Wednesday, August 31, 2011
© Rene Ehrhardt Photography
I arrive on day two to sun, dry mud and the end of Yuck’s set on the NME/Radio 1 Stage. Over on the Lockup Stage, Wyoming punk rockers Teenage Bottlerocket are just about ready to go.
Bottlerocket tear through their set of catchy, Ramones-inspired pop punk, with ex-Lillingtons frontman Kody Templeman wearing his regular contrasting black/death metal t-shirt (this time Goatwhore).
Meanwhile, Seasick Steve and his band of merry hobos are bluesing it up on the Main Stage. Drummer Dan Magnusson looks like he just climbed down from his mountain jam room and it's great to see Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones in action.
“I went to Nashville and met Jack White, that White Stripes kid… and me and him recorded this tune”, says Steve. Later, he whips out a guitar made out of a hubcap and a broomstick. After every song he goes, “Thank y’all for that… It sure is nice to come here and play for y’all”.
On the Festival Republic stage, Camden hipsters Tribes’ infectious brand of floaty Pixie jams sounds awesome. During “Dumb It Down” I can't help thinking about Rise Against’s progression from relatively obscure punk rock champions to world conquering average band. "Coming of Age" is a crowd pleaser. And set closer “We Were Children”, with most people in the packed tent singing along, sounds incredible.
After that I catch Los Angeles rockers The Bronx’s mariachi alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx, Madness, Boysetsfire (whose occult symbol melodic hardcore sounds great but draws the smallest crowd so far), The Kills and Comeback Kid. Going from Boysetsfire at the Lockup Stage to The Kills’ ghoulish, love letter mantra jams over at the NME/Radio 1 Stage is like leaving the ‘90s and arriving smack bang in the middle of 2011.
Leftover Crack is up next on the Lockup Stage. And while they sound great, I’m not sure I agree with their cop-killer anthems and close-minded, juvenile anarchy. “So you guys had some riots. The police killed an innocent, unarmed man and you responded. I can appreciate that”, says frontman Scott Sturgeon. “This song is called ‘One Dead Cop’”.
My problem with Sturgeon’s take on the riots is: a) he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. And b) he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about! But like I say, they sound great. And you can’t argue with the message behind “Gay Rude Boys Unite”.
Looking around, someone must be making a killing selling stupid animal outfits and hats. A drunk guy waltzes by wearing a g-string, a cape and a stupid grin. And I can’t help thinking, “Who the fuck comes to Reading to be that guy?” What’s the attraction in being the obnoxious retard that doesn’t remember anything, looks like an idiot and physically repels his fellow festival goers?
Also, I can’t help but notice the cowardly way English music fans love to throw things. Mostly, it’s half empty beers. I catch a few nerdy looking drunk kids throwing their beers into the crowd, then hiding behind their friends and cheering their own lameness. I even catch a 50-something-year-old woman getting into the spirit(s). But hey, at least no one’s throwing piss (I hope).
Over on the main stage it’s time for brooding Ohio indie minstrels The National. At first, the band sounds subdued and tame. But soon the blood’s pumping. “Squalor Victoria” sounds particularly epic. Frontman Matt Berninger seems drunk and desperate, like a man at his wit’s end, as he screams “Squalor Victoria!” and smashes his microphone into the stage repeatedly. “This isn’t working, fuckers”, he yells! John Lennon-looking drummer Bryan Devendorf is an inspiration.
After that, The Bronx, sans mariachi getups, are intense on the Lockup Stage. Crystal Castles command a massive tent of gawkers on the NME/Radio 1 Stage, as Alice Glass wades into a sea of eager-to-grope hands and fans and comes out on top. And back at the main stage, Pulp’s disco light backdrop explains where the money from ticket sales went.
Saturday night headliners The Strokes go on half an hour late to a ridiculously over the top entrance theme and open with “Is This It” and “New York City Cops”. What a bunch of rock stars! But they sound amazing, serving up hit after hit after hit... Meanwhile, over at the NME/Radio 1 stage, Jane’s Addiction are forced to pull out due to singer Perry Farrell’s apparent illness. Nobody seems to care…
And so ends day two…
© Rene Ehrhardt Photography
The mud squelches under my boots as I march the long route to the arena. Human mudflaps run by, caked from head to toe, splashing brown gunk with the kind of flippancy a breakfast of hard liquour provides. I'm checking my watch… no time to daydream… Rise Against are on the main stage.
No need to rush though, Rise Against bore me to tears (sunblock in the eye). Their dumbed down, middle of the road rock has propelled them from the Lockup Stage to the Main Stage, and all around fans with tribal tattoos sing their lyrics, but deep down, surely, they must know they've lost their edge. Drummer Brandon Barnes looks like he's playing in slow motion.
Also, covering The Clash’s “White Riot” in tribute to the London riots seems a strange choice when the majority (not all) of the rioters weren’t white.
Up next, hard-rocking Californian legends Deftones sound amazing. Stalking the massive stage, larger than life - even from the nosebleed section - they make Rise Against look (and sound) like tempered Main Stage newbies. And Deftones haven't dumbed down or compromised their sound for anyone!
The rugs Deftones have scattered around really tie the stage together - The Dude would be proud. Frontman Chino Moreno, shirt open, crowd surfing while he sings, looks in the mood. And the hits keep on coming, as Offspring take the stage next, opening with "All I Want"…
I cringe every time they play anything off Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace. And their new song's not encouraging either. "Find A Way" sings Dexter Holland - I just wish he could find a way to age with dignity. Still, songs like "Self Esteem" and "Bad Habit" pack a punch, some 17 years (way) down the line.
When Offspring are done, 30 Seconds to Mars minions storm the stage, building the band's giant triangle logo (the same logo Jared Leto has tattooed on both arms) and queuing the band's pretentious short film on the jumbo screens. After a lengthy changeover, a few indecent exposures over by the Hog Roast stand and a lot of thrown beer cups, Leto appears on stage, coming up through the floor, wearing sunglasses, a skirt and a cape…
Watching Leto prance around, shining a torch on his own face when the lights go out and ripping his shirt off, I can't help laugh at how ridiculous this band is. It's just not normal behaviour, even for a rock star. He looks like he raided Carrie-Anne Moss' leftover Matrix getups and acts like a spoilt rich kid, living out some bizarre rock fantasy. He doesn't even sing huge chunks of the songs!
Afterwards, I watch My Chemical Romance for a bit then head over to the Festival Republic Stage, where UK ghouls The Horrors are serving up a much more low-key, dark and spidery set of doom and gloom, art rock indie.
"Thank you for choosing us over My Chemical Romance and Beady Eye", says frontman Faris Badwan, before his band kicks into moody Primary Colours classic "Sea Within A Sea". And, unlike White Lies and other contenders, I can actually picture Ian Curtis digging The Horrors’ vibe. Three albums in and they sound better than ever...
I stumble back over to the Main Stage in time to catch Queen guitarist Brian May on stage with My Chemical Romance, playing a make shift version of "We Will Rock You". May sticks around for set closer "Welcome to the Black Parade", until a massive fireworks display and spray of confetti calls an end to day one...
Heart & Skull/Epitaph
Pleasantly surprised. That's how I'd describe my reaction to Alkaline Trio's reworked collection of fan favourites. Mostly, it's an acoustic, sweeter-than-usual take on the band's dark-stained pop punk sound. But don't expect a couple of acoustic guitars, a cowboy hat and a tambourine. Skiba, Andriano and Grant have gone all out.
As well as the hits, Damnesia also includes new songs "Old English 800" (Skiba) and "I Remember a Rooftop" (Andriano), as well as strangely-chosen Violent Femmes cover "I Held Her In My Arms". Personally, my favourite is the piano and synth ballad version of "The American Scream". Now that's a "re-imagining"!
"Every Thug Needs A Lady" and "Blue In the Face" lose nothing in translation. "Radio" sounds great as well. "Mercy Me" sounds unchanged, except for the acoustic guitars. "We've Had Enough" churns, thanks to a distorted double bass. And like I say, the Femmes cover is a strange choice - it just sounds way too jolly, bluegrass and out of place.
Really, Damnesia's an indulgent fan favour to celebrate 15 years of Alkaline Trio. Nothing more, nothing less. Can't wait to see them in November...
Watford punks Gallows are giving away an early taste of life post-Frank Carter. In exchange for your email address and location (scary), you can download all thirty seven seconds of new song "True Colours" - the first to feature new frontman Wade MacNeil - from the official Gallows website.
Click here to download...
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I knew it was Foo Fighters as soon as I saw them sitting at the bar. Nobody makes videos quite like 'em... Crazy!
Censored (for those without an over 18 YouTube account):
Censored (for those without an over 18 YouTube account):
As a fan of the series that hasn't played Chains of Olympus or Ghost of Sparta, I'm pretty excited about this release - due out next Tuesday (September 13)! Basically, it's both PSP installments of the series remastered for PS3 (on one Blu-ray disc, with full 3D support)...
Meant to mention this a while ago then forgot. Not sure if it was a joke or not. Either way, it's pretty fucking weird, don't you think? I mean, imagine you're Emma Stone and you're at home, with your boyfriend, watching Jim Carrey propose to you on his blog. Bizarre indeed...
Click here to watch the video everyone's (s)talking about.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
About bloody time! San Francisco legends Nothington have announced plans for their new album Borrowed Time, due out September 13 on Red Scare Industries. Check out the full story on the official Red Scare site.
Track listing: 1. Captive Audience 2. Where I Can't Be Found 3. Far To Go 4. End Of The Day 5. To Hold On 6. The Escapist 7. St. Andrews Hall 8. Hopeless 9. Don't Have To Wait 10. Ordinary Lives 11. I Should Say
And in case you missed it, Red Scare also released Nothington's acoustic EP More Than Obvious in July...
"How can we make this right when we're fucked beyond belief tonight?" Don't let the up-tempo rhythms and high impact production fool you, somebody's poisoned the water hole! All's not well with self-destructive Illinois punk rockers The Copyrights. But their catchy combination of dark milieus and expertly crafted pop-punk hooks is an absolute riot.
"I'm not homesick, I'm sick of home…"
"I wanna die with a worn out passport..."
They've been on the road since 2002 and North Sentinel Island, Copyrights album number five, is bitter with a sweet aftertaste. As you'd expect, the song-writing's concise, balanced and well-measured. Everything fits, everything's complimentary. Also, the production's next level smooth (with teeth). Most noticeably, the bass guitar sounds amazing - especially the funked-up Blink-182-inspired intros to "Restless Head" and "Hard Wired" (I'm a sucker for that shit).
Lyrically, North Sentinel Island reads like a list of things to do before you die. "I wanna do this, I wanna do that, I want more alcohol than blood, let's go on holiday to North Sentinel Island…" And you know they're gonna... The vocal harmonies sound pretty awesome as well - smooth licks and chain gang kicks.
The closing voice over explains the album title: "In these days of trouble and strife, it is a relief to visit a remote little village where all seems right with the world". To The Copyrights, That's North Sentinel Island (for some reason)...
The years have been kind to The Copyrights. They've grown into a road-eating, sleeping-in-and-getting-drunk, pop-punk hit-making machine. Song-writing's become second nature. And North Sentinel Island's their Rosebud. My new favourite Copyrights album!
Monday, August 15, 2011
Following ginger nut Frank Carter's decision to quit Gallows and pursue a life of pure hipsterism, the Watford hardcore legends have announced his successor: Alexisonfire guitarist, Black Lungs frontman and Canadian Wade MacNeil.
"Gallows are one of my favourite bands, so when Steph (Carter) me the day after Sonisphere, I said yes immediately. I'm a fan of the band first and foremost, so this is an honour," MacNeil told Kerrang.
According to George Pettit's break up letter on the official Alexisonfire's site, Dallas Green quitting the band to focus on City and Colour and MacNeil leaving to join gallows was too much to take.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Monday, August 8, 2011
These days you're no one in rock 'n roll unless you've got an electronic side project - just ask Davey Havok and Frank Carter. Moving on from Team Sleep, Deftones frontman Chino Moreno's new band Crosses released their debut, self-titled EP as a free download last week Tuesday. Check it out!
“Someone’s gotta play first,” says Authority Zero frontman Jason DeVore, looking like Yosemite Sam in an Adolescents shirt. Luckily for the Arizona punk rock veterans, this is London (not Milan). And towards the end of their short opening set, Islington Academy fills up fast.
Tonight’s the last night of Pennywise, A Wilhelm Scream and Authority Zero’s month-long 2011 European tour. And to the left of the stage, Authority Zero bassist Jeremy Wood’s terrorist-alert, mountain man face foliage takes weary-eyed road dog chic to the next level.
After a mad dose of hillbilly rambling, DeVore’s voice hits boiling point. Suddenly, there’s magic in them there vocal chords and the last few songs of Authority Zero’s set sound way more engaging than their predecessors.
It’s no good trying to do A Wilhelm Scream’s live show justice. Watching them’s like watching an over the top fireworks display. Wherever you look, you know you’re missing out on something just as awesome. From guitarist Trevor Reilly’s possessed fingers, bassist Brian Robinson’s brain-melting fiddly bits and new-ish guitarist Mike Supina’s blazing solos, to drummer Nicholas Angelini’s subtle brilliance and stage destroying frontman Nuno Pereira’s explosive intensity. Tonight, A Wilhelm Scream are the best band on planet Earth!
A Wilhelm Scream's live show's so intense, they all need running shoes to see it through. Pereira tears around the stage in a Lawrence Arms "Get Fucked" t-shirt, pointing out earth shattering solos and thrashy instrumental jams like a mad-toothed conductor losing sleep.
You've gotta appreciate their tenacity, but up next, Pennywise sound like dinosaurs. National Product frontman Danny Casler, standing in for new Pennywise vocalist Zoli Téglás while he tours with
Overall, the Californian legends are tight as hell, dishing out punk rock anthems like “Fuck Authority”, “Same Old Story” and “Bro Hymn” towards the end - by which stage the crowd's thick and mental - but I found myself bored, wishing for more Wilhelm Scream...