Pop-punk and metal loving UK rock magazine Kerrang! has long been a first point of call for teenagers who’ve grown out of chart music, offering an accessible entry point to the world of rock, neatly packaged into bite-size chunks and full of personality. Unsurprisingly, then, that’s pretty much what we’re treated to tonight. Arriving at a little after eight, State are surprised to learn we’ve already missed the opening two bands – perhaps a concession to the young audience, a couple of whom look young enough to be our own offspring – and Welsh rockers The Blackout are already underway.
In a genre inundated with American sounding bands, we have to show The Blackout a certain amount of respect for being so pointedly Welsh. Their music sounds roughly like what you’d expect Blink 182 to sound like if there were two of each of them: The Blackout have doubled up on both vocalists and guitarists, and produce a sound with a very slight edge of guitar-styled electro and a notable funky tinge. All in, they’re somewhat reminiscent of Leeds pop-punkers A with charismatic Welsh accents. Not a bad sound, and one that has the assembled throng launching water over each other and performing limb-breaking dances down the front, while the band themselves string together rock and roll poses and heap praise on their colleagues. Finishing up with a few heavy chords and three of their number barging their way into the heart of The Academy crowd, The Blackout have certainly won a few new fans.
In between acts, The Academy has oddly chosen to regale us with Miley Cyrus and Bon Jovi, a selection that suddenly seems a whole lot more apt when the arrival of American headliners All Time Low is accompanied by the crowd lifting dozens of cheesy signs above their head (kudos to the guy with the -Tits or GTFO’ effort). Within minutes one guitarist’s microphone stand has turned into a hat rack for hastily flung bras, and All Time Low are showing the impressive extent of their banter. In many ways, the band remind of an apolitical Green Day, with instantly hummable tracks and a sense of humor to match. The highlight comes when the band depart, leaving lead singer Alex to strum through the infectious -Therapy’ on acoustic guitar before being mocked by his band mates for resembling Taylor Swift (-I have a bigger dick then Taylor’ – Alex). Worryingly – especially given the number of attendees who claim to be here for the second night on the trot – All Time Low introduce the track as -something different to last night’, suggesting the rest of their set might be somewhat lacking in variation.
Its simple music, and neither original (New Found Glory were doing something similar 8-10 years ago – in fact the band’s name is taken from their lyrics – and they weren’t the first either) nor particularly clever, but All Time Low are indisputably entertaining, and inspire manic crowd surfing down the front and the kind of leaping around that gives the entire venue a sweaty density you can almost taste. It’s all over by half ten, and outside a line of parents wait for The Academy to empty. State, having sat well back for most of the evening, can’t see too many changes in the scene we loved as teenagers, or its ever-lively music.
Photos by Sean Conroy.