Black Foxxes flatten boxxes at the O2 Academy Islington

As we all know, I am a huge fan of Black Foxxes, however, as a legendary music journalist [citation needed], I never let my heart rule my head, so please believe me when I say that their show at O2 Academy Islington last night proved that they have the mettle and the music to become monolithic.

I also saw them on Tuesday at Mama Roux’s in Birmingham, which was a fantastic gig, and if you bump into Loz from While She Sleeps, you know that you’ve come to the right gig. However, as soon as the band took to the stage in Islington and the first bars of Breathe were strummed, you just knew that they were going to come out, all guns blazing. My oh my, Mark Holley’s tortured vocals at the end allowed you to feel such pain, but immense pleasure at the quality. Whilst Mark, Tristan and Ant work together as a well-oiled machine, one of the best members of that band is their sound engineer.

The O2 was full of fantastic Foxxes fans, as the bulging London crowd was able to take the lead during, can we call them classics(?), like Maple Summer and River, lifting the band and contributing to an all-round electric vibe. That being said, there were certain groups who just wouldn’t shut the fuck UP all night, talking about the price of fish during emotional sing songs like Take Me Home. I know they’ve paid their ticket fee and the band still make cash, but if you’re gonna just chunter on throughout the set, just stay in Spoons and get a Black Foxxes playlist on the go. A word on Take Me Home as well; I said in my review that it was a toss up between Flowers and Oh, It Had To Be You off Reiði for the best song, but after many listens and a few tears shot out, it’s Take Me Home. Apologies to anyone affected by this, please note that I am a talentless hack.

Foxxes have massively upped their game when it comes to production and stage presence. The ominous intro to Oh, It Had To Be You is incredible, whilst tracks like Sæla and Manic In Me are proper dancey pop bangers. Manic In Me was a huge sing along, whilst Sæla can’t help but plaster a smile on your face. There’s a lot of confidence on stage as well; not cockiness or overconfidence, but a band that’s found their groove, Mark is becoming more and more of an electric frontman, and laces every vocal with emotion, allowing you to feel what contributed to the writing of these songs.

Closing out the set, JOY is absolutely huge live, those big riffs and the screams of “COME CALL ME ERASABLE” fill out any space they’re in like some kind of rock n roll builder’s foam. Pines is the perfect way to end a set though; allowing for plenty of thunder to bring the night to an apocalyptic finish. The only complaint here is that the setlist wasn’t long enough, but, if they’d played the whole two albums and written a song on the night, I’d still be stood there at the end chanting “We want more!”. Again, whilst I might fawn over this band like they’re my first love, it’s with good reason; they’re one of Britain’s hottest and most enterprising bands. Stop what you’re doing, stop listening to me and listen to me when I say that you need to just go and listen to the records. Buy them (good!) stream them (also, good!) steal them (naughty!) or even Limewire them (lmao), just listen to the goddamn records.

Big shout out to Emily Isherwood and Bloody Knees for supporting as well, I’ve never enjoyed two support bands so much.

Black Foxxes provide a prime cut sophomore LP with ‘Reiði’

words fae oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Back for their second bite of the cherry with Reiði, you’d be hard-pressed to find a daterating 9 in Black Foxxes’ diary where there isn’t something going on. The industrious Exeter three-piece have toured relentlessly since the release of their 2016 debut, I’m Not Well, which was a dark and stormy cocktail of a record and incredibly raw at places, with frontman and guitarist Mark Holley describing his battles with mental health and Crohn’s disease with poignancy, style, and riffs.

Reiði is a certain evolution in Black Foxxes’ sound, pushing their creative boundaries further, but doesn’t stray too far from their alt-rock blueprints. However, where I’m Not Well was dark, Reiði feels like dawn breaking on a new day. Breathe opens the album, and feels like it’s the band trying to move on from the themes in I’m Not Well, with Mark repeating “I wanna set myself free” in the build-up to a beautiful bridge/outro in a beautiful mix of raging guitar and strings. It’s a perfect album opener and really gives you a positive feeling throughout the rest of the album.

Following on from that is a single you should have definitely given your ears to over recent weeks, with Manic In Me feeling dancey, upbeat and anthemic. Definitely one to look out for when they hit the road, with the chorus of “You are the weather, I am the manic in me” bound to get people up and moving. Sæla (Icelandic for ‘blessed’, don’t cha know!) is also another bouncy single that first indicated a shift in the weather for Black Foxxes. It’s a really upbeat track and a definite highlight of the album; it’s just one of those that always gets you bopping along. We are all wilder people!

The absolute highlight of this album is up for debate, as there are two prime cuts from this prime cut of a record. Oh, It Had To Be You is absolutely fucking sublime. The intro with the haunting, echo-y piano making away for heavy stabs is brilliant. If one track proves that Black Foxxes have evolved their sound and knocked it up a gear, Oh, It Had To Be You mixes the melancholy of I’m Not Well, the beefed-up sound of Reiði and the production values of a band that mean business with the underlying strings. Lyrically as well, it’s gone to the next level, with “Neon, light show, filling up the sky it paints the moon’s glow” running over you like fine silk, but it’s Mark shouting “Liar, liar, liar watch it as she moves me.” towards the end of the song, making way for stabbing, screaming guitar that really lights up this song. Jesus Christ, that song, that song, Jesus Christ.

However, stepping into the ring to challenge Oh, It Had To Be You is Flowers. Flowers are pretty & serene. This song is everything but. Reiði is Icelandic for ‘rage’, and Flowers captures that word perfectly. “I am rage. I am a castaway. I am unusable.” shoot through you like needles, before an explosive ending sees Mark scream “I am rage” and “Yeah I’m on the edge”. If Reiði had a theme, it would be “surprise party, but a surprise party where you get powerslammed through a table”. The serene, delicately picked intros lure you into the lovely flower garden, only for the black clouds to form, and heavy riffs burst through the sky like thunder and lightning. Argue it amongst yourselves, but both of these songs are the best of the best. Reiði is a perfect album, but these two are that little bit more perfect…

It feels like a bit of a disservice to talk up the shouty parts rather than the well written, poignant lyrics, but the rage you feel when “Come call me erasable” is just yelled over and over in JOY leaves an indelible mark on your soul. In equal parts, Reiði delivers both joy, bliss, and rage in devastating spoonfuls. Same with Take Me Home; there’s a lot of beauty in this song, the soft, emotional feel to it, but it’s the repeated, strained chorus of “Take me home” over a weeping guitar. Largely though, the lyrics in this song are beautiful, yet devastating, with “Teach me to grow, my scars are undone, repairing myself as I let myself go” really hitting you in your heart.

The biggest differences in Black Foxxes’ sound come from The Big Wild and Am I Losing It. In the grand scheme of the big album, these feel more stripped back than the rest of the songs and are very catchy, which should hopefully serve as ‘appetisers’ for an introduction to the wider Foxxes feast.

As Breathe was the ideal opener for the album, Float On is the ideal track to close out and let the credits roll. As the feedback rings out from a dark, stormy track, you can’t help but feel that a note hasn’t been missed, a lyric hasn’t been left unsaid and there was any energy left over. Just two albums into their career, Black Foxxes have managed to capitalise on a strong debut, build on it and create a truly sublime piece of work. There’s no unsatisfied feeling and no sense that they should have zigged instead of zagging. A certain album of the year contender, Black Foxxes will no doubt be heading for the big time off the back of Reiði.

Black Foxxes share serene new track ‘Manic In Me’

by oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

One of the hottest properties in British music right now are Black Foxxes, and with the release of their second album, Reiði just over a month away, everyone is looking forward to seeing how they follow up their scintillating debut album, I’m Not Well.

Well, if their new single, Manic In Me is anything to go by, Reiði will likely be one of the best albums you plug into your ear holes this year. A melancholy, yet dancy track, Manic In Me is, according to lead guitarist and singer Mark Holley, a song about balancing inner rage with calm. Fitting, seeing as Reiði is Icelandic for ‘rage’. The video for this song was also shot in Iceland. The country, not the supermarket. Though the thought of seeing the boys rock out in the frozen pizza aisle would definitely make the weekly shop more exciting.

This is a brilliant little song, and the balance in the song really fits the lyrics, going from the calmness in the verse “you are the weather” to the hard and heavy chorus “I am the manic in me”.  The other single previewing this album, Sæla, is just as exciting and well thought through as Manic In Me. 2018 feels like it should be the year Black Foxxes really start to rise to the top of the UK music scene because truthfully, there should be no reason why not.

Manic In Me really does balance serenity and range with effortlessness, with the serene verse and heavy chorus seamlessly fitting together. It’s an incredibly catchy song as well, getting your foot tapping along to it on the first listen, something that every good song should do to you.

Our 20 Most Anticipated Albums of 2018

words and header by liam menzies (@blnkclyr) unless specified

Remember how phenomenal that one song you heard from 2017 was? That album that you couldn’t stop yourself from spinning as soon as it had reached the end of its vinyl? At this point in the year, it can be all too easy to look back with rose-tinted glasses at the year that has passed and while it was great, it would be idiotic of us to ignore what the next 12 months have in store for us. We may very well miss out on some of your hotly anticipated ones, whether that be the album being hidden at the time of writing or sheer ignorance, but the team has put their heads together to come up with this list of the records we can’t wait to get into our ears…


Black Foxxes – Reoli

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Why: Another band that you REALLY should be listening to, Devonshire trio Black Foxxes will be releasing Reoli on March 16th. Their debut album, I’m Not Well, came out in 2016 to high praise, and whilst the themes in the album, including depression, anxiety & frontman Mark Holley’s struggle with Crohn’s disease are a heavy drink of water, the album is incredibly listenable and a must have on anyone’s playlist. Whilst only one song has broken cover from this album, the smart gambler would put a few chips on this being a dark horse in the album of the year contest. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

When: 16th March 2018.


Blood Orange – LP4

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Why: Having released one of 2016’s most underrated records Freetown Sound, Dev Hynes is set to follow it up with his fourth full-length album this year. It seems set to be a challenging, introspective listen if his 2017 interview is anything to go by: “A lot of the new songs on the new album deal with growing up and childhood in England [..] looking at the country that made me”. Admitting that it’ll be a little dark in the same piece, Blood Orange LP4 is set to be an important listen.

Proof: Image above as well as this DIY article.


Brockhampton – Team Effort

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WhyAfter the, let’s be honest, far better than it had any right to be SATURATION trilogy, you’d be forgiven for being a bit burned out on the best boy band since One Direction. But it just seems that that isn’t the case at all. Now free from any continuity restrictions that the Saturation trilogy enforced them to, this next album will hopefully see even more innovation and surprises from BROCKHAMPTON. ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster) & jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Proof: This tweet right here from the boys themselves.


Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy

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Why: Before you rush into the comments to tell us that Twin Fantasy was released in 2011 – we know, you’re not special for knowing that. The reason this Car Seat Headrest album is included on our list is down to Will Toledo mistakenly announcing via a now taken down listing that a re-release will be happening. However, as opposed to the traditional meaning, Toledo has the benefit of a bigger budget, a full band in fine form, and endless time to tinker, meaning what we’ll get seven years later will be the album he really wanted to make.

When: Feb 16th.


Codist – LP2

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Why: Sleep? Who needs it?! The Codist boys certainly don’t seem to need any as they’re set to drop the follow up to their 2016 debut Nuclear Family (which was pretty fucking good). Having dropped an EP last year on the newly founded LP Records label, we’re psyched to see what this Glasgow rock outfit have tucked away for us.

When: This lil video right here.


Courtney Barnett – LP3

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Why: After a successful collaboration with Kurt Vile on Lotta Sea Lice, fans of Courtney Barnett are eager to see what the up and coming Australian artist is going to ramble about on a new LP. Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit was one of the best albums of 2015 due to its undeniable charm and with some well-earned experience from subsequent ventures, we’re excited to see what changes she’ll be making on this record.

Proof: Barnett chatted to Zane Lowe about the new album on his beats1 station.


Danny Brown – LP5

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Why: If the fact that this Detroit rapper’s last album Atrocity Exhibition was our 2016 Album Of The Year isn’t enough to get you pumped up then what’s wrong with you? Danny Brown crafted one of the most exciting and wholly original hip-hop albums of the century alongside Paul White and with this new album set to be “produced by one producer, who’s legendary in hip-hop“, we can’t wait to see what path Danny leads us on.

Proof: Brown admitted on Twitter that he’s working on a currently untitled new album.


Dorothy – 28 Days in The Valley

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Why: Dorothy are probably the best band you’ve never heard of. Or, if you’ve heard of them, one of the best new bands on your radar. Signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, the bluesy brawlers will be releasing 28 Days in the Valley this year, their follow up to 2016’s ROCKISDEAD. Mixing heavy, bluesy rock with frontwoman Dorothy Martin’s swelling vocals, Dorothy have a crunching modern sound that’s full of classic influences. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

Proof: The band admitted the album is set to drop in early 2018.


Drenge – LP3

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Why: Hopefully set to return after almost a 3-year absence, Sheffield trio Drenge will look to return with a vengeance. Looking to combine the best aspects from their different but both excellent albums so far, LP 3 will no doubt be well worth the wait. – ethan woodford (@human_dis4ster)

Proof: It exists (unless the guys were in an Edgar Wright mood).


Gorillaz – LP5

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Why: While the critical reception to the band’s much-anticipated comeback album Humanz wasn’t what anyone was hoping for, that doesn’t mean we aren’t any less excited for what’s to come. Not much is known about it at the moment but if it’s a Gorillaz record, expect it to be grandiose, entertaining and ignite a lot of discussions.

When: The group’s Jamie Hewlett admitted the album’s existence.


Grimes – LP5

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Why: Explaining in an Instagram video she’s been “in the studio every day trying to legit make something you’ve never heard before”, Canadian artist Claire Boucher has consistently impressed since her 2010 debut and her upcoming LP seems to be no different. With a focus on being fresh and exciting, Art Angels managed to win Grimes a lot of new fans and whatever she has next will, regardless of quality, keep them as well as old enthusiasts surprised.

Proof: This article right here.


Injury Reserve – LP2

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Why: After impressing everyone with their debut studio album Floss and further keeping that smile on our faces with last year’s Drive It Like It’s Stolen EP, this zany and fresh hip-hop outfit seem set to keep the golden streak running with a follow up LP. “we’re about to go hole up in a cabin in northern Arizona and simultaneously put together the best tour of 2018 and the best album of our career so far” is what Parker Corey said recently on his Twitter so with their confidence so high, it’s appropriate to get suitably hyped for LP2.

Proof: New full-length album confirmed here😉


Interpol – LP6

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Why: Marking 15 years since their landmark debut Turn On The Bright Lights, Interpol have performed the album in its entirety across a series of sold-out shows this year. Such a momentous occasion felt like the perfect time to wheel out some new material, which is precisely what happened at London’s Alexandra Palace. Included in the encore was Real Life, the first taste of what to expect from their follow up to El Pintor – a mouth-watering prospect as we wait to see what direction their post-Carlos D era takes them in. kieran cannon (@kiercannon)

Proof: The aforementioned performances of new material last year.


Justin Timberlake – Man Of The Woods

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Why: It might be cool to hate on chart music but if there’s an artist who manages to make even the biggest of bucket hat wearing indie lads bop to a pop tune, it’s probably gonna be Justin Timberlake. With this pretense, you might expect another slick listen but from what has been teased so far, expect something more akin to Bon Iver than anything else – that might repulse some but for people like ourselves who wish to see big stars push themselves in interesting directions, we’re utterly intrigued to see what Man Of The Woods has to show.

When: Feb 2nd.


Kanye West – Turbo Grafx 16

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Why: When you have the late, great Lou Reed praising you then you must be doing something right and the ever egotistical Kanye West looks set to continue his golden run with his new gaming inspired record Turbo Grafx 16. With the record set to feature sampling from the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Young Thug, Kanye may be set to deliver the oddest record of 2018.

Proof: gBzFazu.png


Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons – Age of Absurdity 

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Why: After hitting the road playing a mix of originals and covers, plus a six-track EP in 2016, Phil Campbell and his band of bastardy men are ready to release their first full-length album; Age of Absurdity. So far, this band has proven that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, as Phil’s sons Todd, Tyla & Dane are all incredibly talented musicians in their own right. – oliver butler (@notoliverbutler)

When: January 26th.


Screaming Females – All At Once 

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Why: A band we weren’t aware of up until a recent Spotify recommendation, Screaming Females packs in one of the best rock/punk vocalists in the form of Marissa Paternoster who is just on the mic as she is on the guitar. First cut off All At Once, titled Glass House, is anthemic and builds up to a climax that blurs the line between shaky and untenable: if that’s anything to go by then this LP will prove to be one of 2018’s best rock albums.

When: Feb 23rd


Simon Neil – ZZC

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Why: Big Si dropped a track on Christmas Day, so that’s good enough for me to believe his long-teased solo effort is finally almost here. The aforementioned track, titled The Myth, is a 7 and a half minute long instrumental that goes from orchestral to mathy as fuck rock at the drop of a hat. It’s really, REALLY good, and if it’s an indication of the direction of rest of the album, it sounds like the untethered, mental Simon Neil that die-hard Biffy Clyro fans have been pining for is back, and back with a vengeance. – jake cordiner (@jjjjaketh)

Proof: Si has been teasing this for years now and with The Myth being the opening track, this surely means it’s sooner rather than later for his solo effort.


Vampire Weekend – LP4

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Why: While the band members themselves certainly haven’t been slacking, whether that be contributing to anime or making their own solo album, it’s been a long ass time since Vampire Weekend last blessed us with some new music – half a decade to be exact. With the likes of Kanye West being cited as an inspiration for the yet untitled fourth LP, it’s hard not to be intrigued by what the New York lads have in store for us.

Proof: This juicy lil interview with Ezra Koenig.


The Xcerts – Hold On To Your Heart

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Why: The three singles already released from this album are some of the band’s best work to date and, from what we heard on their live tour in October, the other tunes are certainly going to be a treat as well. gregor farquharson (@grgratlntc)

When: 19th January.

 

Black Foxxes Share New Song ‘Sæla’: Review

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

Black Foxxes are one of Britain’s brightest musical prospects. The West Country power trio are a noisy mix of heavy grunge, hard rock & light indie, with their debut album, I’m Not Well being an incredible body of work. It’s been an exciting year for them, with a handful festival appearances, a headline UK tour & a slot supporting Deaf Havana. However, seconds out, round two; how does a band like that follow up a hot debut? 

Step forward Sæla, their brand new single and the answer to this question. Icelandic for ‘Blessed‘, the song has a real positive feel to it right from the first chord. Wondering why a West Country band are writing in Icelandic? Singer & guitarist Mark Holley wrote most of the album out there and is already getting ready to write album number three. Time off? What time off? There’s no rest for the wicked, and to borrow a phrase from the early 2000s, Black Foxxes are well wicked.

This is actually quite a dancey tune, something you can easily bop to, with the intro & chorus riff having a real uplifting & bouncy feel to it. The lyrics are pretty uplifting as well, compared to some of the lyrical themes on I’m Not Well, which had a darker vibe to it. However, seeing as the album that this single supports is called Reiði, which is Icelandic for ‘Rage‘, only a fool would assume that this album is going to be all sunshine and rainbows.

But Sæla is just a really nice track. It’s a happy little track at just under three minutes but doesn’t leave you feeling underwhelmed. It’s just right, like a well-cooked steak or a bath that’s the right temperature. Just enough to brighten your day, like a nice cup of tea. Mark Holley’s voice is fantastic on this, the way it can go from a soothing voice to a roar is sublime. The heavy ending to this song is brilliant too and really picks up the pace.

Whilst only offering a small glimpse into what Reiði is going to offer, Sæla is a very promising sign, and if the rest of the album is of this quality, Black Foxxes star will only continue to rise.

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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