Gig Review: Respire plus Callous Hands and Johanna Rey at Dead Wax

By Henry Fox

What’s Going on Around Here?

Last night was a blood-pumping rollercoaster at Dead Wax Digbeth, the small black box of their gig space being filled with the sound of screams and drumming – The culprits? Hardcore and metal bands Johanna Rey, Callous Hands and Respire.

Promoting the event was Surprise You’re Dead Music, a great place for locals to check for gigs if you’re into anything alternative, from goth rock to metal.

Johanna Rey photo via Damian John

Local hardcore band Johanna Rey took the stage first. They blew my eardrums out in the best kind of way. 

Short, political, and electrifying; the highlight of this set was the band performing their new single PLIGHT, which can be streamed here. “This is about our right to protest being taken away”, said the band’s frontman – a message that rang especially true with the crowd last night.

Callous Hands photo via Callous Hands

Brum-based metal band Callous Hands were hot off the heels of performing at Bloodstock Festival earlier this week and made a screaming entrance at the gig – getting the crowd headbanging together with them. 

The set included great metal sound with extra stage presence, using levels to their advantage, screams bathed in red stage lights.

Respire photo via Respire

Finally, the last act of the night, Respire, got onstage. Everyone and anyone around Dead Wax had been drumming up hype for The self-described “post-everything” Canadian band Respire, whose UK tour has just started. 

Gentle guitar melodies giving way to screaming vocals – the band’s two contrasting styles worked amazingly to get the crowd riled up and ready to scream and shout. 

Altogether a great gig – if one with a small crowd. All the bands’ merch was flying off the table by the end of each set. If you want some heart-thumping tunes to listen to, RespireCallous Hands, and Johanna Rey can all be found on major streaming platforms.