Kerrang! Wales Free Event
Cardiff's The Point, 15th November 2006
Reviewed by Owain Richards
Cardiff Bay is the new home of Doctor Who, the Timelord's Tardis parked only a few minutes walk away from tonight's venue. But is the bay to be the new home of Kerrang!'s Kerrang! Radio Wales? Some of tonight's hairstyles wouldn't have looked out of place inside a mediocre eighties sci-fi series, but Kerrang! have taken notice of South Wales' Emo band influx wishing to breaking the market. Lostprophets really led the way, gaining a following and then making it big, paving the way for groups like Funeral For A Friend to gain nationwide popularity. Since then there's been band after band recreating the Emo/Post Hardcore style and vibe, as though a factory just outside Bridgend swiftly manufactures these clones on the production line.
Perhaps schools offer A Level courses in Emo? Who knows? But one thing's for sure, it's still going strong - Kerrang! have certainly not let all this go by unnoticed. Sometimes it's hard to work out if such magazines dictate to the readers what they should be listening to, or if the readers dictate to the magazines what they should write about. Tonight's free gig has a queue that extends around the block, all armed with mobile phones which have a special text message granting them access. They're about to enter one of the special venue's here in Cardiff. The Point, a gothic-esque, stone built church erected around 1900, and formerly known as the church of St Stephen. Once inside, the tall interior juxtaposed with the relatively compact floor space makes for a fairly intimate gig.
Kids in Glass Houses
Cardiff quintet and openers Kids in Glass Houses take the light catchy Pop vibe of Post Hardcore to a new level, armed with instantly recognisable hooks difficult to remove out of the mind once there. Upbeat and energetic, but unlike numerous similar bands of the scene they don't look the Myspace black and white doe-eyed flamboyant hair style type - it's easy to enjoy the music. Setting a good vibe for the evening, they make things difficult for the next act to follow.
Stuart Cable, ex-tub thumper (Stereophonics) and current Kerrang! Radio presenter walks out onto the stage to extol the virtues of Kerrang! and tell everyone that they should be eternally grateful that this gig is free. Merthyr Tydfil's The Blackout, one of the bands that actually hail from the Valleys, rise to the challenge however. It often seems a lot of press outside Wales think the country is made entirely of such groups, though to the outsider this musical movement may appear very formulaic. With chorus hooks all merging into one, The Blackout's brand of Post Hardcore delivers which raises the atmosphere to a higher level and sets a new standard for tonight's proceedings. Co-vocalist Sean Smith certainly looks the part with his blonde eye-covering sweeping fringe with streaks of pink and also acts the part, pouring his soul into the mic as he screams, at one point entering into the crowd before him. The contagious energy isn't infectious enough to get the onlookers moving though - tonight Emo is very much a spectator sport.
The Cooper Temple Clause
The Cooper Temple Clause give us a break from the stream of Emo. Following last year's departure of vocalist Didz Hammond, the band recorded a new album due out early 2007. The group's sound is fairly eclectic, mixing electronic sounds with a smooth Rock groove. The shift of musical style leaves on-lookers in a subdued state as the energy built by The Blackout dissipates. Perhaps the band perform to the wrong people, or maybe the audience await Skindred.
Newport's Skindred manage to get any life out of the audience, the only group of the night to do so. The band's Nu Metal sound is a result of a collision between Metal, Punk, Hip-hop and Ragga - although that might sound dubious, it works.
Emerging to the sound of sirens, the group launch into the most captivating set of the evening. Vocalist Benji Webb repeatedly stops a song mid flow to rouse the rabble, refusing to tolerate a lacklustre crowd response. The song “Pressure” is warmly recieved while a rendition of “Nobody” results in Cardiff Bay resonating with the screams of “nobody gets out alive”. It's a shame that it took a band so late in the bill to truly warm up the Cardiff crowd. Skindred are working on a new album to follow their debut release, Babylon.
Coming out on stage and calling your audience “motherfuckers” doesn't equate metal. Oh dear, it's Fightstar. In fact it appears ex-Busted frontman Charlie Simpson thinks swearing repetitively increases his Metal kudos and shaves the clean cut Busted image - I'm afraid the damage has been done though. Now, no matter how metal he thinks he is, his image transplant is incongruous with his prior status. By snubbing his former band, he's forgetting that the only reason he's actually playing this crap to people is because he was famous to begin with. Wearing matching black shirts and white ties isn't an entirely metal image, it reeks of commercially manufactured tactics. The backdrop's style and album cover is very Trivium-esque. Kerrang! quickly judged in the early days, but swiftly revised opinion -. now it seems the magazine is avid to use their marketability to their advantage. Performing at the Full Ponty festival, they were pelted with bottles, piss and a sandwich. Sandwiches and bottles of piss left at home, the band were safe from attack by this reviewer at least.
Fightstar walks out to a now mostly empty room. This means that people, disliking Fightstar, made plans to leave early, after enjoying the support, possibly. However, it was a school night and it the time was past midnight.... There were the die hard fans though, the ones that loyally remained at the front and mimed along to the lyrics, despite the trite content and appalling delivery. Fightstar professes to be huge fans of the writer, Chuck Palahniuk, even going as far as writing a song entitled “Palahniuk's Laughter”. The lyrics of that song are an insult to the man and, in all probability; he's in no way flattered by such bile. Also, the Deftones wouldn't be over the moon to hear that Charlie and co have covered “My Own Summer”. Is this Fightstar trying to gain credibility again? Well in all honesty, they did a faithful (in general) rendition of the song. Too similar, it lacked stylistic identity, copying traits seen as good in the hope people gradually equate them with these traits. Really, who wants to listen to Fightstar do a Deftones song? The Deftones do it much better. Sean from The Blackout joined Charlie onstage for the vocals which at least improved the ordeal slightly.
A multitude of bands out there create exciting, engaging music, yet we get subjected to the din of a public school boy idiot. Well it was a relief to see these “motherfuckers” finish - if Kerrang! want to bring this brand of pseudo Metal bilge to South Wales well then they're welcome to keep it thank you very much. So in conclusion, the show was certainly stolen by the Welsh.