Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Dinosaur Pile Up – Birmingham Hare and Hounds – 10-10-10

I arrived at the venue at 8 thinking I was an hour late and would be seeing bands straight away. Instead, I walked into a almost empty room to some chill out music, I would have thought I was in the wrong venue if it wasn’t for the words ‘Mona Lisa’ taped to the amps at the back of the stage. It was a strange feeling being at a rock gig with one of the most happening bands of the moment playing but the room is quiet and I feel like I’m actually going to be in for a slow night.

It turned out I was on time and that the doors where actually at 8 not 7, so I was in for a wait until the first band who I thought was going to be a band called Rase but again I was wrong and it turned out to be a guy and his guitar called Geordie Blake. Geordie gets on stage and jumps into his indie folk sound with slight tones of rock into the mix. His wispy gravelly voice fits the guitar but its missing something.... his band Shana Tova. He plays a half hour set that just sounds like the same song over and over. The audience isn’t really into it except for a few people who turn out to be the next support band.

Black Heart Generator, get on stage and thrash about to lively angsty indie rock. The guitars and bass are heavily distorted with very tinny cymbals which are loud enough to blow your ears out. They let on that both them and Geordie where asked to cover earlier that day which makes sense why the greatly energetic Turbowolf are not playing. No-one says why the two original support bands are not here and it’s such a disappoint that their not as the two new supports just don’t do it for me, they alienate the audience with private jokes but to be fair they have come in at the last minute so you can’t expect to be blown away.

Whatever has made the two supports not show up hasn’t affected Dinosaur Pile Up as they’re here and ready to rock. They get on stage and instantly get a reaction with everyone moving closer to the stage. The crowd has built up and the once dead room has a decent amount of people but is no-where near to being full, which is surprising but as a sign on their amps say ‘Sunday nights are boring’. The audience are not fully rocking out just a nice head nod throughout their set, the band on the other hand, the bassist especially, get into the gig and mosh around and remind me of an early Ash, full of energy and passion. They play a good set and surprisingly play their currently radio heavy song ‘Mona Lisa’ early into their set, which still doesn’t get the crowd motivated enough to jump around.

All in all it was a disappointing night, with Dinosaur Pile Up doing just enough to make it enjoyable. I do think that on another night all the bands would rock your socks off but unfortunately it wasn’t tonight.

Joel Plaskett Interview

Can you give us a brief history about yourself and how you came to be where you are.

I grew up in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia then my family moved to Halifax when I was 12. I started playing music when I was 14 years old to have something to do with some friends. We called ourselves Nabisco Fonzie. When we started writing our own songs at 16 years old we changed our name to Thrush Hermit (named after a bird called the Hermit Thrush, we thought it sounded like Pink Floyd or something or Coney Hatch totally 1970's. Unbeknownst to us, with a name like that we were destined for failure in the UK!). We started touring when we finished high school, opening for our friends, Sloan. We signed a record deal with Elektra in the US in 1996. In 1999 we released our last and best record, Clayton Park, and then broke up. I had a solo record come out that same year called In Need of Medical Attention. I was 25. On the heels of the Hermit break up, I formed a three piece band called The Joel Plaskett Emergency with Dave Marsh (drums) and Timmy Brennan (bass). We made two cool records and toured Canada a lot and built up a really solid fan base. In 2004 I recorded another solo record called Ladeda and have flipped back and forth between Emergency band records and solo records. I've built up my audience through touring and playing different venues. Rock bars, tiny songwriter venues, theatres and outdoor gigs. The biggest gig was last year when The Emergency opened for Paul McCartney in Halifax to 40,000 people.

What was the idea behind your latest album Three? Was it due to it being your third solo album or was there something deeper, due to there being alot of threes included in the album in one way or another?

Three came from a few places. It was my third solo album, I was 33 when I recorded it and many of the songs came together as titles being the same word three times (Rollin, Rollin, Rollin). So I made a triple album! Thematically the records are divided into three connected themes. Going away (being left behind), being alone, and returning home. Simple but I wanted to make something sprawling that reflected the life I live and the things I think about.

You've done quite alot of touring over the years and with 2 tours of the Uk just this year, you must be pretty comfortable with moving around. So how do you actually find touring? Is it hard being away from home for so long?

Leaving home isn't getting any easier but touring is an important part of my life. Travelling can be interesting and I meet a lot of great people. I like conversations, especially in Ireland. I love performing and bringing the songs to people but there are only so many days in the year. I really focused on the UK and Ireland this year but I had to bow out of an Australian tour that started at Christmas. There's only so much that can happen at once and I want to make sure when I go somewhere that all the ducks are in a row and I'm ready to rock.

Has anything ever happened to you whilst you've been on the road over here?

not quite sure how to answer than one... I drank too much whiskey a few times but all in all it rolled pretty smoothly.

During your set supporting Barenaked Ladies you played a kids toy keyboard that cost you only a few dollars, do you like experimenting with new sounds and weird instruments?

Yeah, I like weird instruments but I'm a hack on piano. I have a variety of guitars at home because I find there is a different song in all of them. I try to find old unique instruments. I also like old drum machines. They sound freaking cool. Like JJ Cale.

My Space seems to be a big tool in the music industry these days, with artists communicating with their fans over it and some even ditching their own website and having just a My Space site, what are your opinions on My Space as a tool in the music industry?

Sure! Whatever works and helps bring people to the shows. Having said that, the internet could go away and I'd be a happy person without it.

Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?

In the mirror. Yes, I'm still alive!

One last question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra and a giraffe which would you be and why?

Probably a giraffe. I'm tall and skinny too. Zebras are a little showy.

Thanks for your time; do you have a message for your fans reading this?

Dear fans, You keep me cool. Thanks, Joel

Barenaked Ladies with support from Boothby and Joel Plaskett - Birmingham O2 Academy - 10-09-10

Tonight I decided I’d go for something different and try a bit of indie folk instead of the normal metal or punk, a bit of a refreshing change of pace. Tonight Canada’s finest, the Barenaked Ladies are playing the o2 academy in Birmingham and as I’ve always had a soft spot for them I’d head on down. Arriving at the venue I can see BNL attract a wide range of different ages from young kids with their parents to old folks with their carers.

The first act on the bill is Boothby Graffoe, a comedy vetran who writes material for people such as Omid Djalil and who has his own show on Radio 4. He comes on stage with his pint and instantly makes jokes about Birmingham, most of his short set is mainly him making jokes but the bits of music he does play is funny and keeps the crowd happy. For his last song he is joined on stage by BNL bassist Jim Creeggan and he sings a song about Hartlepool in which he gets the crowd to join in whilst he records his rhythms and layers them up over one another live to make a rich fun song.

The next act on is Canadian indie musician Joel Plaskett, who unlike Boothby before him has little banter with the audience and just plays the songs, but its great as his songs are rich and full of heart. His latest album is called 3 to 1 and is all about the number 3 which is summed up with his song Through Through and Through a catchy number that reminds me of Bruce Springsteen in places. His songs are beautiful, folksy and have soulful melodic rhythms, its breezy Sunday morning music that’s good to listen to with a hangover. Joel says “where in the home of Sabbath so lets rock” and whips out a 5 dollar keyboard and plays some samba beats whilst using the organ setting, not really rocking but a nice song to sway your hips to.

So the supports are over, and now it’s time for BNL, and as I’m waiting in the photo pit I catch a glimpse of the set list which is 19 songs long, so the audience are in for a treat of songs from all their albums spanning 20 years. They get off to a great start by playing the catchy and upbeat ‘who needs sleep’ then onto ‘the old apartment’ a song about going back to your old house where you and your ex used to live and all the memories it brings back. After that they go into a rap about Birmingham talking about the city centre including things like Selfridges and The Bull Ring. These multi talented musicians switch instruments throughout the gig and also have great crowd banter, they talk about not being used to venues where you can see the carpet pattern, and how they dare the audience to put your tongue on the carpet for two seconds!

The band switches styles and keeps the gig going by belting out a bit of rock roll and guitar solos during ‘I have learned’ and then switch a barbershop style and introduce creepy Russian style music in ‘wouldn’t have it any other way’. BNL are definitely varied as they play a song from their children’s album and then go into a covers medley, which includes; oh ho ho its magic, empire state of mind, tonight’s gonna be a good night then ending on California girls. Whilst they do this amazing medley they dance like Ok Go and do a rap which thanks the audience for coming.

BNL are great and my only bad word is the choice of song they end on which is a terribly slow song called ‘good boy’. I feel they should have ended on one of their hits or the theme tune to Big Bang Theory, but all in all it was a great gig with a lot going on and it may not be rock but it was a great night.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Good Charlotte with support from Canterbury - Koko London - July 27th

Tonight is a big night, tonight a band with a career spanning 14 years returns to the UK for a one off special performance. A performance to thank fans for sticking with them and to wet peoples appetites for the new album and tours to come. This band have had many ups and downs over the years but have always had a strong following and have always tried to do something different and fun every time they make an album. I am genuinely excited to see them and I hope they give their fans something to remember.

I walked past the Koko at around 3 to see a massive line of people already eagerly waiting to get it and rock out, many people at the front had blankets and could have been their overnight, that is how much some fans love this band. I arrive back at 7ish to see the line is now round the block and you can tell that its going to be a massively fun night.

The crowd gets let in and shortly the support band arrive onstage and get ready to wet peoples appetites. Normally the support bands at these things are a wild card and nearly always turn out to be some band overly tipped for big things, who’s genre is totally off the mark and don’t go down well with the fans of the main band. Luckily tonight the support band is Canterbury and they go down a storm. Their fresh pop punky style mixed with indie rhythms and melodic vocals is a refreshing change and sounds wonderful. They burst into their first song ‘peace and quiet’ and it sounds immense, very catchy and gets everyone moving. They play through their 7 song set quite quickly and do what a good support band does, get everyone warmed up and raring to go, without trying to make the night their own. They go down well and now everyone is ready for the main attraction…

Good Charlotte come out to a massive reception, its been a while since they played in the UK but people have not forgotten them, their pop punk heroes and they’re ready to rock out! Joel, Benji, Billy, Paul and Dean come out slowly in darkness to some intro music whilst the crowd scream with excitement, the lights come on and they blast into ‘The Anthem’ and this sets the tone for the night. This high energy pop punk makes people move and this packed out crowd love it! They tear down the house and when it comes to the end of the song, they all stand on platforms and simultaneously jump into the air, all thoroughly enjoying the atmosphere of the Koko. Good Charlotte are clearly having fun as they play classics off their second album ‘The Young and The Hopeless’. During ‘My Bloody Valentine’ they add a different twist mixing it into ‘So Lonely’ which is a Police cover and then back into the main song towards the end, they do this seamlessly and put a great spin on one of their best tracks.

They continue to rock out for the next hour and a half to almost twenty tracks from all 4 albums, playing hit after hit, keeping the crowd singing along all the way, every song as catchy as the last. They also have time to throw in a new track ‘Like Its Her Birthday’ from the upcoming album Cardiology which is going to be released later this year. The track goes down well and Joel tells the crowd that the song is about one of Benji’s ex girlfriend’s who goes out and parties every night, like its her birthday. They play an amazing set and put their heart and soul into every moment of the gig while Benji tells the crowd how this gig means a lot to them and how its one they will always remember and that they are grateful that their fans in the UK have stuck by them over the years. Good Charlotte come back onto the stage for their encore which is made up of ’The Story Of My Old Man’ mixed into a cover of Blink 182’s ’Dammit’ which sounds great and shows their appreciation of another great pop punk band. They go into a rarely played track from their second album ‘Riot Girl’ and finish on ‘The Young And The Hopeless’ ending with another huge jump from their platforms to great applaud and cheers.

Tonight has been special, a great gig from a great band that I look forward to seeing more from in the upcoming months. The set they played tonight seems like one you might not see again as the new album will make up a lot of the songs and playing for an hour and a half isn’t done by most bands, so if you where there then you will appreciate how rare a gig it was, but if you weren’t check them out when they come back over because it may not be as special but it will be a hell of a lot of fun!!!
If you want to check out more photos from the gig check

Friday, 20 August 2010

Family Force Five - Derek Mount aka Chap Stique - Interview At Wolves Slade Rooms - 05-08-10

We’ll get straight into it, you opened the main stage of Sonisphere this weekend, how was that for you?

It was incredible, a dream come true for me, I’m a big metal head so I got to see Iron Maiden, Rammstein and we got to play in front of some legends I grew up listening to, which was awesome. We also had some amazing outfits which this guy made for us, he makes them for people like Muse, Judas Priest and Cher so we busted them out for the first time their as they’re kinda metal looking, which was pretty fun. It was a totally unique experience for us as a lot of the time we play dances places, or with scene bands or hardcore bands or pop bands and we had never done metal before, it was an honour.

Did you go down well?

I think so, at first the crowd of mainly 45 year old dudes in black t-shirts don’t necessarily mosh and dance like 13 year old girls do, so at first we where like “Do people like us at all?” but after we got done with the show we where walking around and all these people with the thickest accents ever where like “we love country gentlemen” so they really loved it, which was cool as we where really nervous at first.

Well I was going to ask if you checked out any bands at the festival but you already answered that.

Well yeah, I’m a die hard Maiden fan, they where one of my favourite bands as a kid. But we had a show the next day, when Maiden where actually playing, so we had a show at the Underage Festival and I was ringing round all the people I new in England trying to see if anyone would take me over to Sonisphere but I finally found some random dudes that I road in their van with them and we watched Iron Maiden and camped out and slept on the ground, which was fun and really amazing.

This is your first headline tour here in the UK, how are you finding it?

Its been great, kids have been going nuts, and we love the bands that’s been touring with us. I was actually checking out some Lost Prophets stuff as I didn’t really know much but Ian is amazing, and Tek One have been truly amazing to watch, I love those guys. What a great first tour for us, we came over with Cobra Starship early this year and that was awesome but to have your first headline run be this exciting has been amazing.

Speaking of touring you’ve been on tour for ages and have another tour planned in the U.S. in December, is it hard being away from home for a long time?

Yeah, it is, its probably the hardest part of our job is balancing family. I have a wife and some of the guys have kids and you just want to see them as much as you can, but we are very blessed to have the best job you could ever ask for and we’d be very silly to complain about it. So you do what you gotta do to make it work so where big fans of Skype and 1800 flowers and we do a lot of video chats and you just gotta make sure you make an effort to see each other and show the other person you love them but yeah its tough.

Seeing as you spend a lot of time on the road, have you got any road stories?

All kinds of them, one of the craziest ones which I wish was more fun and funny but we had an accident recently, our bus driver had a seizure whilst he was driving. We where on top of this mountain going down a hill and all off a sudden the bus just crashed on the side and we were all freaking out, it was on this weird angle where you couldn’t even walk so we were crawling around and falling all over each other, and we had gone just another couple hundred feet we would have died, there was this giant drop that our bus would have tumbled over and flipped. Luckily everyone was ok and that was one of the most scariest days of my life, we all looked at each other and where like crying and going “I love you man if we had died you could have had my Van Halen collection”. We’ve had a lot of crazy moments on tour but that one stands out.

With all this touring do you have time to write new material?

Yes, but you have to make that time happen, we set aside 2 hours a day minimum that we get together and show each other some ideas that we have. Sometimes we get time after sound check to Jam, today we did, it was really fun, we’ve got this really cool song with Smashing Pumpkins kinda influence that sounds pretty neat, but we’ll see what happens as we’ve written about 35 songs for the next album so we’ll have to narrow them down and decide what goes on their. So it could end up being a huge rock record, or pop music or dance music its just depends on what’s chosen to go on there but we’re very excited about it.

My Space seems to be a big tool in the music industry these days, with artists communicating with their fans over it and some even ditching their own website and having just a My Space site, what are your opinions on My Space as a tool in the music industry?

Well, I know you can’t see this but I’ve got My Space open write now on the Family Force Five page and I’m writing some kids some messages, so yeah its been the bread and butter of Family Force Five, its been the only way we’ve survived by communicating with our fans. In the states, My Space is fading out and its now more Facebook and Twitter but for years we’d wake up and immediately and go on My Space and we’d be required to add a certain amount of friends, or to write back to kids or delete spam and whatever it was you just got to make sure you keep in touch and show that you appreciate them. So to this day we try really hard to keep in touch and I try to write to every kid that writes to the band on My Space. We also have this phone number that kids can call in and tell us all kinds of stories about what their doing at home and we’ll play games and its pretty fun man ,we are really thankful that they like our music and so we like to show them that we like them too.

Your music is very unique and sets you apart from the rest so in guessing you had a lot of musical influences, who would you say are your main ones?

It changes a lot and the cool thing about our band is that we all write, I mean I grew up a metal head but I don’t know if that’s a huge influence to Family Force Five but we all bring something collectively different to the table. I mean where all into dance music like Daft Punk and Justice. Where all huge Rage Against The Machine and Beastie Boys fans as theirs a big hip hop element to our music which most of the brothers are really into. We all like pop music too, we grew up on 80’s new wave stuff like Talking Heads, Depeche Mode and Tears For Fears so there’s a lot of stuff but every now and again we’ll come up with something that we don’t know where it came from and it don’t sound like anything it just sounds like Family Force Five, so big beats and catchy melodies is what we relay on.

We only have the ‘Dance Or Die’ album released over here, but you have another two in the states, is their any plans on releasing your first album ‘Business Up Front/ Party In The Back’ or my personal fave ‘Family Force Five - Christmas Pageant’?

Thank you for liking it, we had a lot of fun on both those projects and I don’t know what the future holds in store for them as a lot of the time there is legal things that we don’t have control over, but I know for a fact that yesterday we had a meeting about getting the Christmas album coming out over here and hopefully that will be happening and I’m pretty confident it will so keep an eye out for it, this year maybe.

Love Addict was released on Rock Band the other day, what do you think to the guitar based computer games?

I think they’re really hard, I’m not very good at them. I haven’t played love addict yet, so I hope I can do that one since I’ve played it once or twice live on real guitar. We had a competition with some fans the other day with our song radiator which is also on their, and these kids smoked us man! We play this song every night, every night! We wrote this song and we still can’t get the perfect score like these kids get on advance level, its kinda weird as they put the rhythms in a spot which is different than what your actually playing. But its neat though, its brought rock and roll out of the gutter a little bit to make kids excited about playing guitar, when I grew up everyone wanted to play guitar and there was a little period where people where not so excited about it so hopefully it will get people excited again.

Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?

I’d like to see myself warmer, its freezing here man its august 5th and by the way its my birthday tomorrow so next year I’m going to be old, old as sin! But no, I’d love to go to Japan we’ve been talking about how that’s the next frontier, that we’ve never entered that we’d like to go to , but any part of Asia would be amazing to start playing their. I hope that the new album is something that’s striking a chord with people and speaking to them and hopefully we’ll be continuing to write more music.

One last question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra and a giraffe which would you be and why?

Probably a giraffe, because if you had a long neck like that and you head banged it would be amazing you know, it’d be like slow motion and you’d be knocking down trees and eating leaves. Plus there would be all that controversy of the Lamarckian theory’s of evolution and stuff and you’d be like “let me tell you all about it, I’m a giraffe dude!” that would be way cooler than being a zebra. Cos people would be like, you might be a zedonk, you know a zebra that’s mated with a donkey and that’s the last thing I’d want to be, a zedonk, I’d rather be a giraffe.

Thanks for your time, do you have a message for your fans reading this?

Thank you very much we love all you guys as fans and hit us up on My Space or Facebook or Twitter and we’ll try and write you back.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Family Force Five with support from Tek-One and La More La Morgue - Wolves Slade Rooms - 05-08-10

Wolverhampton Slade Rooms is host to tonight’s Family Force Five gig, a nice venue on a rather dodgy street in Wolves which is home to sex shops and takeaways, but the fans ignore the depravity, queuing up hours before the show starts so they can see the southern American dance crunk rockers. The doors open at seven and the fans tear into the venue getting as close to the barriers as possible, eagerly waiting tonight’s entertainment.

I’ll admit now I did a bit of research into the support bands before the gig and I thought I was in for some rocky treats with some rock DJing in the middle with Family Force Five’s unique dance rock to end the night. But I was wrong(well about the support bands anyway)!

The night kicked off with Tek-One who I read use a whole host of old toys to make their music and I thought they’d be kind of retro and maybe even computer game inspired. But when they came out on stage with one of them on a heavily decorated “Drop Dead” designed drum kit with the other on a set of turntables I know that I should have listened to their music before making a judgement on what they where going to be like. Howard says hello to the crowd and asks “Are you ready for some dubstep” the crowd screams “yes!“ and I think to myself “Dubstep? They must be joking, they’re going to be supporting Bring Me The Horizon in a few months and dubstep won’t go with that!“ but again I was wrong! Felix gets himself comfortable on the drums, and they kick into some dark and dirty beats which sound immense. They’re stage show is something different, Howard DJ’s and mixes between tracks bringing it up and down whilst Felix joins in on the big beats and breakdowns putting everything his has into beating the living shit out of the drum kit. It was not what I was expecting but I really enjoyed it, and on second thought the big beats will be a good start to the BMTH gig as it really gets you pumped and ready to rock!

It’s a shame that La More La Morgue where not as exciting. La More La Morgue, in case you didn’t know are a duo who have a web based persona a bit like Daft Punk. But in actual fact its Welsh Lost Prophet Ian Watkins and the crowd of kids here tonight know it, screaming as soon as they catch a glimpse of him, albeit behind a mask and in a leather jacket. LMLM come onto the stage and in fact there are two of them both on one mixing desk, they just go straight into there collection of cd’s and start the set. The crowd are lapping up what I think are just average dance tracks that are being mixed well. LMLM play on the fact there are two of them with Ian Watkins friend jumping into the crowd when Ian doesn’t need him, making the crowd go crazy as they think they’re grabbing onto the Welsh superstar. There set mixes well and they play the odd rock track including ‘beastie boys sabotage’ but there is something missing, maybe if they had opened the night I might have liked them more as I feel Tek-One had a lot more to offer.

Now for the main event, the reason why people are here tonight Family Force Five!! Even in a small venue like this, the band pull off a nice open to the gig with drummer ‘Crouton’ coming on stage first and kicking into some beats with ‘Chapstique‘, ‘Fatty’ and ‘NaDaddy’ joining him by playing a nice bit of intro music with singer ‘Soul Glow Activator’ appearing whilst the band kick off proceedings by jumping straight into their biggest hit over here ‘Dance Or Die’ which gets the kids jumping! The band go crazy and really put everything they have into this performance, rocking out and making the crowd putty in their hands! The song comes to an end to great applause and the band turn it up a notch and change to a rockier number from their first album which is currently unreleased over here ‘Country Gentlemen’. It has a catchy chorus and thumping beat which makes it one of those nod your head songs! The entire set is made up of up-beat rock/dance songs which won’t let you rest for a minute!

This band really have a huge live show in the states, with a massive drum stand and a wall synthesizer with big buttons which the band hit to play, it’s a shame they can’t afford to bring it all over here but they have a few things set out for the UK gigs, from playing in tops with their faces on to Soul Glow Activator disappears of stage for a moment only to reappear with big Hulk like gloves which holds his mic and allows him to punch the air and dance around some more! He screams into the mic and jumps into the crowd , whilst the band continue to rock out. The gig comes to an end and everyone can be happy with the performance as Family Force Five really has some energy and they clearly love what they are doing, and its good for them, the audience here loved it too!
For more photos from the gig go to

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

[Spunge] with support from Orange - Birmingham O2 Academy 2 - 16/07/10

Well I am looking forward to tonight, tonight I get to see [Spunge] again, the last time I saw them was back in 2006 and they where on top form. Its just something about their catchy ska punk rhythms and honest silly lyrics that make this band stand out from the rest.

I arrive at the venue at what I thought was a decent time of seven forgetting that it was a Friday and that means early gig starts due to club nights. So after finding out they’ve changed to the bigger venue due to them selling out and a bit of faffing to get my photo pass I get up stairs just as the local support leave the stage, unfortunately I missed all their set and didn’t even get their name.

After a drink and a bit of a wait American band Orange come out on stage to a warm reception. Orange have been going for about 8 years or so with many American and Canadian tours under their belt. With this in mind it surprises me how they don’t really perform amazingly. They’re a pop punk style band which in places reminded me of early Greenday with they’re vocal harmonies and fast beats. Singer Joe Dexter has a good voice that sounds like a cross between Davey Havock and Johnny Rotten, which suit’s the music well. The performance has a few gimmicks and maybe if supporting a different band may have gone down well but even with their singer change half way through, the lights on the mic stand, the megaphone and their cover of Help by The Beatles they just don’t seem to impress the audience. They performed well but just not good enough to win over this crowd of people who are here for some ska punk action. They rap their set up to a nice round of applause and the odd shout of “Get off the stage” .

In the break I take the time to remember all the times I’ve seen [Spunge] in the past, I first saw them first 10 years ago in a leisure centre somewhere near Manchester, I had to travel almost 2 hours to get their and it was worth it they put on a great show and I was blown away with their live show. I’ve seen them about 5 or 6 more times since and every time I’ve been happy with the show. Since the last time I saw them they’ve lost a member due to personal reasons and have released another album and supported bands like the Drop Kick Murphy’s So I am anxious to see how they perform tonight.

The band come on stage to a warm reception from this big crowd of both old and young, ranging from 12 to 60 , which shows their huge appeal over the ages. They kick into “Roots” which goes down a storm and everyone is jumping and getting into the show. They play through a set which covers all 5 of their studio albums, with classics such as “Friend Called Fred” “Ego” and “Home Video”. The crowd are loving their ska punk style and are singing along to every word. Singer Alex Copeland has some good banter with the crowd joking “people say I remember seeing you years ago when I was a kid and now I’m 36” with the bassist Jarvis adding “people say to me are you not dead yet? I can’t believe your still alive!”. Alex and Jarvis continue the chit chat between songs with Jarvis seeming to get more mixed up with his remarks as the set carries on with Alex remarking “you may have noticed Jarv has had a drink tonight!”. The banter is a key part of the of the [Spunge] show as it relaxes the audience and gives them a short break before they get their skanking shoes back on for the next song. The set comes to an end with Kicking Pigeons and the band says good night and exit’s the stage to huge cheers and we think the night is over. But the crowd keep chanting “More, More, More!” and eventually [Spunge] re-appear and inform the crowd how they have time for one more but they haven’t played it in a while so they may be a bit rusty and with that they blast into a cover of “Oliver’s Army” which sounds as good as it did on cd so they had nothing to worry about. The song ends and the crowd disband all impressed with the show.

I thought they played a great set but there seemed to be something missing, I don’t know weather its my nostalgic feelings or weather it’s the fact their a man down but it wasn’t as good as their early gigs I remembered. But even though I wasn’t fully satisfied, I was still impressed that they are still going strong and their songs sound just as fresh as they did ten years ago. But at the end of the day the rest of the crowd loved them and walked away happy with what they’d come to see.

For more photos from the gig go to

Monday, 12 July 2010

Get Up Kids and Straight Lines - Birmingham O2 Academy 2 - 25-06-10

Tonight one of the godfathers of emo are playing in Birmingham and yet more people are queuing up outside for the Scissor Sisters. I can’t get my head around it, this band has influenced many great pop-punk and emo bands that emerged over the last ten years, Blink 182 and Fall Out Boy being just two of them, and yet it seems like they’ve been forgotten . I enquire t the ticket office as to how many tickets have been sold and I get the response of “80”. This is disheartening and as I enter a almost empty room I think I’m in for a quiet night here. But as the clock ticks on and it gets closer to Straight Lines taking the stage, out of no-where the room starts to fill up, its no-where near busting but at least we have an atmosphere now, with the cool kids at the bar and the young ones up front.

Straight Lines come out to a nice warm reception, it seems like they’ve got quiet a few fans here for them and why not they’re an up and coming band with the looks and a sound that will take them far. They kick into a few thumping punky numbers that sucks the crowd in. Guitarist James Pugh and bassist Todd Campbell thrash energetically around the stage thoroughly enjoying every minute they’re up there, it’s a shame singer Tom Jenkins has to stay in one place whilst he sings because it seems like he wants to break free from the mics restrictions and join his band mates in the fun. A few songs in the band slows it down with a nice melodic number ‘All My Friends Have Joined The Army’ that gets the crowd dancing and has a nice catchy chorus of “I’ve got places to go I’ve got people to see, I know what I’ll do I’ll fight for my country”. They pound through the rest of their set list with little talk in between tracks as they’ve got a job to do and they’re going to do it well and that’s to play some good tunes and leave the crowd wanting more! The set builds up to a big end with a beefy riff heavy 2 min instrumental which goes down a storm. Straight Lines have done well tonight and I reckon you should keep an eye out for them as I’m sure they’ll be headlining this venue themselves very soon but in the mean time you can catch them doing some support slots for Attack! Attack! in October.

The crowd wait around anxiously for the Get Up Kids to come on stage, its hard to believe that in 2005 they had broken up and things looked like that would be that. But in late 2008 they got back together and went on to play lots of sold out gigs, but even though the venue has filled up, its still nowhere from sell out and it’s a shame, as this band still have a lot to give and with the release of their new e.p. ’Simple Science’ I’m sure they can win over new fans and ignite the flames of old.

The lights go down the and the Get Up Kids come onto the stage one by one with guitarist Jim Suptic getting into the world cup spirit by wearing an England shirt with his name on the back, which gets some mighty cheers from the crowd. Without wasting any time they kick into they’re classic ‘Holiday’ followed by ‘I’m a Loner Dottie, A Rebel’ which sound as fresh as they did eleven years ago. Instantly the tone of the night is set up and that’s a good ole sing along , with the crowd singing every word and pumping fists into the air to add more depth to the lyrics they’ve grown to cherish over the years. The Get Up Kids, all though by now they should be The Get Up Young Adults are still as catchy and poppy as ever but somehow sounding gritty and powerful at the same time. They know how to take this crowd on a journey, with ambient keyboards and screeching guitars, they build the crowd up then lower them down with a good mix of fast and slow tunes which make the atmosphere electric. They banter well between songs and look so happy to be playing here tonight, they’ve mastered the art of live gigs over there extensive carrier and sound even better than they do recorded. There’s just something about them that’s awe inspiring, which is most definitely shown by the amount of bands they’ve inspired over the years.

They’re set lasts for well over an hour with them playing six songs from the seminal album ‘Something To Write Home About’ a huge mixture of songs from there other three albums whilst also including covers of ‘Beer For Breakfast’ and ‘Close To Me’ as well. Tonight was a treat, The Get up Kids blew everyone away, lets hope they stick around for years to come as they truly know how to satisfy a crowd.

For More Photos From The Gig go to

The Bronx - Coventry Kasbah - 24-06-2010

The Bronx have decided to play a few warm up gigs before they tear Glastonbury apart, and where have they decided to do it? Well in Coventry at the Kasbah, Obviously!

The venue was quiet when I arrived and I thought the people of Coventry might be missing out on what is set to be a great night of mariachi melodies and punk thrashing, but I was wrong and the room filled up and everyone was eagerly awaiting the first band.

Mariachi El Bronx took to the stage in there black and white mariachi outfits with quiet a lot of people not really knowing what was going on, hadn’t they heard? Its Mariachi time!! Playing soft rhythmic songs to an audience of punks shouldn’t go down well but for some reason it does. Mariachi El Bronx are the alter egos of The Bronx and all members plus a few extras play traditional Mexican music with seedy lyrics. They are the only band in the world to be doing this so it’s a real treat to hear something different and unexpected. They play through a good half hour set which includes most of there debut self titled album with singer Matt Caughthran giving some nice banter in between songs. At one point the tells the crowd “when we told people we where playing Coventry they said “why the f**k are you playing there” but were glad we did, you guys are mental!”.

I was always a bit unsure of Mariachi El Bronx, how can a punk rock band suddenly decide “I know we’ll play in a mariachi band as well!”. But after seeing them live I know its like peanut butter and jam sandwiches, you expect it to be the worst thing ever as they just don’t seem to compliment each other, but give it a go and I assure you, you’ll love it!

The slow part of the night is over its time for fast heavy stuff! Ghost Of A Thousand come on stage and rip it up with there fast angry beats that tear everyone a new one. This band knows how to put on a show, singer Tom Lacey can’t keep still and drills out his angst everywhere he can, one moment he’s onstage the next he’s leaning into the crowd and the next he’s actually in the pit with his mic in hand joining in on this ferocious show of pure musical passion. The rest of the band are much the same jumping and thrashing about living through there fast paced riot music. This band are defiantly one to watch, with festival appearances and a support slot with We Are The Ocean on their October tour you don’t have any excuses not to see this band!

The Bronx are the last band of the night and the crowd have been moved up a gear and are set to see one of California’s finest. The Bronx one by one come out onto the stage with Matt Caughtran last and wearing a USA football shirt which gets a few boos from the crowd, but this is only in jest as I’m sure people wouldn’t care if he came out burning a England flag as all they want in some good ole hardcore and that’s what they’re going to get! They scream into their first song with pure unadulterated energy, its like they haven’t already been out on stage that evening as they are now The Bronx and they are taking no prisoners.

They play through a set off old and new with songs like “They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)“ and “White Guilt” which all go down a storm . With the crowd now pumped they are all singing along to every song and moshing like only nodding dogs normally do. The Bronx show no sign of fading even though they’ve been touring constantly for months and have already played that evening. The crowd surfers are picking up and the stage lights are in fear of being ripped of as people go over but still they continue. Matt decides to join the crowd and jumps over the barrier into the pit where he walks all over the venue screaming his heart out.

The gig comes to an end and everyone walks away with a warm satisfying feeling. They have been taken on a journey tonight, one which only the almighty Bronx can take them on and everyone is happy that they went along.

For more photos from the gig, go to;

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster - Birmingham Hare And Hounds - 02-06-2010

A nice summer evening in Birmingham, most would be happy to chill out in the warmth with a nice cool beer but not the people here at the Hare & Hounds they want a night of dark moist psycho rock and with the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster playing they are not going to be disappointed!

Arriving at the Hare & Hounds, I made my way through the downstairs bar and wandered upstairs to the venue, a dark room with a nice little set up packed full of people eagerly waiting to see the show. Unfortunately there is a bit of a wait due to the local support being held up en route, but instead of carrying on without them the bands where pushed back and I’m glad they where as ‘Black Fangs’ where immense. Although they had no time to do a proper sound check they sounded very tight and their catchy upbeat songs where a great way to start the night. The crowd warmed to them but they wanted something darker and more exhilarating….

This came in the form of Bad For Lazarus, the lights dimmed and a figure appeared on stage with a deep voice telling us how “this band has come to bring you back from the dead” just like Jesus brought Lazarus back in the bible. Now if you think this band are biblical then you’d be dead wrong, they are everything but. The band take to the stage the lights raise and this motley crew of psycho punks explode into a frenzy of heavy thrashing noise. The band jump around as if the stage was on fire in a frenzy of pure musical emotion. If you thought punk was dead, then you’d be wrong because Bad For Lazarus are bring the spirit and the attitude back!

Eighties Matchbox have a lot of work to do if they are going to top the last performance and unfortunately they don’t start of the best. Guy Mcknight is having a hard time getting into things as his mic isn’t performing and he and the crowd are finding it hard to hear him. Guy stays mainly still throughout with his fingers in his ears so he can hear himself sing, this may not look the best but it does mean everyone gets the full effect of his powerful vocals, although most of the crowd are singing along with him throughout even if they’re set is mainly filled with songs of their new album ‘Blood and Fire’.

Halfway through the set the band seem to come alive and get into things, thrashing around the stage and playing their music with a passion. They blast out two classics from their first album ‘Chicken’ and the deeply hypnotic ‘Psychosis Safari’ which puts everyone into a frenzy. They continue to build on this energy with little communication between songs and just pound out song after song.

Guitarists Dominic Knight and Tristan McLenahan decide jump off stage and play their last song in the crowd who jump and mosh along with them as if they’ve been told “Mosh or Die”. The band get back on stage and bring their set to a close by smashing there instruments to the floor and leaving the feedback to resonate throughout the room as everyone gets their senses back and leaves the hot sweaty room and out into the night.

Eighties Matchbox may have had a number of line up changes throughout their many years as a band but finally with the release of ‘Blood and Fire’ almost six years after their last album it seems like they have found themselves again and hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.