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    Music and Movies

    Cute Is What We Aim For + Boys Like Girls at the Birmingham Academy 31/3/08

    31st May 2008
    Birmingham Carling Academy 2

    Originally billed as a Cute Is What We Aim For show, headliners Boys Like Girls are back four months after supporting Plain White T’s. We The Kings complete the trio of bands which typify the emo sound storming pubescent ears everywhere. WTK play a tight set and clearly know what they’re doing, even if their sound isn’t new–‘Stay Young’ sounds very much like Yellowcard and The Ataris.

    It’s an odd choice to relegate Cute Is What We Aim For to main support, considering they release an album soon. Late to the tour due to a mislaid passport, lead singer Shaant is on fine form tonight with boundless energy. The set itself integrates new songs with old, almost match-for-match. Ending with “i may be ugly…” Shaant informs the crowd he lost his voice last time he sung it here, and the crowd helped him out – which they’re more than happy to do again.

    Boys Like Girls seem to garner less enthusiasm than CIWWAF, and play several songs from their set in January. The front-man is confident to the point of cocky and spitting into the crowd, he seems to lose some favour. However his amazement that he’s five thousand miles from home and still has people singing his songs does garner some of the favour back. Though the beginning of the set is relatively upbeat ‘Soundtrack to my Summer’ a Dashboard Confessional-esque song tones down the pace, but not the quality.

    With both Cute Is What We Aim For and Boys Like Girls back in the autumn, it’s good to know both bands have a solid fan base and a solid sound. It’s not a show that broke any boundaries musically, but with three solid bands it suggests a continuation of the genre for a while yet.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music and Movies

    Give It A Name Introduces

    19th May 2008
    Birmingham Carling Academy 2

    Fresh off the back of the Give It A Name festival, Four Year Strong, Meg and Dia, The Colour Fred and Mayday Parade were on a mission to gain further fans on a string of revolving-headliner tour dates.

    Birmingham saw Four Year Strong opening the show with headline being granted to Mayday Parade. It’s a disappointing decision as Four Year Strong’s fantastic blend of pop-punk and hardcore was well received at GIAN and the majority of the crowd seem to be here for them. Despite sound difficulties, which saw mics being pitched at three different volumes, the crowd fully integrated into the sound as back vocalists. Frenetic and fast-paced, they’re a fantastic opener and their confirmation as support to a tour in December is welcomed news.

    Contrasting the energy of FYS was Meg and Dia, a two piece clearly out of place amongst the line-up. The strong female vocals are powerful, but nestled amongst three other bands that rely heavily on volume, their sound is easily ignored. Next up was The Colour Fred, fronted unsurprisingly by Fred Masc who seemed to spend more time talking about how he had been on this very stage with his old band, Taking Back Sunday. TCF’s sound was better fitted to the Academy’s stage than an arena, but still didn’t quite pack the punch of the first band. The lengthy tales of his former band and relatively weak sound bored the remaining crowd, many of whom had left after Four Year Strong.

    I left towards the end of The Colour Fred’s set, bored and tired from a weekend spent at All Tomorrow’s Parties, but safe in the knowledge that if the GIAN festival was anything to go by, I’d already seen the band of the night – Four Year Strong.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music and Movies

    Give It A Name Festival 2008

    Sheffield Hallam Arena
    10-11 May

    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*

    Music and Movies

    Envy and Other Sins at the Birmingham Barfly 29/4/08

    29th April 2008
    Birmingham Barfly

    Winners of the T-mobile Act Unsigned and local boys Envy and Other Sins’ homecoming gig at the Barfly was likely to be something special and the inclusion of a small string section on the heavily cramped stage really made it. Teaming up with fellow Brummie band Deluka their quirky indie-rock has lost a lot of its power-pop elements and focused more on the popular British indie explosion. Deluka’s female front-woman is a nice change, but with an electro/pop/indie sound they come off sounding a little like Garbage’s beautfulgarbage album.

    EaOS have evidently learnt a lot from winning but the victim is their quirkiness which has been tempered down dramatically since pre-signing. Sure the numerous lamps and period clothing are present, but the music whilst tighter, stronger and technically better, isn’t nearly as fun –perhaps its the fact they’re not longer a pub band. Their homecoming show also hears the pre-signing single ‘Prodigal Son’ being played, despite its absence from the album and most of the tour which is fantastic for the B’ham crowd, but a disappointment, as it really is a fantastically varied and upbeat song.

    There’s no doubt that EaOS deserved to win, and they clearly care about their act. Their sound, whilst fitting in the indie genre, does vary from the skinny-jeaned norm, but edges more towards it that it did before. It’s just a shame they’ve cleaned up their sound, I liked their perfect pop-indie sounds a little bit unhinged.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music and Movies

    City and Colour at the Glee Club 8/4/08

    8th April 2008
    Birmingham Glee Club

    Dallas Green’s side project City and Colour is a complete surprise. Gone are the screaming, thrashing guitars of the post-hardcore alexisonfire and replacing them is an acoustic guitar, introspective lyrics and a sort of stop-you-in-your-tracks simplicity. The fantastic Attack in Black support Green, both as a warm-up act and then later as his backing band, which really brings the songs to life.

    I’ve complained about the Glee Club before (see Johnny Flynn) but this time it’s perfect. Playing the main room, the sold out crowd are packed in edging intimately forward to catch the secrets of the songs. Green is comfort is evident, as he banters with the audience, frequently making them laugh and calls out a Gollum-esque cheerer who croaks out his name.

    City and Colour’s back-catalogue is played in equal measure, switching back and forward to both albums. Complete with two members of Attack in Black, City and Colour is able to extend some of the songs, including a fantastic blues addition to one of his songs, which really lifts it.

    Green adds two covers; Rose Royce’s ‘Love Don’t Live Here Anymore’ and alexisonfire’s Boiled Frogs, which gets the best reaction of the night. Both covers fit fantastically with the set and highlight Green’s versatility.

    Announcing that City and Colour should tour the UK again in the autumn is welcome news by everyone. Hopefully City and Colour will continue playing small intimate venues, as the rawness of the hits hard, and you’ll be in need of a seat.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*

    Music and Movies

    Panic at the Disco at the Birmingham Academy 9/3/08

    Birmingham Carling Academy
    Sunday 9th March 2008

    I have no idea what the support bands, Black Gold and Metro Station, sound like as I bumped into an old school friend at the gig and subsequently chatted to him rather than listen to the bands. However I do remember walking in and thinking the band on stage weren’t bad, bit too nu-rave. Yet as they progressed I entirely forgot they were on, even when I was paying attention it wasn’t that noticeable. Like I said bumping into someone you haven’t seen for years will generally negate any real opinion to the opening acts.

    Panic at the Disco sounded technically very accurate and playing a good mix of songs from A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and some newer stuff from Pretty Odd. But they played an incredibly short set. For a sold out tour I’d expect more than an hour (encore included), which is what we were served with. Yes they were very good and they played a lot of fan favourites; including Lying Is the Most Fun A Girl Can Have With her Clothes On was a particularly good song, which was dedicated to all the single people in the audience who he would see later. An acoustic version of I Write Sins Not Tragedies was an interesting take on arguably their most popular song – the carnival-esque piano part given over to audience participation.

    The newer stuff was thrown into the set, punctuating the older material nicely. Opening with Nine In The Afternoon, the carnival nature of the first album was shown to make a transition on the new album (Bahktin would be proud) but with a more mature and less Fall Out Boy sound. In fact the newer songs in general seemed to fit in well with the older songs, but seemed more mature, less gimmicky and toned town the over theatrical but still kept the unique Panic sound.

    Overall it was a good gig – they sounded spot on, there was a good mix (though the cover song seemed a little lost) of old and new songs. It was just a shame that it was such a short set, surely there could have been more older songs and they could’ve used the gig to plug Pretty. Odd which is released in a matter of weeks. Heading out on such a large tour it’s possible that this was a preventative measure to ensure an overall quality, but many left feeling short changed.

    *This was originally posted on my old blog*