Saturday, 16 February 2013

Live review: The Kerrang! Tour 2013, O2 Academy, Glasgow

You might be looking at this progressively and think "Did he go to two gigs at the O2 Academy in a row, then go back home to Blairgowrie only to wake up at 5:30 AM the next morning to get a train to Aberdeen then get on a bus straight to Uni after he got there?" And I would say you think too much.

You probably know by now that I have a lot to thank Kerrang! for. It's shaped a good portion of my music taste today while I was slipping up on knowing what to get into, while also reminding me that bands that I thought were uncool to listen to still actually kick ass. But it was a few years back that I formed that opinion on the magazine. Since then, there's quite an obvious argument that the quality of what appears in those pages has, well, declined (Save for a quite exceptional Biffy Clyro interview.) and receives slander from everyone. Everywhere. All the time. And it's genuinely heartbreaking to see it constantly proving itself unable to get back up on it's feet and publish an issue that isn't just silly and will shut everyone up. It is why things will change when I achieve my dream job of becoming editor. Some will probably say it was a poor idea and it was unsurprising that we went bankrupt when I stopped putting You Me at Six, Paramore and All Time Low began putting the likes Turbonegro, Obituary and King Crimson on the cover for no other reason than I like them, but we will die with honour. Probably.

But tonight, I am supporting the magazine in it's current state and I'm being a spectator of the magazine's annual tour, that sees four bands they have a lot of love for touring the country and tonight's bill has a solid selection of bands, although some people lurking on the internet would gladly explain in great detail why they disagree with me. One reason I've really been keen to come to tonight's gig is that it gives me a chance to reunite with two very good friends of mine from school who are in fact still in school, that I haven't met up with in ages and one of those people's younger sisters who is also extremely good company. A lot of catching up is had in the queue which is perhaps one of the longest queues I've been in and thankfully, it goes by quickly thanks to my friends' effortless charm and humour and nothing else. No substances involved, nope.

Moving swiftly on, it's a massive relief to be back at the O2 Academy's downstairs standing section following the tenure of spending last night watching The Summer Set, Lower Than Atlantis and All Time Low in the balcony with a bunch of people that really didn't seem to display much care. There's a feeling of excitement in tonight's crowd right from the moment of entry. Of course, it helps that this excitement is coming from the fact that opening act Fearless Vampire Killers are already onstage. I never actually found the time to listen to the band when they were on the lips of this magazine constantly throughout last year, so this is my first experience of the band as they parade around the stage in their gothic steampunk-esque get up. And to be honest, we were left impressed. The musical performance was high on distortion and blasts of energetic guitar melodies that often hit a solid beatdown that were it a headlining show of theirs would be the kind of thing that ought to be inciting mosh pits. There's some humour in the onstage presence of frontman Laurence Beveridge as someone experiencing them for the first time. Pictures and interviews suggest that this band would be deadly serious in questionably mythical ways, but no. He stumbles about the stage like me on a night out. NA d not in a tragic way. He clearly makes it part of his shtick, making himself like the Johnny Vegas of gothic alternative rock. He asks the crowd to make their best sex noises while the rest of the band provide an old school porn film soundtrack. It must be a delight to those who came with parents and if you know the headliners of tonight, you know damn well that there's a high chance of parents being there. But with a solid set of songs and a spiked up and fairly unique cover of Elton John's I'm Still Standing, they leave here with a few more friends than they started with.

The next band I did take the time to listen to right as they were on the cusp of being massive here in the UK. Tonight Alive's debut full length What Are You So Scared Of? was obviously available for streaming on Youtube long before it was released in the UK, so I got a good chance to embrace their massive pop punk hooks and melodies some time ago. I guess that's why it was so disheartening to see the Brisbane pop punk quintet tonight not really seeming like they were giving their all. of course, with so much of the crowd here for the headliners, pop punk is the last thing on the majority of the crowd's minds tonight, but those who are in the mood for three chord fun lap up the crowd's performance as mini circle pits begin emerging. For the rest of us, I guess we're not specifically in the mood for having fun at this point and with little willing to move in any way, there seems to be some kind of fear of coming out as the pop punk sheep in the crowd. But even in the face of widespread rejection, the band refuse to let anything get in the way of their good time vibes and frontwoman Jenna McDougall makes herself a powerful stage presence and certainly becomes one of the only musicians of the night to jump into the crowd, which is of course always asking for trouble in Glasgow. It's a bit gutting really. Tonight Alive are killer on record but that reputation doesn't seem to come out tonight. Maybe if it was sunny day and they were playing outdoors, it would be a better show. And that's why I always said as soon as I first heard them that they are a band with "Warped Tour" written all over them.

In between Tonight Alive's departure and the appearance of the next band, there's a noticeable increase of people in the downstairs standing area. A lot of people coming to the Kerrang! tour have been waiting for this show for a long time. There was some widespread excitement when Craig Owens announced he was re-joining Chiodos as frontman. I mean, not Jesse Leach re-joining Killswitch Engage excitement, but excitement nonetheless. So naturally, the band that has had quite an underrated but notified influence on many American post hardcore bands today receive something close to a heroes welcome when they come onstage. Of course, many Kerrang! readers will be more familiar with Mr. Owens when his side project Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, or D/R/U/G/S exploded over here and toured with tonight's headliners, and it's been good exposure for him at these shores and has made a lot of the crowd more familiar with the efforts of the band he has now returned to. And thus the likes of One Day Woman Will All Become Monsters and The Undertaker's Thirst for Revenge is Unquenchable get a highly enthusiastic comeback, while those less familiar with the band's material lose themselves in Pat McManaman and Thomas Erak's constant spiels of chuggy riffage. They're undoubtedly the heaviest band on the bill and it's that which makes them such a formidable highlight. I'm sure they'll be able to do their own headlining tour soon enough and it'll be like the upcoming Killswitch tour in a more compact form.

So, Chiodos exit the stage and all we need now is for the headliners to give it what they've got. Now, as good as all the bands have been, looking at everyone here and all the T Shirts being worn in the crowd, it's obvious that this is the only reason people turned up in thousands tonight. Its also the only reason that many people that haven't come out tonight will be instead finding any possible way to complain about the tour and mourn about how much of a sham the magazine hosting tonight's show has become. When it was announced that the Kerrang! Tour 2013 would be headlined by Black Veil Brides, it basically marked the moment that magazine pretty much stopped becoming Kerrang! and started becoming BVB Army Weekly. But when you see the size of tonight's crowd, it's clear why they do it. BVB sells, and everyone's buying. Of course, I managed to be quite the rarity in which I've managed to become a fan of the band, finding good moments in all their albums especially their latest bold opus Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones but it's the guitar work from Jake Pitts and Jeremy "Jinxx" Ferguson that has always been the highlight of the music, rather than the constantly prolific and constantly adored or slated figure that is their frontman Andy Biersack. It's what makes it so interesting and thought provoking to be in the same room as the man, to be so close to one of the most opinion dividing people in the room right now. But tonight he, Pitts, Jinxx, bassist Ashley Purdy and drummer Christian Coma are in the company of those that are showing them nothing but relentless amounts of love, which can easily be made out in the volumes of the screams from the crowd as they emerge on the stage and launch into a thundering rendition of I am Bulletproof. From there on, the screams remain at big volumes and massive hard rock riffs and hooks keep coming as they launch into a huge onslaught of new material and songs from 2011's Set the World On Fire as well as 2010's introducing single Perfect Weapon. Throughout the set we're treated to some ridiculously cheesy old school rock posing, I get the humour of wondering if many of the fans have any idea what the logo on Andy's Dead Kennedys T-shirt is meant to be, we're treated to the classic speeches of being proud of who you are and not letting anyone else get in your way, and there's even the very cool surprise of the band being joined onstage by Aiden frontman Wil Francis under his William Control guise during Shadows Die and the massive set closer of In the End. Many people came tonight knowing they were in for a great show and got it. I did as well, after a long time of not knowing whether it's respectable or not for me to admit to listening to them, I finally get the answer tonight. It is. They're a good band, no matter what the internet tries to tell me.

With that, we exit the Academy and I have some final chats with my friends and gather opinions on how they thought the show was. It's a positive response all round. And as I head home that night in preparation for an early wake up, I know I'll be seeing those crazy friends again. I need to more than anything. They're some of the most awesome people I know. The best part of this is I know that will actually meet again for a week at a Festival known as Download. And if a week with them can be as good as tonight, I'm probably the luckiest kid alive.

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