R.I.P.

GUY ROBERTSON

19th May 1957 – 31st January 2010

Dad – You will be missed, and remembered, in our hearts and minds.

I’ll be lucky to go and visit half of the places that you’ve been able to.

The Kerrang! Tour 2010 @ Southampton Guildhall

Once again, the annual Kerrang! Relentless Tour rolls into Southampton, putting together some of the UK’s finest new bands and fan favourites in a unique, diverse line up. And with US pop-punk superstars All Time Low headlining the tour this year, it’s very possible that this could be the biggest party to start 2010 with!

If the atmosphere outside the venue is hyperactive, then the atmosphere inside is positively atomic when the crowds start moving in, making the air thick with the smell of hairspray and hormones. Late doors mean Brit newcomers Young Guns kick the show off in an energetic fashion, but to a room still only one-third full. Still, their brand of melodic rock gets people moving and clapping along with all their songs, especially with frontman Gustav Wood jumping about with as much energy as the crowd.  With so much recent success, including the Kerrang! Awards last year, and a set consisting of recent hits like Winter Kiss and Weight of the World, don’t be surprised if you hear a lot more from Young Guns in the near future.

What is surprising though, is that cult band My Passion is higher up the bill tonight than Gustav Wood’s gang. Apparently it’s a rotating position, but the fact that My Passion spend a good 20 minutes setting up the stage in front of the audience before going off and coming back on again to do their set suggests that perhaps they should have been on first. However, the fevered reaction they get from the fanatics down the front suggests there could be more to them than just the styled hair, dapper clothes and matching instruments. It’s all a bit too pre-meditated, but once they get going on their unique mix of Goth-Punk draped with electronics you can begin to see where there would be an appeal for a cult following.

Crowd anticipation starts brewing for Welsh mob The Blackout when they suitably arrive to the sounds of battle drums before kicking off their set with current tracks Children of the Night and ShutTheFuckUppercut, which whip the crowd into a frenzy. Co-vocalists Sean Smith and Gavin Butler make sure that their time in the spotlight is filled with as much crowd banter as there is their own mix of crunching riffs and huge choruses. Melodic sing-alongs come in the form of Its High Tide, Baby! and pounding grooves get the crowds shaking the floorboards throughout The Beijing Cocktail and fan favourite set closer I’m A Riot, You’re A Riot. It’s a fiery close to arguably the most incendiary set of the evening.

Pop-punk all-stars All Time Low have been gathering a big following in the US, and are well on their way to bringing that success to the British shores. But from the crowd’s reaction to their stage entry tonight, you’d be forgiven for thinking that success already exists here! Powering head-on into their set with bouncing, powerful pop-punk anthems, and only stopping in-between songs so frontman Alex Gaskarth and guitarist Jack Barakat can throw insults at each other, it’s clear how performances such as these have earned them such a big name. It’s because their background sheet (which at first appears plain white) lights up with profanities covering all the blank areas under a UV lamp that they have sometimes been called “Blink-182 Imitators”. It’s easy to see how All Time Low are following in that kind of direction, but what they specialise in most of all is throwing a huge party every time they take to the stage. The only slow point of this is Alex’s acoustic Remembering Sunday, which still gets a huge sing along, before they pick right up again with Weightless closing their main set. Of course, this is nothing compared to the reaction for their encore of Damned If I Do Ya (Damned If I Don’t) and debut hit Dear Maria, Count Me In, sending the audience into full party mode before ending the night.

As the masses dispense out into the cold January air, there’s hardly anyone that doesn’t look like they’ve come from the biggest party of the month, both physically and mentally. It’s just another job done for All Time Low and the rest of the bands tonight!

Bury Tomorrow & Not Advised @ Mo’Live 22/1/10

6 bands for only £5? In the current economical climate, it’s rare that you should get any kind of a bargain like this. But tonight is the opening of a new live music venue in Southampton – The Mo’Club is a venue which is part-time roller disco/dance hall, and now part-time 400+ capacity live music venue as “Mo’Live”. So to make sure that it gets a proper opening, six of Southampton’s finest home-grown talent have gathered to rock the masses on this very unique night!

Starting off the evening are A Word Like.Attack with their own mix of brash and burly Finch-like post-hardcore with added electronics. When frontman Dave throws himself into the act, however, you’re not sure whether he’s not taking it very seriously, or perhaps taking it a bit too seriously! Their singer spends more time up against the barrier than is rightly expected of the first band, and pays the price when he jumps over the barrier full-on into someone who then drops their pint over him. Other than that, their high energy music mixed with a distinctly British twist definitely set the bar high.

The next band was, until recently, known as Open Room. On comparison, the new Fever Season songs are pretty much exactly the same. Some confused looks are exchanged as they go about their dance-pop mixed indie, and are mostly met with polite applause from the majority of the audience before they go back to their conversations.

It’s when local post-hardcore band Burn The Fleet get ready that the crowd suddenly gathers around the barrier, instantly making this a night of two parts – the previous questionable acts, and every act from here on in! Burn The Fleet get arguably one of the best audience interactions of the night, especially with set closer Handfuls Of Sand being a massive crowd sing-along. During this, frontman Andy Convey hardly needs to sing – his vocals instead are replaced with a massive great grin as he sees just how many people in attendance are here for them as well. If these guys don’t get big soon, something’s gone terribly wrong!

Showing that punk is very much still alive in the heart of Southampton is Our Time Down Here, who tear into their set like a tornado after a fittingly ironic intro tape of Tears For Fears’ Killing Time. With all the energy and attitude of Gallows powering them, and fans that will do anything to climb over others to get to the microphone being held by their frontman (who spends more time up against the barrier or on top of the audience than he does on the stage), OTDH’s own brand of proper punk with the occasional bounce to it is clearly infectious enough to get them on the right track.

There’s only a short wait before co-headliners Not Advised take to the stage and get the crowd appropriately energetic with their very impressive blend of pop-punk-rock riffage. With a recent album review and “Introducing” section interview in Kerrang! Magazine, Not Advised are definitely doing something right, and not just with their excellent cover of Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror! With the amount of people around the venue singing all the words back to them, don’t be too surprised if this lot are soon to share a similar rise in popularity as You Me At Six!

The best word to describe the atmosphere when headliners Bury Tomorrow arrive on stage would be “electric”. It’s obvious from the audience’s faces that everyone is tensed and ready for their Atreyu-style metalcore onslaught, and after a lot of recent success and growing fame, these home-grown bruisers are set to go far very soon. “Let’s give this place a proper breaking in!” they tell the audience. They mean this metaphorically of course – but after a dose of heaviness and frontman Danni cutting a foreboding figure standing upon two stage monitors, that’s pretty much what the Mo’Club gets! But it’s their music that does the real talking – bristling with fury and emotion, and both heavy and melodic in all the right places, it’s enough to get the crowd thrashing and singing along in equal measures.

It’s an epic end to a successful and eventful evening. It’s not often that a place normally reserved for roller-discos experiences such a ground-shaking show, but with Mo’Live officially open it hopefully won’t be the last!

NOTE: All these bands have MySpace pages, so if you like the sound of them, go check them out and give them your support! Cheers!

Happy 1st Birthday!

Thats right, guys – this website is now officially 1 Year Old!! This is just a short message to say thanks to all the people I know who read this on a regular basis, and all the new people that have started catching up with all the crap that I have to say – you guys make this what it is!

Ok, so, whilst I haven’t exactly reached my goal of having 52 posts on here by this point (which would effectively be one post per week) at 46 I’ve come pretty close, so it’s not too bad really. Still, with any luck 2010 will give me a lot more to write about, so there should be all kinds of posts going on here in the next lot of 52 weeks! Either way, it’s been an interesting year, and looking back I’ve had a lot of stuff to put up here, and hopefully it’s all made for an interesting read every so often. Of course, I know that these are only my own opinions, so they may not count for much in this day and age, but the fact that this site is still running pleases me quite a bit!

So, here’s to more interesting things to eventually go up, and here’s to all the people reading this! Thanks guys, much love!

-Drew-

Skindred – “Shark Bites And Dog Fights”

Some magazines have described Skindred as one of the most unique bands that the UK has to offer. Others have said that they are possibly the best live band to ever emerge from the UK. No matter what people say, one thing is for sure – there’s no-one out there doing what Skindred do, and especially not as well as they do it!

I’ve actually been a fan of Skindred’s unique blend of metal, punk and reggae since I discovered their debut album Babylon through their single Pressure getting played on music channels a few years ago. Since their inception, their unique brand of music has come to be named “RaggaPunk”, and it perfectly describes exactly what Skindred as a band are about – doing something totally different. And now, after the success of their debut and their second album Roots Rock Riot, they’ve returned with a new 8 Track Mini-Album in the form of Shark Bites And Dog Fights.

I first heard some of the new material when seeing them live – coincidentally, discovering that the reviews of them being one of the UK’s best live bands to be true at the same time – and it was immediately catchy and made me want to hear more of it. Their mixture of pounding heavy riffs, swirls of electronics and uplifting, reggae infused vocals courtesy of Welsh front-man Benji Webbe have been developed and honed to be a tighter mix on each song, rather than having a varying mix from song to song, like on Babylon (as good as it was!). This actually makes for a more interesting listen, as there are different things to pick out in each song each time you listen!

Shark Bites And Dog Fights kicks off with a humongous, empowering, call-to-arms anthem in their current single release Stand For Something. The heavy beating riffs mixed with the siren-sounding electronics signify that this is definitely the same Skindred, but with more focus and bite in their music. The lyrics “If you want it, you’ve got to rise and take it” are just a taster of exactly what the attitude of this mini-album is all about – one of defiance, sticking to your guns and trusting in what you believe in. You Can’t Stop It swiftly follows, picking up the pace from a run to a sprint, and harbouring a chorus that will stick in your head like Pritt-Stick!

Songs that follow, like Corrupted and album closer Invincible, continue the theme of defiance and facing against oppression in whatever forms they may appear and, especially in the case of Calling All Stations, do so using distinctly melodic, reggae-tinged choruses and punk-guitar work so catchy you could be layed up in bed with it for weeks afterwards! Who Are You? is easily the slowest song on the record, but that doesn’t make it any less noticeable – despite its context, it could otherwise be mistaken for a bit of a love song. It just goes to show that the theme on Shark Bites And Dog Fights is a distinctly dark one, despite how some of the songs may appear from their first listen. Even their cover of Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue doesn’t escape the Skindred treatment, and gets made-over into a punk-style chant-along anthem!

If you haven’t heard of Skindred and are only discovering them for the first time, fear not because you are not the only ones. Shark Bites And Dog Fights is instantly likeable if you’re a fan of punk music but want something a bit different in texture and diversity. If you’re already part of the RaggaPunk clan, then Shark Bites And Dog Fights is something you should definitely make an effort to pick up, because this is by far Skindred at their best, and it has renewed my love for their unique musical style!

And if you think this is good, just imagine why they’ve been rated as the UK’s Best Live Band… as the line in Invincible goes – “Raise up your fists if you like this!”