyone got the message loud and clear that this was hands down the best Biffy Clyro show Los Angeles has ever witnessed. With no main stream help whatsoever, Biffy Clyro is slowly winning over the United States one fan at a time. With at least 850 rabid residents of Southern California now eating out of the palm of their hands, it is just a matter of time before Mon The Biff is as popular of a phrase in Los Angeles as Fuck The 405.