Octane OK – O2 Academy Birmingham 2, 1/11/11

It’s safe to say that Octane OK are moving along at a positively astronomical rate. It was just over a year ago that we saw them open for Kill Hannah in the very same room that they played in last night, and here they are with a headline slot. The ‘So Alive’ tour is their biggest one yet, with several dates sold out all over the country. But here’s the question – are Octane OK worth all the hype?

After a guest list debacle and some new found friends, we found ourselves halfway through Escaping Vendetta‘s set. The highlight of their set was a fantastic cover of Rihanna’s ‘S&M’, but sadly, their own material was lacking. It’s not like either component – the vocals and the music – are bad, as proven by the cover. However, they’re not writing songs that compliment each other and as a result, their current output is a bit like a mediocre car crash, the sort that entails a light bump to the wing mirror – just not worth the hassle.

Following them were Nine Day Lane. While the band showed a hell of a lot of potential, it was clear that they needed a lot more practise. However, I guess a few more support slots in a venue like that will give them the perfect opportunity! In particular, their vocalist slipped a fair bit with his guitar – transitions weren’t as smooth as they should have been, breakdowns weren’t as tight as they could have been, but I think a fair amount of that was attributed to playing and singing at the same time. It’s certainly something I struggle with at times. I’d like to see them again in a few months and see if they’ve tightened up a bit, as their big sounding pop-punk anthems could be potentially very awesome.

No Lights At Lockdown looked like they’d had a Topshop spending spree this weekend. The band looked far more like a boyband than a credible rock band. Nearly every band tonight was firmly rooted in sweeping pop-punk tunes and No Lights At Lockdown were no different. However, No Lights At Lockdown were a bit tepid in comparison. The band are very well practised, but there’s no depth to it. So maybe the boyband comparison is more relevant than first impressions dictate. While there was technically nothing wrong with what they were doing, it wasn’t quite up to par with their tourmates’ output. Nothing really stood out in their set. Nice background music, though. Maybe it’d work well on a British teen soap or something.

Dublin’s very own Jody Has A Hitlist were the proverbial breath of fresh air tonight. From their highly tongue in cheek merchandise to their on stage nipple banter, they weren’t playing by the rules and it’s bloody wonderful to see. Despite being beleaguered with keyboard issues (ie the levels were horrendous and we heard no keys until the last three songs), they sounded fantastic. While most of the acts last night were very saccharine, very upbeat, Jody Has A Hitlist occasionally take a darker turn, with some great breakdowns and collaborative vocals. One of Lava’s favourites in the brief time the channel was running, Jody Has A Hitlist are going to go far. Just keep watching.

And finally, after a mammoth support roster, Octane OK themselves took to the stage. It’s very clear that they are no longer the same band that tentatively stepped onto the Academy stage all those months ago. The songs are tighter, without losing their incredibly catchy edge. The performance is more energetic and far more interactive, now that they have such a dedicated fan base. The entire band effortlessly ooze rockstar cool, even though there’s far less v-necks on display this time around. It’s also clear to see that the band have worked incredibly hard to get to where they are and to perfect their performance – everything went off without a hitch, and while that was the case last year, they looked so much more in command. And they’re a lot of fun! Octane OK’s particular brand of pop-punk works so well live; it gets people off their feet and having a great time. The new electronic touches add a layer of depth to the music that weren’t there, and although it’s hardly Year Zero, it’s definitely an interesting addition. Octane OK were nominated for the Kerrang! Best British Newcomer award this year, and although they lost out in the end, tonight’s show proves that they are definitely worthy of that title. And I never liked Asking Alexandria anyway.

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