Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds is here to provide a spark
Enter Shikari has your back. In fact, lead singer Rou (rhymes with “cow”) Reynolds will often leave the stage mid-set to sing from the room’s cheap seats—a levelling of the playing field very much in tune with the band’s message of connection and inclusion.
“That’s something we’ve always done,” Reynolds says during a break from stage setup in Philadelphia. “Often, if you go to a gig and you’re standing at the back, maybe you don’t feel truly amongst it. So it’s nice to get off stage and see the world from people’s eyes back there.”
No matter if you’re in the front or back, you’re going to want to be in the room when Enter Shikari plays. The veteran U.K. four-piece, formed in 1999 in St. Albans, a city northwest of London, is a formidable beast on stage, voted best live band in the country four times since 2007.
Over the course of four albums, the band pioneered an unholy alliance of disparate metal and electronic styles spiked with earnest progressive politics. You’re just as likely to hear some dubstep wobble or grime as you are a metalcore breakdown or throat-shredding screamed vocal. It’s heavy, boundary-pushing stuff, with songs that can go in 20 different directions—a righteous noise to some, a gnarly racket to others.
But the fifth record, 2017’s The Spark, is Enter Shikari at its most lucid. You still get the innovative marriage of U.K.’s proud history of electronic and guitar music, but you also get a focused attack that reflects Reynolds’ maturing songwriting.
“I was starting to get frustrated for being labelled or thought of as a noisy band, or a crazy band,” Reynolds says. “It was a real willingness and desire to concentrate on levity and vocals taking the focus.”
That fight for levity—the spark in a world of gathering darkness—is the hero’s quest for Enter Shikari. The band has never shied from highlighting how political action, especially youth action, is the only option for building a better, more caring future. Reynolds says he’s noticing more young people realize that politics is not something you can ignore.
“In this day and age, with how intense and bewildering things have got, you can’t avoid political discussion—you can try, but it’s impossible,” he says. “I think we try to encourage people to empower themselves to become knowledgeable about these things so they’re not just fucked over. And I think that’s improved dramatically. I can talk about the U.K.—in the last five years, youth apathy has just disappeared.”
For Reynolds, a political act can be something as simple as focussing on your mental health. The 32-year-old has been open with his struggles with anxiety and depression. For him, the classic English “stiff upper lip” is a lonely choice, a missed opportunity to reach out and become a better person.
“People think that emotion is weak, and that’s a very dangerous train of thought that can lead people to become very nasty, extremely proud to the point of weakness,” Reynolds says. “The thing that breaks my heart is when people think that they’re alone.”
Wed., Feb. 14 (7 pm)
Enter Shikari w/ Single Mothers, Milk Teeth
The Starlite Room