GIG REVIEW – Getting a Concussion and Fractured Vertebrae @ Foals, Citadel Festival, London

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

If you can name a better way to spend a balmy summer’s evening than going to a park somewhere in London to watch Oxford mathletes Foals headline the sort-of-well-know-but-I’ve-never-fucking-heard-of-it Citadel Festival, I’d like to hear it, pal. Of course, the set didn’t end in the way I was anticipating, but that’s how these reviews work. You’ve gotta get stuck in to accurately take the temperature of a gig.

Do Foals really need any introduction? Since the release of 2007’s Antidotes, they’ve moved from alt-cult heroes to mainstream magnates, all the while keeping their funky, dancy, mathematical musical identity. Right, there we are.

Coming out and kicking off with Moutain at my Gates off their most recent album, What Went Down, Yannis Phillipakis and his Almighty Greek Beard meant business. The crowd were in a wide array of patterned shirts and other various fuckboi attires, and couldn’t mosh to save their lives. If you’re gonna do it, do it properly, this was just a bunch of indie kids trying to imitate what they’d seen on TV. Pricks.

The best bit about a Foals gig is they’re not afraid to mix it up a little, and take their cues from across their back catalogue, with tracks like the unforgettable-because-you’ve-heard-it-a-million-times like My Number and new-ish number Night Swimmers rubbing shoulders with Olympic Airways and Black Gold, but still dropping wall-to-wall bangers, because they’re fucking Foals.

Still can’t get over Yannis’ beard. It’s just so well grown, and he should be more proud of that than what he’s achieved with Foals, if you ask me. It was around the time of Spanish Sahara that I rejoined my friends, only to discover them discussing beards with some new friends. One gentleman declared that I had the best beard, and shook my hand. Where he went, I don’t know, but bless him and his tasteful choice of shirt. There were a lot of patterned shirts at this gig. Some people looked like dicks in them, others really owned the Paisley. And I’ve got a lot of time for a Paisley shirt.

What? Oh.

Despite only having just over an hour and a half to play a comprehensive set, they didn’t dick about, effectively selling the brand-new-ish-well-it’s-the-most-recent-album What Went Down, whilst also blowing the back catalogue wide open, culminating in a grande finale that began with Inhaler. Whilst they’d always been popular in one way shape or form, Holy Fire really blew Foals up, with Inhaler producing the biggest bang.

Again with the moshpitting being fucking dire, as at this point, I was pushed over a girl who’d fallen over,which those dicks failed to pick up quickly landing on the ramp thing that carries the cables between the stage and the sound tent, smacking my back and head, and at that point, I realised I was in some big trouble, as I couldn’t get up. I also, worryingly, couldn’t move my legs, but that was because someone had fallen on top of me. If you’re reading this, with your oversized cardigan and shite haircut, learn to fucking mosh; keep it steady, keep it safe, pick your fallen friends up first before getting stuck back in. It isn’t diffuclt, you cunts. The lass I fell on was a star though, making sure I was alright. She gets a 10/10 for being a wonderful human.

Then they played What Went Down, and what went down was me, because I kept blacking out for momentary periods, but if there was ever an Antidote (GEDDIT HAHA BE MY FRIEND YANNIS), for a crushed vertabrae and sever concussion was the almighty Two Steps Twice, which managed to get me back on a level playing field for about two minutes.

All in all, injuries aside, it’s fair to say that there’s no such thing as a bad Foals set, and their inevitable fifth album will catapult them to greater heights, bigger festival headline slots, and get more people groovin’.

8/10


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GIG REVIEW – A Sensory Review of Linkin Park

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

On Thursday, I got offered a free ticket to see every angsty teenager’s favourite band, Linkin Park. As part of this free offer, I agreed that this review would be in a certain format, so here goes…

Oh also I missed an entire hour of their set because have you ever tried checking in early for a Eurowings flight? Yeah, I thought not buddy. But as you’ll see, an hour was more than enough. Is that good? Is that bad? Read and find out, viewer.

What does a Linkin Park gig taste like?

This is the hardest one to describe, but if I told you what it sounded like first you wouldn’t stick around for the rest of this. A Linkin Park gig doesn’t really taste of anything, unless you count the beer-y, pizza-y burps I was having throughout count, but I don’t know what Linkin Park themselves taste like. Sweat and success, seeing as they’ve sold over 10,000,000 copies of fucking Hybrid Theory alone, never mind the rest, and the fact it was well over 30 degrees inside the Barclaycard Arena. So to answer your question I don’t know.

What does a Linkin Park gig smell like?

Like someone left CeX down the back of a radiator and took a shite on it. Jesus, it was smelly.

What does a Linkin Park gig feel like?

As if I’d time travelled back to the early 2000s, but instead of watching Kerrang! channel and getting excited In the End or Faint came on, I was a 24 year old man, getting excited because In the End or Faint came on, but it was live, for free, on a Thursday. Also incredibly sweaty. Very sweaty. You know what sweat is? Sticky bollocks, and other things. Sad!

What does a Linkin Park gig look like?

I’m going to ignore the fact I was surrounded by rowdy Brummies all night because that wouldn’t be fair to the visual masterpiece that Linkin Park and their stage crew threw together. The bright, moving lights were expertly choreographed and were as much a part of the show as Chester Bennington’s Big Bald Head. So it looked very good, the gig would get at least a 5/10 if it was just lights and no sound, with a bunch of lads in their forties jumping around all night. That good.

What does a Linkin Park gig sound like?

Ahaha! Here we are! The important part. Really I’d like to say that this gig was just yer auld da still trying to make it work, but the thing is, they made it work in a big way. Of course, I only caught the second half of the set, but if the first half was the same as the second, then it was a solid first half.

Stood at the back, the sound felt like it fell a tiny bit flat on the low end, but that may be a distance issue, but when you get to hear Breaking the Habit, Crawling, Faint, Numb, What I’ve Done, In the End and Papercut in quick succession, what the hell have you got to complain about? Their new album One More Light was universally derided, but does that matter? They’re cemented as rock royalty, and the reaction to their meaty morsels of phonic pornography more than proves that. A lot of the people at that gig were likely the old guard, the Hybrid Theory/Meteora crew, rolling out to show their appreciation for a band that were, for at least one point, a huge part of their life, much like they were in mine.

They did sound pitch perfect, to the point a more cynical reviewer would accuse Chester Bennington and his big bald head of using a backing track, but no, for a man who’s been doing this some twenty years, he’s still got the same vocal vigour and virility that made Linkin Park in the early 2000s, which was especially showcased, in my view, for the vocals during Faint. As if it were 2003 all over again. But where some rock and nu-metal bands their age struggle to emulate their past glories, it’s as if Linkin Park are still trapped in 2005 and Chester Bennington’s screams are actually him screaming for us to release him and his band from their frozen-in-time hell. Have you ever thought that your favourite nu-metal band are stuck in a certain year and can’t escape? No, because you only think of yourself. He hasn’t aged a day and I’m really scared now. Nor has Mike Shinoda. Those guys are stuck in time and the only way they can escape is if they sell 10,000,000 more copies of Hybrid Theory.

In all seriousness though, whatever expectations I had of Linkin Park this evening were smashed, broken and sent back in time. Whilst the cynic in me expected little, the 13 year old in me craved everything, and I think he was pleasantly satisfied. They put on a show, they sounded great, and more importantly, from what I could pick up, they made their fans very, very happy, which at the end of the day, is all that matters. After 17 years, there’s still a lot of bark in this old nu-metal dog.

7/10 


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FESTIVAL REVIEW – Gettin’ Glastönbutlered

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

The key thing you need to take into consideration with Glastonbury is that it is not your common garden music festival. I mean, first of all, it’s actually a ‘Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts’, which is true, because no matter where you go in those trillion square acres of Somerset countryside, there is always something weird and wonderful going on.

Whilst yer da was at home complaining about how Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Sheeran was on his telly with 6,000 other available channels, there were a million other things happening. People were indulging themselves in ancient cultures, sampling some of the world’s hottest and most loved musical and artistic acts, and slightly overweight music writers were permanently sipping beer as they thought of what they were actually going to say about Glastonbury.

https://twitter.com/notoliverbutler/status/877657321886896129

Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no perfect way to describe it. As soon as you sweep through the sleepy village of Pilton, Somerset, you’re greeted by sights that would put Disneyland to shame, and it really is Disneyland for grownups. There’s so much whimsy, magic and wonder as you stroll about Farmer Eavis’ Gigantic Farm of Banter, and the view at night from the hill on which the Glastonbury sign sits is unparalleled.

In every sense of the matter, this festival is huge, and the big name bands are merely just a side show. If you spend an entire Glastonbury weekend just watching bands, then buddy, you done fucked up.

However, my job for this website is literally writing about bands, so let’s talk about that, shall we?

Thursday

Old Dirty Brasstards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ga25UP2Lt8

Ooooooooh I’m drunk, and these boys are the perfect accompaniment to any decent session. The tweed-clad army of lads play up-tempo covers of some of your favourite pop and rock songs, opening 2017’s set with a beautiful rendition of QotSA’s No One Knows, followed by Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, and of course, for the stars of Friday’s show, a cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, all expertly communicated through the jovial means of brass and percussion. Without hyperbole, if these boys played a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, there’s every chance I’d have sacked one of the headliners off to see them. The Brasstards are the perfect feel good start to a weekend of quality music.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: 1

BEERS DRANK: Got a bit hazy around twenty. Went to Pimp My Fries, then strolling around the legendary South East Corner, on the hunt for some good times. Threw up. A lot.

Friday

Oh God. Is it possible to be this hungover? I can just about move my body and that’s to poke my head out of the tent pod’s little window to retch the last of my pimped fries up. Damn you Pimp My Fries. This Friday at Glastonbury is going to suck even more as in the evening, Radiohead, Lorde, Sleaford Mods, Dizzee Rascal AND Clean Bandit all clash. Fuck this festival and the sheer amount of quality musicians on offer.

Nothing But Thieves

They’re nonces, Jim.

Royal Blood

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8AuiZ0O6Qg

Here’s another hot-as-bollocks band with a second album that’s come out in 2017, which, at first was a bit disappointing, but has grown on me, with live performances of Where Are You Now?, Lights Out, Hook Line and Sinker and Hole In Your Heart strengthening the love for How Did We Get So Dark? 

But it just wouldn’t be a Royal Blood set without jams like Figure it Out, Little Monster, and the almighty Out of the Black closing the set, with a massive cock tease as sticksman Ben Thatcher went into the crowd just before the final riff, only for the camera to pan to LARS FUCKING ULRICH FROM FUCKING METALLICA, maybe nodding to the fact that Lars took over the drums once before whilst Ben got closer to the crowd. However, it wasn’t meant to be, but Christ almighty, what a set!

8/10

The XX

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhZTexVqRCI

I’ll level with you here. I watched these guys from my chair back at the tent which overlooks the Pyramid, because I couldn’t face standing up for a few hours waiting for Thom Yorke and His Gaggle of Weird Lads to show up. But having never really given them the time of day before, they were very impressive, and their airy, synthy sound was the perfect relaxer for a man with a devastating hangover. However, I did have a can. Lovely.

Look, if you’re looking for someone who spent his weekend sober, whilst sticking religously to his itinerary, trying to review as many bands as he could, you’ve come to the wrong place.

7/10 

Radiohead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGFg0FN2yBU

Bucket list band time here gang. Ever since I got my pubescent paws on a copy of OK Computer and The Bends whilst only really knowing the words to Creep, I’ve wanted to see this band, but in my heart of hearts, I knew they’d disappoint me because of how much I wanted this.

The first bar of Daydreaming and there was zero possible way that Radiohead could disappoint me tonight. I was stood around the WORST people, including a group of LadBible fanatics doing keys of MD, a man in slacks and a fleece taking photos of EVERYTHING, a couple who wouldn’t stop fucking kissing and literally Your Dad singing every word of every song but sulking through Creep.

However, the set was perfect, the notable highlight being the eerie silence during Exit Music (For a Film), turning that song from a 10/10 to a 20/10. Songs such as Ful Stop, Weird Fishes, Lotus Flower, Bodysnatchers and Nude made an appearance because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate. A friend commented that they’ve got to play Pyramid Song because they’re on the Pyramid Stage, and they did! But probably not for that reason, probably because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate.

Whilst some bands stick to their vanilla setlists to please all palettes, I can’t even work out what flavour this set was. Aged pistachio or something. But when you get Fake Plastic Trees and Karma Police as some of the final accents, it can be whatever flavour you want it to be. Truly one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Ever.

10/10

BEERS DRANK: Two! Two!

BANDS SEEN: Four. Ish. 

Saturday

Fresh as a daisy mate. Fresh. As. A. Daisy. I’ve probably had 10 hours sleep, and I’m ready to have halloumi for breakfast. I think I had halloumi. Really it’s hard to work out what happened and when, but one thing I can tell you for definite is that Saturday started with…

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6naZMWemDs

No word of a lie, there were fewer bands I was more excited to see this weekend. When he’s not walking backwards in a studio introducing bands, he’s an accomplished blues pianist, bringing boogie to all the land, and with his full orchestra, oh my, it’s a party!

Jools and his guests played a variety of covers, getting an early afternoon audience up and ready, pumping them full of feel good, including a joyful cover of Enjoy Yourself by The Specials, and an appearance from my favourite, the Queen herself, Ruby Turner.

One thing I would recommend is getting tickets to go and see this man. You won’t have a better evening, I guarantee.

9/10

Craiiig David

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuUZh81B27I

Re-rewind, when I run back to the tent for more beers!

Straight off the bat, Craiiig David was a delight to see, playing a mix of orignal garage, soul and R&B classics, plus a few covers and a TS5 DJ set. It also led to the theory that Bo’ Selecta! did actually ruin Craiiig David‘s life, in that when introducing the stone cold banger that is Rise and Fall, he spoke about coming through adversity and how writing music helped him get through some tough times. Bo’ Selecta! came out in 2002, Rise and Fall came out in 2003. Your honour, no further questions.

But needless to say, Craiiig David had the last laugh, as he’s had a number one album, a UK wide arena tour, played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury whilst Avid Merrion being about as funny as a haemmorhoid being Keith Lemon. So who won that round? Ya boi Craig did.

8/10

Jeremy Corbyn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVGFi8balOM

“WOAAAAH JEREMY CORBYN! I don’t give a fuck about him, I voted UKIP” – those lads doing MDMA behind me at Radiohead.

Still never know which way Glastonbury leans. Whilst it’s an inherently left leaning festival in that it used to be a CND festival, it is chock full of Tories, and when they try to mosh, they endager the lives of everybody in that pit. That being said, worst you could do is give them a head injury and create a Lib Dem front bencher.

Oh yeah, Jeremy Corbyn.

It was a rapturous reception for the Labour party leader, with the field surrounding the Pyramid packed to the rafters (there are no rafters in fields, but fuck you) for his address, stirring the souls of every person in that field, giving a lucky young boy named Michael Eavis a signed copy of the Labour manifesto. Well jel. Whilst he was preaching to the many converted, undoubtedly there were a few who couldn’t help but be enthused by his message.

1 billion/10

Run the Jewels

Image result for run the jewels glastonbury 2017

Another tent special. Good guys, good sound, good message.

7/10

Liam Gallagher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xo_GcOsp4k

Oh my God. This guy is literally Your Dad. He’s in his anorak, trying to sing Oasis coverOH it’s Liam Gallagher. If you were at that gig, please let me know if you were also there, purely for him to say “Oh and by the way, this is my brother Noel“.

In defence of the lesser of the two evils, sound quality plagued the Other Stage for the entire weekend, but the sound quality was still dire, as an anaemic crowd tried to pretend they gave a shit about Wall of Glass. Sure he played Rock n Roll Star, Morning Glory and Slide Away, plus an emotional rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger, but there was little substance to this set, making the fact I ran out of cans even more upsetting. Jesus.

4/10

Katy Perry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vp6usKX_Y

Caught the last bar of Roar, because it takes 9 years to walk anywhere ¯\_()_/¯

The National

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBg9xysCYwU

Mad how Jurgen Klopp manages Liverpool and also fronts The National. Top boy all round. Being honest, I’ve got little to no interest in The National and couldn’t work out why they were sub headlining Saturday but the Eaviseseseseses are absolute r/madlads, so you’ve just gotta ROLL WITH IT, GEDDIT?! Oh wait, Liam Gallagher was the last act.

Yeah these guys sounded pretty good, and drew a decent crowd, but I can’t say I’d ever listen to them again.

7/10

Foo Fighters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2ER7ChXX6s

The more I think about it, the more I realise Foo Fighters is a ridiculous name for one of the world’s biggest bands, but Dave Grohl could start a band named All My Fans Are Cunts and I’d still lap up every note.

Two years ago I was pencilled in to see the Foos twice in two weeks, once at Wembley, and once at Glastonbury, until Dave selfishly broke his leg. Bastard. So this, in many ways, was a redemption gig. Opening the set with Times Like These, dedicated to Florence from Florence and the Machine, who performed the same song two years ago in their headline slot, you knew it was gonna be a good’un.

The thing about Dave Grohl, much like Thom Yorke, means that little to no fucks are given about setlist content. Which is why cats like Cold Day in the Sun, Wheels and Skin and Bones were thrown in amongst the pigeons of All My Life, The Pretender and Monkey WrenchSonic Highways hit Something from Nothing also seems to be a setlist mainstay these days, which is good, because it’s a high-grade banger, along with medium-grade banger Congregation. Brand new banger Run also got a… wait for it! Run out!

The negative points on this report card? No guests. I’ve seen these guys perform motherfucking Under Pressure with goddamn John Paul Jones and christing Roger Taylor before, but there were no special guests this time. But a cover of Under Pressure performed with Taylor Hawkins doing the vocals so that counts, I guess?

The high point of this set? The Everlong ending. Because quite frankly, if anything could ever be that way forever, if anything could ever be that good again, my word.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: Seven. Ish.

BEERS DRANK: So many. At least thirty. Ended up at a silent disco and a communal sleeping tent that honked of incense. N.B. It was a communal sleeping tent, and not an invasion of someone’s tent. 

Sunday

Hungover as fuck, gotta go load the car, so the first band I saw today was in the late afternoon and it was…

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2oqXN06ffE

He’d be the first to admit it, but Frank Carter is a bona fide madman, and his Sunday teatime slot with The Rattlesnake just adds to that theory. Clad with pink hair, white jeans and a sheer white shirt, the punktastic prince angrily wrangled his way through Sunday afternoon, stopping to throw an entire bottle of piss back in the face of a lad who threw piss at him first during Juggernaut. A madman. A legend. An idol. Tried to start a circle pit through the whole of the tent. Killers fans weren’t having it. Mugs,

The beauty of a Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes set is that you’re guaranteed hits, and with Snake Eyes, Jackal, I Hate You and Lullaby being charmed out the snake basket, it was business as usual from an energetic and enthusing set. Another particular highlight was getting a girls-only crowdsurf during I thiiiiiink it was Devil Inside Me, threatening to decapitate any handsy male who tried groping them, stating that we are all equal, to which the Andy Dick looking motherfucker creepily rubbed his hands together when the subject of groping young women came up, and sulked when Frank said that we were all equal. I hope you do get decapitated, pal.

9/10

The Killers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRF0q6z60hc

Best part about where we camp is that we can hear about four stages clearly. I heard The Killers. In this same time period, I had violent diarrhoea. Go figure.

Chic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2khokvlf_Y

I also heard funktastic disco legends Chic from our tent, which was much, MUCH better, for am I of the opinion that there are few finer guitarists in this world than Nile Rodgers. This set delivered by the bucketload, featuring, Everybody DanceGood TimesLe Freak, fucking He’s the Greatest Dancer, Let’s Dance, GET FUCKING LUCKY, and Good Times. Also featuring a funk off between Nile Rodgers and Jerry Barnes. Jesus Christ.

9/10

Biffy Clyro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlPt8C5Fnxk

First things first. Biffy should have headline before Sheeran. They’ve got greater pedigree, more albums, more prowess and more fucking everything than someone playing a small guitar. There. I said it. Although someone leaving Chic was saying “I hate Biffy Clyro, he(?)’s shit, ooh, Courteeners are on”. Confusing.

But then again, Biffy were a wildcard. I’d have never painted a band of their demeanour as Glastonbury sub-headliners but they made sure that they secured themselves a second invitation. Definite 2019/20 headliners.

The set was a mix of old and new, opening with Wolves of Winter and ending with Stingin’ Belle,whist throwing Who’s Got A Match?Bubbles, Medicine, Re-Arrange and Animal Style in between those two delicious slices of bread. Also they threw in Puzzle album track 9/15ths because why not? It’s fucking brilliant.

Seriously though, Biffy delivered in a big way, and proved their worth as certified festival headliners.

9/10

Boy Better Know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_BzqnpyVM8

My relationship with BBK is strained at best. Whilst I remember the days before JME and Skepta had albums and were world renown, I just can’t seem to enjoy a live set, and neither did Glastonbury, as barely anybody showed up. To be honest, the only song I really recognised was That’s Not Me, leading me to realise I’m quite behind on the times with BBK, but will forever remember playing songs like Serious and Doin’ It Again on repeat. Sometimes, the past is best left in the past.

6/10, I guess.

WEEKEND VERDICT

Yet again, this magical festival met my expectations and exceeded them. I had a fantastic weekend with quite literally, all my friends, having a laugh, getting drunk and mooching around the numerous exciting and interesting areas, sights, sounds and indeed, smells, this festival has to offer. Sure I could’ve spent my weekend religiously seeing a lot of bands, but there’s no fucking fun in in that. I could’ve been up, bright and breezy to see someone I’ve never heard of who might be alright, but I’d be on my own, or I could’ve gone for a greasy breakfast and had a few cans with my friends.

What I’m trying to say is that music is beautiful, it’s wonderful and it’s lifesaving, but it’s meaningless if I can’t enjoy it with my pals. They’re the real headliners of any festival, and the highlight of any set. I had a fucking great weekend and had gotten my money’s worth by Wednesday evening, because we were all having a laugh together.

So here’s my final review:

My Pals

A great set from the 14-piece roast-and-booze ensemble, notable highlights including Broken Chairs, Stone Colding Beers, Dancing to Bassline Junkie in the Tent and of course, Saturday Night Piss Up. Could never ask for more from an act.

14/10


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TRACK REVIEW: The Way You Used to Do by Queens of the Stone Age

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Imagine the film Grease, oh yeah! Everyone’s clicking their fingers and dancing and woo, havin’ a good time! Now imagine the cast of Grease got dropped into an active warzone: everyone’s still clickin’ their fingers but oh shit, there’s a lot of bombs going off. If you can imagine that, you can imagine what Queens of the Stone Age‘s new swingeriffic lick The Way You Used to Do sounds like, the first single from their upcoming album, Villains.

The thing about a new QotSA album, or track, is that it only seems to come round when it’s ready to come out the oven, which means The Way You Used to Do, like many other tracks from Josh Homme and his crew of swingin’ ringers, is a stone cold banger. It really does feel like some fifties swingin’ blues took a load of Mr White’s blue meth and is now running through the town, kicking people in the genitals. If you did that dance where you grabbed your sweetie pie by the arms and swung them under your legs, you’d throw them back up so hard their arms would detach from their body, flying into the band.

The opening to the track really has a ZZ Top feel to it, just some proper foot tapping, finger clicking rock and roll, but with a QotSA garnish, which flows through the veins of this song, retaining the fuzzy sludge that’s become synonymous with Queens of the Stone Age, but at the same time, feeling incredibly classic, like one of those companies that make a modern Jaguar E-Type, and this song is as good as that.

Referring back to an earlier point, a QotSA album only seems to come out when it’s ready, and seeing as …Like Clockwork came out around four years ago, it’s high time we got to experience some brand new Queens of the Stone Age. Perfectly uplifting for the summer sessions, festival drives and balmy pre-drinks, The Way You Used to Do is business as usual from Josh & the gang.

8/10


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Slammin’ Beers: A Slam Dunk Review

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Prologue

One of the finest pleasures of the late May Bank Holiday weekend is the fact you get a three-day weekend, but better yet, there’s bound to be some tasty musical action at Slam Dunk Festival, one of the UK’s finest touring pop punk/metal/rock festivals. Every year the festival offers great variety, with the bands and headliners presenting something for everyone, with a few upsetting clashes along the way. Plus, at under £50 for the ticket, it’s a great way to discover some brand new favourites as well. 

Also, it’s a brilliant excuse to get on the beer.  Six cans deep and thirsty for more, I decided to fully immerse myself into the day’s action, offering gonzo journalism from the pit. A metal Hunter S Thompson if you will. Whilst I can’t confirm that the Doctor didn’t enjoy opening this place up, I doubt he’s ever been headbutted during Bury Tomorrow and couldn’t stop sneezing. 

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Crossfaith

Kicking off the day’s personal schedule were Japanese electrometal enthusiasts Crossfaith, whose brand of full-frontal metal mixed with some heavy synth produces a sound akin to the Prodigy having angry sex with a wasps nest. Despite being on at half 2 in the afternoon and only the second band on, they nearly managed to fill out the entirety of the Genting Arena‘s floor, which is, give or take, about 8,000 people, and will host the likes of fellow metal heads Take That and Little Mix in the coming week. Mega. 

But it’s not hard to see why Crossfaith pulled in such a big crowd so early. The energy carried by their band was enough to send the arena into a mosh-heavy, fist-pumping frenzy during their six-song set, featuring an appearance from Beartooth‘s Caleb Shomo for an adrenaline laced performance of Ghost in the Mirror. One of their party pieces is a full-blown cover of Omen by the Prodigy, which does the original justice, but adds a smidgen more of ruthless aggression. Setting the bar high for the day’s action, Crossfaith were the perfect hors d’ouvere on the Slam Dunk menu. 

Rating – 7/10

Beers consumed – 1 pint Amstel (7 total)

Black Foxxes

Appearing in the middle of the Genting‘s food court on the Key Master stage, young and hungry Exter rockers Black Foxxes were one of the top dishes available in the food court. Perfectly enjoyed with a slice of overpriced pizza and a bottle of warm Heineken despite asking for a cold bottle, Black Foxxes banged out some proper, good old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll.

Their debut album, I’m Not Well came out towards the latter half of last year, with songs like Husk, Wilder People and River steadily impressing everyone passing through the food court at that point. In retrospect it’s a fucking great idea to stick up and comers in the middle of a food court , because you’ll reach a wider audience. Great bunch of lads playing great rock ‘n’ roll with a shite slice of pizza. Lovely. 

Rating – 8/10

Beers Consumed – 1 bottle of lukewarm Heineken, 1 pint of Amstel (8 total)

Bury Tomorrow

Yes, yes, oh yay! At this point I was actually a bit pissed, which made the fact I was going to see Bury Tomorrow, a band I’d actually discovered at the same festival some two years back and met frontman Dan Winter-Bates whilst cuddling a two-pinter even more exciting than usual. There’s a theme developing here, isn’t there. 

Unfortunately the start of Bury Tomorrow‘s set was delayed by technical issues, something that would plague the Jagermeister Stage for the rest of the day. However, what was short was undoubtedly sweet as the set began with the scintillating Man on Fire, turning the floor of the Genting into a frenzy as pits opened up quicker than Maggie Thatcher could close them. Somewhere in between Lionheart and Sceptres I’d acquired an Obey snapback, something which oddly suited me and would stay on my head from that point onwards. Interesting side note, none of the bands I like make snapbacks, rendering this discovery void. 

During the final song Cemetery, I took damage in a moshpit, getting headbutted in the nose, causing me to sneeze uncontrollably, which meant I was unable to hear that their set was only going to be as long as that. Whilst technical glitches scuppered their set, they certainly made up for it in power and delivery. 

Rating – 6/10 (based on injury and technical glitches)

Beers Consumed – 1 Amstel (9 total)

Beartooth

No time to spare as Bury Tomorrow would be directly followed by their metal counterparts Beartooth. Well, there was time for a wee and another beer, so that bit’s a lie. 

The main offering of today’s action was always going to be Enter Shikari‘s tenth birthday party for Take to the Skies, but Beartooth‘s lightning set would mean that the Shikari boys would have to go some to beat this performance. On fire from start to finish, the Columbus crowd pleasers got a nearly full arena bouncing, jumping and moshing to their sound.  

Returning the favour that Caleb Shlom payed earlier, Crossfaith frontman Kenta Koie came out for a louder-than-hell duet on Body Bag, with a mix of old tracks such as In Between from debut album Disgusting rubbing shoulders with songs from 2016’s sophomore album Aggressive (which is only £9.99 on vinyl in HMV, get on it lads), getting a hungry Birmingham crowd hyped up. The set was jam packed with action, energy and passion, producing one of the standout performances of the day, and would definitely require a huge effort from other bands to beat that whirlwind performance. 

Rating – 8/10

Beers Consumed – 2 Amstel (11 total)

I Prevail 

Fucks sake. We didn’t get to the poorly placed Impericon Stage in time and we can’t even see the bastard thing. It’s like hidden behind some bushes, how bloody stupid. Pretty sure they were great anyway. Might as well have a pint and watch the FA Cup Final. Saw some of Citizen as well, they were good, if not my bag. Also saw some of Waterparks as well. Ended up doing an impression of the front man and sounded like a stereotypical American teenager. Like, oh my god Kelly. 

Rating – ???

Beers Consumed – 2 Amstel (13 total)

Don Broco

Christ Jesus I can’t stand Don Broco. I’ve got no idea where they fall into the musical spectrum but they sound and look like someone fed a Topman catalogue after midnight. They opened with Everybody which is a pretty enjoyable track mind you, but at the point it ended I descended into a fiftieth circle of musical hell which I am going to dub Fuckboicore, because why not? 

It’s easy to understand why people like Broco, because it’s something a bit heavier but not too heavy, but they’re wearing short sleeve shirts from Topman so they’re just okay, I guess? Frontman looks like a young Jeremy Clarkson, and I struggle to comprehend why anybody under the age of 50 tucks a t shirt in. My dad does that and I wouldn’t want to see him front Don Broco either. To be honest I got distracted trying to get my booze-laden pal to calm himself down, which was a comical interlude as we all ended up wrestling. Whole reason I was there to get into pole position for Shikari so I’m really not the guy to ask about it. 

Rating – 5/10

Beers Consumed – 1 Water, 1 Amstel (14 total)

Enter Shikari

LADIEEEEEES AND GENTLEMEN, SHOW YOUR YOUR APPRECIATION FOR ENTER SHIKARI!

Being honest the rest of this review is just slightly comical preamble to the main event. No more beer, no more comedy, it’s time for Enter Shikari to host the latest leg of the Take to the Skies anniversary tour. 

The atmosphere was tangiable and the excitement could be bottled and sold as a performance enhancing drug as the lights went out at the intro to Stand Your Ground/Enter Shikari hit, with the crowd going into a frenzy during, with the excitement carrying straight over into Mothership. At some point I lost my found snapback, but there was no room for passengers aboard the mothership. The excitement and ecstasy carried over into Anything Can Happen in the Next Half Hour, and it did, as Labyrinth followed directly after. This is brilliant, the production values were amazing if not a few technical niggles, and the passion interweaved in these old songs was incredible, but there was just as much love for the new classics as The Last Garrison, Anaesthetist and Redshift all made an appearance with The Appeal and the Mindsweep II bringing the set to an aggressive end. 

What a joy it was to see tracks like No Sssssweat, Jonny Sniper and Adieu, especially, performed live, with the crowd reaction showing that Take to the Skies still has the same impact and effect it did ten years ago, except this time, Shikari are now deservedly an arena filling band. However, whether they should be playing arenas is up for debate, as the sheer power of their sound, their message and their fans has caused severe structural damage in every venue they’ve played. That damn good. 

With a tribute to the people of Manchester weaved in, there was an emotional sing along to a cover of Oasis’ Half the World Away before the beginning of Adieu. 

In between songs, frontman Rou Reynolds made us all aware that June 8th is our opportunity to get rid of Theresa May once and for all, but if you’re a Shikari fan, and you’re not politically engaged, you’ve gotta get on the trolley. It’s music with a message, stupid!

All in all, I’ve been to lots of gigs in my time, ranging from small-time gigs where there’s more band members than fans, to blockbuster gigs from some of the biggest and best, but I’ve rarely seen a 10/10, to the point they barely take up one hand. But this, my dear reader, with the passion, the sweat, the love and the energy, makes this 10th birthday party one of the best gigs, and 10th birthday parties I’ve ever been to. 

Rating – 10/10

BEER TOTAL – 14 beers and I felt good enough to drive! But I didn’t. We got a taxi. OH and I had a few cans when I got in.  

FINAL OPINION

SURPRISE PACKAGE – Black Foxxes, rock and fucking roll!

BEST BAND – Shikari, no doubt about it. 

PERSONAL HIGHLIGHT – Finding out that snapbacks suit your man. Swag, motherfuckers! 


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Track Review: Hook, Line and Sinker by Royal Blood

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Coming back after their meteoric rise up the UK’s musical mountain with their eponymous 2014 debut, Brighton decibel enthusiasts Royal Blood are back with their second single, Hook, Line, and Sinker, which will be part of their new album, How Did We Get So Dark?

Hook, Line, and Sinker is an old-ish Royal Blood song, debuted at their appearance at Leed Festival 2015, this bluesy ear rogering was already popular with fans, and a full-frontal studio release lives up to the hype that this song promised.

There are two schools of thought with this song that make it incredibly listenable: the first is the heavy, driving, bluesy sound coming from Mike Kerr‘s Magical Bass Guitar™ that reminds you of guitar riffs from a bygone era. Of course, it’d be unwise to draw comparisons, but the simplistic, yet aggressive hook that this song begins with is enough to knock you out of your trousers. One of the heaviest songs produced in Royal Blood‘s short-yet-massive (ooer missus) career, it’s a dirty, gritty ride the whole way through, with you needing a cigarette afterward.

The second is the lyrical flow of this song. The way “Then she drags me by one finger, to her lips hook, like and sinker, honey I’m a sucker when you linger” is a stonker of a line, and is highly relatable to anyone who’s ever found themselves addicted to the beautiful poison. You know this person’s no good for you, but yes, boom, they drag you back in, no matter how hard you try to escape, hook, line and… yeah, sinker. The whole lyrical makeup of this song is brilliant, and likely stems from Kerr and Thatcher ‘leading normal lives’ off the back of their white-hot debut album cycle.

It’d be foolish to draw any comparisons at the risk of looking like a complete fool, but the sound of this track really has a classic feel to it. Not in a ‘yer da still can’t name another band apart from Pink Floyd when complaining about music‘ sort of way, but in a way that it’s a brutally simple concept that really works with a heavy-but-not-too-heavy bluesy overdrive, with modern finishes.

Whilst many are quick to stick their tongues out at the thought of Royal Blood, it’s their brutal simplicity and lyrical relevance that makes them so popular. Whilst the two tracks to give a flavour of How Did We Get So Dark? are more complex and deeper than their relatives on Royal Blood, it’s still the aggressive simplicity and easily digestible lyrical content that makes Royal Blood the hitmakers. Sometimes, you don’t want something deep, meaningful and special, you just want a bit of rough that’s easy to get through and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end. Which is what these two are so good at.

9/10


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Track Review: Muse – Dig Down

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

The blessing and, indeed, curse with being a Muse fan is that you never exactly know which band is going to show up. On the one hand, you might get the symphonic aggression soundtracking a battle in a far away galaxy, or you might get something that’s like your Conservative voting auntie: extremely hard to get on with. In the case of brand new single Dig Down, you’re going to have to spend the next four or so minutes listening to your auntie complain about poor people.

The song bears a striking resemblance to 2012’s synthy love song Madness off The 2nd Law, which was okay-ish. Whilst live performances, time and reluctant acceptance that it’s an okay song have helped to age that song, it’s still one of the lesser songs Muse have offered over their decorated career.

Much like it’s mad cousin, Dig Down is a synth heavy song, with most of the song purely relying on the heavy bass synth and electronic drums, with Matt Bellamy‘s guitar only kicking in with a bastardised Queen solo towards the end of the song. Which Queen solo has been bastardised is unknown, but actually getting Brian May to play the solo would have given this song some more credibility, and taken his mind off of the poor badgers. Whilst the song is something different, it’s not too far away from any synth-based song that Muse produce, and is as mentioned above, incredibly similar to Madness.

Despite being an underwhelming single from a yet-to-be-announced, yet-to-be-titled upcoming album, the lyrical theme is very on the pulse in Dig Down, something that Matt Bellamy has been very good at throughout the years. In a time where we’re dealing with Brexit, Trump, Impending Nuclear Holocaust and Oh Fuck No Five More Years of the Fucking Tories, this song acts as a sombre call to arms, one where we can, yes, Dig Down and find a way, face the firing squad, against all the odds. It’s a very relevant and topical song from a lyrical point of view at least.

Is this song a bad song? No, not at all: it’s something different, but it feels a little underwhelming, as if it’s been half-finished. Seeing as Drones came out just over two years ago, there’s no real expectation for Muse to be releasing new material, and it feels like they could have spent a little longer on this song to make it that little better. Whilst Muse arguably hit their peak around 2006’s Black Holes and Revelations, the weight of their stardom should allow them to spend a bit more time on writing and recording, but Dig Down feels a bit rushed and a bit underwhelming. Whilst ‘Musers’ such as matt_bellamys_codpiece and domhowardshagmyarse will undoubtedly declare this song to be a masterpiece, this song will fail to draw in lapsed fans who fell off the wagon around the Black Holes era.

5/10


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Album Review: A Shortcut to Mushrooms by Treeherder

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

First impressions are important. From a job interview to a first date, nobody wants to make a total twat out of themselves and end up forever portraying themselves as an off-duty clown. But in the case of Wolverhampton alt/stone trio Treeherder, they’ve firmly shook your hand, asked how you are and got the first beers in with their debut album, A Shortcut to Mushrooms.

One of the biggest parts of this album is the power in the voice of guitarist-cum-vocalist Scott McNair. The power of someone’s vocals can make or break a band, and in Treeherder‘s case, the vocals help drive the power and aggression in their sound, perfectly synced in with drummer Jake Webb and bassist Neil Owens, creating a driving power trio.

The album is chock full of highlights, including tracks such as Lighthouse, Ents, Tightrope, God Save Us and Blue Eyes, pushing forwards raw emotion with a gritty, powerful edge. There’s even a cover of Reuben’s Cities on Fire, adding their own twist on the song without losing sight of the original.

Many love to sit on their gold thrones at the top of the ivory tower and complain that guitar music is slowly dying, but listening to this album proves that it’s still very much alive, with its heart beating stronger than ever. From back to front this is a consistently enjoyable album, without any filler material or weak points, it is a seriously good debut album.

Lyrically, the content of this album is fantastic. It can perfectly commentate on the pain of losing someone and the pitfalls that romance has to offer you. A standout line from the album is from the track, Tightrope, “I’m standing in the middle of your tightrope, and it’s held by both your hands“, which illustrates the uncertainty of putting your heart into someone else’s hands.

It’d be exceedingly unfair to go easy on a new band’s debut album to save them their blushes, but the praise of A Shortcut to Mushrooms is warranted, earnt and deserved. Managing to keep the sound fresh but familiar, this is an album you can pick up and listen to front to back, without even breaking a sweat.

More and more needs to be done to help fledgling bands find their feet, and this is one album that you should pick up, plug in, and enjoy it forwards, backwards, side-to-side, on the bus, on a cross-channel ferry, after a break up, during intercourse: just get some Treeherder in your life.

9/10

Buy A Short Cut to Mushrooms here. Do it. Now. You. Yes, you.


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TRACK REVIEW: Wildfire by Blink 182

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

It’d be awfully rude not to review a new track from one of the bands that lends its name to this website, which is exactly why Blink 182 are back again with their new single, Wildfire.

As part of the California album cycle, Wildfire is another track that ended up on the cutting room floor, along with 6/8Can’t Get You More Pregnant (Well, when you’re already pregnant it’s biologically impossible to be more pregnant so 10 points to Blinkindor, also, it was about thirty seconds long. Maybe that’s a joke about premature ejaculation which we’re all too stupid to get)Misery and Parking Lot as part of the unofficially titled Blimey! Bloody Brilliant Blink 182 B-Sides collection.

The song is a textbook Blink 182 track, the one where you can shut your eyes and imagine that you’re sat in a sunny Californian skate park, or one where you instinctively know the words to when you’re pissed, the sort of song that could tie communities together by getting them all to belt out What’s My Age Again?, as we would be unified by Blink 182’s inoffensive brand of pop punk.

Despite following the formula that made them megastars, this track fails to start a Wildfire in your heart (I knew you couldn’t resist a pun – Ed). In this track, familiarity breeds contempt and does little to make a lasting impact on the brain. By no means is this a bad track, and is certainly one of the better b-sides to come off the back of the enjoyable California, but it doesn’t do enough to get you excited. It’s got everything; some classic bouncy Hoppus bass work, trading vocals between himself and new boy Matt Skiba-boodly-bop-bop and light airy guitar chords that always transport you to that fictitious sunny skate park.

There’s nothing wrong with the classics, but sometimes, you don’t want a glass of Coca-Cola, you want something that’ll make your brain pour out of your ears because of what you’ve just heard. This track toes the Blink 182 party line, and makes sense why it’s nothing more than a b-side that will appear on the deluxe edition of California.

6.5/10


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ALBUM REVIEW: For Crying Out Loud by Kasabian

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Coming to an eardrum near you, Kasabian‘s sixth studio album, For Crying Out Loud has finally been brought into the world, covered in sticky Pizzorno afterbirth.

First things first, the cover. Foremost, it is a touching, lovely and humourous homage to their longstanding roadie, Rick Graham, in an industry where roadies are the unsung heroes of many rock bands. Secondly, it’s a little confusing why yer da is crying emojis and they’ve put (2017) quite prominently on the album’s cover, but hey, that’s rock ‘n’ roll for ya. Yer da’s worked hard to get himself on an album cover, the least you can do is be happy for him.

Kicking off with III Ray (The King), the album starts with the trademark punchy lad rock that could be bottled up and sold by Kasabian on the merch stand, the sort that will get crowds moving and get fans strutting down the street. A fantastic way to start the album, and perfect as part of a balanced, nutritional playlist. Whilst this is a twelve track album, a lot of it fails to register with the brain and feels like filler material that’s been quickly thrown together on the bus to school when the album’s due in THAT MORNING AND MR RECORD PRODUCER IS GONNA GIVE YOU DETENTION FUCK!

Tracks suck as Twentyfourseven and Good Fight feel like boiled ham between the bread of You’re In Love With a Psycho and Comeback Kid. Sure, boiled ham isn’t bad, but you’d rather be chewing on some succulent honey roast. With this analogy, You’re In Love With a Pyscho is also a slightly stale piece of bread, but Comeback Kid is a fine piece of sourdough and one of the best tracks on the album.

Comeback Kid was one of the standout single releases prior to the album launch, and it would take someone with a heart of stone not to be lifted by the triumphant horns at the beginning. Whilst Kasabian need not stage a comeback, the message is an uplifting one. Wasted is a moody, dance track and one of the better songs off the album, doesn’t feel like filler material and really gives you the flavour of the personal turmoil that went into this album, the lyrical theme takes you to a time and place where you could still be with the one you love, but as the song suggests, there’s been so much time, wasted, without you.

The mix of styles, genres and influences on this album are incredibly interesting, with Are You Looking For Action? a slow, chilled out track, whereas Bless This Acid House could have been pulled straight from Status Quo‘s back catalogue.

Image result for kasabian 2017

But the question that burns the most is; is this a bad album? No, it’s not a terrible album in any way, shape, or form, but it’s not a good album either. It’s just a bit… yeah, it’s there, like a trifle, or the pavement. It’s not an offensive album, but compared to the first four albums, it’s not one that you could listen to over and over again, there’s no Fire, no L.S.F, no Empire, no Vlad the Impaler. There’s a lack of classic Kasabian anthems that will cause audiences to leave arenas structurally unsafe. Love them or hate them, Kasabian‘s reputation comes off the back of OOOOOOF”in’ good anthems. Look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you’ve never sung Fire or Club Foot whilst pissed, because you have, and if you say you haven’t, you’re fronting to look cool.

Kasabian promised that this album would ‘save guitar music’, but a lot of it feels like wasted potential, that this album could have saved the totally-fine-but-we’ll-gloss-over-that guitar music world, but tripped over its own shoelaces as it tried to get over the finish line. Whilst their status as Brit Lads ‘n’ Dads rock royalty will forever be guaranteed by their previous convictions, this album certainly doesn’t feel like a jewel in their crown. They will continue to fill out arenas and stadiums, but this latest offering fails to bring the classic stadium anthems that Kasabian have long promised.

With this album, Kasabian will be lucky if they can save a Word document.

6/10


The boys are back with a big bloody bang. Gone is the weirdness of previous effort 48:13, Serge and the gang have gone back to their roots: writing tunes with the sole purpose of making the crowd go fucking mental in a live setting. And with songs like III Ray and Twentyfourseven in their upgraded arsenal, fucking mental the crowd shall go. 

7.5/10 – Jake Cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

It’s not the worst thing ever made. As iterated previously, tracks like III Ray have that Kasabian sheen to them that’ll no doubt go down a belter in their abundance of festival appearances. Despite this though, the band do very little to live up to their claim of saving guitar music. Instead of delivering a defibrillator, For Crying Out Loud is a half arsed attempt at CPR.

4/10 – Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)


 

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