Bowling For Soup – O2 Academy Birmingham, 24/10/12

Bowling For Soup are a band who always come with one motto – have fun or go home. Maybe this band is never going to headline a major festival, sell 20 million albums or play in front of the Queen, but one thing that can be guaranteed to the throngs of loyal fans queuing up from early hours outside Birmingham’s O2 Academy is that they’re going to have one hell of a night, and a great laugh to boot.

Live shows are the crown jewel in BFS’ legacy; they always tour the UK twice every year, bringing a stripped back acoustic set in the spring before returning in the autumn with a full band spectacle, and every time they come, they bring an impressive amount of energy to the stage. On that note, tonight’s choice of opening band is nothing less than a masterstroke. The line-up of the tour has been decided by the release of the album One Big Happy, a 3-way split album between all of the bands on tonight’s tour, but even if they hadn’t been on the new record, one feels that Patent Pending would have earned a place on this show simply through pure talent. The band arrive on the stage with roaring guitars and pounding drums, but the appeal of this band is instantly clear – and it’s pouring out of frontman Joe Rogasta in waves. The passion with which he sings, dances and generally throws himself around the stage is jaw-dropping, and he brings the most energy to a live show I’ve seen since letlive.’s famed Jason Butler – those who’ve seen him live know just how much of a compliment this is. He keeps the crowd laughing throughout almost all of his set, but also shows emotion; the impassioned anti-suicide speech he makes before “One Less Heart To Break”, a song written about a friend of the band who commited suicide. The raw love for his craft that Joe obviously brings with him to every show was on display throughout, particularly during a fantastic cover of Smash Mouth’s classic hit “All Star”, before winding to a close with the hilarious “Douchebag” – never winning any points for maturity, but at a Bowling For Soup show, one should expect nothing less.

Sadly, all the energy that Patent Pending brought into the room, The Dollyrots sucked away again the minute they arrived on stage. The members almost seemed superglued to the floor, unmoving in their straightforward “play the songs and leave” attitudes. The frontwoman Kelly Ogden has a sadly nondescript voice, not so much untalented as simply uninteresting; while the few attempts guitarist Luis Cabezas made to join in on vocals were nothing less than painful. They brought a half hour of boredom onto the stage with them, complete with a cover version of folk singer Melanie’s single “Brand New Key” – creating more ridicule within the crowd thanks to, of course, The Wurzels’ famed combine harvester-themed parody of the song. Indeed, many around me (and yes, I’ll admit, I was joining in) were singing the Wurzel lyrics in exaggerated West Country accents to keep themselves amused. The structure of this tour had to be questioned, with most agreeing that the main support slot would have been much better served by Patent Pending than the meagre offerings of The Dollyrots.

All this however was thankfully forgotten once Bowling For Soup’s intro track began filling the speakers of the Academy. The band made their way onto the stage to a tremendous ovation which they graciously took in before launching into a superb double of perennial opening track “My Hometown” and celebrity-satirizing super-hit “High School Never Ends”. From here on out, the show is a glorious celebration of the band’s back-catalogue, from classic Drunk Enough To Dance track “Life After Lisa” to more recent hits like No Hablo Ingles and new single Let’s Go To The Pub. An early cover of a song they are often falsely given credit for, Fountains Of Wayne’s “Stacy’s Mom”, sets the tone for a set full of self-deprecating humour, filled with the theme of Bowling For Soup now officially being known as ‘The Band You Can Wave To’ (yes, really) and the inevitable jokes about one another’s age, sexuality and even mothers. There was also a strange moment of band-swapping – during the closing riff of “Ohio (Come Back To Texas)”, the entire band were replaced on stage by the members of Patent Pending, who, it has to be said, finished off the song in style.

However, despite the bizarre comedy inbetween, the focus manages to remain largely on the music, a particular highlight of this generously lengthy 25 song set being the classic “Punk Rock 101”, still inspiring the loudest singalong in the venue more than 10 years after it was originally released. Surprises abounded throughout the song choices – I don’t think anyone could honestly have been expecting the sentimental “Friends O’ Mine” to pop up – and a good variation was a theme, although admittedly the setlist did rely slightly more heavily on best-selling album A Hangover You Don’t Deserve than any other. However, this is excuseable; after all, it’s the band’s biggest hit record for a reason, and seeing legendary album tracks like Shut Up And Smile popping up was welcomed warmly by the appreciative crowd.

BFS rounded off the main set with the inevitable 1985, their only truly massive song, breaking out of the rock scene and into popular culture, before beginning an encore by whipping the crowd into a frenzy with the opening riff of hometown legends Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, before somewhat disappointingly fading off into a cover of The Ramones’ “I Wanna Be Sedated” – still a great song, but perhaps in Birmingham, it is best to either play all of a Sabbath song, or none of it. (The point has to be made, this wasn’t the most bizarre cover of the night – that honour goes to their superb version of Britney Spears’ hit “Baby One More Time”). The night was brought to a close as all the members of Patent Pending and The Dollyrots took to the stage to party once more while BFS played final track “The Bitch Song”, but this was not to be the end as, in a fittingly weird end to a strange night, a fan in a head-to-toe penguin outfit was brought up on stage and proceeded to break-dance to a theme of Jaret Reddick’s beatbox antics.

Overall, Bowling For Soup presented a wonderful night spoiled only slightly by one uninspiring support band, but in the end, the impression from the crowd is probably best summed up by the name of the tour itself – truly, this was One Big Happy.

4 out of 5 high fives!

Motion City Soundtrack – O2 Academy Birmingham 2, 23/9/12

Before The Big Bang Theory made nerds cool, there was Motion City Soundtrack. MCS have always been a little bit quirky, very clever and a ridiculous amount of fun. Fifth album Go made a slight deviation in terms of content – it’s hard to say that Motion City Soundtrack have matured but Go represented a definite shift in their musical style. Did that shift transfer over to their live performance?

We weren’t going to find out straight away. Redditch locals Page 44 (3/5) took to the stage first. If I was sixteen, I’d probably be dating their guitarist and at the front singing every word. As I’m 21 instead, I was stood listening to songs that echoed a dead scene. There’s nothing inherently bad about Page 44 – they seem to be like hard working guys and they’re completely natural on the stage, but the songs just fall flat, lacking the dynamism of the bands they’re trying to emulate. The newer material they were playing (including the song with no name yet) seemed to be slightly more interesting and complex, and it’s those songs, along with a hardworking attitude, that might get them somewhere yet.

Now Now (4/5), in contrast, were really impressive. The Minnesota three piece performed soaring indie rock without losing the audience’s devotion at all. Jess and Cacie’s vocals are sublime and came through wonderfully clear thanks to the excellent sound production that held steady throughout the evening. Although you could easily class them as a band that would likely have a track or two on the OC soundtrack, there’s nothing cliche about their act, or their tracks, at all. The electronic element of their sound works well live and incorporating some more non-traditional instruments (like the xylophone. Bitches love xylophones) kept their performance interesting and involving, which is sometimes pretty tricky in that genre. I’m definitely going to be checking out new album Threads.

Motion City Soundtrack (5/5) just can’t be faulted live in any way, shape or form. They get as crazy as they can for such a small stage and yet, every song just sounds perfect. Although the setlist was mostly formed with tracks from Go, Justin said, “we will proceed to play songs from that album! And four other albums” and the band brought forth classics from all five as the night went on. The tracks from Go hold up well live and enter a whole new level of excitement, despite appearing more sedate than their previous material on record. The entire band are completely charming, but Jesse really steals the show at times – nobody plays the Moog in quite the same way. Justin’s story about seeing Dementors in the Holloway Circus subway was also pretty cute, and it’s this kind of stage banter that really makes a difference – MCS don’t hurl insults at their crowd, or brag about their stage presence, they’re just genuine guys who love playing live music and that makes all the difference in today’s music scene. It just helps that they’re bloody good at it too. From the opening chords of Better Open The Door to the final chorus of The Future Freaks Me Out, me and about half the room couldn’t help but grin. If you want a completely uplifting live experience, then I implore you – check out Motion City Soundtrack.

Lower Than Atlantis – O2 Academy Birmingham 3 [22/1/12]

Every so often, a band comes along that makes all others seem like they should up their game. Judging by Lower Than Atlantis’ performance at the Birmingham O2 Academy, such a statement couldn’t be more applicable. Riding high on the news that they’d just sold out their first ever headline tour, the Watford four-piece delivered such a solid slab of rock-based energy, that I’m surprised the venue didn’t crash down around them.

Supporting LTA on their January tour were Marines and Sights and Sounds, both of who made a significant impact on their waiting audience. While Marines had the unenviable task of playing first (in a venue where the lighting technician seemed to be having a prolonged nap), they soon grabbed the audiences’ attention and heads were nodding in no time. Hailing from Suffolk, this Smiths-esque indie-rock outfit played a solid set of mixed tempo material that just begged for repeated-listening. While each member proved themselves to be accomplished musicians, it was vocalist Tim Hyland who stole most of my attention. Possessing a deliciously gravelly tone to his voice, Hyland was able to completely change the entire mood of a song with only a slightest of alterations in the tone or dynamics of his vocal performance. Overall, I found their set to be extremely enjoyable and rather charming, if I dare say such a word. While there proved to be a few issues with vocal pitching in places, they were soon rectified and no doubt, once some professional recordings are laid down, these small blips will be all but eliminated. Definitely a band to keep an eye on.

Canada’s ‘Sights & Sounds’ were next on the bill and quite simply blew me away. More of a showcase of musical triumph than a bog-standard support slot, one could have thought that they were to headline the evening. Providing a vocal dynamism that’d make any ‘alternative’ singer green with envy, Sights & Sounds acted as a defibrillator to a dead crowd. While they were by far the oldest performers of the evening, the Canadian quartet created atmospheres that even Lord of the Rings couldn’t replicate (for we all know, LOTR films are the atmospheric litmus test of the modern world), which they swiftly tore apart and drilled into the stage around them. Their set was heavy, delicate, fantastically layered, powerful and when necessary, simplistic and animalistic. Their sonic assault effectively grabs you by the throat from the off and is unrelenting in its barrage until the very last note. While comparisons can be drawn with groups such as Your Demise and Comeback Kid (some members of CK play in Sights & Sounds, so a comparison is rather futile in that respect), Sights & Sounds very much have an identity of their own. With an album (2009’s ‘Monolith’) readily available on the web, you’d be a fool not to own a piece of it.

While Sights & Sounds left me with my jaw on the floor, it was swiftly kicked up and crushed by the destructive force of Lower Than Atlantis’ mosh pit, which started up with impressive brutality from the very first bar of ‘If The World Was To End’. Lower Than Atlantis fans, regardless if they came in at the shoutier-than-thou, Bretton-era, Far-Q or World Record, were not to be disappointed. Armed with a well-structured set that covered all previous musical guises, they expertly blasted out recording-quality performances- covering both rabble-rousing crowd-favourites (‘I’m not Bulimic’/ ‘Beech like the Tree’) and more sentimental, slower paced album tracks (‘Another Sad Song’). Throughout the evening they showed themselves to be not only capable of championing any genre, but also professional (in every sense of the word) musicians and songwriters. While many of LTA’s lyrics are little underwhelming, their song writing talents are second to none- an enviable trait that’ll no doubt continue to shine in their already sky-rocketing career. In a very unexpected turn of events, vocalist and Twitter-grump Mike Duce paused mid-song to challenge one lucky (or unlucky, it depends on how you see it) audience member to ‘down a beer’ in under five seconds. While the young lad in question seemed to fail slightly in his endeavour, the whole stunt worked rather beautifully in stirring up an inclusive, fun, party-atmosphere; an atmosphere that lingered until the final notes of ‘Deadliest Catch’ rung out over a sweaty, breathless, battered and bruised audience. With LTA poised to release their fourth album in the coming year, one can’t help but feel that their days of playing small venues will be far behind them the second that CD hits the shelves. Lower Than Atlantis are original, accessible and damn hard working, and through that, they deserve every success in the world.

The Frank Experience [Frank Turner, O2 Academy Birmingham, 24/11/11]

I have seen Frank Turner play over five times now. I’ve seen him with a hundred other people, I’ve seen him with about twenty thousand people. Every time I’ve ever reviewed him, I’ve never had a bad thing to say. I still don’t. It’s impossible to give this show a proper review without repeating myself, so I’m just going to tell it straight. I’m going to tell you about The Frank Experience.

We got there way later than I had planned. Two of my friends forgot their tickets, so we dealt with that, stood in the doorway of the Bullring and pissing everyone off. As it turns out, you CAN just waltz in with a barcode number, but I didn’t care about that. I was a bit tense. Not only was Frank playing, but Against Me! were in town. If you’ve never seen Against Me! play live, you’re missing out. But we’ll get to that later. I had been planning on getting right to the front for that set, so we hurried on to the venue, did the obligatory Snapbooth pic and got into the crowd.

First of all, this was the weirdest crowd I had encountered in a long time. Weirder than the last Gaslight Anthem show I went to. I was surrounded by forty year old middle class women with their husbands and kids, chavs, indie girls and hipster guys. The last time I saw Frank headline, I was surrounded by sweaty punks with checked shirts and lumberjack beards. The last time I saw Against Me!, it was pretty much the same. “Excuse me, are you going to be stood there for the whole thing?” a well-to-do woman asked me as I tried to push forward to the front, sipping on her rose wine. “Nah, I just want to see this set. One of my favourite bands. Do you like punk?” She looked rather unamused by the whole endeavour. I turned around, ignored her, fended off some people who were trying to get past me, and waited for the band to come on.

Tonight was not a good night for Against Me!. Although Tom battled bravely with his throat (some tea made an appearance in the background halfway through the set), you could tell he was wrecked. The band also battled bravely with the crowd, who didn’t seem to care at all. From where I was stood, I could see about two people who were into it. I’m presuming a couple more over the other side of the stage. Usually, when I see Against Me! play, I’m surrounded by people who adore them, much like myself, and we sing as loud as we can, dance as hard as we can. There’s nothing quite like being linked arm in arm with guys who have more tattoo than skin and belting out Baby, I’m An Anarchist. But regardless, it was the first time I’d seen them with Jay behind the drums and they’re better than ever. One of the best setlists I’ve ever seen them play – Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists was a personal highlight – and an absolutely insane performance. They tried really hard with the audience they had. But one thing was clear – they were all here to see Frank and nobody else.

So when Frank came on and broke into Eulogy, the entire place erupted. I had relinquished my place on the barrier in order to find my friends. Admittedly I could barely see a thing, but I didn’t care as long as I was with my friends. Who would I be able to tell my story with when I end up in hell if not them? Even though I’d gone to find them, I barely realised they were there. It was clear to me then that Frank no longer needed my admiration – he had the admiration of the nation right there. The band burst into Try This At Home, and I realised that half of these people here tonight probably knew nothing about punk rock and how it makes such a difference in your outlook, in your life. But right then, it didn’t matter. Because they cared about something, they cared about it enough to stamp their feet and shake their bodies in time to the music. I thought back to the train station – a few guys from my uni were there on their way to the show. Too hip to talk to the likes of me, I wondered if they too had lost their nicotine cool and were going as mental as everyone else.

The Road is such a powerful song. It’s not something we can all relate to, though. Frank yells out at the start, that if you know the words to anything, you have to sing along. So, I look around me and almost the entire room is belting it back to him. My friend Mike can’t sing, and he has the loudest voice of all. It makes me grin, because he’s having a good time and doesn’t care about anyone else. I sing too, but I have classical training and am at least in tune. I always feel self conscious at gigs – are people going to look at me when I sing, try and decipher where the racket’s coming from? But nobody ever cares – they’re too busy doing it themselves. If Ever I Stray gets the band going in full force and an even louder singalong; there’s a lot of the ‘new’ crowd here tonight. But as soon as Frank breaks into Reasons Not To Be An Idiot, the whole room explodes. It’s the ultimate feelgood song, and so quintessentially British. Every time I’m moping around in the house, I put that on and I go outside. I think of home – it’s been a while since I’ve been back. I still can’t see a lot of the stage.

I Am Disappeared, although similar to The Road to its content, is something more relatable. I take a peek to the side. My friend Kari is singing with all his heart, fists raised. That middle section, that one line – “And come morning, I am disappeared” – runs shivers down my spine. It feels liberating, which is essentially how the entire evening feels. I give up my impartial journalistic tendencies, which only happens for the rarest of performers, and I am liberated. Love, Ire And Song, the title track to the first Frank album I ever bought, becomes even more rousing in the O2 Academy than I’ve ever heard it before. Polaroid Picture, a new song, is a total rock anthem. This is the first tour where The Sleeping Souls have been put on the main event title and their importance in Frank’s sound is now completely apparent. It’s a great song, but the minute it’s over and Wessex Boy starts, it’s almost completely forgotten. Wessex Boy appeals to the ‘new’ crowd, I guess. Although Frank’s lyrics have always been fairly focused on Britain, England Keep My Bones is as patriotic as you can get. Wessex Boy, in particular, is all about your hometown. I hate my hometown at this point in time and I don’t remember the place I was born all too well, but Wessex Boy makes me miss them both.

Nights Become Days is accompanied by Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo. The raucous singing lessens a bit, even though everyone still knows the words. In particular, the couple in front of me are holding hands and singing, occasionally glancing at each other and smiling. I remember the first time I saw Frank, and a few more. I was with an ex. We never shared a moment like that, but even so, I think back to those shows. But the emotions don’t come flooding back. I know that the real test will be the Brand New show in February, but right now, I know that I am not in love with anything but the string section and that’s perfectly fine with me.

Frank confesses that he doesn’t really remember the words to the next song and had to Google them earlier. Must Try Harder was always a song I skipped on Sleep Is For The Week. Not that it was bad, but it was almost at The Ballad Of Me And My Friends so inevitably, off it went. Frank doesn’t do too bad a job for not remembering the words though. And then, we’re back in our element as I Knew Prufrock Before He Was Famous gets played. All I could think throughout this song was that my sister should be there. I’ve been to about 75% of the Frank Turner sets I’ve been to with my sister. She’s probably one of those indie girls I mentioned earlier (my housemate declares her as “Topshop”), but she’s got the most incredible wit. Nobody makes me laugh more than my sister. She wants lyrics from Prufrock tattooed on her. She hasn’t done it yet, but no doubt when she does, I’ll be there and I’ll be taking her to Modern Body Art. My mum will probably love it because it’ll be feminine and beautiful, whereas my AFI nephilim is just “cute, but were you sure you wanted that for life?” What Mum doesn’t get is that AFI are my INXS, my Bon Jovi. AFI, and punk in general, led me to make the life decisions that got me into a top class university, to start writing, to be who I am and not give a damn what everyone else thinks I should be. I don’t know if that’s how my sister feels about Frank Turner, but if she can remind herself that life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, then I think she’ll be doing just fine.

Sons Of Liberty seems so relevant now, so much more than ever before. The Occupy movement is one of the biggest political statements we’ve seen in such a long time. It’s not quite coherent enough for my taste, not yet, but Sons Of Liberty seems so appropriate. For the first time in ages, it’s accompanied by the proper violin, courtesy of the Red Clay Halo. I sort of missed Frank’s guitar substitute, but I stood together with my brothers and sisters. I felt like I should be doing more. I always feel like I should be doing more. Punk rock shouldn’t be sitting around waiting for the lights to go green. It should be barrelling through red and asking why the fuck not. (As it stands, I’m writing this on the day of the civil strikes. My mum’s striking today, visiting my sister while I type in my sickbed.) This is the year of discontent, let alone the summer, and it is marked well here tonight. One Foot Before The Other gets fists equally raised. Will Frank be our legacy? Will we be playing his records to our children, telling them that this is what inspired us to keep going? I probably will be, alongside reading them Black Coffee Blues before bed.

Peggy Sang The Blues always makes me smile. This is one that me and my sister belt out in the car. “No one gets remembered, for the things they didn’t do” is a line that resonates so much with me. I’m young and optimistic still, for the most part, so I sing every word as loud as I can, but as I’ve got a bit of a sore throat, it actually comes out with that much desired folk punk drawl. The couple in front of me are still singing to each other. Frank introduces Glory Hallelujah as a hymn, and truthfully, as I look around, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone were to call this “The Church of Frank Turner”. The faithful congregation dance and sing in a fashion the Church of England probably wouldn’t approve of. When the album first came out, Kari picked up on the atheistic content of it on our radio show, but it doesn’t seem to stop anyone here having a great time, regardless of belief. There’s a great feeling of community, and I don’t regret leaving my barrier position one iota.

Long Live The Queen is one of my favourite Frank songs, so I’m always really pleased to hear it played live. This was a fully rocked up version, and despite the fact that it’s so sad, it’s also so uplifting. It reminds me that I should be living while I can. So we dance, and we dance for all those who have left. We still believe. Frank reminds us, before he breaks into I Still Believe, that music brought us all together tonight and that it’s a powerful tool, and we should never forget that. I Still Believe is another of my favourite Frank songs, summing up everything I feel about punk, about rock, about music in general. It’s got some bloody great potential for gang vocals as well. And finally, he puts down the guitar and picks up the microphone and does a cover of Somebody To Love. Much like at Reading Festival, in the Lock Up stage, I realise that Frank is every inch the rockstar now, albeit a highly unconventional one. He’s fast becoming a well loved British institution, like Freddie was. And he’s got a brilliant voice as well!

The band and Frank disappear off the stage. The crowd whip up a frenzy, chanting “we want more, we want more!” I don’t join in. There’s two songs I know he hasn’t played yet and two songs I know he won’t leave us without. Frank comes back alone, guitar in hand. He plays us a new song, Cowboy Chords, and then The Ballad Of Me And My Friends. The entire room bellows it back at him, especially the last line. Tonight will be one of those stories we’ll have to tell. Two of my friends have disappeared and I don’t know why. But I remain with the friends who are there. We look at each other knowingly and scream it out – “We’re definitely going to hell, but we’ll have all the best stories to tell!”

The band come back on, and I know exactly what’s coming next. Photosynthesis. My friend Chris comes bounding over and grabs me by the waist on one side, Kari on the other side, and it’s one of those moments that only comes around a few times in a lifetime. Frank pauses in the middle of the song and we think we know what’s coming. We get prepared to sit down and jump up again, but capacity won’t allow it. Instead, two enormous confetti cannons let loose a stream of pink glory. It drops into my handbag and to places I didn’t think it could go. Indeed, when I get home and get undressed, about five or six strips fall from my bra alone. The gig ends and we walk back to the train station, sweaty and buzzing. We run through the streets like nobody else is there, trying to put into words what we just saw. And these ones are mine.

It is very clear that Frank no longer needs my admiration. But he will have it, always and forever.

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.