Mom Jeans’ Eric Butler Discusses Touring, Collabs and Latest LP ‘Puppy Love’

words by Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin182)

Mom Jeans is a four-piece emo outfit hailing from southern California. After releasing their debut Best Buds in 2016, the world was introduced to their bouncy and addictive melodies that set the background for their aching post-breakup lyrics. The album really hit home for a lot of fans and garnered a mass cult following, all anxious to watch the band make their next move. Since then, Mom Jeans have been touring relentlessly, mostly with bands surrounding the independent label, Counter Intuitive Records. CI, (Counter Intuitive) has quickly become one of the most exciting up-and-coming labels in indie music for their roster of fresh and exciting new bands, most of whom exist within the indie/emo scene. Mom Jeans put out their first record on Counter Intuitive and planned to put out their second on SideOneDummy, home to acts such as PUP and Rozwell Kid. But when SideOneDummy began to slip and stopped signing new bands, Mom Jeans took it back to CI to release their second full-length, Puppy Love. I got the chance to chat with lead vocalist and songwriter Eric Butler to get a more in-depth look behind the album.

RM: Was there any pressure during the writing process for the album? Best Buds really clicked with so many people and really brought the band to another level of popularity. Did you feel Puppy Love had to have the same impact or were there any thoughts of trying to capitalize on what made the first record so special?

EB: I mean honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever gone into writing music with an intent of creating an impact, we’ve always just tried to write music that we think sounds cool and that’s fun for us to play. I think all four of us get a lot of gratification out of learning how to play new songs and sharing ideas and trying to make every song as fun as possible to play. For all of us, playing music has always been about having fun, having fun playing music together and getting to spend time together as friends has always been the number one priority. Playing big gigs is always cool and selling records is dope too but at the end of the day we just wanna make music together. In that respect, nothing really changed between best buds and puppy love. I can def say that putting a release together with the expectation that people would be listening to it/anticipating it was definitely new to us, but we really tried to set that aside and just make a record that we could be stoked on no matter what other people think about it.

RM: What was it like putting Puppy Love together? What songs were written first? Were there any that came together quicker than others?

EB: I’m definitely a super slow writer, and it was definitely tough to get the ball rolling as far as writing songs for an album rather than just writing songs. I think sponsor me tape and season 9 were the first songs that I was like “ok these are goin’ on LP 2”, but in general it’s pretty hard for me to keep writing/working on something unless I’m super into it or unless I feel like it’s really going in a direction that I like. From there like usual I brought all the song skeletons to Austin, Bart and Gabe and we hashed them out and everybody wrote parts that made sense and that they liked. Pretty much every song that we’ve put together since best buds (minus the split songs) ended up on puppy love except for maybe one or two.

RM: The CI family is having such an amazing year, it must be pretty surreal at the moment. Has surrounding yourself with like-minded musicians and friends helped push MJ as well as other bands forward creatively?

EB: Absolutely! For us I think it’s really important to be surrounded by like-minded and similarly-oriented people. Playing hundreds of shows a year can get pretty tiring and I think a lot of people get burnt out on playing and touring pretty fast, but for us I feel like every tour or project that we work on is super exciting and super motivating because every single band that’s around us is absolutely killing it. Most of the musical influences that got me inspired and excited to work on new music came from listening to other CI bands like Just Friends, Nervous Dater, Retirement Party, Prince Daddy, and all the extended fam like Chatterbot and Open Door Records bands. 

RM: The lyrics on both albums are both very confessional in their own ways. Is it more therapeutic to write the lyrics and then put music to them or to perform the songs live?

EB: I think each is therapeutic in their own way, but like the physical act of playing songs is what compels me the most. Lyrics have always been kind of like a diary where I can express thoughts and feelings that are hard to discuss so plainly otherwise, and actually saying them out loud for real is extremely therapeutic and I feel like it allows me to feel like I’m addressing them by at least acknowledging them. Even just getting lost in a live setting (not even necessarily performing just like playing together) l has always been so addictive to me. There’s a magical moment that happens every once in a while, where things just come together perfectly, and I feel like I forget about everything that’s bothering me and I just zone out on the music. I fkn live for that moment where everything just sounds perfect and new and special. 

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While Best Buds was more centered around a break-up, Puppy Love deals with voluntarily distancing yourself from those you love. There is an established sense of confidence in Butler’s voice when he details isolating himself. It doesn’t sound like it’s what he wants to do but it also sounds necessary in order for both people to grow and become more individualized.

Butler also takes sharp aim at his own flaws all over the album; what he is putting into his body, his emotions and why he is feeling that way, and efficiently communicating with those around him. Perhaps it’s a way to say those flaws out loud with brute honesty in order to move one step closer to breaking those bad habits.

Musically, the band has never sounded tighter. Bart Starr from Graduating Life has been added as a second guitarist and it really helps fill out the band’s sound. There are more tasty riffs and more transitions that add more depth to each song. (SPOILER ALERT CLICK AWAY NOW) There’s also one really sick part during the outro of Glamorous where Weezer’s Sweater Song is interpolated. Brianda Goyos León, from the CI-signed band Just Friends, appears on the 7th and 10th track and adds a beautiful layer of harmony behind Butler’s voice. (Just Friends recently put out an incredible record called Nothing but Love on Counter Intuitive Records).

RM:  I really enjoyed Brianda’s vocals paired with yours on the album. Will there be more vocal collaborations in MJ’s future? If so who would you be interested in collaborating with?

EB: I mean hopefully! I like doing vocal collabs because I feel like I’m honestly not a very good singer so getting objectively talented vocalists to perform is always super fun and I feel like it truly adds an aspect that we couldn’t pull off on our own. Brond is literally the best and having her voice on the record is a huge privilege and I’m so grateful that she was willing to sing on it. As far as the future I can’t really speculate because in general the lyrics are pretty tailor made for me, but you can always count on the day one homies being part of the picture. 

RM: You guys have been touring so much! How’s it been? Do you feel you’ll be rested enough before you head out again this fall?

EB: It’s definitely exhausting but we had a really nice break this spring after getting home from tour with Tiny Moving Parts. We took about 3 months off shows and just focused on spending time with our partners and families and made the record and I think it was really worth it. We all literally just got back from a full US tour with Graduating Life (Bart’s project that Austin and I play in) but prior to that it was the longest break we’ve ever had since we started touring. I definitely feel like we’re ready to hit the road in the fall especially because we get to bring so many of our good friends with us.

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For an album that deals mostly with self-loathing and distance, it’s hard to find a song on the record that isn’t fun as hell. If pop punk isn’t your cup of tea and it generally makes you cringe, it’s fair to say that this record isn’t going to change your mind very much. There isn’t much that Mom Jeans accomplish on their second album that Fantano would call “reinventing the wheel of emo”. Basically, meaning in some sense it’s just another pop punk record. What makes this album special is how much it allows you to become invested in it. Best Buds offered a comfort blanket for those reeling from a break-up. It was an album that made you feel better musically but also addressed how you might be feeling so you don’t feel so alone. Puppy Love functions the same way and with each listen, you may find yourself sinking deeper into your own feelings and how it relates to what Butler is saying. A perfect example of the therapeutic effects emo/pop-punk music has to its long-time listeners.

RM:  I love the TV references scattered throughout the album (Grey’s Anatomy, The Office, Workaholics, Rick & Morty). What are your top favorite shows of all time?

EB: I’ll cut it off at 5 to save us all some time aha. I gotta go with Grey’s Anatomy, Futurama, Freaks and Geeks, Bob’s Burgers, and Diners Drive-Ins and Dives.

RM: Do you enjoy being a musician more or less since graduating from school?

EB: I don’t know if I enjoy music any more or less than I used to, I think the role of music in my life has just changed dramatically. I feel like playing in a band used to be a super small portion of my life that I loved a lot but didn’t get to prioritize because I had to focus on school and work and being a functioning human. Nowadays my whole life is the band, from my friends to my daily priorities to my long-term goals to the way I love my daily life are contextualized by this band and the experiences I’ve had playing music. I’m entirely grateful that I get to walk this path and though I think I definitely don’t think appreciate music as a whole ecosystem as much as I used to I still enjoy playing songs with my friends as much as I did when I started my first band when I was 12.  

 RM: Any long-term goals for the future you’d like to share?

EB: Just trying to enjoy this ride and have as much fun as we can. We have a big tour coming up in the fall and some plans to take the MJ train international at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019. At the end of the day we’re just here to have fun and keep playing shows as long as people are willing to come and see us and hang out!

 

Puppy Love is available on all streaming services via Counter Intuitive Records.

 

The Wonder Years take you on a journey with their latest LP ‘Sister Cities’

by will sexton (@willshesleeps)rating 9

Raw emotion and wearing your heart on your sleeve in music can be very much a make or break for some bands. You can miss the mark slightly or, in The Wonder Years’ case, you can execute it expertly and continue to impress with hard-hitting, gorgeous lyricism that will never get old. One of the most impressive and consistently evolving pop-punk/alternative rock bands in recent times returns with their sixth album Sister Cities, an album whose opening riffs and drums sends goosebumps down your spine straight off the bat. Strap yourself in for a whirlwind tour of the past couple years of frontman and singer Dan Campbell’s life.

The album as a whole is very much based on travel, the effects of touring and being away from friends and family for a prolonged amount of time. Campbell himself even states that this album was “a record about distance, or maybe how little the distance matters anymore. It’s a record about how big we all thought it all was, and how much closer to everyone we really are.” The writing process included Campbell keeping a journal throughout their 2015 world tour and circling the most important and stand-out moments, which eventually became the songs you hear today.

Business gets underway on an incredibly strong note with the heart-wrenching Raining in Kyoto, a song written about Campbell’s late grandfather who sadly passed away while they were on tour; a song subject that, even on paper, is heartbreaking. The lyrics are something that you can never mention enough when it comes to The Wonder Years because the band have perfected this transparent songwriting when you can really feel and can almost see the emotion on Campbell’s face while recording the vocals. What makes this song so evocative is that this subject of ‘being away on tour while someone important to you is hurting/ill’ has been approached as a fear of Campbell’s already in the song Dismantling Summer from their 2013 album The Greatest Generation, which only adds to the sorrow. It’s this transparency that really ranks this band highly in the scene they’re in. It’s relatable to some and everyone who hears Campbell singing at the VERY least feels empathy.

On the other side of evoking emotion, Flowers Where Your Face Should Be (Considered You In January [Part 2] from their 2015 album No Closer To Heaven) is about Campbell’s now-wife and about preparing for their wedding day. It was influenced by seeing some blue Hydrangeas on tour, resulting in the most impressively affecting writing he has ever done. Aided by some incredibly soft instrumentation, it builds up to be one of the most romantic pieces of work they have put out. It’s a nice emotion shift from the other heavier songs. Some of the lyrics are nostalgic and sad, creating a lovely contradiction within the song itself, finally building up into that last line sung mostly in gorgeous falsetto: “I’m gonna marry you underneath driftwood from Crescent City”, a link to the arch that Campbell built himself for his own wedding. Having light and dark sides is very important for albums of this timbre.

The instrumentation is mostly the same compared to their older albums; however, there have been some defining genre changing moments, further solidifying their sound into alt-rock. These changes include some spacey electronic bass on the intro to their (not-technically official) second single Pyramids of Salt, which adds an element of eeriness. It could do with a little perfection, though – it’s pretty much a one-off throughout the record, so it feels like it sticks out a bit. That being said, on Flower Where Your Face Should Be they’ve utilised some different guitar pedals that haven’t featured much previously, which is refreshing to hear.

Two tracks that dictate a shift in subject matter are When the Blue Finally Came and We Look Like Lightning. When the Blue Finally Came is written about a moment on tour when the band went cliff diving in Sydney, Australia. It’s such a simple subject matter but somehow becomes a breath of fresh air in the album, while the instrumental relief relaxes you. In comparison to this ode to the exciting rush and celebration of life, We Look Like Lightning is written about the fears of death while flying in planes. The Wonder Years as a band flew on up to 40 flights around the world supporting their last album cycle in one year, so Campbell writes about the increasing chance of the plane crashing and “what song you’d wanna die to”. Still very much connected to the overall theme of traveling and touring these two juxtaposing song subjects add to the overall space that this album was born in.

Very specific highlights of this album also include the chords changes and vocal performance in the chorus of The Ghosts of Right Now, a song which is interpreted as being about wanting to spend time with the people you’re no longer able to, whether it be because of them passing or just not being around. The “wanting to see how the light collects in the high desert heat” is so specific and evoking. The second highlight is the connection of the soft and spacious When the Blue Finally Came to The Orange Grove. The transition is so seamless; like the calm before the storm. While WTBFC celebrates the feeling of enjoying somewhere new and exciting, The Orange Grove is the feeling of yearning for places you know and wanting to be back in time with the people you used to be around. The third and final of these highlights is the chorus of Sister Cities, the massive title track and lead single of the album. It is the song that will be screamed back at the band in live performances and the raw power from the vocals is another home run for The Wonder Years.

Every song on this album deserves its spotlight, which is the most powerful thing about this album. The Wonder Years have been on some serious journeys over the last two years and Campbell is able to take you on those journeys with them so easily through his incredible lyricism and storytelling. The absolute pinnacle of the album comes in the form of the end track The Ocean Grew Hands To Hold Me. You’ve been on this adventure with the band and finally pull up to the last, incredibly emotional track which explores the idea that all of the people you have ever met and made a connection with are an ‘ocean’; an ocean that you wish you could drown yourself in when you feel cut off and far away from home. After the final slamming of drums and aggressive strumming of guitars, you feel complete empathy. An excellent piece of work. Congratulations, boys.

Woes & The Future of Scottish Pop Punk

By Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

The uprising has begun. Gathering UK wide attention and supporting the biggest band in the scene, Woes are the front men for this new breed of Scottish pop-punk.

Before their massive opening spot on Neck Deep’s Peace and the Panic tour, I was sitting in a tour van, drinking cheap vodka with two of the members of Edinburgh band Woes. I sat down with the guys and we had a chat about all things pop-punk and where they fall into the grand scale of things.

The guys have achieved so much in the past year and have almost created a scene within the country. Their self titled EP has done wonders, and with latest single Losing Time circulating around fans of the genre, they are only set to rise.

With the new EP set to be released very soon (the band assure me) they are undoubtedly looking to progress further. Singer DJ speaks very openly about this, with an almost go big or go home attitude towards it.

“We can’t stay the same, we have to move forward. If we aren’t moving forward there is no point.  To pretend that anything other than a move up the ladder would be considered anything other than a disappointment, well that’s just a lie”

It’s no lie that the pop-punk scene in Scotland is rubbish. Yet, there are always packed out crowds of thousands of fans at gigs. What is the reason for this? Sean (bass, vocals) speaks on this, saying there is a lack of bands in the country, which leads onto a lack of competition. The lack of pop-punk bands in Scotland is shocking. Many fans wouldn’t even be able to name one band from the country, and this is a huge problem. The genre itself is something huge in Scotland, and a favourite of many fans of the alt-scene (myself included).

“Competition is never a bad thing, it means bands are always trying to be the best in the local scene, something I feel Scotland lacks”

But the future of our scene looks hopeful, especially with Woes leading the way. They talk about the future very positively, and see a bright future ahead. They hope for more bands, and more fans to jump on the bandwagon, and say all that is needed is a number one album from heavyweights Neck Deep to set the UK scene alight. With the band being the opener for the biggest band in the UK scene, it looks hopeful for Scotland as well and the atmosphere during the bands immense set in the O2 Academy was just proof.

The scene in general is at an ultimate high. Bands are playing the biggest shows they ever have. Lots of small bands are gaining fans all over the world and listens for the genre are through the roof. We are in what DJ described to us as a “resurgence” moment for the genre.

“We had the resurgence in 2006 with the likes of Four Year Strong and that’s when we picked up again. There was a small break but now we are at a good point. Bands like The Story So Far and Real Friends lead the way, even Neck Deep have played a huge role in re-popularising the genre”

When asked about how it was getting noticed, both members again had slightly differing opinions. The band have worked heavily with producer Seb Barlow (Neck Deep, Roam) and recorded their first EP with him. With him being the brother of the biggest name in UK Pop Punk, Ben Barlow (Neck Deep) it’s obviously been a huge helping for the band, as DJ explained.

“I feel if it wasn’t for us going down to England and working with Seb and getting his support and support from the Neck Deep guys, we wouldn’t be on this tour and wouldn’t be doing this well”

And with the band being from Scotland, we have already covered how rubbish the scene is up here. But can you really blame not being noticed on your location? Sean thinks not.

“We as a band have worked really fucking hard to be where we are. The time and effort we put in is unreal, and yeah we have received help and given unreal opportunities. But would we have gotten these by not working hard? Absolutely not, I believe that”

With the band on the Neck Deep tour and an EP round the corner they, truly doing great things for our amazing scene. They can capture a crowd and their unique live show is enough to grab the attention of any pop-punk fan. I mean, who doesn’t love a cover of All Star at a gig? Be sure to jump on the Woes band wagon early, you will 100% regret not in the future.

Milestones Interview: “It’s been a pretty surreal experience for us”

By Gregor Farquharson (@grgratlntc)

UK pop punkers Milestones have been on fire since the release of their debut EP, Equal Measures. Having gigged up and down the country, the band have not slowed down since the release, even touring across the USA. Recently, I got the chance to interview member Andrew Procter (vocals, guitar) about gig opportunities they have had and the state of the UK scene.

 

gregoratlantic: Has there been a particularly good gig you guys have played in Glasgow? Or Scotland in general? And why are they so memorable?

Drew: One of the best shows we’ve played in Scotland was in Glasgow earlier this year opening for With Confidence at King Tut’s. We’ve played in Scotland nearly every tour we’ve been on since the start of the band but that show was the most memorable for me just because of how packed the room was and how loud the crowd were for us.

gregoratlantic: Obviously, the UK Scene is at an all-time high right now guys! Is there any bands you guys are absolutely digging right now?

Drew: That’s a difficult one just with how many great albums have been/are being released recently. I’d have to say Roam, Boston Manor, Holding Absence and Neck Deep to name a few.

 

 

gregoratlantic: How does it feel to be able to tour the UK, and call this whole rock band thing your job?

Drew: It’s been a pretty surreal experience for us, especially earlier this year when everyone in the band left their jobs to fully commit to the band. We recorded our album in January then started what was 4 months straight of touring and we were on the road until about mid-June. Going from doing short runs around the UK to seeing Europe, America and then back to the UK was definitely one of coolest things we’ve done individually and as a band.

 

The band are recording their debut album right now, assuring us it will be out early 2018. Thanks to the band for the interview, and we can only wish them good luck for all their future work.


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Track Review: Roam – Playing Fiction

By Gregor Farquharson (@gregoratlantic)

Eastbourne pop punks Roam have certainly grown majorly since the band’s inception almost five years ago. Having played a pivotal role in the rise and dominance of pop-punk in the UK, the band’s 2016 debut album Backbone is regarded as an essential listen by many in the scene. Being relatively quiet since then, the alt rock outfit have given us our first taste of new music in the form of Playing Fiction.

Despite only being away for a little while, there’s a much different feel to the five piece’s music – gritty and heavy punk is replaced by a far more melodic and upbeat song, showing evolution which is something many acts in the scene are hesitant to do on a sophomore release. From the opening riff to the vocals of front-man Alex Costello, the track is a total ear worm. The light drum work building into the huge chorus works perfectly for the band though they don’t get too complacent, building up to the second chorus very much in the same way as we saw on their debut.

Roam’s ability to fuse both the old and new without verging on stale is something to be commended, keeping things slightly more poppy but fresh. It’s the indication of a band that are finding new life in a saturated sound – it’s a relief that the vital signs are looking as great as they are.

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Gig Review: Woes + Campfires @ Glasgow Garage

By Gregor Farquharson (@gregoratlantic)

Scotland and pop-punk are words that are rarely spoken in the same sentence positively, but Edinburgh band Woes are here to change that stigma. Being a relatively new band to the scene, the four-piece have gained a relatively small, but loyal fan base in Scotland. They’ve got a full EP under their belt and in all its pop punk glory, it really is an absolute joy to listen to. I recently got to see the band play a headline show in the tiny garage attic, along side some amazing support. 

Campfires were the aforementioned fantastic main support, hailing from Aberdeen to back up the headliners in an underrepresented genre. Playing songs from their debut EP, they showed promise that they are ready to give their all to reach the summit of angsty alt-rock. Songs such as Like a Cancer and Same Streets really went off with the crowd, and the effort they put into each and every second of their performance showed throughout, getting the crowd ready and raring for the main event.

While the preceding band were great, Woes still packed a punch and certainly knew how to put on a show. Opening with fan favourite Tight Af, the bar was set high for the rest of the set. With catchy riffs and chorus, the crowd were loving it from the opening bar. Other songs from the self titled EP Be Alone and Winter Sun were equally as good, showcasing energy and passion from the young Edinburgh pop punks. As well as playing the songs people knew and loved, the band debuted new music which they said will be on their upcoming album (yet to be announced). Ending the set with Worst Friend was definitely the highlight of the set. True passion for music was shown, and it was easy to see the heart and soul the band poured into making the show memorable for the fans who have came to see them from all over the place.

With huge opportunities being given to the band, including opening for Neck Deep on their massive U.K. Tour, the band are certainly not slowing down. If they continue to show us the passion they have thus far, Woes will be a name brought up in every conversation about Scottish music and pop punk.

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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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