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.
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.
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 - anotherBrand 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.
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:
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.
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.
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 Mendare 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.
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.
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.
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.