Sheffield Hallam Arena
GIAN this year was interesting. I’d originally agreed to go because of the awesome time I had last year and I think had the 2007 line-up been the one from this years, I would never have gone in the first place. For me, it was uninspiring and incredibly lacking. The headliners were a bad choice, the range of bands was mediocre and the venue and atmosphere was entirely uneventful.
Paramore and 30 Seconds to Mars as headliners? Over Glassjaw and Finch/Alkaline Trio? I’m not a musical snob by any means, but there is something intrinsically wrong about having well established bands with loyal fans who will brave emo festivals lower on the bill than flash-in-the-pan acts. Even believing that the newer bands will bring the crowds (which they didn’t, if the walk outs were anything to go by), the back catalogues of the respective bands should have had more time on stage than the newer bands with little material. All three of the bands did fine jobs of running through some of their songs, but really could have done more stage time. Paramore and Plain White T’s were fun and their singles are catchy, but headlining over Glassjaw and Finch/Alk3 is just wrong. 30STM are a band who seem to have stolen the theatrics of My Chemical Romance and a fairly ill reaching sound, whose appeal seems to be more to the generic teenage-angst than any real talent.
It wasn’t just the bands themselves, the sound output was awful. Even for some of the better bands, the bass and drum output was too loud (almost every band, notably Glassjaw) and several mics were too low (Four Year Strong and Alkaline Trio). If anything this was the most disappointing, because it made bands that were new or relatively so to the UK sound worse than they should -Mayday Parade‘s sound seemed patchy. Even by the second day this wasn’t completely fixed and generally the sound quality was poor – not something you expect from an indoor music festival.
The music wasn’t all bad, there were some fantastic highlights. Some of the bands everyone are talking about; All Time Low and Four Year Strong were stunning. The organisers did a great disservice putting Four Year Strong so low down on the bill and putting them on stage early. Lucky they put on a brilliant performance, even with the sound difficulties – the screaming was near impossible to hear, but the overall quality of the band was in place. Hopefully they will have apt chance to prove this on the GIAN Intro tour. All Time Low had a professionalism about them and a confidence on stage that far surpassed their experience. Their sound was spot on and they clearly had already some dedicated fans in the enthusiastic crowd. It wouldn’t surprise me if they’re back in a few years on the main stage.
The most unanticipated gem of the festival has to go to MC Lars. Backed up by Failsafe, they were an unstoppable force of utter fun, mocking the emo genre in an intelligent manner (Chiodos take note) and engaging the audience entirely unexpectedly. Their sample of Iggy Pop, Piebald and Supergrass were inspired and if they don’t come away with a lot more fans than before I’d be shocked. It was just a shame Failsafe as themselves didn’t get a slot, or infact any British acts.
All in all Give It A Name 2008 will go down as a loss. The atmosphere in Sheffield was devoid, the lack of pass-outs on arguably one of the hottest weekends in May was ill thought out and saw the outdoor smoking area overrun by people who just wanted somewhere to hang out that wasn’t a corridor. The organisers of GIAN still haven’t understood that it takes more than the music to make a festival and the lack of entertainment between bands and/or for people who don’t like the bands on offer is really a let down. With the genre being so popular their should be a number of companies who would relish a stand at this festival, a proper signing tent and even an acoustic stage would give this festival some of the spirit it sorely lacks. More importantly it needs to step up the music this year. Last year had such an abundance of heavyweights- Brand New, New Found Glory, Jimmy Eat World and AFI to name but a few. This year even the music couldn’t substitute for the fact that this festival is less of a feast and cashing in on emo’s new found fame.
*This was originally posted on my old blog*