Gig Review by Kirsty Hillyer with Gig Photography by Lee Allen (See the complete photo set on our Flick page)

Papa Roach

It was with a nostalgic fondness that I attended this show, that and the reliable information that Middle Class Rut are a band worth checking out.

Perhaps, it’s because I’ve always arrived at Brum Academy early enough to be closer to the doors in the queue but the size of what I witnessed upon arriving at the gig seemed ridiculous. Never have I seen a queue go back to the crossing at Pagoda Island and never have I seen the bootleg tees sold before the show starts. Very enterprising of them and to be fair, the Obey-esque baseball tee was pretty darn cool. It was the band photo pic on the back, with the Motley Crue reminiscent font, that made it both bad and kind of cheesily awesome at the same time. No, I didn’t buy one.

Papa Roach

As I walked the queue, to find the right one for me, I took the opportunity to observe the crowd. Two shows + big queues x three for each gig = a very confusing situation. The crowd was really random, from middle age couples, screaming Jacoby female groupies and teenagers; not forgetting the faux-hawk central nature of many males present.

If you are a merch-whore like me then it was a good haul for fans of all three bands; with random hip flasks, cheap download codes and good graphics, you couldn’t really complain. It was even a much happier gig gong experience thanks to the venue actually playing appropriate wait music.

So what about the bands? American Fangs burst on stage to what could only sound like 80’s an synth style alternative track with the repetitive line ‘Thou Shalt Not Fail’. Sadly for me these guys did. From being impressed with the gutsy, big balls opening music, I then was vastly disappointed by the lack luster lyrics and vocals of lead singer Gabriel Cavazos and the harmonies were, at times, unaccomplished and lazy.

American Fangs

Guitarist Chris Goodwin had the best voice out of the band and it was under utilized, however he had the annoying and inappropriate habit of saluting after pretty much every song. By the third song I thought they had started to find their feet even with the poor sound in the academy screwing all bands over.

American Fangs

From the pit, it was obvious the crowd was a bit underwhelmed by them but surely handshaking from the singer hopping down to the front row will fix everything? Right?

American Fangs

Overall it felt like dated hair metal trying to create songs in other genres, leaving you feeling confused by the identity and sound of this band. They were at least polite and willing to kidnap fans to the states.

Middle Class Rut

Middle Class Rut was next and I was prepared for really hating this band when I was belatedly informed they sounded like ‘Janes Addiction with balls’. Admittedly, I’m paraphrasing a bit here as the original quote is bit close to the knuckle. Did I hate them? If you love Jane’s Addiction then you really can’t go wrong and if it is Jane’s slightly feminine poppy overtures that offend, then you are safe here. Lead singer, Zack Lopez, only sounds like Perry Farrell half the set and it really did put me off them, as a mild indifference to Jane’s became a hatred upon seeing them at Reading festival, too few years ago not to forget but too many to state when.

Middle Class Rut

Typically MC Rut is a two-piece but for this show we had a full accompaniment. They gave us big, dirty baselines and some tree trunk drumming was provided from the second main member, Sean Stockam; whose vocals are more reminiscent of Interpol. For those not in the know of ‘tree trunk’ as a sound, it is essentially a deep, relentless, roughness.

As a band they are certainly worth a watch, especially as lead singer Zack has a few slidey moves accompanied by some head hitting action.

Middle Class Rut

As the time neared for Papa Roach I had to take my leave from my good view, leaning against a pillar to a more stage obscured point. To say the venue was hot as balls is a massive understatement; the doors were wet with sweat/condensation and as the lights dimmed, of course the crowd went mental and made it all the more hotter.

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There is no messing about as Papa Roach hit the stage, going straight into ‘Burn’. Jacoby certainly went into it with gusto and arms flinging everywhere for emphasis. Constantly moving and giving his performance masses of energy, he delivers on the front man factor.

From my roomier yet obscured vantage point I definitely found it interesting that the blonde haired, Jacoby puts himself on his own little riser. Just above the level of the rest of the band. Is this to ensure the fans can all see him or is it just the ego talking?

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The females in the crowd were reminiscent of Marky Mark performances back in the day with their screams; there was even some indiscernible clothing items thrown onto the stage too. From ‘Burn’ they go into ‘Silence is the Enemy’ before Jacoby proclaimed it was time for ‘the old school fans we’ll play some old school shit’’ giving the fans ‘Blood Brothers’.

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It has to be said that you can certainly tell the difference between the old and the newer tracks. The older ones offer a bigger, more passionate reflection on the world versus the newer that seem more superficial. It was the older tracks I was more interested in listening to as they broke up the sent in a new, followed by old way. We then had ‘Give Me Back My life’ before playing ‘Between Angel’s and Insects’. It was in this time that Jacoby threw off the cut-off waistcoat. I’m sure this made him all the more cooler, as it left just the vest underneath. It was either the heat or he meant business.

With a call to arms the crowd obligingly jumped and waved their fingers up and down. As a finger pointer hater, this gig was my worst nightmare. No matter how high you place yourself on a little pedestal, on stage the waving fingers will always obliterate the view.

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Next we were treated to ‘Where did the Angels go?’ and ‘Forever’ and you could clearly see Jacoby’s enthusiasm wane whenever they played anything pre 2007.

Next up was ‘Leader of the Broken Hearts’. As Jacoby continued to blow kisses, pump his chest and raise metal hands; I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to that chunky lad, minus the guy-liner, from the ‘Last Resort’ video. Did the adoration from fans give him the self worth he was looking for back when self-harming was on the list?

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Looking round at the hardcore fans it is clear that they deliver on that front, and as a ‘best of’ set list it ticked the boxes; following up with ‘Still Swingin’, ‘Born with Nothing’, ‘Die with Everything’, ‘Scars’, ‘Lifeline’ and ‘To Be Loved’.

I am not a Papa Roach fan by any means and whenever I hear ‘Last Resort’ I am afraid I will always hear the parody version of Raspberry Torte, which is how I ended my night and they predictably ended the set with an encore of the former and ‘Getting Away with Murder’.

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