Better Days Christmas Show

 It’s been a whirlwind of a year for the Newcastle pop-punk band.

In the last twelve months they’ve released two singles and a split EP with Wayside Story, they’ve opened for bands like Seaway, Milestones and Trash Boat, as well as having a line-up change and spending a week at Steel City in Sheffield to record their upcoming EP set to be released next year.

So how do you end a year like that? Duh, have a headline Christmas show in your hometown. Or rather your second annual Christmas show. Seems fitting.

The show took place at Riverside, a 650-capacity venue, which can be seen as a bit of a risk for an upcoming pop-punk band but after seeing the amount of people there and the reaction they received during their performance there was nothing to worry about.

A bigger venue meant a higher production value, in comparison to shows seen at Eiger Music Studios and Jumpin’ Jacks Better Days decided to go all out with lights, smoke machines and, of course, the most over-the-top Christmas decorations possible, including a blow-up Santa in the background.

With any huge show there are going to be a few hiccups. Better Days were trying out backing tracks that would allow songs to blend in with each other but unfortunately the tracks stopped working during the first song. However, this was probably for the best. (Let me explain). You see there are two different types of artists out there; ones who really struggle when something goes wrong at a live show and they let it ruin the performance, and ones who are professional and carry on regardless. Better Days did the latter.

They stood around for a minute or two laughing and talking amongst themselves as they tried to see if they can get the tracks working, joked with the audience about it and then once coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work carried on with the show. It just shows their level of professionalism, star quality and stage presence.

Now onto the show itself. Wow. Well done lads, you really put together an incredible show. This is hands down the best live show I’ve seen from you guys…so far.

Their headline show had a setlist of 11 songs which included a sneak peek of songs likely to be featured on the upcoming album. (Side note, a personal favourite probably has to be Tired Bones Weak Minds).

They opened the show with a reworked version of Thick Skin and then going straight into Woebegone, another new song from them which I also look forward to being officially released. We also got to hear the newer versions of This House, Worthless and A Lesson In Struggling to Cope, a way to show off the chemistry within the new line-up.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas show without a Christmas song, we got to hear their version of Last Christmas which had only been heard acoustically at this point. And, if you listen carefully, you can hear Michael dying in the background as Graeme says “Merry Christmas.”

This is also where Headway was played live for the first time which will go down as the tear-jerker of the night.

They finished the show with fan favourite, 12.07.15, a great way to end the show.

Congratulations on the show guys. You’ve had an incredible year and you finished it off in the best way possible. I wish you all of the best in 2018, it’s going to be your year. I just know it.

Neck Deep

Fuck Neck Deep mate, they’re shit.

Sorry. I was struggling with how to start this so I went with the overly obvious, cliche opening sentence. I’ll probably regret it later but let’s just go with it for now. We’ve established what this post will be about and that’s the main thing.

So, not only did I get to see Neck Deep live but I also got to meet them through their Soundcheck Club package. I tend to be really fussy with VIP as there’s times when the price isn’t worth what’s being offered but £30 for soundcheck, a Q&A, signing, photo and early entry?  I’m down. In the soundcheck they played three songs that weren’t in the setlist; Threat Level MidnightLosing Teeth and Serpents, and answered three questions inbetween each song (9 questions between 159 people…a bit of a stretch but ok). This was then followed by the signing and photo. We were allowed to have one item signed each so I bought their cover of Rock Sound which I think they had a little bit too much fun with doodling all over it. I mean:

Unfortunately for the photo everybody was rushed so I didn’t get a chance to properly say hi to them but we got this pretty cute picture:

Now onto the show: the support acts for tonight were Woes, Real Friends and As It Is. I hadn’t heard of Scottish pop-punk band, Woes, before but within 30 seconds of them playing the first song I was already onboard, there was not one dull moment during their set with the main highlights being their minute cover of Smash Mouth’s All Star, and then Real Friends, As It Is and Neck Deep coming out to celebrate the lead vocalist’s birthday (I couldn’t find your name I’m so sorry!). Next up was Real Friends. I had listened to them a bit before, mainly their more well known songs like Mess and I’ve Given Up On You so I wanted to use this opportunity to check them out properly and I was certainly not disappointed. I need to say that Dan Lambton is an adorable, talented bean. I know that sounds weird/stupid but I love watching people who are genuinely having the time of their life performing onstage and are so incredibly happy, it’s so wonderful to watch. Final support act of the night, As It Is, were also good tonight although not the best that I had seen them. Their guitarist, Andy Westhead, has recently left the band (depending on who you ask), so I don’t know if it was the fact that he was no longer in the band that made them lack the spark they usually have or that it simply not their best night?

I need to give a huge shoutout and thank you to Neck Deep for doing this. The Peace and The Panic tour had been sponsored by Hope For The Day and before the show started they had a spokesperson come out and give a speech about mental health. They said that “it’s okay not to be okay”, that’s it’s good to speak out and get help, and promised that things will get better. They also told us where to go to get leaflets with advice and stories from the bands on this tour of how they dealt with mental health issues. Loads of people like to attack Neck Deep, whether you are a fan of their music or not is up to you, but you need to seriously commend them for this. That speech given out each night of this tour would have helped someone and in the process saved their life. Thank you.

And now for the main event. Last time Neck Deep was on tour they were playing small, independent venues and now here they were playing o2 Academy level venues. Could a pop-punk band from Wrexham be able to pull off a larger scale show in a 2,000 capacity room? Fuck yes they can.

Hiding behind and then being revealed by a large white sheet, they went straight into one of the two lead singles from their newest album, The Peace and the PanicHappy Judgement Day, followed immediately by Lime St.

The use of larger venues has now given them the opportunity to have a larger production and, well, holy shit it was incredible visually. “Last tour we had pretend flames onstage that we thought looked cool but actually looked a bit shit,” laughed frontman, Ben Barlow. “But now we’ve got real flames!”

The setlist consisted of the majority of their songs from their newest album like Motion SicknessParachute and The Grand Delusion, while still remaining loyal to their previous albums and playing classics like What Did You ExpectCitizens of Earth and Kali Ma. It’s not a Neck Deep show without the non-stop sea of crowdsurfers and Manchester certainly did not disappoint.

It’s also not a Neck Deep show without a little acoustic session; Head To The GroundWish You Were Here (not a dry eye in the room) and, of course, A Part Of Me.

The encore for tonight was Can’t Kick Up The Roots and appropriately ended with Where Do We Go When We Go, cue the large stream of confetti. An appropriate ending for a mind-blowing night.

Neck Deep never fail to impress me with their live shows and now that I’ve seen them a large scale show with a huge production value I do wonder where they could go from here. I’ll tell you. They’re only going to get bigger and better.

Well I did start this with something cliche so I may as well end it with something cliche.

Waterparks UK Tour

Around two weeks ago I started one of the best weeks of my life. Previously the most I had seen a band on tour had been about four times and that was strictly to cities that were about an hour or two away from me (All Time Low if any you happen to remember), but this time round I was going five dates and it was mixed between the city I lived in, a city an hour away from me and three cities that were up to 3+ hours away. Now my sister has actually followed this tour and went to eight out of nine dates so I’m not on the same level as her but this was still a completely new experience to me. And it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Here’s my account of seeing Waterparks five times.

I began my what would soon become daily 3am starts by getting on a 5am coach to Nottingham and, if I’m honest, I didn’t have the best start once I had arrived as the taxi I got told me that they couldn’t take me the usual way to the venue due to bad traffic so would drop me off two streets away and direct me where to go.
“Just walk towards the pink building.”
….Well I’m going to get lost, thanks anyway. Luckily when I had crossed the road to the side where this pink building was I was immediately greeted by two fans.
“Thank god, another Waterparks fan! We don’t know where to queue up.”
Typically not the first sentence you’d expect to hear from someone who you just met but it was the beginning of what would be an amazing friendship and the start of great memories from that week. That day allowed me to meet several people who I had been following/talking to on Twitter for a while, in fact that week I met a lot of my favourite mutuals on Twitter, something that may have never have happened if it wasn’t for this tour.
I feel like now I need to move on to the actual event itself or I will be going for ages about the discussions and dramas of queuing up and I very much doubt anyone cares about that.
There were two very different support acts on this tour; London-based pop-punk band The Bottom Line and alt pop-rock Chapel from Georgia. I had seen The Bottom Line support Simple Plan last year, the ones who took the strongest shot of alcohol onstage, and was excited to see them again. Their set was just equally loud and out there as before, especially with their punk-rock intro of God Save The Queen that reminded me somewhat of The Sex Pistols and Cal repeating events of crowd-surfing. Now that their new single, I Still Hate You, is now out (buy now on iTunes ;)) I look forward to hopefully seeing them again (I believe that the tour might be happening in January).
If I’m honest I didn’t expect to enjoy Chapel as much as I had, I mean had no idea what to expect to begin with but I was convinced that I would end up enjoying The Bottom Line more…boy was I wrong and I’m fucking glad I was wrong. Chapel were simply fantastic. The duo had amazing star quality that stops you from looking away. Just incredible, please listen to them. Start out with Caught Up and then get back to me.
And now for our main headliners. The same band who had once said “oh we’re not good enough to tour the UK” but were now on a sell-out headline tour. Opening with fan favourite Plum Island and then going straight into their breakout single Crave, it was sign of what the forthcoming setlist would include; nothing but the best of their newest, oldest, popular and, for some people, lesser known tracks like HawaiiMad All The TimeSilverNo Capes and Dizzy. It had been a while since I had last seen them and this just reminded me of how fantastic (no pun intended) they are live and how much I had dearly missed them. The only thing that I could complain about was the slight lack of crowd interaction due to how no one seemed to be asking them random questions that tends to lead on to their sometimes questionably odd banter. The main highlight was when my sister gave Awsten a small cardboard cut-out of himself that soon became a regular occurrence on the tour. *Sigh*, Baby Awsten, you are an icon.
The encore of the night was I’m a Natural Blue that many of us had originally believed had been “killed off” so it was great that were now bringing it back as it’s simply fucking amazing live. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy hearing; “Break me cause JUMP JUMP JUMP” at a show?
After the show we were able to meet Kortney Grinwis from Chapel. I cannot stress how much of a sweetheart she is, she became one the main reasons I looked forward to each show as it felt like I was reuniting with an old friend each time I met her (and Carter, but I didn’t meet him at Nottingham so that’s why he’s not mentioned).
We also able to meet Waterparks afterwards but before I talk about that I feel like I need to do an important PSA.

PSA: There is nothing wrong with meeting your favourite band/singer/actor/celebrity etc. I get the excitement of meeting one of your favourite bands, I really do, I still get really happy whenever I’ve meet Parx, so when someone gets to meet them for the first time I’m pleased for them. What I’m about to say is not me being “entitled” or “rude” because I’ve met them before. 
What I’m not OK with is people mobbing/crowding around them, backing them into walls/cars, making them uncomfortable by asking personal questions or calling them “Daddy” (I wish I was joking), screaming in their faces, or running after them when they arrive at venues or following them into buildings. Basically if you have no respect for their personal space or them as people then I have an issue. I have an issue with anyone that’s done this with any band/singer/actor etc., not just Waterparks. Don’t treat them like caged animals. This happened several times at some of the dates I went to, with Nottingham and Birmingham being the worst. 
If this keeps happening then they will stop meeting people altogether, this has happened with other bands before and it ruins it for other people. Please be respectful with anyone you meet or you’ll find that you won’t be able to meet them again the future. 
Also don’t fucking cut people off when they’re in the middle of talking them. Be patient, you’ll get to talk to them. Don’t be a dick.
And now back to our regular programming.

Whenever I’ve met Waterparks they have always been lovely and chilled and this tour was no different. I mentioned to them that I had got up at 3am for them and they were in disbelief and were asking me why and if I was ok (no, but thanks for asking haha). It was also there that I found out that Geoff knows who I am when he said “It’s great to see you again”, so that was a nice surprise. Overall, a great start to the tour.

We didn’t have as much as an early start this time round but we still had a long journey to make. I don’t want to keep repeating myself about what the performances from both Parx and their support acts were like, as they were brilliant each time, so I’m just going to focus on different highlights and stand-out moments from each date I went to.
While it was lovely to be reunited with friends in the queue, it wasn’t lovely to have a disaster with the queue. Basically: when my sister, friend and I arrived at the venue everyone was queued on one side, number system going and everything, at about 11am/12pm. About 3/4pm security made us move to the other side of the doors (everyone was originally on the left hand side but we were made to go to the right hand side, just to clear up any confusion.) At that point there were other people who had started queuing on the right so we were made to run to the end of the queue, so, as there were people who had been since 7am and had a number system, we knew that this wasn’t fair and spoke to security who thankfully agreed to let us go to the front as long as we organised ourselves. So massive thank you to the security at Newcastle o2 Academy for helping us out. And also a fuck you to the person who tried to have a go at us for this.
Both support acts were just as energetic as the previous night, with a change in The Bottom Line’s intro now being changed to the Star Wars theme. Waterparks were also as energetic with there being more crowd participation where more people now had the courage to shout random bullshit at Awsten. There was also an added song to the setlist! Little Violence!…Well, a half-assed version of it just to shut people up who were shouting song requests, but it’ll do.
I wasn’t able to meet Waterparks this time due to the time my coach left but I was able to meet Chapel (both members this time!) who were genuinely pleased to hear that people were enjoying their set. At this point the tour’s line-up each night was making me more and more happy so I looked forward to seeing The Bottom Line and Chapel each night. (Please tour the UK, I miss you all already.)

The most iconic date boi…I hate myself for the fact that that sentence even came into my head. This date was the earliest that we had queued, 4:30 am. No regrets.
The venue tonight was The Key Club which was the most up close and personal show on the tour…and sweatiest. I’m not exaggerating, the humidity in the room rose up and then once condensed dripped back down on us. It was fucking grim but anyway.
Point is that if you’re at the front the band is less than an arms length away. I mean look at this video I got:

Yes… THEY FUCKING ADDED 21 QUESTIONS. AT LONG FUCKING LAST. Leeds had hands down the best setlist of the tour.
However, the night didn’t end on a good note. Without giving away too much there was some words said towards my sister that left her feeling upset, and The Bottom Line and Chapel noticed. I just want to take the time to thank them for looking out for her and trying to cheer her up. I also want to thank Awsten who, despite being told by their tour manager that he needed to go, went over to her after one of our friends told him she was upset and didn’t leave until she was happy. Thank Awsten, you may be annoying at times, but you’re a kind-hearted person.

Have you ever had it where your alarm doesn’t go off? Have you ever had it that your alarm doesn’t go off AND you have a train to get? Have you ever had it where you wake up at the time the train is meant to leave? I think you can guess how my morning went.
Luckily trains to Manchester leave every half an hour or so we were able to get into Manchester only an hour and half later from when we were originally meant to arrive.
I’m so conscious of the fact that as I talk through each date the sections are getting shorter, but I am trying to avoid repeating myself as The Bottom Line, Chapel and Waterparks were fantastic each time so I want to focus on stand-out moments from each show.
The main highlight of Manchester is when Carter from Chapel duetted with Waterparks on their song Gloom Boys which was an unexpected bonus of the night and a last minute decision according to Carter when I met them afterwards.

Name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait

There was also a notable change with the setlist, while Waterparks had now added 21 Questions to as seen in Leeds the night before, they were now playing it as part of the encore and had taken I’m A Natural Blue off :)….WHY.
Other stand out moments included catching Otto’s drumstick and being also able to meet Geoff after the show, where I was still shocked at the fact that he knows who I am. He was also happy for me when I told him that I caught Otto’s drumstick.

My last show. I had warned Geoff in Manchester that it would be an emotional day and, well, I wasn’t wrong. Not only would it be the last time I see them (for now…hopefully) it would be the last day of seeing my friends for a while, the friends I had met through this band and through this tour. There was a lot of crying.
And what an amazing last show it was. Even though I knew that it was my last date I was so happy the whole time, I was tired from having to get a 5am coach and knew that I would be stuck in Birmingham until 3am but I didn’t care. Going to gigs makes me so happy, it’s where I can forget about the bullshit going on around me and escape for a few hours.
After a final meeting with The Bottom Line and Chapel (who have said that I can interview them in the future on my news site, cheeky plug in – check out my music news site that I’ve made as part of my final year at university), we went round to the backstage door in hopes to say goodbye to Waterparks. Geoff came out first (btw, a massive fuck you to the person who said “oh, it’s only Geoff”) followed a little while later by Awsten complete with mask due to illness.
I had wanted to thank them for everything over the past five shows, for allowing me to meet so many people and getting me out of my comfort zone by letting me visit cities that I’ve never been to before, and for them always being kind to me whenever I’ve met them. Both of them were genuinely happy to hear this (with Awsten using sign language to help create a reply).

Following this band on tour has been amazing and I am so grateful for everything I have experienced and for everyone I met. I hope I get to do this again soon. Until next time.

The “A” Word

I’ve been wanting to write a blog like this for a while now. The reason why it took so long was that I didn’t want to rush into it, like it sound like an idiotic ramble or a pathetic excuse of complaining. I wanted to get it right.

If you happen to stumble across this randomly then it makes sense to introduce myself. Hi. I’m Charlotte, a 21-year-old university student about to enter the third year of their journalism course who hopes to one day be a music reporter. Like think of those APTV correspondents or writing for a publications like Kerrang! and Rock Sound. Well, one can dream. Realistically I’ll end up at a local publication or company but hey I’m happy as long as I can still go to and talk about live music events.

There’s something else about me though, something that pretty much controls my life and has made me who I am today, for better or for worse. Not a lot of people know about this. Not even those who I see everyday. It’s always the shock when they find out that sums it up;

“I never would have guessed it.”

“But you act ‘normal’.”

“Are you sure?”

“You don’t act/look/sound autistic.”

Guess there’s no point in any dramatic build up. Yes, I’m autistic. I have a condition called Semantic Pragmatic Disorder (SPD) which in simple terms is like having a really warped version of social anxiety that also comes with a lack of social skills.

The longer version, when I once looked up the professional definition, came up with a list of “traits” which included being shy/anxious, being overly friendly, not understanding jokes/sarcasm, struggling to understand communication, struggling to come up with their own sentences etc. The list went on. It even went into detail on how people with SPD tend to have a lack of creativity which I do call bullshit on as I was raised in an arty family who encouraged me to do art for the majority of my life. I also had deep interest in creative writing for a while, which transpired into journalism, I did Drama, and I’m never without my iPod and headphones.

I can’t speak for everyone with autism as it is such a wide spectrum but there’s so many people out there right now with aspergers who work in such industries like art, film, music and even video games, like did you know that the creator of Pokemon, Satoshi Tajiri, has autism? As a child and teenager he became so fascinated by video games that he wanted his life around to revolve around it and, as he knew what he wanted from industry, created one of the must successful video game and media franchises of all time.

This all comes down to how people with autism tend to become fascinated and obsessed with a certain topic or thing which can later on help them to determine the type of career they would want to go into in the future as, at that point, they would have spent the majority of their time playing/working on/learning about said topic. For me that is how I became so interested in wanting to be a music journalist as I used to enjoy reading when I was younger, I still do now but sadly I don’t have as much time for it as I would like. From that I became interested in creative writing and for a long time I was dead-set on becoming an author but as I got older I realised that I realistically wouldn’t be able to make a full-time living from it unless I was an immediate success along with the fact that I was starting to struggle making up stories.

However I was still interested in writing and found that I enjoyed writing articles  so from there I became determined to work in journalism/media. The music side of it simply came from how I listen to music everyday and I like to talk things I’ve listened to and things I’d been to so decided to bring the two together.

That’s the amazing side of being autistic. But unfortunately most people only know of autism for the negative side. The side where people tend to be socially inept, are difficult to work with and don’t make relationships easily. I’m not denying that side being fake. When I was younger I used to struggle in understanding communication and had a bad speech impediment due to being a mute up until I was three-years-old. I still struggle to talk now but I am trying to work on it day by day. As result of this I stood out like a sore thumb at the small, private all-girls school I went to and I became a target of bullying when I was in Year 7.

Not a lot of people understand autism and tend to believe the stereotypes that the media portrays; either you are a Sheldon Cooper type or you’re a “nightmare” to live with. There’s no inbetween. So it shouldn’t be surprising in Year 7 that due to this, and to how I acted up to this point, that the people who I thought of as my friends were in reality laughing at me behind my back and were saying certain things about me.

I still hear negative things being said now as 21-year-old about me or autism in general. I still hear people making autism jokes. I still see people calling themselves autistic as a way to say that they’re awkward or weird. My other favourite things heard from Year 7 up to now include names such as; “Freak”, “Retard”, and “Weirdo”.

“You’re an embarrassment to your family.”

“You’re an embarrassing to be friends with.”

“She should’ve been aborted.”

“You should wear your autism like a badge.” – a bit of strange one but it’s basically saying that I should define myself by autism. No. My autism doesn’t define me.

Now I know the cliche thing to do in this scenario is to ignore the negative comments and prove you’re bigger person, cue motivational speech, but at the time (when I first started hearing these comments in Year 7) you need to understand that I had never dealt with this type of scenario before. I could barely wrap my head around regular communication and now I was being forcibly thrown into the nasty world of liars, fake friends and, in all honesty, emotional bullying. My mind couldn’t cope. It didn’t make sense. What does my aspergers tell me to do? Shut people out. Don’t trust them. You’ll just get hurt again.

Nothing changes I guess but you do learn to cope with it better.

My confidence for the next two years was non-existent. The majority of Year 7 was spent in the library hidden in a good book. While I felt I couldn’t trust people I could always rely on old favourite characters like Hermione and Georgia to keep me company. I would probably still be hidden there now if it weren’t for a good friend of mine who noticed what happened and thought “this isn’t OK” and helped me to come out of my shell. Gradually through Year 8 I got confidence back whilst at the same time was still cautious of my year group in case it all happened again. Then from Year 9 to Year 11 things were good again asides from the occasional arguments and fall-outs that most friendships have but hey we’ve all been there.

However Sixth Form happened. AKA, two of the worst years of my life for my anxiety.

I was already stressed due to coursework and exams but it didn’t help that I was also dealing with a teacher who seemed to view my learning difficulties as nothing more than a stupid disruption and with people who became more aware of my style and interests were ‘different’. As I mentioned, I was at a small school so if you were “different” you stood out.

Quick side note. This isn’t me trying to sound like some pretentious, special snowflake. I’m not saying that I’m different and no one understands me, none of that bullshit. I’m just stating what I dealt with.

The majority of my year were loud and outgoing and I was the opposite. In general I was the quiet kid in the corner with their headphones in who enjoyed writing about literature and life and going to gigs.

Loads of comments were made about that. Comments were made about what I wore on “home clothes” day, what I listened to and the fact that I went to “a lot of” gigs (not really, I only went to 9 during my two years of A-Levels. That’s fucking nothing in comparison to now.)

I was paranoid 24/7 as I felt like nothing I did was right. I was essentially being told that what I enjoyed, what my life centered around, was wrong. The anxiety attacks started. I don’t want to go into any further detail as I think you’ve got the picture. All I will say is that the day that I left my school was one of the happiest days of my life and that I’m doing a lot better now.

I still struggle with anxiety now. It’ll hit me when I’m meeting people for the first time, when I’m doing something new, when I’m really uncomfortable/stressed and overwhelmed. It’s then that I’m more evidently autistic. But I’m getting better at coping with it; about 3/4 years ago I was too scared to get the bus into town. Now I’m travelling on trains and coaches to cities hours away from home to see my favourite artists. I was too scared to go to university, I’m now about to enter my third year with the likelihood of getting a 2:1, (get back to me on that one in about a month).

This is now turning more into a blog about anxiety but I do assure you that this is still focused on my autism. Anxiety is simply a part of it and I’ve learnt how to deal with it much like with how I learnt how to cope in social situations. I picked up what to do socially like I was learning a part for a play in terms of being given directions in how to portray a certain character. The same goes with anxiety but more in terms of advice. The best advice I’ve heard came from YouTuber/singer, Dodie. She’s talked about dealing with anxiety in the past and she once said that if you ever get a negative thought, don’t shut it out or let it consume you, stop it in it’s tracks and question it and look at the evidence as to whether it is true or not. Since being given that life tip I have become much more happier and calmer.

Despite all of this I wouldn’t change who I was. I remember once being asked, “Would you cure it it if you could?” A tricky question. While it would be nice not to be worried constantly about social gatherings and not having negative comments being made about my condition, no I wouldn’t. It’s part of who I am. Not in terms of me wanting to wearing it “like a badge” (like seriously, what the fuck?!) but it helped me to figure out who I was. My obsession in reading and writing helped me to become interested in journalism. My obsession of music helped to figure out who I was, meet my friends and to figure out the branch of journalism I would love to go into. I found my style. Who I am.

Even though it can get annoying when people say that I don’t look autistic, I’m happy to break people’s perceptions. I’m glad I surprise people. It shows how far I’ve come.

Slam Dunk 2017

Every UK pop-punk kid’s favourite day of the year has come back for another year and now that we’ve all just about recovered…oh who am I kidding, none have us have gotten over it yet. It’s one of the best days of the year, you can’t move on so easily.
So before I start feeling emotional here’s a summary of my day;

After having a bit of nightmare with getting in as for some reason the security at the gate my friends and I went to wouldn’t let us in for a while despite people evidently being let in from other gate, we went to the With Confidence signing. I bought a poster for them to sign as I firstly had no idea whether they would give us something there for them to sign, spoiler alert they do, and I also just thought “why not?” It made their day though. The poster I had bought had been printed in Rock Sound and they had no idea that it had been put in there, so they got really excited and started shouting at their photographer, Brandon, that he was famous. On top of that they also gave me a signed postcard, so thanks lads!

I got back in line straightaway for the Waterparks signing that would start immediately after With Confidence’s. (Are you really that surprised?) I bought their Rock Sound cover for them to sign, which they were really happy about, and I got to have a nice conversation with them about their recent trip to Japan. It was also great to see my sister being reunited with them as she is their “mum away from mum” and getting the group hug which she had been wishing for so badly. Genuinely they are one of the friendliest bands you could ever meet.

After a quick alcohol break at Wetherspoons we went to see Boston Manor. Now I had been wanting to check them out for ages after getting so many recommendations from friends, pop-punk fans and music publications alike, so this is going to be like a first impression type thing. I had a lot of fun at their set which was full of energy and catchy songs, as well as enjoying frontman, Henry Cox’s, charisma and energy, especially when he decided to crowdsurf during different parts of their set. So, a good first impression? Definitely! I’ll be listening to them more in the future and keep an eye out for any future tour dates and festival appearances.

Next up were With Confidence who had made a huge jump from being on the Kerrang! Fresh Bloof stage last year to now being on the Key Club stage. They played a range of songs from their EPs and of course their stunning debut album, Better Weather,  which has to be one of 2016’s best albums and one of the most underrated. (Seriously listen to it, it will change your life.) They opened  with ‘Voldemort‘ where there was not one person who wasn’t screaming the iconic “I remember the first night that she said, oh maybe I can do this on my own“. Their energetic and fun set was similar to that of their UK tour, they followed ‘Voldemort‘ up with ‘Archers‘, ‘Dinner Bell‘ and ‘Higher‘, as well playing fan favourites like ‘Godzilla‘ and ‘We’ll Be Okay‘. They finished their set with their breakout single “Keeper”.

Now it was time Waterparks, (Again, are you really surprised?) They had previously announced that they would be playing a different setlist every day so there was massive excitement and speculation with what they would be playing today. Well…THEY FUCKING PLAYED GLOOM BOYS AND DIZZY LIVE I CAN NOW DIE HAPPY. *breathes* Ok I’m calm. They were just as stunning as usual, as well playing ‘Gloom Boys‘ and ‘Dizzy‘, they also had ‘Crave‘, ‘Hawaii (Stay Awake)‘ and ‘Royal‘ on their setlist. Other things that ensued was the now infamous banter between Awsten and my sister, as well as him signing my friends head. So a typical Waterparks show? We also got to meet Waterparks again after their set where we talked about their upcoming tour and Awsten had me scared for my life when I told him to play ‘Easter Egg‘ as a joke and he gave me a death stare/smirk. Please don’t hate me…I’ll see you at the tour in September!

We pretty much then ran to the Rock Sound Break Out stage after seeing a tweet saying that there was a massive queue to get inside the building, we weren’t going to miss out on The Gospel Youth. Now if you were to listen to one band recommendation from me then I seriously recommended The Gospel Youth, their song discography has such a broad range of lyrical topics and musical styles that can narrate any point of your day. Their front-man, Sam Little, is also one of the best vocalists I have had the pleasure of seeing live and it honestly shocks me that this band is so underrated. I got to meet them shortly after their set and I need to say that they’re all such genuinely lovely people who deserve all of the best success in the world. Their debut album, Always Lose, comes out 14th July and you need to listen to it. Trust me.

The last act of the night was Monster Stage headliners Neck Deep. Now I don’t think I need to say much on how good they are live, but FUCKING HELL THEY WERE BRILLIANT. A few days prior to Slam Dunk they unveiled two new tracks, ‘Happy Judgement Day‘ and ‘Where Do We Go When We Go‘, from their upcoming album The Peace and The Panic so there was massive excitement in hearing them play their new material live. And they certainly delivered. They also delivered in playing a lot of their classic tracks like ‘Gold Steps‘, ‘Loosing Teeth‘ and ‘Can’t Kick Up The Roots‘, as well as playing fan favourites like ‘Kali Mai‘, ‘What Did You Expect‘ and ‘Serpents‘. A fantastic way to end a beautiful day.

See you lot next year!

What I’ve been up to in 2017 (so far)


Now that university is finally out of the way with the last of my assessments handed in I finally have time to sit down and write a blog post. Now typically I would write separate blog pieces on each gig I have been to but, as just mentioned, I have been unable to do so due to the never-ending pile of university work, so to make up for that I’m going to do a round up of what I’ve been to this year (so far) both in terms of gigs and signings.

The first event of the year was the acoustic performance and signing by WSTR at Crash Records. If you haven’t heard of or listened to WSTR then I highly recommend you do so. Like stop what you’re doing, stop reading this and listen to them right now. I keep hearing comments about how the UK has nothing to offer the pop-punk scene (bullshit) or that it’s offerings are limited (haha, more bullshit) but it’s bands like WSTR who will prove those people wrong. I saw WSTR open for Neck Deep last year and soon after they became one of my favourite new bands.
Packed into the small record store with about fifty or so people we were treated to the acoustic version of a variety of songs both from their EP, SKRWD, and debut album, Red, Green and Inbetween, where they also gave a few funny backstories behind them, such as South Drive, which talks about coming to terms with leaving home, and how they had fans who would go to the street to take photos and even vandalise the street sign so that it now referenced the band.
Following that they signed merch and copies of their debut album for fans. I feel like I’m going to say this about a lot of the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet in this blog but I do genuinely mean it every time, WSTR are so nice and funny to meet. I told them about how good I thought Red, Green and Inbetween was, which they were so happy and humbled to hear, I mentioned how I saw them with Neck Deep last year and they asked if this was the first time I’d seen them since then, and then asked if I was going to their show that night (at that point they were touring with Seaway). I couldn’t go as I couldn’t afford it at that point and I had university work to do (can university stop getting in the way of gigs) and they were upset that I couldn’t make it as they would have loved to have seen a familiar face there. But I promised that I would go next timee, which I am. See you at Slam Dunk lads!

A few days later I went to the first gig of the year, A Day To Remember at Leeds Arena. Now for any pop-punk fan the line-up for the evening was perfect and was already the best tour of the year despite it only being January. Not only were ADTR playing, but they also had Moose Blood, Neck Deep and New Found Glory opening for them, some of the best pop-punk/emo bands in recent years (or not so recent with NFG).
I arrived at around 10am expecting to see a large queue of people at the arena based on the fact that it was a Saturday and that standing was sold out. But when I arrived there were only 10 people there…yes 10. All of which was equally as bewildered as me of the lack of people there. But hey I’m not complaining as I got front row for the show later on (AYYYYYE). Not only that, but arriving early meant that I got to meet some of my favourite band members. I firstly met Glenn from Moose Blood…a bit awkward now. I met Sam, Fil, Matt and Ben (briefly) from Neck Deep who were all a bit (putting it lightly) hungover but all in good spirits. And I also met Chad and Jordan from New Found Glory. I’ll just leave these here.

I can also say that this year I’ve become more confident, so I’ve been able to talk to more people in the queue and as a result I’ve made new friends. During the day I hung out with two girls who I have seen at other gigs before, and vice versa, so we were finally able to talk this time around.
Now, a round up of the night; at this point I had just gotten into Moose Blood, so their opening slot at A Day To Remember gave me the chance to check them out properly. They were lovely (I know that sounds soppy) to listen to and I think I will listen to them more in the future…I’m sorry but I feel still feel really awkward about the Glenn situation so I feel weird about talking about them. Moving on. Neck Deep. Man. I fucking love Neck Deep. They’re one of those bands who you will never get bored of and are always worth seeing live as you’ll simply have the time of your life. I only wish that they had a longer set, I didn’t want it to end. Also shout out to whoever decided to have the Stranger Things theme tune playing when they came onstage. You made my life.
Final opening act, New Found Glory, were just as brilliant providing the nostalgia as they reminded everyone of their contributions to pop-punk and on how without them the earlier bands we had just seen, and the headline act for that matter, may not have ever existed.
Now to sum up A Day To Remember…just simply, wow. I had already been told by others who’ve seen them that they are incredible live band and I know that they have won awards for it, but I did not expect them to be that amazing. I was so worried that I would end up finding them overhyped and I would leave feeling disappointed, a bit like how I felt when I saw Beyonce (oooooo controversial!). But in all seriousness they were incredible. There was not one dull moment, from throwing inflatable animals into the crowd during We Got This and then toilet roll in All Signs Point to Lauderdale, to the bouncier songs of It’s Complicated and Naivety, to the more heavier 2nd Sucks, to the slowed down If It Means A Lot To You and ending with Downfall of Us All. Plus I managed to get Josh and Neil’s guitar pics (ayyyee). I look forward to seeing you guys at Download!

A week later I got to see Green Day. Yes. Green Day. I can’t believe that this happened. I was convinced that in order to see this band I would have to sell my soul or something to that extent. I thought I would never get the chance to see them. Green Day are my favourite band of all time, they pretty much raised me and thanks to them I got into rock music. I have a lot to thank them for. And I got to see them live, in my home town. Two months on and I’m still in shock.
I started queuing at 6am, which is nothing in comparison to the twenty-five or so people who had been queuing up since 5am the previous day, and as result got barrier later on that evening. YES I GOT BARRIER FOR FUCKING GREEN DAY.
The opening band for the night was ska punk band, The Interrupters. Now, I’ll admit I think that they were a bit of an odd choice to have as a support band for Green Day, but having said that I did find them interesting and entertaining to watch. I wouldn’t say that they were for me but for anyone who enjoys reggae/ska style music then this band may be right up your street.
And now for the main event. You know that the show was about to start when they played Bohemiam Rhapsody, followed by Blitzkrieg Bop whereupon a pink rabbit will come onstage to warm up the crowd and then The Good, the Bad and Ugly theme tune. I remember telling the girl next to me about this and literally a minute later Bohemiam Rhapsody started playing and the looks we gave each other just summed up the evergrowing feeling of excitement we were feeling at that moment in time.
I guess you can say that it reached climax when Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tre Cool, my childhood heroes, appeared onstage. A surreal moment. It was a mixture of emotions. Their show was one of the best nights of my life.
A little side note, I was actually tempted to write this review in one sentence; Green Day are fucking legends and I will fight anyone who says otherwise, bye. But that would be unprofessional.
They opened up the show with Know Your Enemy, followed by two songs from their newest album, Revolution Radio, Bang Bang and the title-track itself. After that they played Holiday and I think at that point it just hit me that the band who pretty much raised me were right in front me playing the songs that I grew up with. I was an emotional wreck after that point. Playing a two and half hour long set filled with classics like She, Basket Case and Longview, heartfelt speeches from Billie Joe about issues in the world that were followed by chants like, “No sexism, no racism, no homophobia”, and the now iconic, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA”, as well joking around by dressing up during King for a Day, and Tre dancing around the stage not giving a shit what anyone thought of him. Teach me your ways. I can also officially say that Billie Joe Armstrong has sweated over me. My main life goal is complete.
There were two parts to the encore. In the first half they played American Idiot, which was followed by a, “Fuck you, Donald Trump!” from Billie Joe and then Jesus of Suburbia (a live masterpiece). In the second half they slowed it down with Ordinary World and Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) where I think I was blubbery mess.
At this point I would do some sort of round up how I found the whole evening and whether I thought the artist themselves were good or not. Instead I just want to say thank you. Thank you for getting me into the music that I love so much now, if it wasn’t for you I wouldn’t have discovered my passion in listening to music and going to live gigs which has helped me to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life. Thank you.

Now I know what you’re thinking; “I bet the next gig you went to had a lot to live up to”, and, in some ways, I agree with you. But the next band I saw fulfilled six-year-old me’s dream; I was seeing Sum 41.
The support act for tonight was Canadian rock band, Hollerado, who, unfortunately, bored me rather quickly. I know that sounds awful but they just weren’t the type of band who I would have expected to open for a band like Sum 41, I’m not saying that they’re complete shit but I personally found them boring. It can be a risk to have an opening act who sound nothing like the headline act, in some cases in can pay off well, such as when Creeper opened for Waterparks’ tour in the USA, but at the same time in can completely backfire.
Sum 41’s set didn’t have the best start either. To open the show they played two new songs from their newest album, 13 VoicesMurder of Crows and Fake My Own Death, followed by The Hell Song and Over My Head (Better Off Dead), and the crowd was just unresponsive. I mean fair enough if the fans didn’t know their newest songs well but people were quiet during The Hell Song. The. Fucking. Hell. Song. What the hell?! How can you not listen to that song, especially if you’re witnessing it live, and you don’t lose your shit?! What is wrong with you?! I felt as if I couldn’t jump around without people judgementally staring at me. At that moment I wondered that instead of feeling nostalgic I would regret turning up to their show.
Luckily the show picked up after Underclass Hero and all was well again. Highlights of the show included frontman, Deryck Whibley’s, speech before War on getting through tough times in reference to his previous struggle with alcohol addiction, the crowd losing their minds to fan favourites Motivation and Still Waiting, a moving performance of With Me, God Save Us All (Death to Pop) which was easily the best song of the night, and my sister and I getting barrier, thanks to a lovely guy in front of us, for In Too Deep, Pieces and Fat Lip.
They ended their performance with an impromptu dress up in reference to the Fat Lip music video for Pain For Pleasure showing that they were still the same guys who started this band as an escape from the bullies and societal pressures at their high school. They are, and will always will be, such an influential band and it cannot be denied how important they were during the rise of pop-punk in the early noughties.

Two days later I went to see With Confidence at the Key Club. As I had university that day until 5pm, I couldn’t join my sister in queue at 3pm where she was lucky enough to meet frontman, Jayden Seeley, and guitarist, Luke Rockets. I couldn’t do anything apart from not cry during my workshop as my sister sent me her pictures with them.
Soon after arriving, getting into the venue and getting barrier (YAS) it was time to enjoy an line-up of up-coming bands. First up was UK rock band, Milestones, who I had been wanting to check out for a while after reading about them in Kerrang! as well as seen seeing their music video for Call Me Disaster appear on Kerrang!‘s music channel a few times. I have to say that they were defintely worth the hype and I loved their energetic performance, keep an eye out for these guys, they’re going to go far.
Second up was Virginia pop-punk band, Broadside, who I had also been wanting to check out after their song Coffee Talk and The Simple Type came on shuffle on the UK Pop Punk playlist on Spotify (not sponsored) and I’ve pretty much been obsessed with since, Much like Milestones they put on a highly energetic and enjoyable performance, and I would just like to apologise to anyone near me who had to put up with my loud singing during Coffee Talk, it’s a fucking bop ok?!
Last of the opening acts was Canadian indie-rock band Safe To Say. Over the course of the night I had seen With Confidence watching the opening acts from the side and with this band they seemed the most excited to watch perform, especially with Inigo from With Confidence wearing a Safe To Say hoodie. But they didn’t stand out as much as the previous support acts, they weren’t terrible but if you’re going to come on after two energetic sets from Milestones and Broadside you have a lot to live up to and unfortunately for them they couldn’t do that. They were just too slow for me.
Soon Safe To Say finished and With Confidence came onstage to set up for their show, cue all the excited cheering from the crowd. Tonight they played their debut album, Better Weather, in full, along with songs from their previous EP’s, Youth and Distance. Going straight into their set with Better Weather‘s opening track, Voldemort, the enthusiastic singing and chanting from the audience proved as to why they were one of the breakout pop-punk bands of 2016. (Seriously y’all need to stop sleeping on them.) The crowd was never once still and quiet with the constant mosh pits, crowd surfers and stage jumpers, along with everyone being loud during tracks like Archers, Tonight and Godzilla. Jayden Seeley proved himself as the worthy frontman with his charisma and humour in introducing Long Night, which they had just released a music video for showing Seeley alone playing piano, and on how someone had told him that any frontman who has a music video featuring only them are so up themselves (“oh”). As well as creating a song out of the classic, “Leeds, u wot u wot”, I look forward to the official single release, lads.
I would like to take this moment to have a little rant however. As mentioned previously there were crowd-surfers and stage divers during the show, which I don’t mind whatsoever, as long as your considerate of others I don’t care. However if you’re deliberately hurting people and it gets to the point where the band is actually telling you to stop and are starting to look pissed off each time you jump onstage then you need to re-evaluate your existence.
Ok, anyway. The encore for the night was London Lights and Keeper, a perfect end to a stand-out show. I can’t stress enough what an incredible band With Confidence are, you seriously need them in your life right now.
To make the evening even better, I got to meet Matt and Mark from Milestones at the merch table, and I got to bond with Mark over how short we were.

I also got to meet With Confidence too who were all such lovely guys and were genuinely happy and grateful for everyone who came to the show tonight. What babes…why must I be so pitifully short?



Now the next tour I went to I attended four times…yes, four. Yes, I have no life, and no, I regret nothing. Obviously I can’t repeat the same review four times so I’ll just do a quick summary of how I found each gig as a whole in this section, but to keep it in chronological order I will talk about individual events that stood out at each show.
I went to see All Time Low in Leeds, and it was where we would also be reunited with one of my favourite new bands, Waterparks. They were one of the main reasons why my sister and I were going to so many dates. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore All Time Low and I will happily see them as many times as I possibly can, but we wouldn’t have gone to as many dates if Waterparks weren’t opening for them.
We got there at 5am (don’t judge my lifestyle) with another friend of ours and we waited for All Time Low’s and Waterparks’ tour buses to turn up in an attempt to try and meet them. I was already going to meet All Time Low at their signing later on but I wanted to see if we could possibly meet them beforehand. I did see Alex and Jack walk into the venue and very awkwardly shout, “Hi!”, at them and got a quick, “Hi”, back, but that’s as far as it got.
My sister and I were more keen on meeting Waterparks however as she had made a scrapbook and had some gifts for them. Here’s some context; my sister has been a fan of this band since mid-2015, months before their breakout EP, Cluster, was released, while I started listening to them in December 2015 and we have watched them grow from being a small band in Houston to now being an opening act for All Time Low, so you can imagine how proud we are of them. We’re both in a groupchat on Twitter with six other Waterparks’ fans who have also watched them grow, and my sister decided to make a scrapbook to give them with each of us all chipping in and sending stuff in for it, things like letters, opinions on their music, as well as talking about ourselves individually. My sister also bought gifts for them; gold light-up shoes for Awsten, a Legend of Zelda beanie for Geoff and a Walking Dead top for Otto.
We didn’t get to meet Waterparks that day so my sister tweeted their tour manager, Ollie, to come and get the stuff, but not long after we had a friend of ours tell us that she had seen Awsten walking around nearby, cue two girls running out of the queue with a pile of presents in their arms running around Leeds like a chicken without its head. No luck. Fortunately, their tour manager saw my sister’s tweets so he came around the front to take the gifts off us. Thank you, Ollie, you lad!
Going back to All Time Low. As mentioned above I went to their signing, which while I was happy to go to I did find that we were kind of rushed but I do understand that they had around 200 people to get through. All Time Low were genuinely lovely to meet, I got a little fist bump off of each of them and a signed poster so it was a good day. I just wished that I was a little less awkward when talking to them.
Now the show itself. The first opening act on was Waterparks, right before they came on my sister and I were wondering about whether Awsten would be wearing the shoes she got him or not. He wore them and my sister, friends and I lost our shit. What an iconic moment. Awsten also took the time to thank my sister for the shoes, as well as throwing a bottle of water to her when she asked despite his warnings that she might get ill. She didn’t listen and she got ill a few days later. Oops.
Back to being professional. I know that I’m going to sound unbelievably biased but Waterparks are honestly such a great live band and one that you need in your life right now. In their twenty minute long set they played a small selection from their Cluster EP and their debut album, Double Dare, whilst sadly neglecting their first two EPs, Airplane Conversations and Black Light. If they’ve killed off I’m a Natural Blue and Silver I’m going to start a riot. Highlights of their set included Mad All The Time, Crave, and Stupid For You, as well as their stunning recent single, Royal, which they used ended their set with. Listen to them now, you won’t regret it.
Then the night took a slightly disappointing turn with SWMRS. Now before anyone attacks me I need you to hear me out when I say that I was looking forward to them before tonight. I had been wanting to check them out for ages, they were at Leeds Festival last year and I was begging people to come and see them with me but no one would so I missed them. Probably a good thing to be honest. They started their performance strongly with Palm Trees which is a song that I still listen to now as it’s a genuine bop, but that’s as good as it gets. The best way to sum it up is that not a lot of people were in the mood for them, particularly during Miley when frontman, Cole Becker, asked the audience to create a wall of death but no one was up to it, much to their annoyance. I’m sorry to say that Becker came across as a bit of a prick. I had such high expectations, what a shame.
We were then waiting for All Time Low to come on, excitement skyrocketed when the signature crossbones symbol stylized from lights was unveiled. Right before the start of each show they played False Alarm by The Weeknd, so everyone is jumping around getting pumped, the exact second the song finishes the lights goes off and the craziness starts. Opening with Kicking and Screaming, and then going straight into Weightless, All Time Low reminded us that this was only a warm-up tour for the release of their upcoming album, Last Young Renegade, so this tour would be their way of officially ending the Future Hearts era by playing some of their newest tracks such as Something’s Gotta Give and Kids in the Dark, re-visiting old material like Six Feet Under the Stars and Guts, as well playing songs that hadn’t even played live yet like Canals.
At this point the only song released from Last Young Renegade was Dirty Laundry, so we were treated to a live performance of that and I need to say to anyone who is currently shitting on All Time Low for changing their sound and calling them sell-outs, firstly you need to chill the fuck out, you need to hear it live. It’s a lot more rockier than you would expect and honestly just stunning. Because off this performance I am genuinely excited for the new record and if it’s anything like Dirty Laundry and the title-track that’s now been released then it’s going to be brilliant.
I also want to appreciate how All Time Low can go from joking around to talking about serious issues. When introducing Missing You, Alex Gaskarth talked about addiction and on how people who are struggling with need to seek help and surround themselves with a strong support group. He didn’t sugar-coat or glamourise it, he was realistic about it. Thank you. And TherapyTherapy live. So much beauty and emotion. I want its lyrics tattooed on me.
To end their set they played fan-favourites A Love Like War and Backseat Serenade, and in the encore they played Lost In Stereo and Dear Maria, Count Me In where Jack and Alex came into the crowd. I got to hold Jack’s hand. Hells yeah. All Time Low are one of my favourite bands to see live as they never disappoint me and their live shows are so much fun.

The next day I went to see State Champs. I also had VIP for them so I got to meet them and get a photo with them. Prior to that I met up with some of my friends who were at All Time Low the day before at the venue where we all went into town to get food when we realised that State Champs were walking right in front of us. To avoid any awkwardness we decided to dart down a different street so it didn’t look like we were following them and to avoid any awkwardness later on.
When the time came for us to actually meet them I can easily say that they are most chilled people to meet. They took their time with people who were getting photos with them and were open to having posed photos. My friends had a “wannabe model” picture, my sister had a “Awsten Knight pose” photo, I went for a simple group hug.

Following the photos we were told in the instructions that we would have a Q&A session with them so I had pictured them sitting onstage talking to us while we were behind the barrier. Nope. In our group of twenty or so people we were sat in a semi-circle of sofas for a “hang-out” session as they called it. “I know it says Q&A on the instructions but it’s actually a hang-out session for us to get to know you and for you to ask us anything,” said frontman Derek DiScanio.
The conversation went off in different directions, one minute it was about touring life and music production the next it was about their favourite memes and Shrek movies. I asked them about how they found Leeds and Reading Festival and got into a mini debate about which one was better (Leeds) and about how our tents got flooded. I also asked about how they found Leeds in general and they talked about how they enjoyed Trinity Shopping Centre and the night life where I had to ask if they had been to Key Club, they all had been on the Slam Dunk night. At this point they were asked why they weren’t playing Slam Dunk Festival this year, they couldn’t as they were playing Download this year but they said that they would try to come next year. So if they happen to get added to the line-up next year you know who to thank.
Opening for State Champs tonight were UK pop-punk bands Northbound and As It Is. Now As It Is I’m already a huge fan of. Their second album Okay, released back in January, is honestly a gem of a record and easily one of the best album releases this year. I hadn’t really heard of Northbound before but I’m always up for checking out new bands. I quite enjoyed Northbound, I think that they have potential to breakout in the next few years which we should all look forward to.
As It Is were just outstanding as per usual. Each time I’ve seen them they’ve been opening for someone else (I need to go to a headline show of theirs at some point) and they’ve always stood out for the right reasons; their incredible stage presence, Patty Walters’ charisma and high energy and their range of musical discography that can range from reminiscing about their home and past to getting through difficult times. What more can you ask for? Please announce a tour soon.
This is the first time that I have been able to see State Champs live, I’ve heard many great things about their performances and they certainly lived up to the hype. Going straight into Losing Myself when they came onstage, following that with Hard to Please, Shape Up and Eyes Closed, everyone knew that they were in for a wild show filled with never-ending crowd-surfers and mosh pits. There was not one person in the room not screaming along when the opening lines of All You Are is History started playing, an iconic anthem. They also weren’t afraid to slow it down with Stick Around and If I’m Lucky from their acoustic EP, The Acoustic Things.
They ended the evening triumphantly with Breaking Ground, Elevated and Secrets (the only downside of the evening was that no one went onstage like other people had during previous shows on this tour). Wow. What a show. I don’t know why it took me so long to see them but now I have and I’m happy. See you next time lads!

The next day, I don’t know how I wasn’t dead at this point, I got on a coach to Liverpool to see All Time Low. My sister and I were staying there for the weekend so that we would be able to queue up early the next day, as well as stay late so that we could try and meet Waterparks afterwards.
Getting up 5am the next day in the cold rain we queued up with a friend of ours who we had only met a few months ago ago at the Panic! at the Disco show. Things like this make me so happy that I have attending live music events as a passion as I get to meet incredible people at each show.
At about 7am we went off into town to have breakfast at McDonalds as we were all dying and then went into Primark to buy a few little presents for Waterparks and a bra to throw onstage for Jack. Coming back we stood outside near the tour buses to see if anyone would come out. A few hours went by and we didn’t see anyone but three other fans joined us who were also waiting to meet them. Around mid-dayish their tour manager and photographer came out who both recognized my sister because of the gold shoes that she had given Awsten, because of that she got given a guitar pic from Awsten and we were able to give them our gifts through them. It turns out that Waterparks’ crew know who my sister is, so good day.
As I’ve already talked about how the opening acts and All Time Low were in Leeds I won’t repeat myself again as pretty much the same things happened in the show with the same amount of quality. I’ll instead talk about things that happened during the show. We had to leave the crowd after Waterparks performed as my sister wasn’t feeling well (Awsten’s water bottle got her ill) and we sat near the merch bit as we had heard through the grapevine that they will be meeting fans after the show but we wanted to wait around just in case. The idea was that we would sit around the merch bit during SWMRS set and then go back in for All Time Low with one of us running back to the merch bit every so often to see if they had appeared yet.
All Time Low were just as incredible as usual but guess what?! They played Jasey Rae…They. Fucking. Played. Jasey. Fucking. Rae. I can now die and go to heaven happy. Whoever convinced them to play it, thank you, you are my hero.
At the end of the show, we had left the stage bit during the encore, we stood near merch and Geoff appeared. He immediately recognised my sister and thanked her for everything she had done for them and for the things she had given them whilst also telling her how much he had missed her. When he found out that we were going to the Manchester and Sheffield dates he was so excited. By the way Geoff, if you’re reading this, I am so genuinely sorry if I scared/confused you when I told you I was failing university, I have no fucking idea why I said that, I was meant to say dying. But I’m happy to hear you liked the book and the reviews I did for your EPs and album. And thank you for making my sister’s night.


Five days later we were back it again with All Time Low in Manchester for the gig and signing, and this time I was determined not to be as awkward as when I met them in Leeds. I couldn’t queue up as early this time as I had to go into university for an hour, sad times, so I didn’t arrive until 11ish. We were joined again by our friend who was with us in Liverpool and we also made friends with people during the day, resulting in one of the highlights of the day when we all took a picture together and Jack later liked it on Twitter (thanks boo). I was also reunited with one of my internet friends, who is also in the Waterparks groupchat, and somehow we ended up in a pet shop where we got to pet and hold puppies. Fuck seeing All Time Low and Waterparks, it was all about the puppies.
When the time came around for the signing I was a little bit more confident when talking to All Time Low and I upgraded from getting a fist bump to a high five (so hardcore haha), and I also want to give a shoutout to Rian as my friend was being bullied by someone for liking All Time Low as she was apparently “too old” to like them (she’s only 21 for fucks sake), and he told her that was bullshit.
We were also reunited with Geoff, and my friend got to meet him at long last, so he’s now officially met everyone in our groupchat, although that doesn’t make up for the fact that he got the name wrong despite the fact that we made them a book about us and them. Still love you though.


We also managed to meet Awsten very briefly. We saw him walk out the backstage door to head back into their tour bus, he was on the phone so we knew that he wouldn’t stop but when he walked past us he recognised my sister and stopped to hug her and said thank you for everything that she had given them. It was short but sweet, I’d rather have that memory rather than take a rushed, shitty photo with him.
Going back to earlier when we met Geoff, he told my sister to make sure that she was at the barrier, which we got, (YAS) and during Mad All The Time he jumped into the barricade and played guitar right next to her. She was shook.
Again I can’t say anything new about the All Time Low show as they were just as good as the last two times. Moving on.

On our last date of All Time Low in Sheffield I was dead. We had gotten back at 2am that night from Manchester and I was running on four hours worth of sleep as I had to go into a 9am workshop that lasted four hours and afterwards I headed straight to Sheffield. I don’t know how I did it.
We were a lot more chilled in terms of queuing up, we just got straight into the o2 priority queue and my sister and friend did shots without me realising, which was a lot of fun later on.
By the time we got in my sister was drunk and for some reason I didn’t click that she was gone. What ensued for their set was wild from start to finish. My sister shouted abuse at Awsten, calling him a lemon (a private joke), Awsten telling her that she was his “mum away from mum” but then rejected her love when she said that he couldn’t kill Geoff, her impression of the Stupid for You breakdown, her ‘beautiful’ singing during Crave, telling Awsten to “fuck off” when he told her to shut up and got Geoff to agree to fight our friend. A typical Friday night.
I know that I’ve barely talked about All Time Low but I would just keep repeating myself about how good they were. Here’s some highlights from the Sheffield show; my bra got thrown onstage and got put on Jack’s mic stand and then at the end of the show he threw a pack of magic stars into the audience and one of them hit me in forehead hard, so I don’t know whether to feel blessed or offended.
We got to meet Geoff again at the end of the show where he spent over forty minutes with us meeting fans and taking photos whilst also talking about how loud my sister was during the show, their surprise upcoming announcment (their Rocksound cover), promising to fight our friend and to do a UK tour, their upcoming Slam Dunk appearance and he also showed us a meme. He also graced us with this squad photo.

After he left my sister and I went to McDonalds to have a coffee and then headed straight to the All Time Low afterparty at Propaganda. Bare in mind that I only had four hours sleep, we wouldn’t be able to leave Sheffield until 6am and we had just come out of a gig, I don’t know how I did it but I had a great time, I don’t remember a lot but it was a iconic night. A great way to end it.

Now begins the six week wait until Slam Dunk. See all of you beautiful people there


The upcoming electro-pop band from Leeds amazed concert-goers at their debut EP launch on Friday. Having released their first single, Tonight, back in April the band have built up their fanbase with 94K listeners a month on Spotify and have received radio airplay on stations such as on BBC Radio 1 and Radio X.

Apart from listening to quick snippets from their debut single and other two songs, Two Hearts and Feel, I had no idea what to expect from tonight’s performance so this review will be entirely based on first impressions. I will admit that I was a little bit cautious when they were listed under the genre of ‘electro-pop’ as, based on previous experience, electro-pop tends to either fall under two categories of being overly generic or overly cheesy (or a combination if you’re unlucky enough). However, I was pleasantly surprised from what I saw that evening.

A nice, pretty intro for title-track Wish You Were Her, reminiscent of The 1975’s style, assured me that this night would be an enjoyable one. Looking around the room I could see everyone dancing and having a genuinely good time, the same people who were evidently friends and family of the band themselves looked undeniably proud as they saw how far Victors had come since they were formed over two years ago.

Their musical style was a mixture of something you would hear in a good rock/pop nightclub and of someone you would expect to open for The 1975. I know that I keep mentioning The 1975 and I just want to assure you that I’m not trying to do a lazy comparison neither am I claiming them to be a copycat version of them. Victors have their own style and have their own uniqueness when it comes to live performances.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the last two songs of the night (the pain of being a student and having to follow a strict public transport schedule) but regardless of that I still had an enjoyable time. The highlight songs of the evening for me were the EP’s title track Wish You Were Her, In Love and Feel, while I also enjoyed their mini cover of The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face.

Victors are indeed a stunning local band and mark a fresh change from other upcoming artists that either fall into the cliché popstar style or being an unoriginal hardcore band who feel as if no one understands them. They are a breath of fresh air and I encourage anyone to be on the lookout for them as I see them hitting big in the future.

Bunny Racket

Inspired from playing songs with his friend’s children and as a way to bond with his two-year-old son over the music he loved, Andy Walker’s project, Bunny Racket, is the newest, and frankly most needed, addition to the ever-growing collection of kids music. But with a twist. Described as being “AC/DC, KISS and The Ramones meets The Cat In The Hat” Bunny Racket is a online video-series that focuses on King Bunny, a rabbit looking for some good old rock ‘n’ roll, as he aims to teach and expand the type of music that children listen to with an EP, Rock ‘N Roll Animals, to alongside it. I’ve been fortunate enough to get an interview with Andy to talk about the inspirations behind the Bunny Racket, how it came together and what to expect in the future:

Ok so first question is where did King Bunny and Bunny Racket come from, like where did it all start?

It all started when friends of mine started having children and that would have been about fifteen or sixteen years ago. They would come around our house which was like an old hippy house in the hills behind Byron Bay and we would always make music as we had like a makeshift recording studio set up. It was always a bit of a place for musicians and friends to come and just plug in their instruments and have a jam and record stuff. Some of our friends started bringing kids along to that and instead of having the kids locked away in another room I’d always take the time to sit down and start trying to make songs with the children, like bring out the guitar and drums and teach them a few things and record little songs. So, that’s how the idea originated, but the idea of it being a band of bunnies that came when I had a chat with my friend’s son who’s 6-years-old. I said, “I’ve got a band I’m putting together, what’s the best band name that you can think of?” And he said, “Bunny Racket!” I rolled with that and all the imagery and the bunny and everything sort of came from that name just from chatting with my friend’s kid, Marlo.

You got Robby Krieger of The Doors and Brant Bjork of Kyuss involved, how did that happen?

Well I used to play in rock ‘n’ roll bands back in the 90s and one of my favourite bands was Kyuss, which was Brant Bjork’s band. I played with a lot of my favourite bands but I always wanted to play with Kyuss but the thing was that Kyuss had broken up years earlier, but they were my pick of bands if I could play with anyone. But I ended up playing some shows with Brant when he did his solo stuff and we became quite good mates. Then Kyuss reformed about five or six years ago and they asked my band to do the tour with them, so we did a heap of shows with them. From that I told Brant about my idea of doing hard rock for kids and he thought it was a really great idea because he had just had his first son at that stage, so we talked about it and threw the idea around. He’s based in Los Angeles and I was based in Australia so we would just get on the phone or email each other ideas and concepts for the songs and I put them together. I then flew over to California for a couple of weeks and we got into the studio and started recording. Our engineer was a guy called Harper Hug and he is a bit of a legend, a bit of a wizard, when it comes to analogue recording and he was working at Robby Krieger’s studio. On the weekend, we were recording he said, “I really would like to take some of these songs and play them to Robby”, so he did that and Robby said, “I would love to play on this record”. So, Harper came back and said, “Oh, Robby Krieger from The Doors wants to play on your record”. So, it happened like that, it was a stroke of luck really.

You mentioned that you were in other bands before, what other bands were you involved in?

I played in lots of different bands in Australia, one in particular called Fort and while we didn’t get a lot of success out of it we played a lot of shows, I think we played about 150 shows. But what I did get to do was play with all of my favourite bands so whenever a great band would be coming to tour Australia from the US or UK I’d often get asked to do the tour. I didn’t make a lot of money out of it but just enough so that I got to play with my favourite musicians.

From my understanding Bunny Racket is a series of videos with the EP being a soundtrack to it, my question is what made you decide to write songs aimed for children?

Well I think just being around heaps of kids, and seeing what is actually available for the children and it’s not great. I’ve got a son now, I really want to do something that I’m passionate about that I can share with him, I didn’t just want to stick music on and Wolfgang goes and sits in another room so I can carry on with my own stuff I wanted him to get excited about the same things. So, I thought introducing him to the music that I’m really passionate about, but introducing into a way that he can comprehend it, understand it and get excited about, I thought it was a really great idea and it has been. It’s been really bonding for me and my son and it’s been really great for me interacting with my friends’ children as well.

As you were saying about kids music in that it’s not great, like it tends to be something between Disney, nursery rhymes or cheesy pop music, would you say that you want to expand the types of genres that children listen to?

Yeah, I want to expand genres but I also want to expand the listenership. I don’t want it to just be little kids listening to the music I want the parents, and the grandparents, anyone to find relevance in it. Something that will suit their interests as well, but I think the more variation the music and culture that the kids can soak up the better because they’re like sponges, so if you can give them cool stuff then you’re doing yourself a favour down the track I think. It means that kids will be listening to good music and, hopefully, they’ll have an understanding of the good music anyway whether they like it or not as much as we do. That’s yet to be seen I guess, but I think the visuals aspect that I’m bringing into it, you were saying the video side of it, that’s a way of introducing the music to kids because a lot of kids listening to music now it’s different from when I was a kid. We would have to buy records or listen to the radio, now it’s YouTube and its television and its MTV. Mainly YouTube and online stuff. So, if the music can be introduced with a really cool visual element that’s just as strong as the sound I think that that’s the best way to make it stick.

What’s the reaction to it been like so far?       

It’s been amazing. It’s so fresh and new, I’ve only done four live shows, but yeah I’ve sort of kick-started it in Australia and a little bit in California, but in Australia the reaction’s been really cool. The last show I did before I left Australia was a sold-out show and it was like a hard rock show with kids from wall to wall going crazy and throwing themselves on beanbags and jumping on top and dancing around. It was so much fun. So, the reaction’s been great, I did a crowdfunding campaign and got a lot of people behind that. I think everyone’s just waiting to see what comes of these videos that we’re about to start making.

Slightly cliché question, but what did you listen to as a kid?

I listened to everything as a kid and I sort of went through different waves of what I loved at the time. Most of the stuff that I loved as a kid I still love now, I went through a punk-rock stage where I was only listening to The Ramones, The Misfits, The Damned, The Sex Pistols and all that. And then I went through a stage where I only listened to classic-rock, I was listening to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Doors, all that stuff which I still love just as much. I listened to a lot of bad music as well because I listened to the radio in the car with my parents, I still have a soft-spot for cringeworthy, bad eighties pop music as well, so a bit of everything. But the stuff that’s really stuck and the stuff that I’m drawing up now is fast, exciting, energy driven rock ‘n’ roll, that’s what I’m writing for kids because that’s the stuff that grabbed me and has always stuck with me.

Would you have wanted something like Bunny Racket as a kid?

I think I would have, I think that’s exactly why I’m making it. I’m thinking, “What did I love, what were the best elements of my childhood?” It was the music, like I was saying with The Ramones, The Sex Pistols and The Misfits, all that stuff that I loved so much. I also loved eighties TV, when I was little I loved Sesame Street, The Muppets, The Fraggles and The A Team. I loved all of this great stuff and I’m trying to bring all of these elements of all of that stuff that I loved and just condense into this one thing that kids can get onto, whether they just want to buy the record, they might get into the show, it might really excite them to play music. So yeah, all of my favourite things, that’s what it is so I would definitely have loved Bunny Racket when I was a kid.

I have to ask, what does Wolf (Andy’s son) think of it?

He loves it, he’s like my biggest fan! He calls me “Fruit”, because of that first single Chicken Is Not A Fruit, whenever he sees the bunny ears he gets really pumped. He just knows that it’s something fun so it’s kind of like I get to show my kid what I love and he gets to be involved, it’s a total win-win situation, it’s really fun. So, most of our trips when we go away these days it’s really driven by Bunny Racket. If we’re going to America on a trip where we go to shoot some footage or going over there to meet this musician or we’re going there to record some stuff he gets to come along for the journey and it’s always good fun.  He’s at that stage, around two-years-old, where he’ll start remembering everything and he’ll have really funny memories of his dad dressed as a giant rabbit in a rock ‘n’ roll studio.

Going back to it being a web-series what films have you made for it so far and what plans do you have for films?

So far, on the last trip we did to California, we shot a lot of stuff to get an idea of what it will look like. We’ve shot one music video for Chicken Is Not A Fruit and we also shot a lot of stuff in the desert and around LA that we put together for our crowdfunding videos to show people, “This is what our series is going to look like”, but now we’ve got a much stronger idea of each episode. The idea is that for every song there’s a seven or eight-minute episode and part of that will be a film clip that will be around two, two and a half minutes long, so there’ll be a little introduction and the story about the creation of the song and an outro. It’ll all be on the stories around the songs so the idea is at the end of the release of this record there will be eighteen short films that could be edited together or stand-alone but every song will have its own little story.

You mentioned earlier (before the interview started) that you’re going to do a David Attenborough-type film, can I ask about that?

That’s just for laughs because I’m a massive David Attenborough fan. We kept going to all of these beautiful places to film, we were in Thailand a couple of weeks ago, now in the UK, we’re going to be in California next week and I thought as a little off-shoot to what we’re doing, so people can see what we’re up to and where we are, we do like a little short nature series that goes along with it. It’s a different aspect on what we’re doing so it’ll be like David Attenborough saying, well actually David Lascelles (Andy’s uncle-in-law) saying, *puts on David Attenborough voice*, “Here we are in the jungles of Thailand on the beach, not somewhere where you’d often find a rabbit but it’s a different time indeed. He’s searching for some rock ‘n’ roll”. Just a funny little thing to have alongside it, it’s something to do because we like being creative and making things.

As I know your wife Poppy does filming and photography for a living, is she involved with the films?

She is. Unfortunately, because Wolfgang’s two, whenever the camera comes out one of us has to be keeping an eye on him, so Poppy won’t be so much behind the camera but she’s very much involved in the direction of what’s happening. Poppy and I talk about everything Bunny Racket before we enter into doing things and we share our ideas. When it comes to filming the stuff we’ll all be there but until we can afford to have people helping out with the kids we’ll have a cinematographer shooting and Poppy will be keeping an eye on things and giving her ideas as it goes along. But yeah she’s been very instrumental in all of this, the whole visual element in filming it and doing a live-action series came about from me watching Poppy as a film-maker.

Where do you want Bunny Racket to go from here?

The ideal scenario?


Bunny Racket creates a record a year and along with that record a music video for each song in that record. So, that will take up half of my year writing and recording and filming, and the other half of the year will be touring. So, it’ll be like a band, like a working rock ‘n’ roll band, but obviously when I play music festivals it’ll be early in the afternoon so I can play and then go and watch bands that I like in the evenings. I just want to bring good music to lots of people and introduce kids to the style of music that I love and keep busy doing it. That’s what I want.

Is there anything else you want to say about King Bunny and Bunny Racket?

I think King Bunny is, as is Bunny Racket, constantly evolving and the more I put into it, the more music I write, the more ideas I have for filming, the more places I visit, the more people I talk to, the more interviews I do, the stronger the idea gets in my head, so it’s really good for me to do all of this stuff. It’s really good to talk to people because they all bring something into what Bunny Racket is too. I’m as excited to see what happens with Bunny Racket as my family and friends are. I do have a strong vision but that vision is constantly changing, so yeah it’s exciting.

If you fancy checking out Bunny Racket feel free to check out their website:

I also wrote a story on Bunny Racket for the Yorkshire Voice:

Pierce The Veil

Four years. That’s how long we’ve had to wait for Pierce The Veil’s new album, Misadventures. An album that drove lead vocalist and guitarist, Vic Fuentes, to tears as the pressure for new material to be recorded and released built up. But this year we held on till May (see what I did there? Huh, huh? … Ok I’m sorry.) for its release but now the fans had something new to look forward to. Their Misadventures tour.

After being pumped up by opening acts Creeper and letlive. who are indeed much heavier than the actual headline act themselves, which resulted in a divided audience between those who could handle the madness and those who couldn’t, we were ready. In the time building up to show-time a projection curtain was dropped down for the intro video – a cartoon inspired by the album’s artwork of red illustrations that showed a rocket flying through space and avoiding knives, guns and lit matches until it crash landed in the UK.

The curtain dropped, revealing the ship’s crash-site in which members of Pierce The Veil emerged and went straight into Misadventures opening track Dive In. Following it up with Caraphernelia, Texas Is Forever and The Divine Zero showed how they wanted everyone to enjoy the new tracks while at the same time mixing in fan-favourite tracks and their biggest hits.

With the setlist following that theme, the evening, as a whole, was genuinely enjoyable. The band themselves; Vic, Jaime Preciado (bass), Tony Perry (guitar) and Mike Fuentes (drums), seemed to be loving every moment of it. From Vic enthusiastically getting the crowd to join in with the songs to Jaime, with a little audience encouragement, dabbing there was not one dull moment.

Other highlights of the evening was a lucky fan getting to go up onstage during Bulletproof Love in which Vic sang to her (*swoons*) the intro of Hell Above in which a large circle pit opened (one of many throughout the evening) and the heartfelt Hold On Till May being played before the encore. Honestly I enjoyed every minute of it all.

Their set was finished brilliantly with Circles and King For A Day which helped to confirm their position as being a unforgettable live band. Their live show matched with and helped to big up the already fantastic Misadventures and was certainly worth the long wait.

Pierce The Veil play at Download Festival next year, buy tickets here:

Panic! At The Disco

Anyone who knows Panic! at the Disco knows that a new album means an entire new sound and direction which then means a new tour and stage show. It was that time again for UK fans. But even that excitement can’t cover the disappointment in that the tour only has four dates (eight if you want to count their headliner sets at Slam Dunk Festival and Radio One’s Big Weekend back in May) and is visiting three locations (or six), while the USA got a nationwide tour in the summer and another one due to start in the spring of next year. It could be the bitter side of me talking but that surely can’t be fair.

Anyway, onto the show. Cue a quick intro video of an illustrated car, the exact same one from ‘Death of a Bachelor’ album cover, racing through the streets of Los Angeles and crashing into a pool, again like said album cover, and going straight into ‘Don’t Threaten Me With A Good Time’ the excitement and enthusiasm from fans singing the lyrics back loudly showed how much P!atD had been missed by the UK.

Lead vocalist, Brendon Urie, while certainly a natural performer with his never-ending vocal range and charming stage presence, didn’t seem to be as chatty as he was when they headlined Slam Dunk. But when he did speak to fans his charisma was undeniable as he cracked the occasional joke and poured his heart out with how grateful he was for their fanbase’s unconditional support.

Their setlist was a mixture of a songs from across their whole album discography. From the obvious weed-induced ‘Nine In The Afternoon’ to the vintage style ‘Ready To Go’ to the Frank Sinatra inspired title track of their latest release. One of the highlights of the night was when they performed their cover of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, which can be found on the soundtrack of DC Comic’s ‘Suicide Squad’, and, slay my fucking life, their live cover shits on the studio version!

Their set was finished with a three song encore containing the classic ‘I Write Sins Not Tragedies’ where the room erupted with the line, “What a shame the poor groom’s bride is a whore!”, ‘This Is Gospel’ and ‘Victorious’ which concluded with a stream of golden confetti that covered the audience.

It was certainly a entertaining evening filled showstopper hits and a fun stage show. Does it make up for the fact that they only did four dates in the UK? No! But watch this space as they may tour the UK again soon. Well I bloody hope they do. Still love you though, Brendon!

Catch Panic! At The Disco tour Austrailia and North America next year: