Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Photography by Lee Allen and Matt Bromage

I’m going to be honest from the onset. I came to the show for one band only. Have Mercy. My expectations for the other bands were low and my perception of the crowd in advance was one of tiny pop punkers.

So what was the reality?

Beautiful Bodies by Lee Allen

Beautiful Bodies

Beautiful Bodies

Beautiful Bodies

Opener, Beautiful Bodies from Kansas City, surprised me. Whilst they were a bit cheesy and clichéd, holding up a union flag and claiming their namesakes are their fans, there is something beguiling about lead singer Alicia Solombrino. Her frame makes her moonwalk, ninja dance moves awkward in a Taylor Swift way and she swings the mic around like Adam Lazzara from TBS.

With the late doors 75% of the crowd are still queuing outside as they play, but the teen girls around me are lapping up the angsty words from this big sister type, who eagerly waves and makes eye contact with everyone in the first 5 rows. Add in guitarist, Thomas Becker, whose pedigree includes the Get Up Kids and Gratitude, playing whilst hanging upside down from the balcony and they delivered a dynamic opener for the show.

Have Mercy by Lee Allen

Have Mercy

Have Mercy

Have Mercy

Have Mercy are delayed through tech issues and this impacts on the sound for the first few tracks. Opening with ‘When I Sleep’ from their debut album ‘The Earth Pushed Back’. Asked by Mayday Parade to join the bill, whilst I’m happy its bought them to the UK for the first time, they are definitely an odd placement to the line-up. At the forefront of the new wave of emo their set jars with the pop-punk sensibilities of headliners Mayday Parade. Despite the tech delays we’re treated to 7 songs compared to the 5 delivered on the earlier tour dates. As they play ‘Weak at the Knees’ the broken, raw vulnerability to lead singer Brian Swindle’s voice comes into its own.

For fools who may believe their brand of emo tinged rock makes for a slow, static watch you’ll find that their crescendo building songs creates space for thrashing guitars and guttural vocals. Finishing the set with ‘Two Years’ off their sophomore album ‘A Place of Our Own’, and with plans to start recording their third album post the tour, one can hope the warm reception they’ve received on this tour will see them return for their own headline tour.

The Maine by Lee Allen

The Maine

The Maine

The Maine

The Maine: a band whose name sounds like it was created from the 00’s joke band name generator meme, and with several albums under the belt me and everyone I know questioned who the hell this band are. This band is the reason I’m still confused and reeling from this show. Formed in 2007 and described as pop-punk, indie rock, alt rock one questions the credibility of a band that no one I know seems to know anything about.

The weird dynamic of the crowd is understood as the squeals and screams ring out and twee ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ type girls orgasm as they sing along. I seem to have found myself standing in the cynics zone as girls behind me sing the lyrics to The La’s ‘There She Goes’ and on another track someone sings Smash Mouth’s ‘Allstar’.

The Maine are the most wedding band who seem to be delivering the wrong lyrics to other’s songs. With a call out to ‘Lord Jesus’ and inciting the crowd to ‘do what makes you feel most alive’ I feel like I’ve stepped into a cut church scene from Coyote Ugly. What I can say is that watching their fans provides the greatest entertainment as one fan looks on the verge of falling from the balcony she is so into her shower scene dance moves and hair flicking.

Mayday Parade by Matt Bromage

Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade

Headliners Mayday Parade emerge and all is restored, kind of, the crowd dynamic continues to remain at One Direction levels of screams and then you realise this has to be the most majority female crowd at a “pop punk” show that I’ve ever attended.

Opening with ‘One of Them Will Destroy the Other’ off their last album ‘Black Lines’, you can’t help but liken the logo to a vertical Black Flag logo. The energy levels are ramped up as lead singer Derek Sanders bounces around the stage with abundant enthusiasm.

A third of the set is devoted to tracks off ‘Black Lines’, including ‘Hollow’, ‘let if Go’ and ‘Keep in Mind’. ‘Stay’ from their self titled album is the only track missing from a fan favourites list that makes up the rest of the set, including ‘Miserable at Best’ and ‘Terrible Things’. Encoring with ‘Jeresy’ off their sophomore album they are a wholeheartedly, fun but average pop punk band that have created a Justin Beiber level of female fanship from ‘Starting Line’ songs. They delivered a show full of gratitude to their fans as they seemed genuinely overwhelmed by the love and excitement in the room. They certainly don’t disappoint the fans but if you’ve never invested any time with them before then you aren’t missing out.

Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade

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