Of Mice And Men

Royal Arena, Copenhagen - 2017

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames rolled back into town with their co-headline tour. Last time was during this summer, where both bands played at the Copenhell festival. Now, for some reason, Of Mice & Men didn’t accompany the other two at that time, and I was curious to see if tonight’s performance would yield a clue as to why.

“We are Of Mice & Men. Put your fucking horns in the air, and bang your heads!”
- Aaron Pauley (vocals/bass)

Starting out before two such big names, and at a large arena so far not nearly full, can be a daunting task. Still, it didn’t seem to affect the band, I’ll credit them with that. The performance got right to the point, letting the music speak for itself, at least to begin with. The music at hand was rather straightforward metalcore, as far as I could tell, but possibly with a bit more weight put on the melodic, clean vocals, than what I’m used to. It’s not something that appeals to me, but the bandmembers seemed competent enough, and I could see this hitting home with a crowd more akin to this specific style.
What was surprising though, and this is considering the music was pretty much exactly what I had guessed it would be, was that the performance was keeping pace with the fast, aggressive music, not by a long shot. There was a little bit of headbanging from time to time, and our two guitarists, Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby, walked a bit as well. Ashby seemed a bit more invested in the deal, but only by a small margin.

A similar effect was going through the audience. Now, when I say that the stadium wasn’t filled by this time, this should be understood as exactly that, not that there weren’t any people around. There were, quite a lot even, but their participation was early on only relayed by means of shout between songs.
Little by little though, and I say this with the sheerest honesty, as the concert held no more than six songs within it, the band warmed up to the task – they weren’t becoming livelier themselves, but especially Pauley began to reach out more, asking and demanding things of the Copenhagen crowd. Now that the audience felt addressed, they were also willing to turn up the heat a bit. More arms were in the air, and the appreciative shouting between songs became louder and more meaningful. Pauley asked before the song Pain, how many had seen the band before, and how many were watching Of Mice & Men for the first time – while the response to his question was impressive enough, it also stood painfully (pun intended, of course) clear that it was only a handful of people in the former category, and the vast majority belonged to the latter. This again didn’t phase the band, which dedicated the aforementioned song to all those who were new to the experience.

I said that the band didn’t become livelier, but that wasn’t completely true. At the very end of things, or the show at least, this actually did happen. Drummer David ‘Valentino’ Arteaga rose, and played standing for a short stint, and the three string-benders in the front even jumped. For a bit, at least.
It was too little, too late though, and Of Mice & Men’s performance was quickly archived in the great book of forgetfulness. It wasn’t bad, it was just pointless. This may, or may not, have been the clue I was looking for. Who knows? Either way, they need to work on those performing skills, and how to access them from the beginning of the show, not just reaching them at the end of it.

Setlist (incomplete):

The Depths

Of Mice And Men

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