Music is a massive passion of mine that takes up quite a lot of my time. I’m currently in my third year studying Music Management at university which has taught me a huge amount and kept my passion for music alive by spending so much time with equally passionate people.
I collect vinyl which is a rather expensive hobby but I enjoy it so much more than just downloading an album or track; I guess the music industry needs fans like me! My biggest love though is the experience of seeing a band live. Nothing can compare to being in a crowd of people and singing back the lyrics to songs you love or have become a part of you in some way. The whole experience is electric for me from the anticipation and the atmosphere to the post gig buzz and raiding the merch stand!
There’s not usually many weeks between gigs for me as it’s something I like to do regularly to keep up with new and local music as well as seeing the bigger bands who maybe don’t tour over here as often. Living in High Wycombe whilst I’m at uni can get pretty boring, but it does have excellent links to the live music scene. The town itself, being a university town, has a fair music scene but the real advantage is the fast, direct trains to both London and Birmingham. So, I’m going to take you along for the ride with me to my next three gigs; We Are the Ocean at Birmingham HMV Institute, Of Mice and Men at Camden Electric Ballroom and Verses at Bucks Student Union in High Wycombe.
We Are the Ocean played at the Temple Rooms in HMV Institute in Birmingham. My friend, Sarah, goes to university in Birmingham so I’ve started to explore the gig scene there a bit and have been to some amazing gigs there so far. Sarah is like the ultimate gig buddy; always up for seeing bands, always up for getting sweaty and roughed up down the front and always equally as pro at raiding a merch stand. Support came from Great Cynics and Giants. First up were GC who had a good, retro sound but failed to really ignite any great excitement in either me or the rapidly filling up room. In stark contrast, Giants really laid down the gauntlet! I’ve seen them before supporting We Are Fiction and they didn’t really stick in my head but this time they were awesome. The singer has insane energy and they really know how to work a crowd with some catchy songs to boot. We Are the Ocean is currently touring for their new album, their first as a smaller line-up and they’re certainly heading in the right direction. Older songs encouraged mass singalongs but the new songs worked so well in a live setting with a much more developed sound and cracking choruses. A couple of the band came out to man the merch desk and chat to the fans which was nice to see from a band who have really earned their stripes on the touring circuit; it was encouraging to see they still know the stuff that’s important to fans in this increasingly digital and impersonal age.
Next up was a trip to the Electric Ballroom in Camden. If you ever find yourself attending a gig at one of Camden’s many venues, make sure you have a pre-gig warm up drink or two at The World’s End pub opposite Camden Town tube station. It’s a pub that’s a lot bigger than it first appears, with quirky décor and friendly staff. The Electric Ballroom is a nice sized venue, steeped in musical history and benefiting from great sound. First up tonight were Secrets, a band who still seem to be developing their own sound but they have some definite exciting potential for the future. Memphis May Fire took the stage next and really showed how to own a support slot; the crowd was going crazy and songs were being sung back at the band as if they were worthy headliners already. They really do have some great songs in their repertoire. However, the real stars of the night made it blatantly obvious why the whole of their UK tour is sold out as soon as they set foot onstage. Sarah and I managed to get to the second row by the tidal waves made from the MMF set and it really was a stunning experience. The band smashed through their set list with barely a breath taken between each song whilst putting on a truly awe-inspiring show. There was a ridiculous amount of sweat, head banging, crowd surfing, circle pitting and general mayhem, but I loved every minute of it. When singer, Austin Carlile, made his way to the front of the barrier, there was some serious Beatle Mania-style hysteria as the whole crowd surged forward to try and touch their hero. The encore was a truly mesmerizing performance of Second and Sebring with the whole crowd screaming along to every word as if their very lives depended on it. This is the kind of band that can write songs to get you through those days when nothing goes right and then offer you a life affirming experience when you see them in a live setting. If you ever get the chance to see them live, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic and tightly packed crowd meant it was impossible for me to get a camera out, but if you search “Of Mice and Men Electric Ballroom October 2012” on YouTube, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what went down!
The next night was the turn of Verses at my Student Union. This was a much more chilled out affair almost to the point of being insulting to the band. Nobody got down to the front or made any real signs of appreciation which is a real shame as this is a band that could really go places. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them a couple of times supporting Mallory Knox and then again at Hit the Deck festival this year and they really are a great band when you see them in a setting where their talent is appreciated. Having said that, they still put on a cracking performance and didn’t let the lackluster crowd affect their energy too much. My Diana decided to jam whilst rewinding though so sorry for not having many pictures. I managed to catch up with singer Jason Danzelman after the gig.
Firstly, congratulations on getting your new EP as a cover mount with Rock Sound magazine! You must be really excited for such massive exposure. What’s the reaction been like from that so far?
Yeah it’s incredible for us, it’s only been out a couple of days and we’ve noticed a huge buzz online already! We released our last EP ‘No World For Us’ ourselves and shifted around 1500 copies. ‘Come To Life’ is going out to around 30,000 people, so it’s a pretty big step up!
I saw you absolutely killing it at Hit the Deck festival this year and you played some other awesome shows this summer. Which festivals still need to be ticked off your to-do list for next year?
We’d absolutely love to do the bigger fests like Reading & Leeds and Download next year. We’ve concentrated on the smaller ones like Hit The Deck, Takedown and Merthyr Rock this year and played an acoustic set at Download last year, but have still to play a full set at the major festivals, so they’re definitely ones to tick off!
It must be difficult to go from big festivals with a lot of your fans to smaller Student Union shows when you’ve suddenly got to win over a whole room of people who maybe don’t know your songs. Do you find that a daunting task or is it something you relish?
Yeah it is actually more daunting playing to less people I think, because the vibe can be a little more awkward, especially if people aren’t familiar with us, but we always give it everything we’ve got and have fun no matter where we are, and hopefully that rubs off on the crowd.
What gig experience that you’ve attended as a fan, would you not swap for any money in the world?
We all went to Thrice’s last ever UK show back in April and that was definitely an emotional experience. I’m pretty sure every band in the UK rock scene was in attendance with a little tear in their eyes.
Which bands would you recommend looking out for in 2013?
Our mates in Mallory Knox are dropping an album early next year and I think they’re gonna blow up big time. Also Light You Up has an EP coming out this month that everyone should check out; they just write really catchy uplifting pop-punk tunes but with a bit of a stadium vibe going on too!
Hopefully this little feature has made you want to pick up a camera and go to a gig really soon! I would recommend taking either a camera with a light meter (like the LC-A+) for atmospheric shots that really capture the mood created by the lighting or a Diana Mini with a flash for those shows where a small a camera as possible is preferred. My next gig is on Monday and I’ll definitely be there trying to capture the experience on film for posterity as usual. Happy gigging!