Not Advised @ The Joiners, 21/2/11

Not Advised at the Joiners

The fact that there are people queing in the cold February mist half an hour before the doors open at The Joiners for the evening is surely a testament to how quickly this show sold out. Of course, this is no surprise when you consider tonight is a showcase of mostly homegrown talent from Southampton, and the homecoming show of Southampton’s own pop-punk prodigies Not Advised.

People are still ambling their way into the main room from the misty weather when it’s time for local newcomer James McVey to open. As such he starts playing his mixture of acoustic and feel-good pop-rock to a half empty room when he opens with an acoustic cover of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream. It’s a reflection of the general candy-coating of McVey’s songs and it’s a good cover to start with before his backing band, all with trendy hair styles and shirts, start off the set with Breathe. McVey does manage to make an impression on the gathering crowd with his melodic pop tunes similar to a British The Rocket Summer, and his other songs All Eyes on You and Who I Am Now enhance this familiarity. Oddly enough, he closes his set with another pop song cover, this time tackling Ke$ha’s Tik Tok. Some people might question why he opens and closes his set with cover songs, but he manages to put an indie-rock slant on the pop tune that actually turns it into a pretty good cover and gets a good audience reaction for an opening act.

Second on the bill tonight are The Holiday, who hit the stage with their bouncy pop-rock tunes and snappy suits. Their sound comes across at times like a strange mixture of Weezer and McFly, with lashings of indie thrown in. After they open with You and Me, they keep the pace of their set moving with The Weekend before finishing with a crowd sing-along.

Pegasus Bridge is the only band on tonight’s bill from outside Southampton, namely Manchester. But the fact they’re not part of the Southern crowd here tonight doesn’t mean they get less credit – in fact, Pegasus Bridge are creating quite the name for themselves. Their jaunty, synth-laced indie rock has earned them spots on Radio 1’s Introducing Stage among other recent achievements. Their song Paris gets a hefty reaction from the audience members already familiar with them, and the slow and moody melody manages to reinforce their sound, like a mixture of The Kooks and Twin Atlantic with added techno. They round off their set with their single Ribena, during which Jim Thomas from Not Advised makes his way on stage to join them much to the joy of the crowd! It definitely seems like Pegasus Bridge are going places, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear more from them in the future.

When the lights dim and the refrain from In the Hall of the Mountain King plays, it is the sign that heralds Not Advised and their homecoming show on the last night of their UK tour. With their fans feverish from both excitement and the rising heat of the packed out room, Not Advised open by diving straight into I’ll Call You A Winner, frontman Jim conducting the crowd to go accordingly crazy. Closely following this are fan favourites The A.R.K. and Jane Says Left which, as expected, gets the crowd singing along at the tops of their lungs. Not Advised have obviously been busy while touring, as they have not one but three new songs to play during their set tonight. The first, All I Need, carries on the distinct sound that Not Advised have and looks like it could bring a bright future to the band.

But this evening is not without its losses – Not Advised lay to rest one of their earlier songs A Red Light Situation, as they announce it won’t be played live anymore. As such, they make it an occasion to remember by turning it into an acoustic rendition and allow the huge crowd of the evening to sing most of it themselves. As if saying goodbye to the old, their final new song of the evening Good News ushers in a new phase of their career and is a sure sign that their upcoming album will be just as great as their EP. They round off the evening with their most recent singles, the epic anthem Right Now and the final big sing-along of the evening The Worlds Not Ready, bringing the evening to a riotous close.

If this is the future of homegrown pop-punk, then the future is very bright for Not Advised!

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And The Oscar Goes To…

Ok, so for anyone that hasn’t seen The Oscar’s show yet, you may not want to read this until after you’ve been able to see it, unless you’re now reading with the intention of finding out a majority of the winners (I don’t think I can really list them all, but I know which ones I was happy about and disappointed about!). Firstly, I’d like to say that I thought it was a great ceremony, and Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin did a pretty good job of hosting together, even though at points they seemed a tad over-rehearsed. But still, funny guys that did a good job of introducing everything.

I’ll start first with Best Picture and work my way back (because that’s obviously the one that people will hear about most!). I was, quite frankly, pretty shocked when Avatar DID NOT win Best Picture. I think its fair to say that I, along with a majority of people who have seen it and know how much it’s now made worldwide, were pretty much expecting it to win. Almost as if it was purely a given. But no! The 82nd Academy Awards pretty much belonged to The Hurt Locker this year – picking up Best Picture, as well as Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Sound Editing/Mixing, and (almost shockingly) Best Direction. Now whilst everyone expected James Cameron to win for Avatar, this was also the first time that a woman has picked up The Oscar for Direction (AND that woman being Cameron’s ex-wife, no less!), in fairness to him I say this – if you’ve just made a film that has grossed about 1 billion worldwide, and has become the highest grossing film EVER, the amount of money that he’s made off Avatar would mean he probably doesn’t even care that he didn’t win! If someone offered him a choice between The Oscar and how much Avatar made him, he’d probably be a fool to stick with the award because that money could easily pay to make another 10 films, one of which would surely win something! But anyway, Kathryn Bigelow picked up the award for Best Director, and fair play to her being the first female to do so, blazing a trail for many more.

So, whilst The Hurt Locker managed to pick up a total of 6 Oscars and pretty much steal the show, Avatar was only able to take away 3 – all of which were for Art Direction,Visual Effects or Cinematography. Fitting, really, since Cameron mostly made Avatar to be a visually epic film, that’s exactly what it got awarded for and not much more! I’d also like to mention at this point that everyone I was sat with watching this laughed incredibly hard when Ben Stiller came out made up as a Na’Vi, though he himself seemed LESS than pleased about it, stating “this seemed like a better idea in rehearsal”. But, of course, that was probably what he was planning to say anyway, bearing in mind that this was probably a replacement for the sketch that Sacha Baron-Cohen got axed from doing. Still, it was easily the best winners announcement of the night!

Other pleasing awards of the night went to Disney/Pixar’s Up for Best Animated Film (and Best Score as well), which was completely deserved, The Cove for Best Documentary, and Star Trek for Best Make-Up – a bit of a consolation prize considering the other categories that Star Trek was also nominated in, but it’s still good that they managed to get an award amongst all the Avatar nominations! I honestly thought that, considering its popularity and many people saying how goo they thought it was, that A Prophet might well have picked up The Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, but instead it went to a film called El Secreto De Sus Ojos from Argentina (which I think translates as The Secrets of Our Eyes) which I’ve not heard of, so that was a bit unexpected.

And then after those, we move on to the awards for the Actors/Actresses. Whilst I totally had my money on Morgan Freeman for his role as Nelson Mandela in Invictus, the award for Best Actor went to Jeff Bridges for his role in Crazy Heart. Now, whilst I’ll openly admit that I have not yet been able to see Crazy Heart, it has been the kind of film that has seemed like something I would enjoy watching and should as such make an effort to see. However, I’ve had no signs of it being out at any place I’ve been able to get to recently, at a time that I would be able to see it, so it may just have to be one that I rent as soon as can! Best Supporting Actor went to Christoph Waltz for his role in Inglourious Basterds, which I already had my money put on because I thought he did a great job in that film, so I’m glad that award went to him.

Best Supporting Actress went to Mo’Nique for her role as the abusive mother in Precious. Anyone who has seen that film will probably know the story behind it – that it was originally going to be a straight-to-DVD job, but Oprah Winfrey swept in and said that she would promote it to be a full cinema release, which is why it got so popular and more people then heard about it. Mo’Nique’s role as the mother was very convincing, and she played it with plenty of emotion and sincerity, which is why I had a feeling that the award would go to her (and in her speech saying “how it CAN be about the performance and not the politics”…), but I think the award for Best Actress gong to the lead girl Gabby for her role in Precious wold have perhaps been a bit too much of an “underdog” story, especially for  girl who’ first appearance was in this film! I think perhaps a lot of people were hoping for her to win, but expecting either Sandra Bullock or Meryl Streep (for Julie and Julia) to win. So it happens, the award went to Sandra Bullock for her role in true-story film The Blind Side – a role that was very emotionally driven, and she did well not to shed any tears during her speech!

And that’s it for another year! I personally may not have bumped into any celebrities, but I still managed to watch The Oscars live for the first time ever, and that was pretty awesome. Even if I was expecting Avatar to win more awards than it did, which meant I could kiss my pools money good-bye! Still, that will teach me for gambling on a “sure-win”, I guess…

It’s Oscar Season!

Yes, indeed good people, it is that time of year again when the rich and the beautiful invade your screens and fill you with wonder and awe at just how rich and beautiful they are. And for the first time, I’m actually out in Los Angeles at the time this prestigious Film Industry event is taking place, and not 30 minutes drive from where I’m currently sat!!

My immediate reaction when I realised that The 82nd Annual Academy Awards were taking place whilst I would be in town was “I wonder who I could pass myself off as”. But then, when I realised that I’d probably stand a better chance of getting in by saying I’m Wesley Snipes than someone like Tom Cruise, I had to come up with a different plan. Then when I found out that it’s probably an arrestable offence to crash The Oscars, I had to come up with yet another plan!

So after a series of disappointments at not being able to dress up in my nice suit and break into a big ceremony like that, we’re watching it live at someone’s house as a party type thing, but not before I go out and try some serious celebrity hunting!!

Anyway, my point behind all this was that I thought I should take advantage of this event for my site. SO, if I feel up for it I MIGHT do a “live” feed post (but actually I’ll just update one post as the event goes on, with whats happening) for those interested enough, but I figured I might actually just put up a post afterwards perhaps bitching or celebrating various losses or successes depending on what the results are. Comments and opinions will be more than welcome, of course.

And if you happen to be watching, and catch a glimpse of me in the background, it means I came up with a better plan… Just don’t tell the security….

Twin Atlantic @ The Joiners 10/02/10

“I’m not going to even give that an answer,” says Twin Atlantic’s frontman Sam McTrusty to whomever thought it was clever to shout “’Mon the Biffy!” at them in between their first songs. And he’s completely justified in doing this, too, as Twin Atlantic (though from the same town of Ayrshire as Biffy Clyro, and mastering in a similar brand of angular rock music as them) have been trying hard to make a unique name for themselves. And they’re not just trying hard – they’re succeeding…

But before tonight’s headliners take to the stage there’s local band Until We Sleep, added to the bill for tonight. As soon as they begin their set, their influences are clear – their jerky, chop-and-change, At The Drive-In style rhythms and sound are attention grabbing, but the lighter tint to their songs makes for a more interesting listen, and sets the evening off on the right tone. And with an upcoming Maida Vale set for BBC Introducing…, it might be worth keeping an eye on them for the future. Not bad for a band of self-professed “laziest bunch of bums”.

 Touring support Canterbury have clearly built up an impressive following after big-time support slots. Their synth-led pop-rock is so happy and perky, you’d have to be a manic depressive to not watch them. Or, apparently, above the age of 20. The band themselves are all floppy-haired and bouncier than rubber balls, which is fine for the younger members of the audience that are perhaps feeling nostalgic for Panic! At The Disco, but the people that came for the headliners seem to need more impressing.

This tour has apparently seen Twin Atlantic draw some thinly spread crowds at some venues. No wonder, then, that they give this show 110% for the crowd that has gathered and completely filled the space at The Joiners tonight. As Sam McTrusty (who coincidentally, has the best name ever!), Barry McKenna, Ross McNae and Craig Kneale take to the stage, they thrust straight into You’re Turning Into John Wayne, which immediately gets the crowd moving and singing along as they do for the rest of the evening. Every song announced tonight is met with applause and cheers, and the same goes for two new songs that no-one here could possibly have heard before! Such is the fevered reaction to Twin Atlantic’s presence tonight, that even the technical difficulties that plague their entire set don’t dampen the bands spirits at all. They simply laugh it off, sort it out and play another song – Twin Atlantic came to play a show, and they’re clearly determined to do it!

Current single Lightspeed and crowd favourite Audience And Audio make for a good show as they’re what people have turned out to see tonight, but the surprises truly come when guitarist Barry McKenna puts down his guitar and picks up a cello for two beautiful numbers (including Vivarium closer Better Weather) mid-set. So tense is this atmosphere that when some kid tries not once but twice to crowd-surf during these songs, they both simply stop playing and watch him until his mates put him down again before carrying on. “Don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse crowd-surfing” says Sam McTrusty in his thick Scottish accent, “but when we’re trying to make a genuine connection, you just end up looking like a fool!” It’s not that Twin Atlantic are overly artistic in the slightest, it is simply that they’re so passionate about giving these shows their all for the people eager to see them play. “What about the muses at the back? Are we impressing you yet, or do we need to work harder?” is some more of Sam’s banter throughout the evening, “See, we love you guys at the front because you’re passionate, but it’s the muses at the back that buy CD’s.”

Original breakthrough single What Is Light? Where Is Laughter? is met with huge applause and promptly sets the crowd singing along again before they announce their last song and are met with an almost pantomime “awww” from the crowd. The smiles on the faces of every member of Twin Atlantic have steadily gotten bigger and bigger throughout the evening, and by now they’re grinning from ear to ear and you can tell that they are genuinely passionate about their work tonight. “Thank you so much for coming out tonight, we really appreciate it” is almost a clichéd term for bands now, but by the look on Sam McTrusty’s face, you know he means it!

Twin Atlantic have worked hard to be able to sell out this venue – and if they continue to write songs as amazing as these, and their up-coming US tour goes well for them, you know that they are destined to get much, much bigger in the future!

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!

They’ve built WHAT now?!

I have JUST been told by a friend that a rumoured Harry Potter Theme Park is now in completion and will be opening in Spring 2010. I first heard about plans for this Theme Park a couple of years ago in the papers, along with artists renderings of what the final completed park would look like and what attractions it would have. But, after not hearing anymore about it (partly out of lack of interest for the most part in anything Harry Potter, and partly because I guess they were avoiding making it too much of common knowledge so that people will be more excited about it!) I assumed that plans for it had been scrapped for whatever reason they may have. In hindsight, this was probably a bit dense of me to think that they WOULDN’T do this – it’s the ultimate “raking-it-in” idea, really! But still, my friend has sent me a link to the promotional video for the Theme Parks opening. This link, I have also decided to post below, so thanks for the link Jamie!:

http://www.universalorlandoresort.com/harrypotter/first_look_uo.html

Now, first of all, I’ve noticed two majorly disappointing things – 1) WHY is it in America when it’s actually a British institution, set in Britain and has a British cast, and could potentially make even more money by setting up partnerships with airlines for all the people who would be travelling to come to it? and 2) How come it’s being put in Universal Studios Orlando (which, admittedly, is Theme Park Central and would definitely have the funding to undertake such a monstrous project) when the production company behind it are Warner Brothers, who are situated (perhaps more fittingly) in Los Angeles?

Whilst these might only be trivial things in the long run, there are many other things about this Theme Park to mention. I’d like to put in at this point that I’m NOT saying either way that this is a good idea or a bad one – completely unbiased as yet as I haven’t seen enough of it to make a full decision either way yet. BUT, I have seen enough from the video to know this much:

Firstly, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (as it is now called) is most definitely a HUGE corporate investment, much in the same way Disneyland is. This is basically Disneyland for teenagers who are “too cool” to go there anymore. Immediately, as you go through the entry gates, there is the “Main Street” of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is basically a mixture of the Hogsmead Village and Diagon Alley. So, in short, this is where all the money-making happens!! Hugely priced themed pubs, Sweet shops where the kids can get all sugared-up for the day, joke shops and souvenir shops where you can buy ANYthing that you can slap Harry’s bespectacled mug onto (que the introduction of the I Heart So-And-So T-shirts and Hermione’s range of perfume…) for whatever price they deem “reasonable”, all behind massively printed signs and bright lights to get the kids interested in just how much cash the Adults are carrying on them at the time… But, one thing I did think was cool, was the Wand Shop that you will be able to go to where you can supposedly get your own personal wand. This is that fine line between bringing in people’s wallets and bringing people into the magic of Harry Potter Land. Having your own personal wand for the day will make ALL the difference for certain people – crossing that line between consumerism and fantasy-brought-to-life.

The rest of the park looks to be pretty straight forward – rides and attractions and shows all based around the different features of Harry’s world. The Hippogriff rollercoaster, the Dragon fighting attraction, etc, all of which would clearly be backed-up by the highest of effects budgets considering just how much this franchise has now been able to rake in. Also, the Hogwarts Castle Adventure looks like it will be an all-encompassing, multi-sensory, fully immersing dive into the World of Wizards, where the guests will fully believe that they are part of this magnificent world that up until now they have only been able to read about or see on the screen thanks to Hollywood Effects and CGI. Or, at least, that’s the angle that they will be going for…

The promotional video obviously explains more about what the park will have, but it is set to open its gates in Spring 2010, so you can expect families with young kids or couples that are a bit too geeky for their own good to be booking their summer holiday to Orlando a lot this year, and expect to be paying for it for quite a while afterwards! It does beg the question as to whether the amount of expenses would be worth the memorable experience of it all – so it could either be the most magical Theme Park thought up, or a shine to ALL that is consumerism! But, I guess that will all be revealed once it has opened to the public, or once we see more of what The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has to offer.