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Andy Biddulph's Blog
ABSOLUTExclusive: Middle Class Rut Song Stream
06/10/13 at 06:27 AM by Andy Biddulph
Today we're pleased to be bringing you a brand new track from scuzzy Sacramento duo Middle Class Rut. "Weather Vein" is a boot stomp of track that's typical of the band's rollicking forthcoming album Pick Up Your Head. Scroll down to hear the song and read an explanation of the song from vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and click here to pre-order the record.


Zack Lopez""Weather Vein" was one of the first songs we had that was built around a bass, which was completely foreign to us at the time. In the context of a 2-piece, the guitar always has to keep going so this freed me up to use the guitar in a different way than I'm used to. Lyrically it’s a coming of age piece about a lusty young girl and her forbidden love affair with the high school janitor."



tags: middle class rut, absolutexclusive, streaming
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Nai Harvest - 'Whatever' Track-By-Track
04/10/13 at 03:13 AM by Andy Biddulph
Stream the record here.

So, most of this record was written in a week when there was nothing really going on in Sheffield and all of my friends where busy or away. I spent the week lying in bed watching Twin Peaks, writing the songs and not showering. Most of the record is about being bored and watching TV; hence ‘Whatever’. I just felt in my own little world that week, where nothing really bothered me and nothing really made me happy, just a week of neutralism. But looking back, I really needed that week to clear my head before my move to Manchester, I had a lot to think about and weigh up so it was cool to be left to my own shit without any real distractions.

"Whatever"
It sounds boring but this song is all about getting up in the morning. ‘A hit to the back of the neck with coffee breath makes me feel something other than whatever;’ is about how I was used to waking up next to someone, that made me feel something, rather than just waking up alone feeling shitty. I always used to say I never wanted to be too jaded about life and always wanted to stay positive about things, but that week I felt pretty jaded, or ‘dead inside’ and couldn’t wait to get out and see my friends again. The whole ‘being busy doesn’t keep me happy it keeps me sane’ part is just me in a nutshell. I have to have too much going on or I lose my mind, which I think I did a little that week.

"Floor"
This song is about wanting to make good friends in Manchester like I have in Sheffield. I guess we take our mates for granted a little bit because they are always around, but when you don’t see them for a little while you really do miss them; ‘I’ll never make friends like these, it’s such a drag’. The end part of the song contrasts; ‘focus on something that I care about, how about myself, how about everyone else’, is about how I tend to do too much for my friends sometimes (like lifts, money, favours etc.) even when I’ve got loads on myself, and sometimes I need to be a little selfish and say no to people.

"Sitcom Fade-in"
I wrote this song on a bus a little while before my week in bed. I basically just got rained on loads in town after going for a coffee with my friend. I decided to get the bus instead of drive in on this one day to save some parking money, I didn’t have a jacket or anything waterproof ‘cus it was a nice day when I left my house. So this is your grade A typical whiney emo song about something petty.

"Twin Tweaks"
This one’s about watching every episode of Twin Peaks in a few days and then being pissed off they never made a 3rd series. I ended reading up on all the storyline theories on the internet and got madly involved, which is why I wrote the ‘I’ve been staring at the same screen for a week now, does that make me boring’ part. So this song is a reflection on Twin Peaks as a brilliant TV drama, kind of written from the mind set of Coop, about Audrey; ‘left you at home today, I’ve got more to think about, I wish I could live without’.

"Distance, etc."
As some people may know this is an old song. It was written about Sami, Nai’s first drummer. He moved to Birmingham and I still miss him loads. He’s a fucking class guy, never met anyone like him. So when he moved to Birmingham we (me and Jake) originally wanted to keep the band going between Sheffield and Brum; ‘long drives to Birmingham’, but Sami had a job and didn’t have time for it, which was fair. So then Lew started playing drums for us (which has been the best thing to happen to this band) and Jake left for some mad reasons, and it’s been me and Lew ever since. We started to be abit more of a real band since becoming a two piece and we’ve covered a lot more ground. Looking back I’m really glad it’s just us two ‘cus we work really well together and don’t need anyone else in this band.

"Quit Mackin’"
‘Quit Mackin’’ means ‘quit kissing’ which is me telling myself that I don’t always need to be in a relationship all the time. ‘See the way, feeling lonely is weird’ pretty much sums it up. It’s all about how for me not being with someone is weird, even though time alone is healthy. I’m kinda the opposite of a commitophobe and like the comfort of a relationship so much. But then I think to myself sometimes ‘do I just settle for someone I’m not that crazy about, because I hate being alone?’ Welcome to my head everyone.

"Washy"
Wrote this song in the shower funnily enough. This was the last song I wrote for the record and it pretty much sums up my week at home. ‘No-one’s been round here lately, but I’ll miss this place when it’s gone’ is a reference to my state of mind more than a real place, cus I guess that’s probably the most relaxing week I’ve ever had and I knew it’d be back to reality as soon as I left, which is the ‘wait around another morning of nothing’ part. The ‘who am I kidding? I get bored way too easily’ was about me generally being surprised I lasted that long in the house without contracting cabin fever.
Oh, and the sample at the beginning is Coop of Twin Peaks talking about coffee. It just fit well.

"Red Letter Day, On Play"
Again, an oldie! The first proper song we ever wrote/recorded when it was me, Jake and Sami.
Me and Jake were in my car on our way to a BBQ listening to Red Letter Day by The Get Up Kids and some dude came flying down the opposite road, didn’t stop at the give way sign and ended up smashing into the side of my car. We ‘span out’, hit a wall and thought we were dead; ‘shaking like the day I was born’. We got my car sorted and she’s still on the road today. So this song is just a constant reminder of that horrible day, and when people sing it back to me live it makes me feel like the whole car crash was sort of worth it.

"You’re Not That Boring"
This is a weird one, it was half written that week in Sheffield then I changed a lot of the lyrics my first week in Manchester. I met a girl called Esme in Manchester and we instantly became good friends due to similar musical tastes and we hung a lot and still do loads. The ‘you jog on the spot and I watch’ bit is directly about her, because she never stands still. We were on our way back from seeing Eagulls one night and I banged my foot at the show jumping off shit, which is where the ‘we were limping, that’s all I remember’ bit came from. So yeah, this is just a recount of a few nights out I had with Esme. I don’t think she even knows this is abit about her.

"To Be There"
We were in the studio and decided to add one more song to the album to make it a clean ten, so we wrote this in about 20 minutes, which is depressing because it’s one of our favourites. It’s about our time in Europe with Hindsights; ‘to be there, sleeping on your floors again’. The verses are more about how I felt when I got back from Europe spending that week in bed bored, missing being in other countries and of course missing Lew, Miles, Benio, Jack, Billy and Tom after being in very close proximity to them every day.
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Show Review: We Are The Ocean, Yashin & Straight Lines
03/05/13 at 02:44 PM by Andy Biddulph
We Are The Ocean, Yashin & Straight Lines
Manchester Academy 3, February 5th 2013




Fitting enough support for one of the UK’s breakout bands of the past year; Wales’ Straight Lines are threatening the same kind of rise over the next 12 months and on this showing, it’s not hard to see why.

Old favourites “Ring The Bells” and “Commitments” smack of the same drive and intensity they did on day one and ripper of a new track “Escapology” sounds as crisp live as it does on tape. New album soon, please gents.

Next up peddling their dual vocal fare are Glaswegians Yashin and to be fair to them, it goes down brilliantly. They ride some grizzly technical issues and deliver a short, sickly sweet burst of pop-tinged screamo to more than warm up an already fervent crowd.

Downside: hands up who said “Yes Yashin, it’d be a great idea to cover “One Step Closer” by Linkin Park”? Oh yeah, nobody said that.

We Are The Ocean are an entirely different entity to the beast that they were two years ago. The departure of scream Dan Brown has given everything a chance to breathe and judging by the heart shown on the likes of “Bleed” and a half-ferocious, half-mournful jaunt through “The Waiting Room,” they aren’t looking back.

Last month’s tour was tipped to be the one where it all fell into place for the four-piece and boy did they deliver, with frontman Liam Cromby stepping up to the plate, taking a deep breath and smashing it out of the park with

Supercharged rips through songs like “Machine” show a newfound nous and verve and look set to be the perfect platform to grow into one of the UK’s biggest and best rock bands.
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2012 In Review: Twin Atlantic
01/02/13 at 04:58 AM by Andy Biddulph
With the EOTY lists posted yesterday, now seems like a better time than ever to take a look at one of the undisputed bands of 2012.

Sell out tours, festival triumphs and a trip into space; this hasn’t been a normal year for Twin Atlantic. Drummer Craig Kneale takes us through the eight reasons why the boys from Glasgow have had the best year ever.



1 – Still living off a timeless album

The band’s debut full-length Free, was released over a year and a half ago now, but they’re still flying off the shelves. The album went silver in the UK in November and doesn’t look like slowing down in a hurry.

Craig: “It grew its own legs and it’s something that’s exciting for us – that we didn’t expect the album to get this far. We’re all still really proud of 95% of what’s on there.”

2 – Everyone loves rock music again

Guitars are back. Mainstream radio over here in the UK has jumped on the back of a whole bunch of young, British bands like TA, their countrymen Biffy Clyro and Lower Than Atlantis.

Craig: “Even two years ago a band that sounded like us would’ve been lucky to get a couple of plays on Radio 1. It shows that rock is as powerful as a musical form as it always was.”

3 – They’re big in space (sort of)

On the 14th of October a complete nutter called Felix Baumgartner jumped 128,100 feet armed with only a parachute. Mental. The band’s song “Free” was used on the official highlights video, which has been viewed by over 30 MILLION people. Equally mental.

Craig: “It’s very weird. It was really nice to be part of something that was a little bit more than having your song on an advert or in a movie, it was a cultural event.”

4 – Become a touring behemoth

This is a fairly simple one – Twin Atlantic own the UK touring circuit right now. A meteoric rise since a modest Christmas tour has seen the band play epic shows at 2,000-capacity Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London to universal acclaim.

Craig: “We were thinking we’d get to a certain stage in the year and then get up to the size of venue we’re playing now on the next album. It’s been unexpected but really exciting at the same time.”

5 – Made it in America
The boys from Glasgow ditched sunny Scotland for warmer climes over the summer by heading out on the weirdest music roadshow around, North America’s Warped Tour. Despite only playing to 200 fans most days, the band returned with an army of US fans and some decidedly ropey t-shirt tans.

Craig: “Your stage time moves around and all the buses are parked in the same area. It was a weird experience but I’d love to do it again.”

6 – Slayed Reading and Leeds

Headliners At The Drive-In played their first UK show for 10 years at Reading and Leeds this year. Twin Atlantic were on 12 hours earlier and attracted twice as many people at a time where festival-goers are usually sleeping off brutal hangovers. Insane.

Craig: “Those tents are 20,000 people or something crazy like that so we said that even if the tent was half full we’d have been over the moon but it was pretty much packed out. It was an amazing experience and it was one of the defining moments of our year and so far in our band.”

7 – Having an accent is cool now

We don’t want to alarm you, but Celts are taking over. Sam McTrusty’s trademark Glaswegian brogue is just a little bit too much fun to sing along to/butcher. With fellow Scots Biffy Clyro on their way up and Welsh riff merchants Straight Lines flying the flag for Cymru, there’s never been a better time to sound a little bit weird.

Craig: “We love Pulled Apart By Horses and we’ve always been big Biffy Clyro fans. Band of Skulls are really good, too.”

8 – They’re not even finished yet

New song “Brothers and Sisters” kicked a huge amount of arse when it was busted out on their recent headline tour. If that’s anything to go by, (which trust us, it really is) the next album looks set to be a corker.

Craig: “We’re going back into our studio in Glasgow for another few weeks to write some more stuff. It’ll hopefully be finished by summer and out soon after.”

Free is out now through Red Bull Records.
Tags: twin atlantic, craig kneale, 2012, features
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Show Review: The Menzingers, The Front Bottoms & Above Them
09/28/12 at 03:18 AM by Andy Biddulph
The Menzingers, The Front Bottoms & Leagues Apart
Manchester NQ Live, 20th of August 2012


In a line, Above Them's live show as a heady mix of old-school punk with a rich vein of pure melody thrown in for good measure. These guys never fail to impress and as a storming rip through "For Those Who Paved The Way" showed, they still have plenty of bite to go with their gritty bark. This band look set to pack an even bigger punch in years to come.

The Front Bottoms brought a change of tone but not a change of pace to the evening; ther quirky, danceable pop went down a storm, with engaging frontman Brian Sella having the crowd eating from the palm of his hand on favourites like "The Beers".

It's the mark of a great band that they'll come to a venue and play the Bouncing Souls off the stage. It's the mark of a great band full of great people that they'd get robbed here, then return to the same venue and the same city little more than six months later. With all of the nonsense that the city has put the band through in recent times, it was no surprise that there was an air of catharsis about the night when Manchester came to say sorry to The Menzingers.

And you know, there was a pretty raucous punk show somewhere in there, too. Roaring runs through the likes of "Rivalries" and "Burn After Writing" provided a potent mix of old and new and even when the pace dropped for "On The Impossible Past" the room was still full of raised arms and more voices than a wet Thursday in Manchester really ought to provide.

With more than a clutch of songs that lend themselves to the explosive, it was little wonder that band and crowd were on fire throughout, especially on album opener "Good Things" and an ecstatic encore befitting of one of the bands of 2012. Marvellous.
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Festival Review: Leeds Festival
09/04/12 at 07:03 AM by Andy Biddulph
Leeds Festival
23rd-26th August 2012

You all know about how huge the UK's Reading and Leeds festivals are, so let's just dive right into Friday's Lock Up stage, which kicked off with two of the Britain's brightest punk prospects in Crowns and Apologies, I Have None. The former impressed with a clutch of short, sharp blasts of folk-punk that kicked some life into a lethargic morning crowd and the latter showed just why 2012's London is regarded as one of the breakout albums of the year with an accomplished, impassioned performance. By the time "Full Swing" and "Clapton Pond" respectively hit home, it becomes inconceivable that we won't see them both much, much higher on the bill in the not too distant future.

Newly formed Mongol Horde's set was an odd one. Seeing a shirtless Frank Turner take to the stage with powerful bandmates Nadir and Awesome was weird enough, but the intensity of songs like "Still Born Unicorn" and "Tapeworm Uprising" really sent the tent seven shades of barmy. Here's the kicker though; they're good, very good, and on the basis of songs like the unhinged crunch of "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen", MH look set to long outlive the "daft side project" tag.

Mongol Horde

Speaking of being mad as a box of frogs, Eagles of Death Metal were busy laying waste to the main stage, with Jesse Hughes abandoning final song "I Want You So Hard (Boy's Bad News)" in an attempt to kiss everyone in the crowd. Yeah...

Up next, The Gaslight Anthem continued their seemingly unstoppable upward curve with a polished, accomplished set, with Fallon & co. in strong voice. Despite an anticlimactic run through "Mae" and the nagging feeling that material from Handwritten isn't seamlessly integrated into their set just yet, tracks old and new go down a storm, with tumultuous "The Backseat" an imperious closer.

Marmozets were one of the brightest sparks on their year's BBC Introducing Stage. A rousing 25 minutes of deliriously complicated, full-throttle math rock confirmed what a lot of us have known for a while - Marmozets are one of the best bands in the UK right now.

We bridged the gap between Marmozets and Gallows with a great set from glam-punk stalwarts Turbonegro, whose anthem "Wasted Again" struck a nerve with the plethora of early evening boozers in the Lock Up tent.

I've written an awful lot about this new form of Gallows. They're not getting boring just yet. The Anglo-Canadians crowned a truly magnificent summer of festivals with a suitably incendiary set; full of stage dives and complete and utter bangers. The brilliance and intensity of Wade's delivery of new tracks "Last June" and "Outsider Art" all but confirms that from the nadir of losing their talisman, they've unearthed another absolute gem of a frontman.

Foo Fighters took their sweet time. They were booked in for a two and a half hour slot and played 22 songs, meaning there was around seven minutes for each song. Throw in more than a handful of interchangeable, lengthy interludes and you have yourself a mildly disinterested crowd, Mr Grohl. His affable, occasionally hilarious between-song spiel saved it somewhat, but even the most ardent Foos fan would have to admit that their show dragged.

The last few songs were definitely their saving grace; a Taylor Hawkins-led rip through Queen's "Tie Your Mother Down" with Roger Taylor's son Rufus on drums was a special moment and by the time an aching "Everlong" came to its climax, Grohl and co. had redeemed themselves. Just.

Meanwhile, Less Than Jake were busy laying waste to a packed tent - an impressive feat when you're playing less than a two minute walk away from Foo Fighters - from what I saw, "Gainesville Rock City" and the unbridled bounce of "Look What Happened" went down swimmingly and with LTJ at the end of the day, Friday was always going to be brilliant.

O'Brother
got Saturday's proceedings off to a subdued start. Their multi-layered, serene soundscapes weren't a huge hit with a very sparse late-morning crowd.

Dead To Me didn't fare much better, doing nothing to sway a largely disinterested Lock Up tent with a sloppy half-hour not matching up to their usually irrepressible, balls-to-the-wall punk.

Coheed & Cambria are a great band, make no mistake, but they're not exactly the most accessible bunch. It was no great surprise, then, that their early afternoon main stage slot was lost on everyone who wasn't a Coheed fan in the first place; new track "Domino: The Destitute" in particular seemed to last for hours. To their credit, an accomplished final volley of "A Favor House Atlantic" and the opus that is "Welcome Home" did a lot to save what was fast becoming a dire start to the day.

Next up on the main stage were Angels & Airwaves. Boasting the likes of DeLonge, ex-30 Seconds To Mars man Matt Wachter and David Kennedy, it's easy (and incredibly stupid) to forget about Ilan Rubin. Fresh from tracking drums on Paramore's forthcoming record, Rubin set about destroying the stage with his inimitable brand of refined thunder. It really is a privilege to watch musicians who possess that level of skill. The rest of the band were pretty OK, too. Tracks ranging from old ("The Adventure") to new ("Saturday Love") sound as good as ever on a big stage and as evidenced by the swirling, powerful finale of "The War", AvA are now a supergroup to be reckoned with.

A Wilhelm Scream have made a fair few people sit up and take notice over here in the UK this summer. Incendiary performance after incendiary performance has done them no harm whatsover and the aural assault of tracks like "Me vs Morrissey in a Pretentious Contest" and the uncontainable energy of both crowd and band made for a fast, fun and furious half-hour. New album on the way? Live show as sharp as ever? The future looks bright for A Wilhelm Scream.


A Wilhelm Scream

As I said a couple of weeks ago, something about Touche Amore and festivals just clicks. No different at Leeds, the LA mob were as intense as ever. From the frenzy of "Uppers/Downers" to the colossal singalong at the end of "Honest Sleep", this set simply ruled. More good news: the new tracks are just as good, if not better. Breathe easy, fans of catharsis.

Saves The Day offered a sugary break from the heavy assault of Saturday's Lock Up stage, with Chris Conley's boys swanning through an impressive half-hour of pure fun, taking in the scuzzy riffs of "1984" and the anthemic "At Your Funeral". Sweet.


Saves The Day

Every Time I Die , now featuring a freshly shaven (but for the moustache) Andy Williams and a heavily bearded Dr. Keith Buckley (coincidence? I think not) rocked up next for their first ever Leeds festival slot. It seemed they wanted to make up for lost time with a set that had most things, from a caustic cover of Nirvana's "Tourettes" to a man crowdsurfing on a sled. In the summer. I know this is the UK but snow in August? Come on, that's ridiculous. A huge bang through "We'rewolf" to finish and it's over far, far too soon. Here's hoping they don't take another 14 years to come back.

Anti-Flag rounded off a solid Lock Up stage with a typically dynamic set. Chris #2 was instrumental throughout a truly special closing duo of a supercharged gallop through The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" ("for Tony Sly, Joe Strummer and Pussy Riot") and a crowd-led burst of "Cities Burn", showing that even today, community is still key to bands like these.

The early-afternoon played host to two rising stars of UK rock. Frank Carter's Pure Love spend the majority of the show in the crowd, who lapped up huge radio-friendly anthems like "Bury My Bones" and the huge, white balls that the band launched into the crowd. Even though their live show and Carter's voice doesn't seem to be quite there yet, PL look set to be a very, very good band in their own right.


Pure Love

Twin Atlantic filled the NME tent. At the Drive-In didn't even come close. Take a second to soak that in. It's a fact that shows just how big this band have become in such a short space of time - the fact that one of, if not the best band in Britain was only awarded an early afternoon slot isn't far short of outrageous. The four young Glaswegians treated the assembled masses to just what we've come to expect from them - an imperious set ranging from older material like "What Is Light, Where Is Laughter?" and storming closer "Free".


Twin Atlantic


Twin Atlantic

It might've been the pouring rain, it might've been brilliant new album Priorities, but we couldn't get anywhere near the tent for Don Broco's set. We're putting it down to the new record and have heard it was very, very special.

Max Raptor were another shining slight of the BBC Introducing Stage. The band have been building momentum for a while and capped a solid summer with a monstrous half-hour of huge, jaunty rock. When you take into account that Enter Shikari were playing less than a two minute walk away, the size of the pit at the end of a colossal "The King Is Dead" is all the more impressive.


Max Raptor

2012 could well belong to Billy Talent. With new album Dead Silence out now and tours booked from here to eternity, the Canadian boys tuned up for a big end to the year with a tremendous set that showcased music at its finest. New track "Viking Death March" showed all the fire of old tracks "Fallen Leaves" and "Try Honesty" and closer "Red Flag" prompted what might have been the biggest pit of the weekend. Very, very good.

Lower Than Atlantis' set was par for the course in the best possible way. The band haven't stopped touring or writing music over the last three years so it was unsurprising that the packed tent witnessed a well-oiled steam train of a performance, with alluring closer "Deadliest Catch" one of the tracks of the weekend.

By contrast, At the Drive-In couldn't have looked less interested if they'd tried. Vocalist Cedric tried to up the ante throughout a very sluggish set but the El Paso quintet just don't look excited to be on stage in front of 3,000 people. And that is simply inexcusable. It's only on last track "One Armed Scissor" that band and crowd truly kick into gear and blast the cobwebs out of a pitch-perfect but forced performance. Dangerously close to being too little, too late.

A lacklustre end to the weekend, sure, but on this showing, Reading and Leeds surely deserve the crown of the best big festival of 2012. Marvellous fun.

Thanks to our friend Rachel Daniels for photos.
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First Impressions: Gallows - Gallows
08/22/12 at 11:26 AM by Andy Biddulph
Gallows - Gallows


It's happened every time I've seen them live this year, it'll happen when Gallows is released in September and it'll happen when the band rip through Europe later this year - people will leave speechless at the power and intent of this band's new material.

I hate to use the "breath of fresh air" cliche so how about another - the introduction of Wade MacNeil has been the most dirty, ash-ridden breath that Gallows have ever taken. It's worked wonders and it's most certainly the album and the change that will transform Gallows from a very good band into a brilliant one.

The disorienting crunch of first single "Last June" is a prime example of what to expect; huge riffs and lots of gang vocals - pretty simple, really - but it's the force and tenacity of the delivery that drew me in.

You have to stand back and admire the sheer power of this band. Wade MacNeil is a steam train of a frontman - he's gruff, he's furious and he's unstoppable - and put together with a band who've never played or sounded better it's one hell of a combination. From the menacing vocal build-up to "Outsider Art" to the straight-up ferocity of "Vapid Adolescent Blues", drums pound, razor sharp guitars sear and I cannot stop talking about how much this album rules.

In essence, this is the same band that released Grey Britain, but the drive, focus and intensity that this band has gained over the past year has to be heard to be believed.

Welcome to the all-new, same old Gallows.
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Show Review: Set Your Goals, Mixtapes, Eager Teeth & Leopards
08/21/12 at 02:38 AM by Andy Biddulph
Set Your Goals, Mixtapes, Eager Teeth & Leopards
Manchester Moho, 9th of August 2012

Over here in the UK, summer shows almost always have a poor turnout. This show was no different, but what the crowd lacked in number was more than made up for by the verve and vigour of the bands. Make no mistake - they were there to have a ball.

We arrived just in time to catch the end of Leopards' set, who impressed with their distinctive brand of driving, female-fronted rock. Eager Teeth are another very impressive young, English band. Their rugged, hook-ridden punk visibly impressed even through murky sound and the edgy "Lights Out" would slay crowds double this size.

Up next was everybody's favourite ridiculously talented / woefully inept band, Ohio's Mixtapes. I don't think it's unfair to say that there weren't many in the crowd interested in their set to begin with, but over the course of an enthusiastic half-hour they gradually bring people in with their irreverent on-stage banter and sheer energy. It also doesn't hurt that in Maps and Even On The Worst Nights they have two of the most accessible pop punk records in recent years, with a breakneck run through "Hope Springs Eternal" and the twinkling "Seven Mile" clear highlights. Apart, that is, from a rousing stomp through Wheatus' "Teenage Dirtbag" with members of Eager Teeth and Set Your Goals.

Set Your Goals' set had most things, ranging from huge gang vocals and scores of stagedives to a shirtless stage invader who grabbed a mic and ripped through a freestyle to universal cries of "what?!". Yeah, it was one of those nights.

It all started normally enough - a powerful volley of "Summer Jam", "The Few That Remain" and "Echoes" got the so-far static crowd up on their feet and moving - but the band really came into their own in the final third of their set. A savage run through "Gaia Bleeds (Make Way For Man)" and "I'll Walk It Off" (one of the best songs they've ever written - fight me) brought the crowdsurfers forwards and had the band their top, most clinical gear.

The obligatory stage invasion at the end of an exuberant jaunt through "Mutiny" showed the night for what it was; a room of people intent on having the most fun possible
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Show Review: Night Verses, Flood of Red & All The Best Tapes
08/10/12 at 04:26 AM by Andy Biddulph
Night Verses, Flood of Red & All The Best Tapes
Stoke Sugarmill, 7th of August 2012



Night Verses are brand spanking new. They're exciting. They're good. That's why we're hugely excited to have them on Absolute 100 and even more so to catch them live in the UK this week. Spoiler: they were good.

We arrived just in time to catch local support All The Best Tapes who opened with their deliciously muddy, groove-laden punk. As uplifting live as they are recorded, expect to hear more from these gentlemen in months to come.

Up next, Flood of Red's fragile fare did well in front of a tough crowd. The past couple of years have seen the Scottish outfit become one of the UK's most unrelenting touring machines and it's paying dividends. Frontman Jordan Spiers' soaring vocals combine with meaty drums on the likes of "Little Lovers" with finesse and the band seem as tight as ever.

Still, their careful atmospheric build-up falls on its face at times. At others, however, it's all-encompassing and accomplished, with "Paper Lungs" and new song "They Must Be Building Something" shining brightest.

Intricate and immensely powerful for a four-piece, Night Verses aren't backward in coming forward and fairly ripped into their impressive set right from the beginning. Even if you don't bear in mind that this is only their seventh (yeah, seventh) show, the way they attack the half-full room with gusto is something to be admired.

From the late-From First To Last vibe of "From The Shadows Where I'm Low" with it's buzzsaw guitar and piercing screams to the almost danceable "I've Lost My Way Back Down", a set as good as that from a band as young as that is nothing short of staggering. I suppose it doesn't hurt to have one of the best voices in around in ex-The Sleeping man Doug Robinson, either.

Despite only having released four songs up to date and playing six or seven all night, they still managed a good 40 minute set without ever becoming boring. That is surely the biggest testament to their nous and sheer ability, both as individuals and a band.

If this was only their seventh show, I'd love to be at the 20th, the 40th or the 50th. Make sure you're there, it's going to be spectacular.
Tags: night verses, flood of red, all the best tapes, show review
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Show Review: 2000 Trees Festival
07/26/12 at 08:28 AM by Andy Biddulph
Show Review: 2000 Trees Festival, July 2012 - Cheltenham, UK

The UK has an awful lot to be proud of this summer. The London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee are supposed to be the jewels in our crown on this side of the pond but a couple of weeks ago something very nearly topped it all. For just one weekend, a quiet corner of Gloucestershire countryside played host to the best of British culture as over 100 of the newest and most exciting acts in UK music descended upon 2000 Trees Festival. It was rather good.

The pick of a strong Thursday afternoon line-up was the delectable Straight Lines - Tellison duo.

Straight Lines began with a professional, almost tepid performance; unbecoming of their status as rising stars here in the UK. However, one tent-wide 2000 Trees conga later and they were a different prospect altogether with punchy pop-rock songs like “Actions” dripping with intent.


Straight Lines

Nobody dislikes Tellison (cue a load of people telling me they hate Tellison) but last Thursday, everybody bloody loved Tellison. Uplifting and sweet, their set was peppered with huge hooks and bigger singalongs, guaranteeing one of the crowds and performances of the weekend.

Friday, as luck would have it, began with the mother of all clashes as the three-way battle to see bits of The People, The Poet, run, Walk! and Lightguides began. Nightmare.

The People, The Poet’s recent journey has been well publicised, but not an awful lot has changed. More delicately arranged than Tiger Please material but not lacking in that trademark vocal power, their superb songwriting stands up very, very well on a big stage. Expect these guys to be much higher on the bill in 12 months time.

Don’t expect to see run, Walk! Around any time soon though - 2000 Trees marked their last ever show. A crying shame, but a superb set filled with visceral screams and grooves that could’ve been lifted straight from a Death From Above 1979 record ensured the bass and drum duo went out with a flourish.

Lightguides completed the clash with a lovely slice of ballsy, unmistakeably Scottish rock. With effortlessly catchy tracks like “The Casting Call” in their armoury, the future looks suitably bright for this young band.

Freeze The Atlantic were up next on the main stage, a band truly the sum of their parts. Boasting members of Reuben and Hundred Reasons, they served up a solid slab of early ‘00s rock that was as unsurprising as it is satisfying. Look out for an album later this year.

Maybeshewill were intriguing on a big, outdoor stage.Their expansive, at times jaw-dropping post-rock benefited from a large setting and on-stage strings but subtleties of their songs like their wonderfully poignant sample of Peter Finch's rant in Network were lost to the wind. However, this proved to be just a warm-up for another set on Saturday. Scroll down for more.

Max Raptor and Marmozets packed out The Cave but had markedly different times. The former's riotous party rock kicked a large proportion of arses and for just half an hour, The Cave tent was hot, sweaty, fun and - perhaps most importantly - dry. Marmozets didn't fare so well, with some of the worst sound this side of Brokencyde blighting putting a dampner on a typically zealous performance.

Spy Catcher have come on leaps and bounds in the past year and Friday's set showed just how much. The razor sharp riffs and piercing vocals on songs from 2011's Honesty rang out flawlessly in front of a woefully underpopulated Cave tent.


Spy Catcher

Two minutes into Gallows' set, Wade MacNeil wanders off, declaring that he's "just not feeling it" and leaving bandmates and crowd alike looking at each other wondering if and when he'll be back. Fast forward a short while and he trudges back onstage, minus his shirt and plus what looked like hundreds of litres of mud. Yeah, it was that kind of show. Wade is the force that Gallows have been crying out for over the years and he cut an imposing, enthralling figure on the likes of "Abandon Ship" and "Last June". Everyone else might as well have go home. Unpredictable, unsurpassable and unmissable.


Gallows

It's lucky we didn't go home because up next at the Leaf Lounge was a full hour of The Xcerts; a band whose upward curve doesn't look like ending any time soon. It's brilliant to see a packed out tent screaming the words to coming-of-age anthem "Aberdeen 1987" and "Scatterbrain". What's more, it's completely and utterly deserved. Monsoon-like conditions outside the tent might have contributed to the indoor crowd but my word did they rise to the occasion with a supreme set.

Our Saturday began in the Cave with Maybeshewill's second set of the weekend. And what a set it was. Absorbing and crushing, their show built and built with each song even better than the last until a sublime run through "He Films The Clouds Pt. 2" capped a brilliant weekend for the Leicester lot.

Over on the main stage, Sharks weren't faring so well. Despite having the wonderful No Gods in their favour, the early morning slot and punishing wind meant their rich punk was a little forced and a little lost on the small early afternoon crowd.

Bastions, on the other hand, delivered just what we've come to expect from them over the past year; a raging, tumultuous half hour of pure, unadulterated hardcore; something that the few inside The Cave tent were more than happy to lap up.


Bastions

A note-perfect set from Brontide picked up the pace even further, with fiery post-rock very much the order of the day. Arcane Roots enjoyed similar success, with the part-haunting, part-battering "Rouen" a huge highlight and their newer material looks set to propel the weird-rock three-piece to further success.

Sunday evening brought a wonderful hour where Hundred Reasons had everything on their side - nostalgia, the weather and a staggeringly impressive back catalogue. After a quickfire opening salvo that included "Kill Your Own" and "No Way Back", "I'll Find You" launched the whole field into seminal album Ideas Above Our Station. Huge, hook-heavy anthems like "Dissolve" are still as resonant, relevant and overwhelming as they were the day they were written and Hundred Reasons are back. That's all you need to know.

Accomplished sets from Lower Than Atlantis and Future of the Left followed but with no disrespect to them, it'd be just plain wrong to end this review on anything but Hundred Reasons.

Despite the focus on new and underground UK music, it was the old school who ruled the roost at 2000 Trees and that, well that's just fine by me.
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Reading & Leeds Additions (06/12/12)
06/17/12 at 02:44 AM by Andy Biddulph
Reading & Leeds Additions
Festival Republic StageFeeder
Sleigh Bells
The View
The Futureheads
The Subways
Young Guns
Lower Than Atlantis
Veronica Falls
Bass Nectar
Benjamin Francis Leftwich
Bastille
King Charles
Niki & The Dove
Zulu Winter
Lucy Rose
Alt-J
We Are Augustines
Jeff The Brotherhood
Savages
Fidlar
The Palma Violets
O'Brother
We Are The In Crowd
Dog Is Dead
Jake Bugg
Don Broco
Oberhofer
The Knux
Citizens!
Theme Park
The Minutes
Blood Or Whiskey
2:54
S.C.U.M.
Alberta Cross
Iceage
DZ Deathrays
Deap Vally
The Cast Of Cheers
L.A.
Lock Up StageCrowns
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Slam Dunk Festival North - University of Leeds (05/26/12)
05/29/12 at 04:32 PM by Andy Biddulph
It’s really hot in the UK at the moment. Like, sweltering. It was with some trepidation, then, that I headed to Leeds to stand indoors for nine hours with a couple of thousand of fans and the odd awesome band or twenty. Here’s what happened. Spoiler: it gets sweaty.

Thanks to our friend Joel Durkin for the photographs.

After kicking off the day checking out a couple of very promising Red Bull Bedroom Jam winners in Strangle Kojak and Mechanical Smile, the day kicked off in earnest on the Vans Off The Wall stage with a typically ferocious set from Hildamay. It might’ve been the effect of the heat, but it took a while for both crowd and band to get into gear. When they finally did, this young band proved just why they’re one of the most promising bands in the UK with an unrelenting aural assault. New material like “The Light” in particular reeks of bigger and better things to come.
Hildamay

Over on the main stage, Straight Lines were busy blasting through a set of searing pop-rock. While a little rough around the edges, new single “Commitments” proved just as urgent on a big stage as it is on record and the Welsh upstarts will have gained a fair few new fans by the time last track “Antics” drew to a close.

It speaks volumes that the sheer number of people wanting to see Misser at the ungodly hour 3 o’clock in the afternoon meant we couldn’t get anywhere near the stage to take any photos on Saturday. You’ll have to take out word for it, then, that shimmering jaunts through “Weightless” and “I’m Really Starting To Hope The World Ends In 2012” ensure that recent album Every Day I Tell Myself I’m Going To Be A Better Person is more than backed up by an assured live show. It seems 3 o’clock was the perfect time for pop-punk.

The end of Misser signalled that it was time to take a relative breather in the form of singer-songwriter Rob Lynch on the acoustic stage. With songs like “Hawking” and “Sleeping” in his armoury, his set was triumphant, defiant and bucketloads of fun – everything that one man and his guitar should be. Wonderful.
Rob Lynch

Say Anything were up next on the main stage and started as they meant to go on with a huge stomp through “Belt”. Max Bemis was everywhere; frenetic, candid and (somehow) sultry all at once as he strutted around the stage. A closing duo of “Wow, I Can Get Sexual Too” and “Alive With The Glory Of Love” brought a crowd so loud the entire band could’ve downed tools and wandered off without making a jot of difference and proved that 10 years from their formation, SA remain at the very top of their game.
Say Anything

Maybe it was the weather talking, but a sweltering Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent didn’t seem up for Canterbury today. Nevertheless, the Hampshire lads delivered a professional half-hour of dramatic pop-rock. New tracks “Saviour” and “More Than Know” in particular hint that July album Heavy In The Day will be amongst the very best of a great crop of British releases this year.
Canterbury

With twenty minutes to kill, I caught the band end of an energetic Decade set and a bonecrushing one from noise-merchants Of Mice & Men, who many people named as their band of the day.

Before heading off to Funeral For A Friend I also saw the first half of While She Sleeps, who brought their abrasive metal fare to Leeds. In a word: unforgiving. In two words: very unforgiving. Huge tracks like “The North Stands For Nothing” proved that – if I may shoehorn in an incredibly hackneyed pun – on Saturday at Slam Dunk North, The North stood for everything.
While She Sleeps

Then came a big moment for post-hardcore stalwarts Funeral For A Friend in the form of new drummer Pat Lundy’s second ever show following the departure of longstanding drummer and backing vocalist Ryan Richards last week. Whilst a sluggish start could probably have been expected and even forgiven, technical problems cut short a set where the band looked uncomfortable for the large majority. However, the outfit seem as tight as ever in parts with Lundy behind the kit – he really is a phenomenal drummer – and with guitarist Kris Coombs-Roberts lending his more than able voice to Richards’ vocals, the band were able to draw on their sublime back catalogue and hit their stride in a big way with a massive “Roses For The Dead”. All technical woes were forgotten as “Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don’t” segued into final track “Juneau” for what was probably the biggest singalong of the day. As for a Richards-less FFAF? The jury’s still out, but early signs are that they’ll be more than alright.

Meanwhile, Sharks were busy tearing the Vans Off The Wall Stage a new one with a set that was made for sunshine. Tracks like “The Joys Of Living” and “Arcane Effigies” were just made for sunshine and early afternoon drinking.
Sharks

I’m not even going to attempt to talk about The Story So Far’s set on the Macbeth stage. Our mates at Property Of Zack collated a few videos from Saturday which show a slew of clench fists and stage dives. Click here to see what a shoebox-sized room going ABSOLUTELY INSANE looks like.

An admission: I’d forgotten quite how good a band Every Time I Die are. I’m sorry, but luckily the band didn’t hesitate to remind me. From the moment the band sauntered onstage and fairly ripped into “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” to the mother of all stage invasions at the end of their set, they just slayed. Thanks in no small part to frontman and resident AP.net columnist Keith Buckley being pressured into downing a full fishbowl of what can only be described as “shitmix”, the band got loose in the best possible way. Clear set and festival highlight was an inexorable romp through “We’rewolf”, during which I counted (I didn’t really) the entire room going twelve different shades of batshit crazy. Supreme.
Every Time I Die

Then came the end of the day and a glut of headliners to choose from. I didn’t go for Architects, Hit The Lights, Charlie Simpson, Mayday Parade of Taking Back Sunday (sorry, most of AP.net) but instead headed to the Vans stage once again to catch one of Gallows’ first UK shows with new vocalist Wade MacNeil. Surprisingly, the biggest change doesn’t seem to have been with the band but with MacNeil. At Slam Dunk he showed the full extent of his transformation from a relatively mild-mannered singer to a snarling, gurning beast of a man; from spending half of his time in the middle of a monstrous circle pit to preaching to the crowd atop a speaker stack, it’s clear that MacNeil is getting very good at this frontman business. Set highlights included an immaculately unhinged “In The Belly Of A Shark” and “Mondo Chaos”, complete with a suitably bonkers guest appearance from Cancer Bats frontman Liam Cormier.

Whilst the irony of a big Canadian bloke singing “London Is The Reason” will never really fade, it's clear that MacNeil has almost seamlessly become the focal point of Gallows’ chaotic live show. What’s even clearer is that a revitalised Gallows were on show on Saturday. Every word and every chord seems to mean more than ever before, which can only be a good thing for the future of the band and symbolises the importance of Slam Dunk as one of the only festivals in the UK that gives a vehicle to music that means something.


Slam Dunk Stats
93 – times Wade MacNeil called the crowd “motherfuckers” during Gallows’ set
12 – average pints of sweat lost by punters in the boiling Red Bull Bedroom Jam tent
5.6 – what Every Time I Die’s set measured on the Richter scale
3,000,000 – stage dives during The Story So Far’s set
0 – people that said “Slam Dunk was good, I just wish it was a little warmer”
Tags: gallows, every time i die, slam dunk festival, festivals
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Twin Atlantic, Lower Than Atlantis & [ME] - Manchester HMV Ritz (04/16/12)
04/23/12 at 04:24 AM by Andy Biddulph
Accents, this show was all about accents. From Southern England to Australian to Glaswegian, every band had one, every band flaunted theirs.

I headed to the Manchester Ritz to check out and enticing bill and see what the bands had to say for themselves (what I could understand, anyway...)

The Aussie twang opening the show belonged to [ME], a band that sounds like fun. had kids with Muse’s more sensible moments, bought them skinny jeans and taught them to write wonderfully quirky pop-rock.

Unfortunately for the band, the kids here for the high-octane thrills of the other two acts weren’t too interested, which made for a plodding, slightly forced set.

While their music didn’t exactly click with the crowd, the band showed flashes of showmanship on tracks like “Westward Backwards” that will serve them well on more suitable bills in front of more suitable crowds.

More accent-based fun came in the form of the south of England’s Lower Than Atlantis; a band that have done things the right way. These gentlemen have travelled from humble beginnings through to the forefront of UK rock through hard work, good humour and top notch songwriting, so it’s great to see them completely dominate a venue of this size.

Despite the majority of their set being plagued by muddy sound, the band pulled through with an infectious energy and belting tracks like “Deadliest Catch”.

An accomplished medley of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and “The Pretender” was a clear high point, as was the bombastic “Beech Like The Tree”. With the help of the old “sit down then jump up when the next song kicks in” trick, the crowd were left foaming at the mouth before the headliners even set foot on the stage.

When Twin Atlantic did set foot on the stage, it took a while for them to get going; first track “Yes, I Was Drunk” was a remarkably subdued affair. Not to matter though; the assembled masses promptly went several shades of batshit crazy as the driving intro to “Time For You To Stand Up” dropped.

This was a trend that continued throughout the night for material old and new, including a wonderful blitz through “Human After All” and euphoric call to arms “We Want Better Man”.

It’s been a treat to chart the rise and rise of Twin Atlantic of late. Just four months ago they played down the road at a venue with a capacity of around 350. Tonight’s venue held over triple that.

Vocalist Sam McTrusty’s searing, Glaswegian delivery is undoubtedly the best it’s ever been and he was more than backed up by a band in their prime: juggling keys and a cello on top of their normal duties.

Acoustic, cello-led renditions of “You’re Turning Into John Wayne” and “Crash Land” in particular were stunning and showcased a poignant, ethereal side to a rapidly maturing band.

Even as the last triumphant notes of “Free” rang around the room there was a feeling that this band haven’t even reached their prime yet. If tonight was anything to go by, these guys might just be an album away from arenas.
Tags: live, lower than atlantis, review, twin atlantic, [me]
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Brand New, I Am The Avalanche & The Xcerts - Manchester Academy 02/09/2012
02/27/12 at 08:01 AM by Andy Biddulph
Below is a short review of Brand New's headline show at Manchester Academy, UK on 02/09/2012. I Am The Avalanche and The Xcerts joined them as support.

I know, I know - another Brand New piece on AbsolutePunk.net. Surprising, huh? Bear with me a moment. Before February the band hadn't toured over in the UK for over two years - an age for a fanbase as fervent as theirs and (whisper it quietly around these parts) I've never seen them live before. Did I mention that they brought two of the best live bands in the business with them for the ride? Well, now you can see that there was plenty of reason for me and 2999 other fanatics to pack into Manchester Academy to witness the second date of their sold out UK tour.

First up, The Xcerts entered through a wall of feedback and straight off the bat performed with a presence that belied their modest appearance and more than filled the huge (but criminally empty) room with their seething noise-pop. Much like the show's headliners, this young Scottish trio managed to be frenetic, angular and melancholic all at the same time throughout a half-hour romp of a set that included grunge-tinged anthem “Scatterbrain” and culminated with an angsty run through “Hurt With Me”.

I’ve said it before and I’m more than willing to say it again: this band will be huge one day. I mean, massive. With that live show and those songs in their armoury; it’s time that one of the UK’s best kept secrets broke out.

After a five year absence from the UK, I Am The Avalanche fans have been starved of the band of late. That said, they're well on their way to making up for it with their second stint on these shores in just under two months.

It was pretty apt, then, that the highlight of their set was the booming "I'll Be Back Around", which proved what we already knew - I Am The Avalanche are a formidable live prospect. In Vinnie Caruana they possess one of the best voices in modern punk and they carry an infectious energy that just about rippled through the mostly static crowd on tracks like "Gratitude".

Searing, gritty and direct, Caruana and co. swaggered through a half-hour that leaned heavily on 2011's Avalanche United. "I Took A Beating" capped an accomplished performance but by then it was clear that the Manchester crowd were here for one thing and one thing only: Brand New.

From the onset, the band were greeted as what they are to most of the room - returning heroes. Arriving with a typical air of mystery through a cloud of smoke, the band launched straight into "Welcome To Bangkok" before peeling off the anthemic "The Archers Bows Have Broken".

Over the years it's proved impossible for people to decide if BN are best at their most direct on tracks like "Seventy Times 7" or on tracks like "Jesus Christ" where both Jesse and crowd brood together, building and building into a shimmering, room-wide singalong.

Whatever your opinion, there's no denying the power of this band. From a wonderful jaunt through "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" to newer tracks like "Gasoline", pretty much everything was immaculate. Even an uncharacteristically loose run through "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades" was masked by the sheer enthusiasm and volume of the crowd.

Keeping onstage chat to a minimum, the band got their heads down and ran through the rest of a set that included most of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and choice cuts from Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, pausing only to offer the crowd a choice between "Play Crack The Sky" and "Soco Amaretto Lime". See what Manchester picked below.



A final salvo of "Jesus Christ", "Degausser" and the climactic "You Won't Know" capped a euphoric set and a brilliant night perfectly, proving beyond all doubt that Brand New more than live up to the hype around them. Jesse Lacey talked last year about wanting to stop "bumming fans out". Looking at the smiles plastered across the faces of the 2,000-odd fans pouring out of the venue, I don't think he or Brand New have anything to worry about.
Tags: brand new, i am the avalanche, live review, the xcerts
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Show Review: Hevy Festival (Port Lympne, Kent, UK)
08/13/11 at 10:38 AM by Andy Biddulph
Hevy Festival 2011 - Port Lympne, Kent, UK (5th-7th August)



Since its inception in 2009, the UK's Hevy Festival has grown to be an integral part of the UK scene's summer festival season. This year's festival spanned three days and four stages showcasing a massive range of acts, from international big hitters like headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan and Four Year Strong right down to the cream of the UK's unsigned talent on the Red Bull Bedroom Jam stage.

A Hevy wristband granted access to the nearby Port Lympne Animal Park, making Hevy the only festival where you can see a red panda (quite clearly the greatest animal ever) and 20 minutes later be watching your favourite band tear it up. Perfection.

I headed down to get overexcited about both the bands and the animals. My thoughts are here:

FRIDAY

Despite the first few bands playing to thin crowds due to a three hour queue to get into the festival, the Front & Etnies tent filled up nicely in time for Basement's excellent set. From rousing opener "Crickets Throw Their Voice" right through to the last note of "Plan To Be Surprised" the energy of both band and crowd never dropped, making for a cathartic, full tilt set.

Basement's full set can be seen below courtesy of Videos From Shows.



Straight Lines produced one of the UK's best albums of 2010 in Persistence In This Game, which made the small crowd that assembles for their stint in the Rock Sound & Macbeth tent even more infuriating. However, the diehard few who do turn up were treated to a marvellous display of angular rock, encapsulating some brilliant sounding new material and culminating in a tent-wide conga to closer "Set Me On Fire And Feed Me To The Wolves".

A little later, Scottish outfit Flood of Red delivered a solid burst of their brand of atmospheric post-hardcore. The band have had a rough time over the years, but songs from their debut full-length, Leaving Everything Behind, simply sang; the excellent "Little Lovers" was a highlight of the entire weekend.

There is a lot of buzz surrounding Lower Than Atlantis in the UK. Singles from the band's critically acclaimed album, World Record, have had lots of airplay on national radio and the general consensus is that LTA are about to go stratospheric. It's no surprise then, that the Front & Etnies tent was packed to the rafters and then some a full 15 minutes before Mike Duce and co. take to the Front & Etnies stage. It doesn't even matter that frontman Duce's microphone cut out throughout the set, as every word of "Motor(way) Of Life", "Far Q" and the all-too-poignant "I'm Not Bulimic (I Just Wanted To See How Far I Could Stick My Fingers Down My Throat" is screamed back twice as loud. Other highlights include the sound desk being crushed by people, three metre stage dives and two superb mini-covers of Foo Fighters' "Everlong" and "The Pretender". By the end of final track "Beech Like The Tree", the band had proved that every last bit of the hype surrounding them at the moment is justified.

SATURDAY

Following a Saturday morning trip to the zoo, I returned to the arena just in time to see Spy Catcher doing a brilliant job of waking up a tired early afternoon crowd in the Rock Sound & Macbeth tent. Sounding like a drunken night between The Gaslight Anthem and 1980s punk, the band wasted no time in cranking out tracks from their superb debut album, Honesty. Anthem "Remember Where You Were When Michael Jackson Died" was phenomenal, as was the synth-ridden "Honesty" and closer "Don't Like People" which sound much more venomous live and show that this band is destined for big, big things.

Next up were cult pop-punk heroes Me Vs Hero, who bounded onstage and launched into a set filled with breakdowns and gang vocals. Around 30 minutes and a brilliantly shambolic human pyramid later, the tent is a sweaty, happy mess. While it wasn't the tightest set ever, the unbridled joy that the band brings to the table in songs like "Days The Shape Our Lives" and "Can You Count, Suckers?" is infectious. Check them out live.

Make Do And Mend are currently on a European tour with Hot Water Music, so had a 4am start and a flight from Germany to deal with even before their early afternoon slot. Despite this, the band acquitted themselves well with a high-octane performance featuring a perfect blast through "Oak Square". The fact that MDAM will make a 12 hour round trip to play a half hour set to 250 people is admirable and was certainly appreciated by the assembled masses in the Rock Sound & Macbeth tent.

Make Do And Mend's full set can be seen below courtesy of Videos From Shows.



The Xcerts are one of a crop of great, young British bands at the moment, so it was a shame to only see a handful of people turn up to see the grungy Scottish trio in action. Nevertheless, the crowd were treated to a turbulent, enjoyable set featuring a jubilant romp through "Scatterbrain".

Forget headliners, forget everything else that happened last weekend. Around 8pm on the main stage came the clear moment of the festival. Take note of the time, it was when UK hardcore heroes The Ghost of a Thousand bowed out of their last ever show. As the final strains of "Bored of Math" faded out, band and crowd alike simply grinned from ear to ear. What preceded that moment was special; a fitting end to a glorious seven year career, taking in highlights like the ferocious "Left for Dead", massive singalongs through "The Last Bastion of Heaven Lies Abandoned and Burning" and an electrifying stomp through AC/DC's "Back In Black". I can't speak highly enough of this band or their final show. If you've never heard them before, don't hesitate to check them out.

Despite the massive draw of TGoaT, the Rock Sound & Macbeth tent is nicely filled for the back end of Title Fight's set. "Shed" is the highlight of a particularly venomous quarter of an hour, fuelled by anger at the festival's sometimes heavy-handed security.

Architects' set is an odd one. The (admittedly massive) crowd don't seem too hot on material from the band's most recent album, The Here & Now. Nevertheless, by the time old favourite "Follow The Water" kicks in, the crowd were fully won over courtesy of frontman Sam Carter's excellent crowd interaction and a guest appearance from Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato during "Year In Year Out".

While the sound for Saturday headliners The Dillinger Escape Plan wasn't brilliant, the band still delivered their trademark - a gloriously frantic, unhinged set. Fittingly enough for a show at a zoo, frontman Greg Puciato prowled around the stage, barking at both crowd and soundman, before he and his band systematically destroyed the stage through a superb set. Architects frontman Sam Carter and The Bronx's Matt Caughthran make an appearance to join in with Dillinger's painstakingly organised chaos. Hard-hitters like "Milk Lizard" and "Panasonic Youth" are note-perfect and go down a storm before the band are cut off prematurely. Uproar ensues before the band continue destroying the stage while leading the crowd through a mic-less, disorientating, punk-as-fuck cover of Nirvana's "Territorial Pissings". What a show.

SUNDAY

After spending a little too much time at the animal park (I can tell you that they have a snow leopard called Marta and possibly the world's fattest lion). Ahem. I saw New Jersey's Man Overboard pop up early on the main stage to deliver a typically loose, energetic set. While the band doesn't really suit an outdoor venue at all, the five-piece blasted through fun renditions of "Al Sharpton" and "She's Got Her Own Man Now" before a triumphant singalong to "Love Your Friends, Die Laughing".

Polar Bear Club were asked back for 2011 after a memorable performance at least year's festival and duly delivered an exceptional set. From the opening notes of "Living Saints" through a breakneck run through "Parked In The Parking Lot Of Your Heart" to brilliant new song "Screams In Caves", the band appear genuinely thrilled to be here, which rubs off on the crowd and makes for a terrific half-hour.

Over on the Rock Sound & Macbeth stage, Touché Amoré were mind-blowing. Complete with a guest appearance from La Dispute's Jordan Dreyer and a crowd in the mood for general mayhem, TA were at their visceral best. Vocalist Jeremy Bolm ended up at the top of the lighting rig for stirring singalong at the end of closer "Honest Sleep"; a 'hairs on the back of neck' moment which summed up the past 30 minutes perfectly. What a live band.

Touché Amoré's full set can be seen below courtesy of Videos From Shows.



Living With Lions' appeared at Hevy as part of their first UK tour. You couldn't tell. Sprinting through a set taken mostly from latest album Holy Shit, it seemed like the band have been playing shows over here for years. "Honesty, Honestly", "Regret Song" and "Maple Drive Is Still Alive" in particular sounded great and packed much more of a punch live than on CD. Judging by this performance, it won't be too long before the UK see Living With Lions again.

My notes for While She Sleeps' set read just two words, written in capital letters. These were: "HOLY SHIT." It was that kind of show. The latest in a long tradition of Sheffield metal, WSS only have one mini-album out up to now, but could've filled the tent twice over for their very high second stage slot (above Touché Amoré). Frontman Lawrence Taylor was everywhere, always demanding more from a crowd that seemed to move en masse through a ferocious "The North Stands For Nothing" and "My Conscience, Your Freedom". Final track and anthem "Crows" was a jaw-dropping representation of all that this band is about; passion, fire and grit. Simply incredible.

Not much could top the performances by Touché Amoré or While She Sleeps on Sunday, but La Dispute gave it a mighty go. They started well enough, with a beautifully chaotic meander through "New Storms For Old Lovers" before technical difficulties hit. Nobody seemed to care too much, mind, so the band ploughed on with an appearance from Touché Amoré's Jeremy Bolm, Jordan Dreyer's frantic vocals and stunning runs through songs like "Andria" and "Said the King to the River" to save the day.

Welsh legends Funeral For A Friend were on top form on the main stage on Sunday; from frontman Matt Davies-Kreye's onstage banter ("turn the smoke machine off, we're not fucking Spinal Tap") to mammoth singalongs to the band's seemingly endless back catalogue of brilliant songs. Ranging from the decade-old "Juneau" to songs taken from their latest album, Welcome Home Armageddon, everything went down brilliantly; newer song "Sixteen" was filled with youthful exuberance, "Roses For The Dead" was as poignant as ever and "Escape Artists Never Die" brought to an end a classic set that leaves many wondering why FFAF didn't headline that night.

It's fair to say that Sunday headliners Four Year Strong weren't at their best as they closed the festival. After a mammoth journey from the US just to play this one hour, the band were clearly tired, had equipment issues and took a while to get going in front of a largely unresponsive crowd. When they did get going, however, FYS peeled off "Heroes Get Remembered, Legends Never Die" with precision and powered through summer anthem "Wasting Time (Eternal Summer)" to end the festival on a high and prove that even on autopilot they are a force to be reckoned with.

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Thanks to Anthony Sykes from the excellent Videos From Shows for all videos.

If anyone's interested, I'll be tweeting from Leeds Festival in a couple of weeks.
Tags: hevy festival, review, the dillinger escape plan, four year strong
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