Review of Enter Shikari: A British band reaching new heights with their sensory overload performance.

Review of Enter Shikari: A British band reaching new heights with their sensory overload performance.

“We are going in hard,” Rou Reynolds declares during …Meltdown, ushering in gut-rattling bass wobbles that make this cavernous arena feel more like the deepest belly of a warehouse rave. Enter Shikari are a rock band in the broadest sense – moshpits break out instantly – but their trademark is a zealous fusion of dubstep, emo and electro tied up in sociopolitical commentary of varying efficacy.

The St Albans quartet have a catalogue that varies so liberally that, for every song you swerve, there’s another that might be right up your street. Only they can say if their stylistic fluidity is completely organic or a box-ticking exercise, but they’re doing something right. Last year’s A Kiss for the Whole World, the band’s seventh album since 2007, was their first UK No 1 and tonight’s Leeds date marks the beginning of their first UK arena tour.

“Would you like to try out this sound system?” lead singer Reynolds inquires. Their song Anaesthetist is the perfect fit for the occasion. “You silly person!” he shouts, infusing inherently British humor into a scathing criticism of healthcare privatization. The song transitions from gritty verses to intense choruses, culminating in a powerful deathcore breakdown – and just when you think it couldn’t get any better, Reynolds pulls out his trumpet. This happens during Jailbreak, as towering vertical lasers engulf the stage. “There’s a revolution waiting to happen inside of you,” Reynolds spits, before jumping into a sea of people and disappearing from view.

A revolution waiting to happen … Enter Shikari.View image in fullscreen

This group is no stranger to performing on large stages, having played at numerous major festivals throughout Europe. They easily match the grand scale of the arena with a stunning display of visuals and sound. During their performance of “Sssnakepit,” the screen behind drummer Rob Rolfe transforms into a vibrant green representation of the classic game Snake before changing to bouncing clown faces for the finale of “The Jester.” Just when a change of pace is needed, lead singer Reynolds climbs one of the giant cube screens with his guitar for a slow, solo version of “Juggernauts.” He playfully acknowledges the cliche of dramatic pauses and slow songs in arena rock performances.

In the mid-2000s, Enter Shikari gained popularity through Myspace, a revolutionary platform for building an online fanbase. The band’s music, reminiscent of the emo style popular at the time, along with their fashion choices of striped windbreaker jackets and coiffed fringes, captured the energy of the era. This can be heard in their 2006 song “Sorry, You’re Not a Winner”. While both the band and their now-thirtysomething fans have moved past the teenage phase and retired their glow sticks, this moment feels like the start of Enter Shikari’s greatest chapter, marking a victorious culmination of two decades.