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Mallory Knox: The Pizza Experience

Had a very productive day so why not do a little more. By productive I mean I’ve washed my clothes, my boots and myself.

Only getting to this one eleven days after actually going, so if I’m correct Mallory Knox will still be on tour and everything!

We actually had a couple of days off to go to this one so we stayed in a hotel near the middle of Glasgow. It was a Z Hotel and was awesome, they have 40″ TVs in all the rooms and tea supplies so we were quite content when we got there and settled in watching Friends for a couple of hours before we left.

The toilet was visible over the top of the frosted glass separating it from the rest of the room, as you’ll see on Emerald’s vlog, so that was fun. This is her being in a hotel.

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Set It Off were supposed to be supporting Mallory Knox but for whatever reason they weren’t able to be there, I didn’t actually look into it thinking back. So we ended up just sitting on a couch in the bar area of the ABC for a bit which was fun, we just chatted and laughed and did boring sober people stuff.

Mallory Knox were awesome, I like a curtain drop to start a set it’s fun. They sounded really good, had some really good looking merch that I sadly couldn’t afford and played through a lot of Asymmetry, which is my fav of theirs.

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The venue was cool too, it’s been a while since I’ve been to one of the smaller places for a gig. The acoustics and the tightness of the crowd and the space make it more fun for me than a big roomy arena.

We left after my favourite song – She Took Him To The Lake (first encore song) – to get out before everyone else so we could find pizza and our way back to the hotel. Shared a plain tomato pizza that was somehow really nice, I usually think plain pizzas are boring unless they’re deep fried. Fortunately we were in Scotland.

Also there was a giant disco ball.

The next day we went into Glasgow and got some deep fried pizza! It was fried deeply and was a welcome addition to my presumably sky-rocketing cholesterol.

We also had a little wander, did a little shopping, I did a little dance and then we came home.

It was a fun couple of days, don’t often stay over after gigs but I might have to do it more often in future, starting with Fozzy in December. Y2J, Y2J, Y2J. The set MK had behind them kept changing colour and I loved it, I only got a coouple of decent pictures though.

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Here is our stay immortalised in YouTube footage.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

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No Closer To A Good Pun For This Post…

I’m sure there ain’t a heaven, but that don’t mean I don’t like to picture you there.

This is the most feels line that I am aware of currently in existence.

I had No Closer To Heaven playing on Spotify pretty much as soon as it was released here in the United King’s States of Englandshire. It’s been out for nearly two weeks, and about one week ago, this post would have been a lot sadder and filled with my post-teen angsty disappointment.

I was so disappointed with the album after the first listen that it made me genuinely very sad. The Wonder Years are one of my favourite bands and took pop-punk to another level with their last album, The Greatest Generation.

Coming off that I expected ridiculously big things, things too big to ever realistically happen since I pretty much wanted to love it more than TGG after no time at all.

Add the fact that I was familiar with and loved three of the album’s songs before release, and everything else just seemed kind of dull.

Skipping ahead to now, and I must say it is once again a new level that TWY find themselves on. I seem to remember a while ago saying that AB/AP by Fall Out Boy had the best four track run on any album I knew. No Closer To Heaven has the best EIGHT track streak.

The run from Cardinals through to Stained Glass Ceilings is full of intensity, passion and that all important raw emotion that sets The Wonder Years apart from everyone around them.

The last couple of songs aren’t quite as impactful, but the whole thing flows nicely, the sound moving from anger through to acceptance. Call it DABDA, call it Kubler-Ross, call it a coincidence, it works.

I’m not sure yet whether it’s better than The Greatest Generation, but it’s definitely better than my initial opinion of it. And it still keeps them right up there in my list of best bands around.

I had it on repeat all day at work last week, which must have been fun for everyone that loathes my music taste as it is. But I’m happy to say that it has won me over, just took a little time.

Also I listened to Neck Deep’s new album a couple of times this week. Not comparing or anything, Life’s Not Out To Get You is a very good pop-punk record; it’s catchy it’s fun and it’s short, but listening to the both bands shows, to me anyway, how far The Wonder Years have taken the genre in another direction.

Listen to:

  • I Don’t Like Who I Was Then
  • The Bluest Things On Earth
  • Cigarettes & Saints

(Then listen to the rest.)

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #4: Leeds (& Reading)

Leeds!

After a year away, missing Blink, QOTSA and a bunch of other awesome bands, I returned to Leeds Festival for the third time.

I took Emerald and we went down just for the Sunday; this year seems to have taken a rather more widespread, cross-genre approach.

Even though we weren’t there for Alt-J or Kendrick Lamar, I still had a really good time. Leeds was my first festival back in 2012, so I did enjoy going back. I’m pretty sure Emerald will always prefer Download over every festival ever, but she said it was good too, definitely better than T.

I’m sure her vlog will be on YouTube and in this space here soon. Here it is now!

There won’t be many words for this one, we didn’t get to the festival until 4pm, went in and wandered across the hills to the village, and then on to the arena. Nothing much has changed, only now they don’t have Yorkshire tea stands for some godforsaken reason.

Nipped into The Pit stage for PVRIS somewhere around 5. They didn’t sound quite as good as they did at Slam Dunk, maybe because of how much more tent they were in, but I got some videos and they were still awesome and Lynn sounded awesome and seemed more at home in the fields of Leeds, rather than the centre of Leeds. Leeds.

The video I took of them coming out is stupendously smoky, another tent related issue. Can’t wait for them to have more material to play, they’ll be moving up the festival bills soon.

After that we had an hour or so to hang around for Catfish, watched 30 seconds of Atreyu, wandered for a bit and didn’t get a cup of tea because there weren’t any stands around. Instead we sat just outside the Alternative tent, which was playing the last half of Montage of Heck, that Kurt Cobain documentary that Courtney Love doesn’t mind us seeing.

There were a couple of segments of Kurt at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set, so I am now claiming to have seen Nirvana at a major festival.

Catfish were actually really good. I definitely thought I’d enjoy them more than I did at T, mainly due to everyone at Leeds not being dicks, but they were good to watch and the NME tent (second stage) was overflowing to the point of festival staff having to (attempt to) move the crowd back before the set started.

There were a couple of smoke flare things let off, inside a tent, during the set by some dopey moron who hopefully was put in a much smaller cage than the guy looking for his car. If people haven’t seen that story then I don’t have a link for you right now, I’m sorry.

As Catfish played the sun started going down and… parachuters? parachutists? Parachutes glided around over us for a while, presumably filming.

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On the way back to the car we saw Twin Atlantic’s last song, and I’d like to go back and see them somewhere. Apart from that the only other band we went for were Metallica. They were incredible. We’d heard that people at Reading were not at all happy with their efforts when they were down there, but at Leeds they were seriously amazing. Like straight from the album amazing.

For Whom The Bell Tolls, Ride The Lightening, Turn The Page were amazing. They didn’t put on masses of pyro or have a huge stage show, but after so many years they’ve got such a stage presence they don’t really need much else.

Sadly we didn’t make it to the end of their set, which was never the plan anyway since we took advantage of the emptyish roads. Unlike T I had to drive all the way home and get up for work the next day, so an early exit was definitely the way to go. I would have had a cup of tea to keep me alert on the drive, but…

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So that has been all of my festival experiences this year, I hope for money’s sake it’s the last. Four done this year so maybe none in 2016, but if an amazing lineup or nice payday comes around I’m sure we’ll be recording/writing about it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #3: T in the Park

This is being written after I got back from Leeds, and also after I wrote the post about Leeds, so it’s a little strange trying to remember back, but let’s have a go.

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We drove up straight to the festival, and were on the trail to the car park before I realised that Lydia had to pay for parking at Download and we might need a pass that I didn’t have. I never had to pay at Leeds, and thankfully the parking is included in T tickets as well.

Once we were in the brand new lovely field they chose this year, we had a bit of an explore. Oh, they didn’t swap our tickets for wristbands which I’m very annoyed about. Anyway, we headed over to the main stage to watch James Bay. He was really good, voice was great from what we heard of him.

Problem #1 with T in the Park: the new Strathallan venue is either too small, or the organisers didn’t think that the crowds would be so big, for some reason. To have the rides and other village type things that blare loud music right next to the stages seemed like a bit of an oversight to me.

The following picture is unrelated to the text around it. Be prepared for it to become relevant later on.

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Anyway, James Bay was great, we got some noodles and passed by Paloma Faith on our travels. I really like her, she seems like such an awesome person, her sound just didn’t really scream FESTIVAL FUNNESS at me.

I am literally right now this second having to look up the lineup to see if I’ve forgotten anyone, this is how bad my memory is. We were there five weeks ago.

Everything Everything were also at Leeds, we didn’t see them here though. Also, Young Guns have played all three major festivals I’ve been to this year and I haven’t seen them once. They always seem to escape my mind or be on too early.

Good news, while I was saying those words it turned out I didn’t forget anyone, so it’s straight on to the big guns.

Catfish & The Bottlemen played well, probably. We didn’t get a great chance to hear them because of Problem #1, and we couldn’t really see them due to Problem #2.

Problem #2 with T in the Park: a large percentage of the people are dicks. Like, a percentage so high that you can’t just ignore them and go somewhere else, they were everywhere. Maybe we picked a bad day, or a bad year, but it was just bad.

We saw Catfish again at Leeds as you’ll soon read, they were brilliant, so they probably were here as well. At any rate they were too big for the second stage. Big time for them next year.

Stereophonics were my favourite band of the day. Probably one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen, the first time I saw them in little ol’ Carlisle back in 2008 was up there as well.

Seriously they are so very good, Kelly still has an amazing voice and they played a bunch of music that got me right back into their stuff, and British indie-rock in general. Which was just as well. That’s them in that picture up there, it turns out videos on this phone are unsuitable for general watching. So here is one!

Noel Gallagher. The creative force behind my all time favourite band. Seeing him was incredible, and he played Fade Away, which is one of my top Oasis songs. Sorry for the terrible sound quality, Noely G was on top form. Come to think of it all the videos from T had poor quality sound, so sorry if any others make it into the final print of this.

We didn’t stay for much more than that though, we had The Prodigy to go to.

As for The Prodigy, they weren’t quite as good as they were at the MK Bowl in 2009, but that day I was utterly amazed at the arena and the bowlyness of the bowl and the whole show in general. They had ambulances coming out of the stage and green lasers and it was amazing.

At T they still had that crazy energy, and The Day Is My Enemy (pretty sure that’s what it’s called, the new one) is an absolute filth of a music. They’re one of those bands outside my comfort zone that are just too cool not to like.

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After that it was hotel time, which was really nice since it allowed me to sleep rather than drive for two hours plus, plus it gave us the Monday to go into Glasgow and do Scottish things, so that was a plus. PLUS, Emerald did another documentary for me to steal and us to watch!

Probably not a festival I’ll head back to, but I spent £90 on three amazing artists and it was so worth it.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

The Wonder Years

This article is about The Wonder Years (pop-punk band). For other uses, go somewhere else. I’ve never watched the TV show.

In twelve days, I get paid. In thirteen, I’ll be picking up the new album by my favourite band by a mile right now.

Metal might be more skilled, pop might be more refined, alternative might be the most ridiculously broad term for a music genre I’ve ever heard, but pop punk is just, happy. It makes me feel happy, feel epic, all the emotions. Isn’t that the point?

The start of university, round about four years ago, Mr Ryan of Flat 2 (full name) gave me a bunch of albums by The Wonder Years, one of his favourite bands (I assume). Being a pop-punk kid as it is, it took me right back to bands like Green Day and blink 182, Sum 41 and Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy and Paramore, the bands coming up in the 90s and 00s when the genre exploded.

Since then, FOB and Paramore have leaned more towards pop than pop punk (absolutely not a complaint, their new albums rank among their best to me), blink have imploded twice, and in general the whole genre has waned in the ‘mainstream’. There haven’t been a lot of records that style of pop punk released in the last few years to a big reception, to my knowledge.

Again, not a bad thing. I’m not one of those people who think because a band sign to a major label and make some money they’ve ‘sold out’ or ‘gone mainstream’. Those bands’ early stuff mostly sounded like it could have been recorded on a budget, in a basement, with a grapefruit.

It’s always nice to hear bands like Neck Deep and PVRIS getting some good Radio 1 airtime, for me though TWY are the yardstick for pop punk right now.

If you’ve never listened to them and like pop punk kinds of bands, or if you just fancy a listen to them, I’ll put a range of vids in here for you all to enjoy. I would just say that if you like the ones on here, chances are you’ll like ’em all. ALL credit for these videos go to Hopeless Records, who have a hell of a lot of top bands signed to them by the way.

Soupy (singer) is THE most passionate, emotional voice on my iPod. Lyrically, they are streets ahead of any band I currently listen to, across all genres, so many songs are so moving and so powerful. The three new songs they’ve released so far are amazing. Cardinals and Cigarettes & Saints are the type I just referred to, only they’ve tightened up their sound even more since their last album.

I Don’t Like Who I Was Then is, as I tweeted as soon as I heard it, VINTAGE, WONDER YEARS. I didn’t do it in quite the Michael Cole voice I wanted, but I was too excited by new music to think about wrestling commentators.

Pop punk has been hibernating for the last decade or so, but with No Closer To Heaven coming out September 4th, Neck Deep getting all kinds of recognition, fingers crossed it’s on its way back to the spotlight. I just hope I haven’t overplayed these three singles by the time the album drops.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #2: Download Festival

Another day, another festival.

Gotta just say at this point, True Detective season two is getting goooooood. First episode was a bit slow but it’s really gearing up now. Two episodes left for me to watch and I’ll be gutted when it’s finished. I miss Colin Farrell’s moustache.

Also they’re watching Friends on the show right now, so it’s just gone up again in my opinion.

Leeds is approaching, and after that I think I have three gigs with Emerald to go to plus a week off in October, so hopefully that’ll give me enough to write about for now. I had another story idea yesterday too so once that’s done it’ll go on here, as well as the other one I wrote last year.

Download Festival: 10.06.15-15.06.15

Wednesday was traumatic. We (Lydia, Emerald and I) set off at 6am, I think, and I had a couple of dizzy and vomiting spells on the way, which was fun. No drink or anything, just head failure. Then the queue took about three hours, since I delayed us by about an hour. My bad.

After all that carry on, plus an added hour trying to fit our tents into a space, we were all set up. Oh and we had a great fat sack truck stacked with crates of beer and coke, which needed two trips to get it all into the site.

But a good four hours or so after we arrived, eight or nine since we set off, we were in and camped and happy. We then found out at some point through that day that Ashley and Alex, some other festival going friends, had broken down right outside the car park and had to get a tow to a garage and a taxi back to Download. So, naturally I laughed my head off for a while and then we found them camped right next to us, so spent most of the week hanging out with them.

Thursday, to my terrible recollection, was a lovely chilled day. The sun was out, we had relatively cool cans of Fosters and Coke, and drinking horns to have Jack Daniels in. There will probably be a few glimpses of horn in the documentary Emerald has up on her YouTube channel, I will space each part out along this post.

Watching the second part of this documentary has brought me no closer to knowing what we did on each day, but I do now remember a man in a Speedo breaking the news of ‘Dr Lord Sir’ Christopher Lee’s passing to us while we were sat outside the tent.

I’m almost sure that was the Friday, because then I went with Emerald to watch Lord of the Rings at the cinema tent to remember him. This might have been Thursday now that I think about it because on Friday we were watching Slipknot. Never mind, it was all very emotional.

Think Thursday was also the day we went for some shisha too, was my first try of it. Went for strawberry, tasted like strawberry, so that was nice.

Friday Saturday Sunday we did some bands and stuff. Slipknot as mentioned, A Day To Remember played Champagne Supernova and it was epic, Slash was awesome and is fitter than I am at whatever age he is now, Motley Crue looked awesome but sounded so bad we couldn’t tell the songs apart, due to some problems with the speakers we believe. A steward we ran into on the way back told us it must be Gene Simmons messing up their sound on purpose…

We saw a little of Bodycount, a little of Dragonforce feat. Babymetal, and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. ‘We’ is Emerald and I, the two of us didn’t go to the arena with anyone else at any point.

It rained pretty solidly between Slipknot coming on to headline Friday and going to bed on Saturday, but other than that the weather was good. Food was good, noodles and toasties and burgers and tea. In the times between bands and when it was raining we had a lot of time in and around the tent, with some new friends that we made by shouting quotes from Archer and Burnt Face Man at.

These videos will probably do a better job of describing our week than a lot of my writing, so watch these as well! I’ve watched most of them, I just don’t like my face or voice on camera.

On Saturday (Sunday?) night, Ross Gellar was vandalised! We got up in the morning and realised someone had come and drawn things on him and I was very upset. Ross was our tent mascot for the week, inspired by an outtake of Friends where Matt LeBlanc tapes a headshot of David Schwimmer to his boxers for a take.

That is also why I came out of the tent with him taped to my boxers, in case anyone was wondering. Anyone who got it from that blooper reel on the DVD, hooray! We can be friends, pun partially intended.

So anyway, we had a few drinks, saw a few bands, had some good weather and we also went up on the ferris wheel on the Sunday, that had a nice view. It also went round a little faster than I expected.

I love camping though, that was the first time I’d camped anywhere since Leeds Festival 2012, so it was very fun for me. I used to go a lot with friends or Scouts, so it was nice to get back out and be able to sit and chill outside for large portions of the day.

Mentioned a few times in the documentary is the fact that Ashley and Alex relied quite heavily on suncream provided by Emerald and myself. It has just come to my attention that it is now August, and my thighs still haven’t fully healed from the burning they took from the sun that week. I could feel heat coming off them from a couple of inches above my leg.

Don’t let Emerald’s words fool you in that last video, it was ME who brought the aftersun. I saved the day. Of course, if I hadn’t brought it she would have, but I’d like it to be known that I contributed to the sensible.

Having said that, I still have that really white tan line around my ankles, it looks like I’ve taken someone else’s feet and attached them to my tanned legs.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Festival Season 2015! #1: Slam Dunk Festival

Little overdue perhaps, but I have returned with a big and wordy music post on all the festivals that I have been to and not posted about this summer.

As I write currently today now, I haven’t actually been to Leeds fest yet, but it’s coming up so I’ll be either saving this post until then, updating it after I get back or possibly splitting it into two. The suspense is so thrilling, I know.

There will be a couple of media presentations spread across the post, I’m guessing most of the credit for that will be going to Emerald, my fabulous girlfriend who makes documentaries on the gigs and festivals she/we goes/go to. Her YouTube page is here.

Slam Dunk: 23.05.15

Anyway, first up was Slam Dunk, way back in May. Seems like forever ago. Emerald did not come with me to this, so the videos I have are my own phenomenal camera skills. My good, impossible-to-get-a-hold-of friend Ashley came with me, as did my stockroom buddy JD and her friend also. We saw and used a carpool lane in Leeds and were all very excited by it as I recall.

For around £45 the amount of music we got around to see was insane. Off the top of my head now we saw Lower Than Atlantis, A Loss For Words (amazing on their last ever tour, v. sad), Cartel (nostalgic as hell), Zebrahead, and a few others, who I’m sure will be fuming not to get a mention here. In total I think it was 11 or 12 bands we saw on the day, all super fun.

The absolute runaway highlights of the day, though, had to be the first and last bands we saw; PVRIS and The Wonder Years. TWY have been one of my favourite bands since uni, and my first chance seeing them was so epic. There will be a video of questionable quality below as soon as it uploads of one of my favourite songs by them, definitely will be seeing again with their new album out in the next soontime.

I’d only recently downloaded the debut album from PVRIS to prepare and discover a few new bands before I set off for Slam Dunk, and loved it and them. Live they were amazing, the sun was truly out when they came on and it was just cool to stand and watch them turn Ashley into a fan right in front of me. Also, they favourited my tweet about how awesome they were!

A Loss For Words were another of those bands I’d researched before going and I’m so glad I did. Very unlikely we’ll be seeing the play a show over here again, unless I’ve missed some wonderful U-turn they’ve performed in the past couple months.

Zebrahead were a band I was really excited to see, but I’m afraid their set just didn’t sound good from where we were standing. Presumably nothing to do with them, since JD near the front said they were amazing as always, but the stage was at the top of a street, so the further down you came the worse the sound would be I guess.

Cartel were awesome, hadn’t listened to them for years but they were really good. All the bands on the Macbeth stage were brilliant to be honest.

We had a lovely day, wandered around Leeds city centre while waiting between bands, listened to some great music and came home to wait for next year’s announcement. The new location was cool too for me, all the stages were just kinda thrown around in the centre of the city, one in a car park, one on a street, one in Millenium Square. Best part is they were all five minutes away from each other.

Oh, and Ashley bought himself some sunglasses and a snapback to – and I quote – ‘fit in with the festival bellends here and at Download’.

Oh and also Leeds has a self service McDonalds. So, just let that sink in for a minute. Unless you live in Leeds or one of the, presumably, many other places that has a self service McDonalds, in which case I live in the middle of nowhere, let me get excited about this.

Well this has run rather longer than I thought, so I think what I’ll do is just a series, one post for each festival. Sounds like the perfectly sensible idea I should’ve had half an hour ago.

Slam Dunk: 10/10. Will certainly be going back next year if the lineup is half as good as it was this time.

From the kindness of my phone, here is part of an intro of a song by the headliners. Download next!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Better late than never…

I fear this blog is now going to be used a lot more sparingly than previously. I’m afraid since November things have not been going especially well, leaving me in no inspirational mood to write anything.

Never mind, I’ve come back to this now just to put some thoughts down about the year so far. Really I should either have got a post out around New Year’s or wait until the end of the month to do a monthly catch up. But again, never mind, the feeling to write may well go away as quickly as it arrived tonight.

The year started off well enough, good party and then my first ever trip to St James’ Park to watch Newcastle v Burnley. The hungover, insanely windy drive wasn’t fun, but the game was.

I am a Mr. I am an adult.

I am a Mr. I am an adult.

There have been a couple of fun nights out since then, one saying goodbye to Devon who’s now away in New Zealand – hopefully having far too much fun to read this.

I’ve been to see Birdman and Foxcatcher – both were excellent, Birdman was super-excellent. American Sniper has been pushed back to next week due to lack of friends available today. Really though, those other two films are well worth a watch.

Plenty of music things have been happening too. HIM and Yellowcard have jumped back up my favourite bands list. Fall Out Boy and Enter Shikari have both put out new albums that I am currently enjoying very much while writing this.

On Sunday (18th) I filled my car up with people and trotted up to Glasgow to see Slipknot, which as it turns out was my 20th concert, so that was nice. We got there way early so spent a good chunk of time in a pretty cool bar called The Libertine. Enter Shikari just sampled themselves, and it has thrown me off, so here’s a picture from said bar via Lydia the picture taker female person.

I was going for Kurt Cobain with the jumper, it turned out more Freddy Krueger/Dennis the Menace :/

I was going for Kurt Cobain with the jumper, it turned out more Freddy Krueger/Dennis the Menace :/

I hadn’t listened to Slipknot all that much since The Grey Chapter or even All Hope Is Gone came out, but their stage show and energy was unreal. The sound was a little off, but the Hydro in Glasgow is, I think, the biggest arena I’ve been to. Having decent seats we had an awesome view of the crowd on the floor and it was incredible.

This was the first picture I took, right as the lights went down...

This was the first picture I took, right as the lights went down…

 

Much better.

Much better.

I also have three videos uploading to my YouTube channel right now, but they’re taking such a grindingly long time that I’ll probably add them in post-posting. Yes, that does make sense. I just remembered that we also caught the end of Korn’s support set. They’re a band I’ve liked periodically, but they put on a great show too.

While I haven’t and don’t usually make any New Year’s resolutions or promises, this year I’d like to get to a few more gigs than I’ve managed recently. Mallory Knox are on my radar this year, and I’d like to get that total of 20 up to 25 or 26, depending on what comes up.

Anyway, the video upload is starting to make my old laptop quiver under the pressure of having too many things to do at once, so I’ll wrap this up and edit when they’re live. Will probably get another post in at some point in February, after my birthday in a couple of weeks when hopefully some more exciting things have happened. Also hoping to re-read and publish my first short story on here soon, mood permitting.

Oh, also I hammered through the full first season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine in three days this week, it is awesome! Go watch it! Bye-bye!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Gaslight Anthem album review

FINALLY!

At long last, here I am doing this little album review. It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with any actual direction or intention, so hopefully this will take me back to when I did this kinda thing all the time.

Before I begin I’d just like to say I got my first odd abusive comment for my last post. No idea why, but thank you to whoever it was that decided it was best to randomly insult some nobody blogger. The expertly named NOOB SLAY3R even threatened to eat my non-existent hamster if I didn’t take my blog down, which was an incredibly ambitious and creative threat.

Anyway, I’m still here and my pretend hamster is still not being eaten by some lunatic with a grammar problem. So on with the show.

The Gaslight Anthem – Get Hurt

I thought of going track by track, but before that I have just read a very bad review of this album and cannot understand the ‘corporate 80s’ label that was tacked onto it. It’s definitely progression from Handwritten, evolution and a new direction in terms of sound, maybe even genre. But it still rocks, the first half in particular.

Now then..

#1 Stay Vicious

Right from the opening riff it’s a change from the last record. It feels less bluesy, more grungey if anything. But then it has a la la la bit, which just makes any song enjoyable. The riffs aren’t up to much but the chorus and Brian’s lovely voice filling my ears with a new sound makes it a good start. It also took me about eight listens through the album to notice the synth effects over the last chorus. I like it.

#2 1,000 Years

I’d say I’ve listened to this album about fifteen times since I got it, but I’ve had this song about fifty. Favourite song on the record, the chorus just has some offbeat little thing about it and the change in pace between verse and chorus just all comes together for me so well. It’s so good I’m already in danger of overplaying it, with no help whatsoever from Radio 1.

#3 Get Hurt

Title track, one of the two songs I’d already heard before I picked this up. The video is unexpectedly strange, the song is a little spooky to be honest. The lyrics are a tad flirty with an emo type of self-pity, but they do fit the tone nicely. In classic Gaslight fashion it has a nice break which always seems to enhance their sound.

#4 Stray Paper

Love the opening riff, it’s a bit more Handwritten than the songs before it. There’s a little too much backup oohing going on for me, but overall it keeps the run of very good songs going. This is one of the songs where I think it sags a bit in the middle with the ‘my love becomes’ section feeling a bit stretched, but hey.

#5 Helter Skeleton

This was probably the song I thought I had the coolest name, so I was a bit disappointed when it came on. I don’t know what it is about the verses but they just don’t work for me. The ‘friend of me should be a friend indeed’ (possibly paraphrased) is the line I really can’t stand, which to me seems totally irrational. The chorus and the line ‘I’m on the 99th floor of apathy’ make sure it gets a listen though. Once the first verse and a half are out of the way all is well.

#6 Underneath The Ground

I love this song. It’s not really that minimalist, or even stripped back, but the slight change of pace is welcome. To be honest the best thing about this one to me is the fact I can put myself in the position of asking some of the questions posed in the song. Which probably sounds really weird, so moving right along…

#7 Rollin’ And Tumblin’

Straight back up with the tempo, the first single from this album is the second song I was aware of prior to purchase. As I’ve listened to it I must say it’s grown on me, the first verse in particular. The line ‘You say I’m hopelessly devoted to misery…’ is probably my favourite Gaslight Anthem line that isn’t in Mae. It’s hectic, poetic and means something to me. You can even have a proper video for this one. Woo.

#8 Red Violins

After all the manic energy of Rollin’ and Tumblin’ this was originally the start of my down-slide to the album. Listening to it a few times though I think it’s actually a pretty solid song. It seems sluggish at first, but once it kicks into gear it has a real rock to it. All throughout being helped by Brian’s gruff, effortless vocals. It is too obvious I love that man?

#9 Selected Poems

Another one that needs to be persisted with, like Helter Skeleton. I hate the ‘Honey bee..’ beginning, once those opening 40 seconds or so are through it really gets going. It’s as good a singalong song as any on the album, and I still get to this point without skipping a song, a rarity for me which keeps going with…

#10 Ain’t That A Shame

Another slightly dirty riff a la Stray Paper, the pre-chorus is my highlight of this song. My one gripe with it is the inflection on ‘shame’, which also ends up being the last sound you hear as it fades out, irritating me no end. Still, it has a good ‘build up-break down-rebuild back up’ formula, and I have probably used more apostrophes in this post than I have in any other.

#11 Break Your Heart

The first and only really stripped down song on the record, and I’m afraid often the first one that gets a skip from me when I’m driving along. Not the song’s fault, it’s just not a driving song. It is also a bit plain after the ten towering songs that preceded it, in a good way. If anything these guys should be doing this kind of song more.

#12 Dark Places

Reminds me of The Backseat from The ’59 Sound, not too sure why. Again the lyrics can get a little gothy, simply put it’s a really good rock song, and a great way to end the normal album. But we have the Deluxe version, so there are still three more songs to go!

Bonus Tracks

#13 Sweet Morphine

Hit and miss this one for me. Love the chorus – as with most of the album – but it’s a teeny bit bland and generic at times.

#14 Mama’s Boys

Harmonica intros are always nice, and this acoustical song feels like a bonus track, if that makes sense. It’s a good one, but I can see why it’s just an extra.

#15 Halloween

This is the one that gets a skip most playthroughs, just like National Anthem was for me on Handwritten. Maybe it’s just the last songs I have problems with…

 

So there we are, hope it wasn’t too disappointing after all that wait! I may do more of these in the future, that was fun. Keep in mind that while I am a Journalism graduate these are my albums that I have willingly bought with my own pennies, and I’m not writing these professionally for anyone, just for funsies, so I may be rather biased. Having said that I do remember to state why I like these songs so maybe you can get a feel for them.

The full album is on the Gaslight Anthem Vevo page if the vids in the post got you in the mood for more.

I have recently picked up both Taylor Swift’s and Slipknot’s new albums, and if you take out the hidden tracks and filler on Slipknot’s they both end up with 13 songs. I feel a huge cross-genre showdown coming soon(ish)!

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack

Leeds 2013

I’m shattered, somehow feel hungover despite not drinking, and have been sat in my dressing gown all day. Still I’m very glad I’m not camping.

For the second time I attended Leeds festival I could only afford a day ticket rather than the weekend ticket, so I went with my friend Dan to the Saturday date, as we have a mutual love of the day’s headliner. Here are my two wristbands making friends.

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I kicked off the day filling the car up at 8am, before picking Dan up at about 9 and heading off to Bramham Park. The journey was fun, we went through Blink 182, Good Charlotte and Fall Out Boy to get excited for later. We also discussed the merits of various superheroes and Pokemon.

We got there a bit early and there weren’t any bands on, so we wandered around and got some food before heading to the main stage to have a sit down. The grass was wet and While She Sleeps came on while we were there. I did not care for them at all, very shouty and screamy.

We hung around because I thought New Found Glory were on next, but Skindred were actually on first. I’m glad we stayed because they were a lot of fun, and managed to get in a good bit of crowd interaction in the half hour or so they were on.

I didn’t get any pictures of Skindred sadly, but here is a shot of the main stage that I probably won’t be able to fit in later.

WP_20130824_001That’s the best picture I have that shows the entire stage. At this point New Found Glory had come on, making it the second time I had seen them. They played most of Sticks and Stones, which is my favourite album by them, so I was happy.

The first time I saw them play they supported Paramore five and a half years ago. We stayed around the back for this one too, I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to be near the front all day.

WP_20130824_003The lead singer, Jordan, on one of the big screens. After NFG finished I didn’t really pay too much attention to these, as we moved into the middle.

After they left Bring Me The Horizon were the next band on, so we hurried away. Dan got more food, we got a drink – I had King Tango – and we went for a sit down somewhere. It was around 2pm at this point.

After a couple of hours wandering and not doing a lot, the weather decided it was going to be awful, and it absolutely slashed it down. We hid in one of the stalls, then felt bad for being in there without buying anything.

We found a stall that sold those daft looking rain ponchos and accidentally got six for the price of two, so we made some friends by handing them out.

WP_20130824_005We were all told to leave not long after that, and went into one of the tents to wait for the downpour to go away. As you can see by the other ponchos here, we weren’t the only ones with this idea.

The band in the background there were actually quite good. They had a DJ playing very trippy weird hooks to their punky songs, and I recognised a song I must have heard either on an advert or FIFA.

WP_20130824_004If anyone knows who that is from this dreadful zoomed in picture, you are crazy. But they were quite good, much better than standing in the rain.

We sat down, tried to find the football scores and then went off to get some hot drinks. We then stood at the Introducing stage, simply because it was closest to the tea stand.

A band called Amber came on that we rather enjoyed, they were interesting. Once they finished it was about an hour to go before System of a Down played, so we went back to the main stage.

WP_20130824_007This was before they came out, we were there for a while because Deftones were finishing their set when we got there. We aren’t keen on them, but the rain had pretty much gone at this point.

WP_20130824_009Out came System, Serj with guitar in hand only to play their opener Aerials. After that they went from classic to classic; BYOB, Spiders, Pluck, Hypnotize, Question!, Radio/Video (one of my favourites), Chop Suey and Toxicity.

Before this gig I had barely listened to SOAD in a couple of years, but I thoroughly enjoyed them live. Glad I finally got to see them after they went on hiatus before I got the chance.

WP_20130824_010A couple of circle pits later and we found ourselves bang on centre of the crowd, if you can see the change in angle there. We stayed out of them thankfully, too old for that stuff. There was a guy in a sleeping bag who fell down in one of them, prompting a few chants of ‘sleeping bag’ to go around.

After System went off I thought they were brilliant, but as soon as they started setting up this stage here I forgot all about them.

WP_20130824_013We were told at the start of the day, by Colin Murray for some reason, that Green Day would be on at 8:20pm, so every minute that went by after that we got a bit more fidgety.

I already sort of knew the setlist having seen it online, but I didn’t really take it in much. Just standing was becoming a problem at this stage, with the rain turning the fields into muddy lakes.

Just after half past, as Bohemian Rhapsody finished, a bunny came on stage.

WP_20130824_015If you can make him out there, he ran around the stage pumping the crowd up and showing his bunny bum. We may never know if it was one of the band dressed up, but he did have a Tre Cool tshirt on.

I fear the pictures may outnumber the words before long, but Green Day came out! It had also stopped raining again so the phone was out.

WP_20130824_016Bille Joe and Mike are there closest to Tre, as they started up the set with their usual hey-oh chants. I hated them on Bullet in a Bible, but it turns out they’re a lot more fun when you can join in.

The first five songs contained three off the new albums, so I didn’t really get into it until they played Holiday. That naturally turned into Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

At some point in amongst all this Billie went off on a rant about living in the moment and this being the fans’ concert which made everybody very happy. Then the banner came up.

WP_20130824_023Yup, they played Dookie front to back to mark its 20th anniversary next year. Another of my favourite albums played on the day, as they ran through them I was waiting for my favourites all the way. Coming Clean, F.O.D & Pulling Teeth were so good, worth waiting the whole set for.

WP_20130824_019I almost forgot to put this one in. It does say Green Day behind there, I promise. It was actually a whole panel of lights at one point, but I didn’t take a picture of this because I was having a seizure.

They did a cover of A Quick One, While He’s Away by The Who, presumably just for us since it was a tribute to their Live at Leeds show in 1970.

They played St Jimmy after Dookie had finished, and went off to Minority and the biggest singalong so far.

WP_20130824_018The band came back out for American Idiot and then, to my delirium, Jesus of Suburbia. At this point we were knackered, stood in ankle deep mud and I was being elbowed in the back by some short person. Jesus of Suburbia was the best part of the night for me.

Then Billie came back out on his own, and played Walk Away, giving me the chance to have a rest before Time of Your Life. I recorded it for your viewing pleasure.

I don’t think the loudest voice on this is mine, because a) the microphone on my phone faces away from me, and b) I didn’t think I had that much voice left by this point.


After they went off I had to go see what it was like to be right at the barrier. There was a mountain of cups and bottles and things. I feel sorry for festival litter pickers.

After that we waded back through the mud and the crowds, and spoke to a few people. Most of them were laughing at Dan’s attempts at standing up. We had a struggle out of the car park in the mud, until I saw a shortcut and popped out.

I listened to Warning three times through on the way home to try and keep my eyes open. After that it was home, shower, fall into bed and sleep.

And that was my day, Skindred were fun, NFG were good, SOAD were great and Green Day were amazing, one of the best live bands I’ve seen. They had a saxophone, a harmonica and an accordion. No fireworks though this year.

Despite the lack of fireworks, Green day left us with a very appropriate image, given the smells wafting around.

WP_20130824_025It wasn’t quite the same without Jess there, but we will no doubt be going back in the years to come, with a bigger tent and a more liquid based diet.

Have a nice day, bang bang! – Cactus Jack