State Champs ‘Living Proof’ tour arrives at the Waterfront

Pop-punk was alive and well last night as New York’s own State Champs brought their Living Proof UK Tour to the Waterfront in Norwich with three support bands including Scottish band Woes, Aussie trio Stand Atlantic and Canadian five-piece Seaway.

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WOES

Edinburgh’s own pop punkers Woes kick started the evening and very much set the tone for the rest of the show by getting the crowd jumping and dancing around to the sound of their fun loving party vibes.

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Unlike a couple of the other bands tonight, this was not Woes first appearance in Norwich having previously played a headline show in the Waterfront Studio and they are clearly showing off all the experience they have gained from shows such as this by getting the crowd jumping and leaving an impression on a crowded bill where it could be easy to slip between the cracks.

Coming on stage to a decent crowd as they brought their charm with their lead singer connecting with the crowd from the off and their skills are tight together and finished their set in what they described as a sad song for their last song ‘Worst Friend’.

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STAND ATLANTIC

After a very quick switch over and sound check it was time for Australian band Stand Atlantic to take centre stage and launching into more pop punk goodness they didn’t take long to announce it was their first time playing in Norwich and you could see just a hint of nerves from lead singer Bonnie Fraser, but that soon dissipated as the crowd warmed to the group.

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Fraser however did a fantastic job at connecting with the crowd by pointing out her and her bassist David Potter’s slight fashion accident by both wearing the same clothing and how it wasn’t planned, they do however get bonus points as they were both repping Banquet Records.

As the set flew by their final song, “Coffee at Midnight”, had plenty of heads nodding and  singing along in the crowd as voices were starting to grow helping finish the final chorus as the band definitely made some new fans tonight and left a sense of excitement for what’s next.

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SEAWAY

On to the third and final support act of the evening Seaway jumped on stage and didn’t stop for their entire set as the crowd happily joined in mixing jumping, singing and the odd crowd surf doing everything they could to get closer to their pop-punk heroes.

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Lead singer Ryan Locke had the mammoth task of keeping the energy levels up and did so in superb fashion,  holding the crowd in the palm of his hand by constantly moving and lending his mic to fans at the front to join in a be part of the band, which the crowd took full advantage of by being fantastic backing singers whenever the band chose.

Energy levels stayed at a consistent high and truly lived up to the pop punk spectacle that the night promised to be, each support band made a good account of themselves each individually hyping the incoming headliners State Champs who were soon about to take the stage.

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STATE CHAMPS

And finally State Champs took us to the finale of this pop punk marathon of a show and boy did they deliver from the off. Boxes lined the stage as frontman Derek DiScanio led the crowd to the peak of the bouncy fun that makes a pop-punk show.  Aptly dressed in a Michael Jordan basketball jersey the whole band bounced to heights Jordan would be proud of.

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Rarely taking chances to rest the band streamed through fan favourites such as ‘Remedy’ and ‘Criminal’ whilst saving top hits ‘Elevated’ and ‘Secrets’ for their encore which left the crowd leaving on a bouncy high after dancing the night away with some of the hottest upcoming pop-punk bands in Woes and Stand Atlantic whilst partying with some at the top of their game in Seaway and State Champs.

 

LIVE REVIEW: Against The Current + The Faim at The Waterfront

American pop rock band Against the Current brought their European Tour to the Waterfront in Norwich with support from Australian band The Faim as they prepare to release their second full length album “Past Lives” which is due for release on September 28.

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The Faim

All the way from Perth, Australia, The Faim kicked off the evening with a killer set. This young band have all of the ingredients to make it big with great stage presence, catchy hooks and great synergy between the band members who come firing on all cylinders from the get go.

They had the crowd instantly engaged, with drummer Sean Tighe being the big highlight from the set, who didn’t let sitting on his drum kit stop him from head banging, doing flicks and spins with his sticks.  Lead singer Josh Raven made the typical joke asking if he was saying Norwich right and said it’s a long way from Australia but the crowd made them feel right at home with the introduction.

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Vocalist Raven had the audience singing, and throwing their hands in the air throughout the set, new single ‘A Million Stars’ and their first single ‘Saints of the Sinners’ were the big highlight songs of the night with the latter being the one that stood out the most, filled with singalong choruses that got the crowd clapping in sync with the songs along with Raven’s soaring vocals that really connected and excited the quickly growing crowd.

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When Raven said they’re playing their last song, one of the members of the crowd shouted “What?!?!” But they said they’ll be back very soon! They finished with lead single ‘Summer is a curse’ from their debut EP that left everyone on a high and ready for Against The Current.

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Against The Current

Lead vocalist Chrissy Costanza came running on the stage full of energy, getting straight into ‘Strangers Again’ that got the crowd clapping and jumping along instantly with her charisma and excellent stage presence, Costanza’s powerful vocals had the crowd was invested from the off.

Costanza and co rocked the Waterfront with great melodies, memorable lyrics and a massive sound that made the crowd want to dance and sing along with older songs and new songs getting reactions from all over the venue as  she brought her impressive vocal range, banter, dance moves and crowd interaction.

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After a couple songs in Constanza said it’s real hot in here, and said “it’s a pretty good Wednesday, it is Wednesday right?” That got reaction from the crowd including one member saying they’re skipping college to see the American trio which the trio clearly couldn’t condone but were appreciative all the same.

Throughout the set Chrissy interacted with the crowd and spoke about her love for the UK television show Skins which she had binged and shared that her favourite character was Effy who see thought was the coolest and a person she wanted to be but mentioned see wasn’t the great role model.

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She also added that she was excited but nervous for their new album which wasn’t as easy to write then their debut album ‘In Our Bones’, before they played a yet to be released song ‘Coming Alive’ from their new album which was a slow paced song about being numb and not being the person you want to be.

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The slower songs were the big highlights with absolute gems ‘One More Weekend’, ‘Chasing Ghosts’ and ‘Roses’ showing off the interplay between the drums and the melodic guitars, and Costanza’s high notes that clearly took centre stage. Costanza showed her great stage presence and genuinely giving her all to an excited crowd which after tonight, will definitely be desperate to get their hands on the new record.

 

 

Gaffa Tape Sandy + support @ Norwich Arts Centre 10th August 2018

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Kulk – no compromise, uncontrolled angular energy

No messing, straight on, no chat, plug in and play. Very punk, you like us or you don’t….

You don’t go to see Kulk you experience Kulk. A visceral onslaught of noise and movement, all uncontrolled angular jerky energy laid out there for you to absorb or reject. Thoms wall of guitar sound propelled by Jade’s pounding attacking rhythmic drumming produces something so raw and fresh, they are a highlight of any evening.

The Norwich Arts Centre gave a rare opportunity to see the band on a larger stage than normal. One where Thom was able to give full reign to the inner demon and occupy the whole stage and at times the uncontrolled airspace above it. In smaller clubs and pubs the experience is similar to seeing a tiger in a cage, restrained and contained; unable to fully express the essence of their being.

This is raw energy that needs to be experienced more than once and I look forward to seeing them more often, on bigger platforms, further up the bill.

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Marigolds – sounds of summer

Local band Marigolds presented up their dreamy indie guitar sounds of summer, playing crowd favourites Surf Girl and their 2018 release, Slept Out. Their fresh sound and uplifting vocals a marked contrast to openers Kulk. Apart from some tuning difficulties they delivered a promising set of fresh introspective tales on young modern life, climaxing with their new drummer leaping out of his seat and end the set with a crescendo of smashing cymbals, leaving everyone nicely set up for headliners Gaffer Tape Sandy.

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Gaffa Tape Sandy – Pure thunder

It is hard to believe that a) GTS were nervous ahead of this gig and b) for a well-travelled band this was their first foray to Norwich as the headline band.

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Nerves aside, they launched into their set with energy and verve, guitarist Kim cavorting around the stage, rolling, twisting, stretching and lunging his way through the numbers. Alternately swapping vocal lead with bassist Catherine, this energetic trio served up a menu of memorable tunes from their new single Meathead, the oh so heavy Transylvania, Manager and Collarbones from 2017 EP Spring Killing, to a new work in progress currently titled So Dry. This was a top-level performance with their experience of playing to larger audiences on big occasions evident in their presence and delivery of each song. These are utterly infectious, laden with beautiful melodies surrounded with guitar smashing thrashing riffs and pounding drum passages that you just don’t want to end.

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Audience participation is always high at a GTS gig, and this was no exception with the mosh pit in full swing. For the loyal fans who travelled up from Suffolk to see them the loudest roars were saved for the anthemic Beehive and after much deliberation and teasing GTS launched into what is their signature tune to close out a perfect evening.

To paraphrase NME, this was 60 minutes of pure thunder and they just may have won some new fans up Norwich way.

A final mention goes out to the Norwich Arts Centre techies who put on an imaginative light show adding to the spectacle for each and every band not just the headliner; a good sound mix and they kept the smoke machine to a minimum, just enough for atmosphere (and the occasional drummer disappearance).

Just Push Play 4 Charity Event with The Bad Flowers at The Apex Bury St.Edmunds

Four years ago Lee Graham, event organiser and general all-round good bloke found a way to give back to a cause dear to his heart and founded the Just Push Play event to raise funds for the St.Nicholas Hospice following the loss of his father 4 years previously. Now after three years the event had outgrown its original home The Constitutional Club and moved across the road to The Apex.

A bill featuring a diverse mix of musical genres and styles was put together, selected from the rich vein of local bands and some heavy hitters from beyond the Suffolk border.

Sadly Circadian had to pull out at the last minute due to their drummer injuring his hand, so with a quick re-shuffle and a later start time six bands took to the stage.

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Opening act Mouse Drawn Cart an acoustic quartet fronted by local musical iconoclast Dave Jago, started the event off juxtaposing the gentle acoustic and caressing sounds of guitar, violin, keyboard and percussion with poignant lyrics tinged with sadness and loss. Halfway through the set Dave solo’d offering up a first public performance of “The Day You Stopped” dedicated to a close friend who had recently passed away. This was countered with the comically titled song “don’t get scared of aging, this is what happens when you don’t die” an ode to benefits and experiences of a long life. This unique performer closed his set out with a Guns and Rose cover continuing the dark theme established with the dedication of a song to Charles Manson,  with a rendition of “I used to love her (but I had to kill her)”

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A complete change of pace and an injection of levity was provided by the self-titled “best rockabilly band around” The Fretz who had people up dancing and rocking. Running through the Rockabilly songbook the Stray Cats were to be expected, sharply contrasting with two classic and rocking covers of Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” and the Rolling Stones “The Last Time”, some Johnny Cash, another perennial favourite Stray Cats “ Runaway Boy”. Lots of slap bass, driving snare drum rhythm, finger clicking strumming guitars and shrieking solos made for an exciting set from this experienced 4 piece.

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Up next was Ipswich band In My Disguise, who it transpired played their first gig at the 2nd Just Push Play event two years ago. Two years on and this 4-piece heavy rock band played a full set of their own compositions. Covering the stage with sheer energy, this was a stand out performance and they would have easily slotted into the previous night’s Renegade Twelve gig at the same venue and acquitted themselves well.

“Hour Glass” with its chugging guitar and bass coupled with intelligent melodic vocals is the template of their sound, but lighter songs such as “Fear” and the tender closing song “Clarity” from the EP “Alone With You” show this band have a deft lyrical touch and a wide sound pallet. This is a band with a future.

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Continuing the theme of contrast and juxtaposition, Sudbury duo Amethysts brought their harmonic synth pop to the show, bringing the aural and visual tempo back down after the frenetic energy of In My Disguise.

Looped and layered sounds, overlaid with subtle reverberating lead guitar floating over punctuated synth drum beats, draped with vocal harmonies of such beauty, was a transformative experience and an inspired choice to give them this slot on the bill.

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Acknowledging their influences amongst their original compositions, they performed Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”. At times harmonising or singing as one with Clarice, Simons voice floats in an out lending a deeper warmth and roundness to the overall sound. At the beginning of the last number “Belong” the sound was reminiscent of Clannad’s Moya Brennan, such was the smoothness and sonority of the vocals balanced in the musical soundscape.

Amethysts are having a successful year, headlining gigs, playing festivals and based on this performance have a great future ahead of them.

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Getting to the pointy end of the evening, another change in pace with the onslaught of another Ipswich band Druids, with their brand of surreal Heavy Rock laced with a healthy dose of Glam.

Currently performing as a duo of Bass and Drums and based on this performance a lead guitar was not missed or needed. Heavy, gloriously distorted thunderous bass riffs at times played at a frenetic tempo, driven by Joel’s equally consummate drumming accompanied by the surreal imagery evoked by the lyrics define this band as unique and unmissable.

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An engaging performer, wit and humourist, Jay’s appearance, movement and performance is unpredictable and larger than life, much like the music that in turn can be heavy fuzz rock on numbers such as “Mission”, glam funky on “Stuart Slater Alligator” or 1980’s electro pop infused “ Time”. Like the subject of their material this band is not of this planet, catch them before they leave for Mars.

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The Bad Flowers

As Lee tells it, The Bad Flowers were signed up early to the idea of the Just Push Play event, fully committed to the endeavour and this showed throughout their 90 minute set. This was very much old school heavy blues rock with the essential ingredients of a Les Paul, a Fender Bass and a few big drums, oh and a Flying -V for good measure. Any band that can drop in Black Sabbaths “War pigs” seamlessly into one of their own numbers and when you shut your eyes its is Black Sabbath in the room playing before you, are to be respected.

From the Black country, their sound is influenced by the regions legends but at times is funky and definitely no pastiche. Tom Leightons vocal delivery, guitar tone and playing have a unique clarity that lends their sound a fresh quality. Dale Tonks thundering tuneful bass is always present, filling in the gaps, driving the music forward but the occasional funky fill shows there is more behind the thunder. Karl Selickis’s powerful but sensitive drumming providing the relentless underpinning for the lead and bass to an accompaniment of shimmering cymbals. The perfect ending to a perfect and varied line-up. Roll on Just Push Play 5.

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All proceeds from the event were in aid of St. Nicholas Hospice, and while the move to the Apex has been the next step in this events journey, seeing an increase in ticket sales, the organisers job for Just Push Play No.5 is to take it to the next level and spread the word even further. Considering what has been achieved already by a very small team, I have no doubt this event will become a regular fixture on the calendar and a testament to Lee Grahams commitment to a cause close to his heart, a feat gratefully acknowledged on the night by the hospice’s community fund raiser George Chilvers.

 

Renegade Twelve + support at the Apex, Bury St.Edmunds 4th August 2018

Four of Suffolk’s finest metal bands assembled to deliver an evening of high quality music to a packed house.

For Renegade Twelve, the event promised to be the highlight of a UK tour that has seen the band perform their self-titled album and for this evening the event was recorded live, to be released across social media early 2019, no doubt accompanied by the video, as they were shadowed the whole event by a videographer and photographer. It promises to be an exciting release.

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Heathen

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Honourable mention goes to Heathen, having the unenviable job of playing the opening set to a relatively small number of people. By the end of their set, which featured tracks from their EP ‘Bite the Bullet’ as well as two yet to be released songs, they had drawn the crowd in with a committed and polished performance.

 

Manic Blackout

 

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Energy levels ramped up as they took the stage to perform a set of six new original compositions, opening with “No Ones Hero” and closing out with “Faded to the Light”. Using every inch of the stage they played with heart and soul and delivered a heavy sonic contrast to Heathen, setting the tone for the remainder of the evening.

Shoot the Glass

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“can you guess what it is yet?” as the bassist played the opening notes of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Nightmare”. Their set getting heavier as it progressed. A very tight band playing covers of classic Alter Bridge, Linkin Park, System of a Down, climaxing with a glorious rendition of Slipnot’s Duality, with the crowd screaming along to the chorus. They left the stage with the crowd wanting more, having done their job to ramp up the atmosphere for the headliners to take over. Enter Renegade Twelve…..

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Playing to a sold-out crowd, they ripped through their repertoire, playing with the confidence and joy of a seasoned professional band, but importantly a band that still enjoys playing together. Sam’s melodic voicing has clarity, emotion and sheer power and at no time is lost in the mix.

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The dual lead guitar line up has been an effective set-up for countless metal bands and with R12 they complement each other well, lending power, subtlety and unlimited driving attack in “This Town”. Backed by a solid and powerful rhythm section of Josh on bass and Joe’s drumming demonstrated on songs such as Bipolar and Vanity.

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Fully engaged with an enthusiastic audience, the band appear to have no visible ego and communicate their joy to the audience who followed their every move throughout. This was a performance not to be missed and rounded off an evening of top draw performances from all of the acts. R12 will have no problem transferring to bigger venues and are definitely ones to watch in the coming year.

 

A Wilhem Scream + Darko + Other Half @ The Waterfront

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Other Half

The first slot of the evening featured local three piece band Other Half. Showing a deft hand at a more melodious brand of punk / Indie rock, their songs were interspersed with self-deprecating humour and the promise of free CD’s. They certainly showed a lighter touch than Darko or A Wilhelm Scream and were none the worse for that. Despite claiming they have been playing the same eight songs for the last couple of years, they played some of their recently released  material and are a band worth seeking out on  Bandcamp.

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“There’s an empty space down here and I expect to see bleeding bodies”

Proving support on the UK leg of the European tour, they gave a high level performance. Their delivery is fast. Very fast. With the heavy, thick guitar sound driven by rapid staccato bullet like drumming and overlaid with the rapid growling vocals of Dave Smith.

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Used to playing smaller venues the band looked at home and owned the stage. It was a shame the audience showed only luke-warm appreciation to what was a quality performance by this UK band.

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So set the scene for a dynamic performance from the headline act and they did not disappoint the faithful.

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The small audience of hardcore fans were duly rewarded with a standout performance. At times anarchic, engaging, funny and unpredictable, the energy level remained high throughout the show, interrupted only by a broken amplifier. While waiting for the replacement amp the audience were treated to and accompanied an impromptu rendition of Bryan Adams’s “Summer of 69” as Darko sorted out a replacement and “Loops”, the sound tech, hooked it up.

With renewed vigour, the set closed out with “The Horse” and “RIP”. By now the mosh pit was in a frenzy, roaring along to the chorus, following every word. Blood may well have been spilt in the mosh pit, as at various points during the closing numbers bodies were either flying through the air, surfing or slamming into each other. By the end of the evening the flock had renewed their vows, new members were baptised and the band continue on to spread their punk sermon to the next congregation of faithful worshippers.

 

LIVE REVIEW: The Baskervilles + Brixton Alley + Saving Scarlett at The Swan

Playing pubs always lead to interesting shows, it is very much battling the environment to put on the best show you can with the area and space you have available, it can be limiting, cramped and sometimes awkward. Admittedly that’s one thing you have to give to The Swan, they did a fantastic job, not only making the most of the space they had available, but to make the show feel like it wasn’t just a typical pub gig.

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Saving Scarlett

First up for the night was Saving Scarlett, with all 5 of them up there it was evident it may have been a little cramped for them but they they didn’t let it affect them too much. As their set went on you could noticeably see their confidence levels grow as especially with lead singer Lisa Francis, and with that, their set just continued to improve song after song. Their influences were pretty clear too with incorporating a solid cover of A Day to Remember’s ‘All I Want’ which was a smart move on their part as it definitely got me and i’m sure others singing along. All in all, it was a solid set and i’ll be looking forward to seeing these guys again at Ipswich Music Day where hopefully, they will have a bit more space to breathe.

Check back to our official Facebook page tomorrow for our gallery from the night

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Brixton Alley

Next up were Brixton Alley, due to them only being a three piece they definitely had a lot more space to play around with and damn did they make it count. Their first song slowly built, with both guitarist, Jonny Magro and bassist, Ben Wells standing in front of drummer, Alex Wells before they absolutely erupted into their main riff from ‘Back in the Day’. From there it was just pure visceral energy from the trio as both Magro and Wells were jumping and moving with each beat that was simply infectious. Their sickly sweet riffs mixed with fast lyrics just worked fantastically well and definitely left me just saying one word at the end of their set. Wow.

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The Baskervilles

Finally it was time for the headliners, The Baskervilles. This was their hometown show and their chance to debut their latest single ‘Blood In My Mouth’. The four-piece just carried on from where Brixton Alley left off, high energy and fantastic mix of beats with sweet riffs. ‘Kalashnikov’ and the debut of ‘Blood in My Mouth’ worked extremely well live which had everyone hooked from the get go with a well curated set list, and let’s not forget ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’ a song just made for a live show that ended up being the closer.

Each band that played left a fantastic account of themselves and it was incredible to see just how much talent was on display. I can’t help being extremely optimistic for each one of these bands future and we are genuinely excited to see what is next for these guys.