The Audition – Sheffield Arena

By paul

So to GIAN day 2. A hot summer’s day outside and a very, very empty arena inside. After missing BROADWAY CALLS we jumped straight to MEG AND DIA who seem massively out of place. Sheffield Arena has a sign saying crowdsurfers will be ejected if they do it more than twice. No need to worry here as M+D are all the better for sitting down with a cold beer and just relaxing. There’s an awkward shyness about the band, although they’re one of the few not to suffer from the horrendous sound. (6)

Spud wanted to review the next band:

MAYDAY PARADE, Paul told me, are “fun pop punk and a bit NFG ish”. Personally, on today’s showing, I think they’re one of the sorriest showers of shit I’ve ever seen. A hundred cliches, bad choreography, and worst of all they’re lapped up by the kids they’ve conned. If you like this band and your age is into double figures then you need to take a serious look at your life. This is utterly inexcusable. (0)

Back to me again.

Craig Owens welcomes CHIODOS to the stage by calling the crowd ‘teenybopper Brits’. He then berates fashion, myspace and in effect slanders 99 per cent of the audience. Chiodos go over the heads of nearly everyone – they’re totally out of place between Mayday Parade and MC Lars. Still, they have a huge sound, limitless energy and they fill the main stage as well as any band all weekend. And their amps had the slogan ‘go get fcked’ written on them. That sums the band up perfectly. They’re spot on with their comments – I wish most of this audience would go get fucked. Truth be told, they probably do too. (7)

MC LARS is the perfect festival band, warming up the crowd and keeping them entertained and involved. Running through a greatest hits set with Failsafe a very able backing band, Lars keeps everyone on the edge of their seat – and singing along. He’s also very funny, dedicating ‘signing emo’ to “every other band playing tonight.” (7)

Why Gabe Saporta ditched Midtown for the comedic COBRA STARSHIP is a mystery. Entertaining visually, the band are very poor live. Gabe cannot
hit any high notes so uses a sexy swagger to try and cover it up. The kids love it mind, as ‘Guilty Pleasures’ and the closing ‘Snakes on a Plane’
spark huge singalongs. Doesn’t make them any better mind. (5)

I’d rather eat a turd than watch MY AMERICAN HEART, so we opted for a hot dog instead. I’m not a single bloke, which is a good job as most of the girls in attendance are either 12, overly made up, look like boys, dressed badly (if you’re a size 18 don’t wear skinny jeans!) Or all of the above. As a result we stopped looking for hot girls as I was scared we’d get arrested.

SET YOUR GOALS seem weirdly out of place on such a big stage and while they’re a lot of fun, the two singers sound off key and they strangely skip
across the stage, like they don’t really know what to do. The band race through all their best tracks and while they’re not the worst band of the weekend, they probably need to stick to smaller venues – for the time being at least. (6)

There’s a decent buzz about ALL TIME LOW and, shock horror, they conquer the poor sound and are easily the band of the day so far. They know how to
work a crowd, they can genuinely sing and throw shapes at the same time (take note Mayday Parade) and they clearly have an ear for a tune. The US
is going crazy for ATL right now and the UK is sure to follow suit. (8)

FINCH prowl the main stage like they own it. To be fair they’re arguably the only band of the day with any experience of playing large festivals. They’ve been away two years and very few kids are into it, but Finch launch into ‘Worms of the Earth’ and then ‘Letters To You’ with some ferocity. New track ‘Daylight‘ is a vicious beast as Nate Barcalow screams his lungs out, while closer ‘What It Is To Burn’ again sails over the heads of most of the kids. Truth be told, Finch are back – and close to being back to their best. (8)

THE AUDITION looked very dapper in their matching garb, but after their opening track we left. Not just the arena, but the venue itself. Time to go home, even before Alkaline Trio, PWTs and Paramore. I think I’m either getting too old for this shit or, more likely, there are just a lot of bad bands around at the minute. GIAN was massively undersold. I’d say the venue was probably a third full and that is taking into account the top seating area is all cordoned off. Why? I don’t know. Too expensive? Maybe, but then other festivals are worse. Poor line-up? I’m not sure, Paramore are huge right now and there are enough other bands on show with large fanbases. So why did people not come to GIAN?

I can’t fault the organisers. The bill is made up of bands that are officially pretty hot right now, but throw in terrible, terrible sound, a lack of people creating next to no atmosphere and screaming little girls squealing whenever Cobra Starship or one of the other pop bands wave at them and you you’ve got something horrendously soulless. Ironically The Blackout got it right on day one – they urged fans to dance and have a good time. “You’re at a rock show,” they screamed – but GIAN 2008 wasn’t a rock show. It was full of people who put more pride into style than substance.

This isn’t supposed to be a rant or critical of any band that played because I don’t think the fault lies with them. Popularity with music is cyclical – maybe it’s time some of these bands and genres died off to try and put something new, fresh and exciting back into the music stream. Because right now pop-punk and all it’s genres are smack, bang in the middle of the mainstream and something is very, very wrong.