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)

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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

Victors

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?

Yes.

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: http://www.bunnyracket.com/

I also wrote a story on Bunny Racket for the Yorkshire Voice: http://www.yorkshire-voice.com/king-bunny-hops-over-from-australia-to-teach-kids-about-rock-music/

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: http://downloadfestival.co.uk/

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:  http://www.panicatthedisco.com/tour

You Me At Six

After waiting a year for You Me At Six to rise from the dead, fans have finally got a new album to look forward to but until January 13th arrives they have a warm-up tour to enjoy. You Me At Six have always proclaimed Leeds as their second home and as the minutes tick by as stage time nears the crowd is buzzing and determined to fulfil their expectations.

Supporting act Vant, an upcoming rock band from London, were determined to spread their message of peace and got political with some of their songs topics revolving around global warming and immigration as a way to remind us that we’re all the same without being too “in-your-face”. They have a strong guitar sound and are worth checking out.

When the time came for You Me At Six to perform, all that can really be said is that they put on a world-class show. Opening with slow song ‘When We Were Younger’ and then going straight into the loud ‘Bite My Tongue’, they played a selection out of their catalogue of hits along with fan favourite tracks. As this was a warm-up for their upcoming album ‘Night People’ they treated the crowd to new songs; ‘Plus One’, ‘Swear’ and, to end the show with, the title track itself. It was also that day in which they achieved their 14th single to be featured on Radio 1’s A-list playlist so Josh Franscechi took the time to thank their loyal fanbase and reminded that the reason why their “shit” keeps being played “is because you want it”.

It can be real risk for a band to almost completely disappear for a year but for Josh, Max, Dan, Matt and Chris, it was obvious that they were missed and won’t be fully vanishing for a while. With a sneak preview of the material of the new album seen so far teamed up with Franceschi’s unmistakable vocals it’s obvious that ‘Night People’ is going to be a classic in years to come.

Leeds Festival 2016

Now that we’re all just about (hardly) recovered from the Leeds and Reading festival weekend it’s about time that I did a review on my experience there. This year stood out for me a number of reasons, mainly the rain and mud (So. Much. Mud.) that resulted in a mini river being created in the campsite, god help those who bravely decided to pitch their tents at the bottom of the hill.

This was my second year in attending Leeds Festival and one major comparison in what I did this year and one previous was that I did not go to the Relentless stage or any of the dance tents at any point during the weekend. Yes I’m disappointed in me as well, I’m only twenty years old, I have no excuse!

But this year also marked the first time that I attended a signing (more on that later) and that I spent most of my time in The Pit/Lock Up Stage as opposed to the main stage or NME tent.

So before I end up giving the whole details of my weekend away in the introduction here are my ratings of the bands I saw;

On the Friday morning I woke up early from excitement, and probably due to the lack of comfort from sleeping in a tent, because today was the day that my sister and I would see Waterparks again and we were both determined to get front row. Obviously due to how they weren’t on until 2:30 we would have to watch three bands before they came onstage, but for me a major part of going to a festival is having the opportunity to check out new bands so I was quite excited to see what these artists had to offer.

First up was Fighting Caravans (6/10) a local alternative-rock band from Leeds who had only released their first EP, “Beasts of England”, last year, so it fills me with pride that a band from my area is having success and getting on the line-up for a major rock music festival. Their set was nice to listen to, however, I personally got bored during their set, I mean it might not have been for me but I just founded it slightly repetitive after a while. Following them was Strange Bones (7/10) a rock band from Blackpool. I had no idea what to expect from them but I loved every moment of their set, all I can say that it was fun, loud madness where lead singer, Bobby Bentham, constantly jumped into the crowd, kept encouraging circle pits and made sure not a single person in the tent was standing still. They were certainly a surprise favourite of the weekend.

On a more calmer note was Greywind (7/10) an upcoming band from Killarney, Ireland consisting of siblings Steph and Paul O’Sullivan. I was quite excited to check them out this weekend as I had previously read about them in the exposure section of Rocksound in May/June time based on how they were recommended to fans, and compared to, PVRIS, Paramore and Tonight Alive. While I wouldn’t say that they’re like Paramore and Tonight Alive, based on what I saw that day, I can definitely see the PVRIS comparison as Steph’s stage prescence and sophistication reminded me of Lynn Gunn. Their set was lovely to listen to and I think that Steph has a stunning voice, so I will look forward to their upcoming debut album, “Afterthoughts”, which will be released on October 21st.

It was then time for Waterparks (9/10) the main reason why my sister and I were here in the first place. For those of you who don’t know, Waterparks are a pop-punk trio (well duo today as Geoff Wigington had recently broken his hand, so they had ex-bassist of My Chemical Romance, Mikey Way, fill in) from Houston who recently were taken under the wing of the Madden brothers who helped to produce their third EP, “Cluster”, and who also had them as a support act for their tour in the US and the UK. Now lead singer, Awsten Knight, and my sister know each other and have a “beef” (long story) so before and during their set were funny moments where they constantly roasted each other. It all started with my sister giving him a Harry Styles doll (again long story) and him taping it the mic stand which then escalated to him telling the crowd to crush her and my sister heckling him (you had to be there it was so funny to watch). Anyway their set consisted of a 4/5 songs from “Cluster” including single “Crave” and songs from previous EPs like “Silver” and “I’m A Natural Blue”. There was not one dull moment during their set and I just know that they will blow up as soon as their debut album, “Double Dare”, drops on November 4th, mark my words.

After a quick food break I went off with my friend to see Tonight Alive (7/10). I will admit that I don’t know much about them so this will be a first impression type thing; there is no question that Jenna McDougall has an incredible voice and stage presence, she was determined to spread her strong message about self-empowerment and assurance by getting the crowd to chant, “My expectation, my reality”, non-stop. Their setlist were mainly songs from their recent album,”Limitless”, which I have been told by other fans is their weakest album, and previous singles such as “Lonely Girl” which got the crowd excited. We also briefly caught upcoming pop-punk band ROAM (8/10) from Eastbourne, UK, and despite only watching three songs (remember the signing I previously mentioned?) I enjoyed it immensely and I do plan to check them out properly.

Now what happened next was a surprise to us that morning; Good Charlotte, the band I grew up with, was doing a signing at Leeds Fest! There was no question that we had to go. I have no bad things to say about them, they are some of the most sweetest people I have ever met. Shout out to Benji for complimenting my Good Charlotte shirt! And also to Joel for one recognising my sister from Waterparks (he was watching from the side) and praising her for roasting Awsten because, and I quote, “he deserves it”. You’re a legend!

It was now the end of the day and time for the one of two headliners that night; Fall Out Boy (9/10). Pete Wentz had promised in a previous interview with Kerrang! that the setlist was going to be planned especially for the Leeds and Reading weekend and it certainly did live up to his promise. Filled with all of their greatest hits ranging from “Under The Cork Tree” to “American Beauty / American Psycho” there was not one moment where I wasn’t dancing and singing along loudly with my sister and friends (sorry to anyone who was next to me and had to endure that). There were points where I could barely see the stage but I just didn’t care, I was having the time of my life. With an also incredible stage show and presence from Patrick Stump and Pete, with Wentz’s constant reminders to the crowd to never let the “fire” inside of you be put out by others, there was no doubt that Fall Out Boy was one of the best acts of the weekend.

Now a bit of a change of scenery from the vastness of the main stage to being cramped in the Lock Up Stage, it was time for Good Charlotte (10/10). Like I’ve said they’re my childhood, I was lucky enough to have seen them back in February when they opened for All Time Low (I legitimately cried when I saw that they were opening) and based on what I saw back then I knew that during the next hour I would have the time of my life. And they certainly did not disappoint. Playing a range of songs from “The Young and The Hopeless” to their recent release “Youth Authority” there was not one dull moment as the crowd went absolutely insane as everyone moshed and sang along loudly to all of their hits, I was completely exhausted by the end but I just didn’t care. Having got back together last year after a nearly six year long hiatus I’m so happy that they’re back, they were most certainly missed!

After getting a somewhat decent night sleep it was time for day two of Leeds Fest. The first band of the day was Creeper (10/10) who in the past year have experienced a massive surge in popularity after supporting the likes of Neck Deep and Andy Black on tour, and will later on this year support Pierce The Veil on their Misadventures Tour, (I’ll look forward to seeing you guys then!) Their set was filled with hit songs such as “VCR”, “The Honeymoon Suite” and “Misery” which got everyone pumped with circles pits happening left right and centre (also thanks for pushing me to third row!). Frontman Will Gould has great charisma and is a strong lead vocalist, I’m genuinely excited to see what this band has to offer in the future, seriously watch out for them!

Heading to the main stage, up next was Lower Than Atlantis (8/10), this was the first time that I got to listen to their music properly so this will be another first impression review. Their setlist contained catchy, hit singles and they also played new song “Work For It” which had only been released the previous week. I’d like to give credit to Mike Duce for helping to create one of the funniest moments of the weekend when he forgot to encourage the audience to create a circle pit during “Work For It” and so asked them to create one during their next song which happened to be “Words Don’t Come So Easily” (for those of you who don’t know it’s a slow love song) and there’s nothing more funnier than watching a bunch of rock fans prancing around a circle pit to a slow song. They ended their set perfectly with major single “Here We Go” where there was not one single person who didn’t lose their mind.

Then things took a weird, but brilliant, turn with Die Antwoord (7/10). I was not told anything about them asides from them being a dance act so when I saw a DJ booth being set up I thought it would just be like a regular DJ/producer act…boy was I wrong. What I experienced was a rush of loud, colourful madness and craziness with images reminiscent of horror films and 90s raves. I saw a duo consisting of a buff guy covered in tattoos and a small girl looking something out of a sci-fi show running and jumping around the stage while shouting and rapping to get the crowd going bonkers. Never in my life have I experienced something like this, but I’m sure as hell glad that I witnessed it. Following them was grime collective Boy Better Know (5/10). I only stayed for about four songs and I will say that it’s not overly for me. I didn’t mind the music but I just found the crowd (at least in the area I was in) to be quite rough and aggressive which made me feel really uncomfortable and anxious. I just wanted to get out of there fast.

Heading to the NME tent I went to see The Neighbourhood (7/10) an indie-rock band from California who had previously supported The 1975 back in early 2014.  The best way to describe them to someone who has no idea what they sound like is that they’re quite chilled by mixing rock with a nice R’n’B sound. They were quite relaxing to listen to and I’m happy for my sister being able to see them live after several failed attempts in trying to go and see them whenever they came to the UK.

We decided to stay at this stage to wait for Twenty One Pilots to perform when I had the displeasure of having to experience Crystal Castles (2/10) who were easily the worst band of the weekend. An experimental electronic band, the music was alright but it was completely ruined by the lead singer, Edith Frances, who I recently found out to have been the replacement of previous lead singer, Alice Glass, so that might have been the problem but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t even call her efforts “singing” it was just non-understandable mumblings and failed screamings into a microphone (it turned off a few times, thank god). At first I thought it was just me not getting it as it’s not typically the genre of music that I would listen to but pretty much everyone else looked just as bored and confused as I was so I think it’s safe to say that they were just terrible.

Finally it was time for Twenty One Pilots (10/10)…I don’t have the words to describe them, they just completely blew my mind. But before they came on there was some tension in the air as everyone worried how the set might be affected after what had happened the previous night at Reading, and if it would happen again. In case you didn’t know Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun interact with the crowd a lot during their performances like kneeling on them, standing on them to play the drums etc, but the previous night saw disaster where the crowd had decided to be vile and pull Tyler into the crowd during “Car Radio” where they proceeded to rip his shirt and mask off and apparently throw piss at him whereupon they cut their set short. Thankfully the crowd was respectful and their set went by without incident. Opening with “heavydirtysoul” and then going straight into “Heathens” it was clear that the audience was immediately on their side where there was no one who wasn’t singing along. Their set was filled with a mixture of songs from their albums “Vessel” and “Blurryface” and even included a cover of House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. All of their crowd interactions went by without a hitch and I especially loved the moment during “Guns For Hands” when Tyler went over the crowd in a zorb ball and came quite close to where we were. Another highlight for me was when during “Car Radio” after Tyler came off the scaffolding in the centre of crowd and I got to high-five him (yes I’m still screaming on the inside). I just didn’t want their set to end, they lived up so highly to my expectations of them and I feel so privileged that I got to see them live.

At this stage it had started to rain quite heavily outside and I think it was safe to say that I was now in a low mood, originally I was planning to go and see Asking Alexandria but I just didn’t feel up to it so I went to go see headliner’s Disclosure (7/10).  It was a fun, upbeat set featuring their major hits like “White Noise” and “F For You” and also songs from their second album, “Caracal” like “Omen” and “Jaded”. We left their set early as it started to rain again and I believe that some people were warning us of a possible incoming thunderstorm. I’m upset that we missed Latch but to be honest I was exhausted at that stage and I just wanted to go to bed

The news that I woke up to the next day put me in an amazing mood; You Me At Six were doing a secret set in The Pit that day! So you can guess where we went to straight away. We were able to catch Big Spring‘s (7/10) set, an alternative-rock band from London who have recently been dubbed as the “best new band in Britain” by Daniel P Carter, host of Radio 1’s Rock Show. I found that I got quickly into their music so I do look forward to what else they have to offer. Next up was Dead! (8/10) who were at, but I sadly missed, at Slam Dunk so this time round I promised myself that I would not miss them again. A band from London who were inspired by 90s rock, they delivered an enjoyable set where Alex Mountford sealed himself as a confident frontman who helps to make them one of the most exciting new rock bands of this decade. Watch this space, you’ll be hearing from them soon. On a more darker note was Ghost Town (8/10) from Los Angeles. You may remember that I had seen them support Simple Plan back in March so I was excited to see them again. There’s no arguing how unique they sound in comparison to most upcoming rock bands of today, a blend of electronic rock and electronicore, you seriously need to check them out!

At this point more and more people were coming into the tent after the news of You Me At Six’s set started to get out, this is where I felt bad for Heck (6/10). A hard rock/heavy metal band from Nottingham who for me were a little too much in terms of their sound and the stuff they did with the audience. They went into the crowd to create several circle pits, crowd surfed, put their microphones leads around people to sing into their faces, you name it. It was entertaining to watch and I did feel a bit bad for them when they realised that the majority of people at the front were there for You Me At Six and kind of toned down the stuff they did, but it was all good fun.

Soon The Pit became packed, it was time for You Me At Six (10/10). You have no idea how excited I was, I have been waiting for them to rise from the dead for over a year now. As Josh Franceschi promised it was a set where they would play a lot of the songs that we already knew, they opened with with “Room To Breathe” going straight into “Loverboy” and playing fan favourites like “Underdog” and closing with “Bite My Tongue”, it was an unforgettable set which confirmed to them how much they had been missed over the year. They also played new single “Night People” and “Plus One”, also a new song off their upcoming album. It was everything I could ever hope for and I’m so excited that they are now back. I’ll see you guys in October in Leeds!

Heading over to the main stage in order to get a good spot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers later on I got to watch Manchester band The Courteeners (8/10) at my friends request. I already knew of them but I had no idea what to expect, but I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Playing a set of upbeat rock songs that seemed to put everyone in a good mood, and now knowing that a year ago they held a major hometown gig at Heaton Park which sold out in under an hour, I can definitely see why they’re so popular. However it was around this time that there were warning signs of what would happen later on; every so often there would be a random surge of people pushing forward that would get worse each time, I was struggling to breathe at some points.

But before things got too bad I was able to enjoy Imagine Dragons (9/10) I was able to see them last year in Leeds on their Smoke + Mirrors Tour, I loved them back then and they certainly didn’t let me down whatsoever this time around. All I can say is that they were absolutely amazing, everyone was just having the time of their lives and were singing along to every word, frontman Dan Reynolds just knew how to work the crowd and went so far as to claim that Leeds and Reading is the best festival in the world (yes man!). Their set was similar to their show in Leeds last year and they even played my favourite song “I’m So Sorry” which I was so happy about, in fact the only thing I can criticise about their show was how no one was bouncing around during “I Bet My Life”, oh, and the idiots at the back who kept pushing surges of people forward, like what are you doing?! Seriously.

Soon everyone was waiting for the final headliner of the weekend; Red Hot Chilli Peppers (7/10). However, like I just mentioned with the surge of people pushing forward, it got really bad, I could barely breathe, my friend and I were originally 4th/5th row but we had to leave due to how inconsiderate people in the crowd. So I’d like to thank the inconsiderate dicks who didn’t seem to care about other people’s welfare, I hope that you’re satisfied. But anyway, regardless of that I did enjoy their set. RHCP have been going on for three decades now, that night they proved they still had it in them and they are far away from throwing in the towel. Anthony Kledis proved to be the ever charismatic frontman and bassist, Flea, talked about his Yorkshire heritage (aye!). A setlist filled with classics such as “Bridge Under Water” and “By The Way” along with new songs from recent album, “The Getaway”, such as “Dark Necessities” it was an unforgettable night for all. I will admit that I’m not a major fan of RHCP so I didn’t know all of their songs but I’m grateful that I got to see them, I mean they’re such legends. They finished their set with an encore of “Goodbye Angels” and “Give It Away” leaving everyone on a high as the Leeds Fest weekend came to a close.

So that’s it for this year, only 359 days to go until next year! Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and recover from post-festival flu. See you guys next time!

Busted

You have no idea how much this night meant to me, despite the claims that this would never happen I have been waiting years for this reunion. Busted were a massive part of my childhood and now I was finally living the childhood dream. It was such a friendly, buzzing atmosphere upon arrival as everyone looked forward to what would be a fun evening that would bring back the memories and emotions.

The opening acts for the night was Youtuber turned singer, Emma Blackery, and US rock band Wheatus. Now before this I had never known that Blackery was, or had plans to be, a singer. I had recognised her name from the suggestions section on my Youtube homepage where her channel has over a million subscribers, but I was pleasantly surprised. Her larger than life voice and short set of catchy, upbeat pop-rock songs had a old-school feel, something from the early noughties pop-punk/rock scene, like think of how Avril Lavigne used to sound like. Whilst not being the most groundbreaking new material I have ever heard, I do look forward to hear what else she has to offer. There was a further blast from the past when Wheatus hit the stage. Even if you don’t know the name you will have almost certainly have heard ‘Teenage Dirtbag’  at some point in your life. With a short set of classics like ‘A Little Respect’, ‘Lemonade’ and, of course, ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ everyone got excited for what would be a nostalgic filled evening.

Soon the wait began for Busted and the teasers started, which first included a large pig balloon floating around the arena and sudden pauses of the music playing with brief films of people wearing pig masks in random locations that helped to excite everyone with what they were about to see. A rather scary technique I might add. The films got longer and the official intro started that concluded with all three members of the band appearing on screen and the onstage pig sty was revealed where lucky fans were given to opportunity to watch and be a part of the show.

Busted opened with their new song ‘Coming Home’, an instant reminder to everyone that Busted was back and then going straight into ‘Air Hostess’ and, for me at least, the emotions and memories git me all at once. The set was filled with classics like ‘You Said No’, ‘Crashed The Wedding’, ‘Falling For You’ and ‘Sleeping With The Light On’, along with a section where they moved to a central stage and played slower songs ‘Meet You There’ and new song ‘Easy’. I think it was at this point that I realised how much I loved going to gigs when I saw everyone with their phone lights on and singing along during ‘Meet You There’.

There was never a dull moment. The evening ended perfectly with an encore of ‘3am’, which had previously been one of the last singles released before the band’s split in 2005 and their most famous anthem ‘Year 3000’ which during no seat was sat in.

In the days leading up to this I was worried if this would end up being a huge disappointment, but as I sat there with my friend at the end in shock in that we had just seen our childhood I knew that it had been worth the twelve year wait.

Simple Plan

This is the first gig that I have been to on my own and, whilst originally being nervous, a lot of things happened before and during the gig that put me at ease.

Now usually I hope to make friends with people while I’m queuing up and/or when I get into the venue but without someone being there with me I was convinced that I would end up being awkward and not speak to anyone. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was not as shy as I originally thought I would be and over the course of the day I chatted to about six people in the queue and had a cute goodbye from one of them at the end of the night.

Another thing that I was surprised by was that the band themselves were hanging out with fans during the day. Like they were just walking around talking to fans and at one point chose four of them to do a video with, and at times were just wondering back and forth between the venue and the tour bus with the fans queuing up not freaking out when they appeared. I just loved the respect that they had for the band members and vice versa. On top of that I got pictures with Chuck and Jeff. I’m just gonna leave these here…

Simple Plan had two opening acts; London based pop-punk band, The Bottom Line and rock band Ghost Town from Los Angeles. The Bottom Line had a 30 minute set filled with loud, pounding songs that got the crowd buzzing, which also sold me based on how lead singer, Callum, crowd surfed on an inflatable, a cover of Wheatus’ classic ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ and all three members doing shots onstage. More maturer Ghost Town played a mix of songs from their three studio albums including the single ‘Spark’ which I have seen being played on Kerrang, certainly a band who I would recommend checking out.

Soon Simple Plan were onstage and everyone was buzzing. Now, as you may know from my previous post, the last gig I went to, The 1975, I had a horrible experience with the crowd (pushing, inconsiderate people, etc) so I was nervous about having a repeat of events. But yet the audience were so chilled, there was no pushing whatsoever, I was so surprised! Simple Plan are officially the most relaxed gig that I have ever been to.

Now I need to say one thing; Pierre Bouvier is one of the most cutest human beings I have ever seen. Like you know when you watch someone and you can just see that they’re having the time of their life? Yeah, that’s what I saw with Bouvier.

The gig was filled with classics, such as ‘I’m Just A Kid’, ‘Welcome To My Life’, ‘Shut Up’, and ‘Your Love Is A Lie’, along with recent hits ‘Boom!’, ‘Can’t Keep My Hands Off You’ and ‘Opinion Overload’. There were moments of humour, such as with the band’s tour crew doing a dance routine during a mash-up of ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Can’t Feel My Face’, and banter between David and Pierre about each other’s family and longing to be raised British, along with moments of sweetness, such as with Pierre dedicating ‘The Rest Of Us’ to those who don’t feel like they fit in and telling everyone not to let anyone control your life when introducing ‘I Refuse’. While being quite cheesy at times, it was fun for everyone involved. Plus I held Bouvier’s hand during ‘Crazy’ (cue inner screaming).

They finished their set with ‘This Song Saved My Life’ a song written and dedicated to their fans and ‘Perfect’, a slow, sweet way to end the evening. And to make it better when I went to the merch stand I found that they were selling signed copies of recent album ‘Taking One For The Team’, AH!