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Apparently sitting around and playing FIFA is not something that a rock band wants to be associated with. Sean Smith, one of the frontmen of Welsh post-hardcore The Blackout, asks – firmly tongue-in-cheek, mind - that I write of girls in the backstage area, along with substances more associated with Motley Crue and the Rolling Stones. Fortunately this was not the case as, once I got over my nerves, I found I was in the company of some really nice guys.

The Blackout were playing in Preston at 53 Degrees Club on January 24th, and I decided to try and get an interview with them. When it came to fruition I was pretty damn excited – before this point I’d seen this band seven times live and I did look up to them a lot. So it was with nerves abound that I headed to Preston, with my little notebook of interview questions – hoping I would neither bore them, irritate them or offend them. Obviously I had over-thought this, as usual.

Upon arriving at the club, I was of course early and it took me a while to get hold of anyone who would let me inside. This was not good as I now had frostbitten nose, a wet hat draped on my head and my coat was starting to smell of drying dog – exactly what you want when you’re going to interview your first professional band. I got inside, however, and met their tour manager who took me through into the dressing room. A rack of coloured guitars were standing behind the door, a rider with nothing particularly extraordinary on it, a fridge full of beer, and a couple of sofas. Gavin Butler, who is the other singer in the band, stood up to greet me. It became apparent that I would conduct the interview with him and with Gareth Lawrence (better known as Snoz); the drummer in the band.

Once I got over my nerves the interview went swimmingly. I discovered that Snoz would like nothing more than to tour around the Caribbean, that he would jump off a cliff if he couldn’t save his bandmates hanging off said cliff, and that his favourite sandwich is “all the meat”. Gavin’s is bacon and egg by the way – apparently it’s good for the hangovers. Now, this was a pretty exciting day for me anyway but then I discovered that I was allowed to hang around the venue and that I would have a photo-pass – this day was just getting better! After watching the two support acts soundcheck (Lost Alone and Rat Attack respectively), I was invited back into the dressing room by Matthew (a guitarist). I got to drink a beer and watch TV with one of my favourite bands. Pretty decent turn of events if you ask me.

The show was brilliant as well. Rat Attack were good even though they were playing to a small crowd; they tried to get a mosh pit going and I managed to get elbowed in the face and split my lip – just my luck. Lost Alone were very good as well – much improved if I may say so from the last time I saw them three years ago; their crowd interaction has made leaps and bounds. And then The Blackout exploded onto stage as they always do, and for the next hour-and-a-half, despite Sean having a wicked sore throat, they tore the place up. They are a fantastic live band, and if you ever get the chance to see them I strongly recommend you take it. You will not be disappointed. Their relationship with the crowd is amazing, their set is always diverse, the sing-alongs are great, the guitars are loud… I could go on for reasons why they’re brilliant. The Blackout is one of those bands that has a special relationship with their fans; people seem to support them to the end and with a live show like I saw in Preston, they absolutely deserve it.

Cross posted in a million places. Fuck it.

Green Day – London, England 01/06/2013

There’s something about London. I can’t exactly put my finger on what it is, but whenever I get off a train/bus/flying carpet and set foot in that city I can’t help but feel excited, or full of anticipation, or both. Something is always happening in London and this weekend just gone was no exception. One thing I always love when I’m travelling in for a gig is the idea that across the country (and this case world) fans are travelling in for the same reason. There’s an awesome sense of unity before any of us have even met. If I see someone hanging out in a Green Day shirt when I know there’s a show going on, I can’t help but smile. We are all connected by the love of this band and that is pretty damn epic.

Anyway, I arrived in London at about midday and had to hang around the wonderful Euston station (sarcasm) for about forty minutes waiting for my friends to show up. We then headed out to Belsize Park where we were staying to check in. It was a beautiful day so we headed back into central London. I, being a complete nerd, decided I wanted to drag them along to the British Library. I’d heard there were some pretty cool exhibitions on and I wanted to go and check them out. Once inside I found that you had to pay to get into the Propaganda in the 21st century one (which would have been interesting), but if you wandered a bit further up there was another showcasing some of the documents and manuscripts they had. Oh god, I was like a kid in a candy shop – I’m a history geek at the best of times – and they had real manuscripts that were over a thousand years old! It’s strange to try and explain it but these bits of paper have such life about them, they’re not just a faceless textbook or something like that, someone really wrote that, so long ago. Thoughts, hopes and dreams go into those works (a thousand year old copy of Beowulf was there) and that evidence of human expression and passion is something I just get so excited about. Also original letters written by Elizabeth I?!?!?! Geek out over – probably.

After we’d finished in the library we headed out on the tube to check out the stadium and to see who was there. I was really nervous that there was going to be hundreds of people there already, but when we showed up it was pretty empty. I headed around to F gate on the North bank to see who was there and the first person I saw was Lindsay. I think I scared her a bit because I ran up to her screaming “LINNNNNDDDDDSSAAAAAAAAAYYYYY”. It was a bit of a Canadian Invasion going on at F because Val and Nahaleh (sorry if I spelt it wrong!) were there too. It was so nice to meet them – finally! I’ve been talking to Val and Lindsay on Skype for about two years now and to finally meet up was so lovely. Lone was also there, and I still have not found out her name. I was going to get it out of Tony but I didn’t managed to catch him at the show. Some other GDC Pizza Family were there too – Fran, Tamsin, Paul, Becky and Sophie (I’m so sorry if I forgot you – I am an absolute PLEB with names). As we were all hanging out the band began to sound check – that was what made it so real, so immediate. Hearing Billie Joe’s voice ringing out over the edge of the stadium and spilling down to us on the outside. The GDC pizza family headed to the top of North Bank where the sound was incredible so we could all have a good listen. It was a warm evening and I couldn’t really think of anything else I would rather be doing in that moment. They played ‘Waiting’ four times in the sound check so we were pretty damn sure they were going to play it during the show, they also played a snippet of ‘Missing You’, ‘J.A.R’ (which we didn’t get – regardless of what NME says) and ’99 Revolutions’. It was wonderful to hear them checking because whilst other bands come on, strum a few chords, bash the drum a few times etc. Green Day actually almost play a show! They were at it for a good forty-five minutes, giving us a cool opportunity to have a listen.

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(Emirates Stadium – North Bank)

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(Val (BeachBum) not paying attention)

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(Fran)

I then left the stadium ground at about 7pm and we went tube hopping for a bit, in attempt to find the O2 Islington Academy. I was going to go to the Green Date gig but then as I got to Islington a wave of tiredness/grumpiness hit me and I didn’t think I would be much fun so I pulled out and headed back to the hotel to crash out for the night. We (myself and two friends (Jess and Morgan)) weren’t camping, but we had plans to be there nice and early.

One thing that I will always love/hate about Green Day gig days is setting my alarm the night before, for some ridiculously early time, and having it tell me you have “4 hours and 3 minutes until alarm...” – always a great feeling. Anyway, we got up at 5am and caught the first tube up to Arsenal. I felt so panicked as Morgan and I walked along to Clock (Cock from now on) End (Jess had split from us because she was queuing at North Bank D). I was genuinely imagining queues upon queues of people and us being somewhere near the back. I was not having a good time at that moment. Anyway, we crossed over the bridge to K and saw that there were about ten people there. I spotted the lovely Agija and sneakily skipped passed about four people. They didn’t seem to mind, however, it just being two of us, and also the fact we were pretty damn early. I was also queuing opposite an uncanny Billie-alike called Rob (so uncanny that he drew quite a lot of stares all day). Everyone I was with was really nice.

After establishing myself at K gate and introducing myself to people around, I went on a reccy to F gate to see how everyone was holding up after a night sleeping rough. Well at least everyone was alive! They all looked pretty sleepy to be honest, some of them were half-talkative, some of them totally non responsive. One of the non-responsive ones was Svän, who upon being poked repeatedly by Ceri, just mumbled something entirely incoherent and rolled over with a grumpy noise. I decided to head back later when everyone was feeling a little bit more awake, and more likely to want conversation. As I headed back I heard rumours going around of wristbands being handed out to those who had camped and to those who’d got to the stadium super early. At first I thought this might just be idle gossip (music fans really do love to speculate!) but lo and behold at about 9.15 a guy came around and asked to see our tickets before presenting us with a bright green wristband with the words ‘FRONT PIT’ on it. Turns out that these were pretty useless when push came to shove but they’re a cool souvenir to have anyway.

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(Green Day wristbands)

I chilled with the guys at K for a while after that, learning how to say Agija’s name properly amongst other things. I always thought that it was A-GEE(as in Gee whizz!)-A, but it turns out that it’s A-geeeee (as in gear)-a. Just in case you didn’t know! Whilst we were chilling out I spotted Iolanda making the rounds and we had a quick chat – it was her birthday yesterday – pretty damn cool birthday present! At about 10.15, knowing I was going to be there for quite a while yet I headed to the nearest McDonalds (staple gig food!) and bought a burger (what else?!). I felt pretty guilty because I’d eaten a burger two days in a row, but I assuaged my guilt by imagining the amount of calories I was going to burn whilst down in the pit later that day. I then realised that there was no way in hell that my phone was going to last until the end of the day (when it would probably be necessary), so Ceri kindly leant me her phone charger and I went to hang out in the toliets (only place with plugs) to charge up. Delightful place, but made so much more wonderful by the arrival of Tasha (<3) who hung out with me whilst my phone charged. I love you Tasha – just so you know. As I stood there like I lemon I realised that I’d left my ticket in my bag at the gate – I couldn’t believe I’d been such an idiot to let it out of my sight – and sprinted back to K to pick it up. I literally did a forward roll over the barrier to pick it up. Rob wondered aloud why I was so worried about it – I told him it was because Morgan might sell it whilst I wasn’t looking.

For the next four hours I met more and more people from GDC which was so lovely. I met Maria’s mum in the toliets (I hope she said hi to you Maria – I asked her too!), Mary came over with Svän at one point, and at about 3pm Tom decided he was going to show up, so we got to catch up briefly. There was a few GDCers who were there who I didn’t get to chill with (Liam and Holly!) but I’ve met both of you before so… :P. We took some nice photos together, apologies that mine are crappy iPhone quality but I didn’t want to bring my big camera! No way I was lugging that into the gig. Lone came back at about 3pm (having been with the guys at F most of the time) I started trying to knock her Americanisms out of her (even though she’s American) – it’s still ‘sweets’, ‘rubbish’ and ‘pavement’ ya know! :P

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(Svän + I)

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(Agija and I)

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(From l-r: Agija, Svän, Mary, Ceri, Moi and Michael)

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(Val, Lone and I)

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(Tom and I (somehow I always manage to look like a hamster that's been punched in the face in my pics with Tom- WHY?!)

Anyway, at about quarter to four people started to get a bit restless, the crowds had expanded dramatically, and people began to nervously guard their patch of concrete as if were made of gold. At about 4pm wardens appeared in front of all the turnstiles – I prayed they were all going to be opened in good time, and also at the same time. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about this, mine was opened at the same time as everyone else, but the poor people who were at F got screwed over a bit (they were opened about 2/3 minutes late)! L

All I remember about getting in was literally ditching everyone, running into the stadium and screaming at some people who were jogging down the steps to move to the right so that I could get passed. I spotted Agija on the barrier as I ran into the Golden Circle but I sprinted past her and to the centre. I ended up one deep on the left (as you look at the stage) side of the mini-catwalk. So basically in the middle, but not quite - the middle was about two people across from me. I was behind two Polish girls who were both pretty nice, and also had a lovely gap between their heads which (when the time came) I had a perfect view of Billie Joe through.

There was about a fifty-minute wait between getting in and All Time Low taking to the stage. I find that that’s always the worst part about a big gig – you’ve waited hours to get in and then once you’re there you’ve got to wait some more. I got friendly with some of the people around me, turns out there were three girls from Yorkshire (best county!) right next to me, so I was chatting to them for a while. And then All Time Low came on. And the squishing started. Everybody surged forward and started to push/pull/tug/swerve – all great fun of course (*eye roll*). I expect it when you’re down front and centre but even then it doesn’t make it hugely pleasant.

All Time Low were quite good. They played a mixture of new stuff and some of their older hits, most notably ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’, ‘Weightless’ and ‘Reckless And The Brave’. They seemed to be having fun but it was a tough crowd for them. There was a girl just behind me who took it upon herself for the entire set to stand there and scream “OFF, OFF, OFF” or “ALL TIME BLOW” etc. I nearly turned around and poked her in the eyes. I had this debate with some people a few days ago – you might not like a band, but you can at least respect what they’re trying to do. You’re not here to see them, the people you want to see won’t be far behind, at least have the common decency to be polite. The one thing that did get old with All Time Low’s set was the dick jokes. I don’t know, I just didn’t find them particularly funny and I don’t think it comes across very well in a stadium setting. They put forward a valiant effort, but I don’t think it had much effect except on those who were in the Golden Circle. Better luck next time boys.

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After All Time Low had finished up we had about a half an hour wait before the Kaiser Chiefs took to the stage. Some people have commented that this seems like a bit of an odd backing for Green Day but I disagree. I think they’re a genuinely good rock band and they know how to work a crowd – why shouldn’t they be there? It did seem a bit like the lead singer show but they were good nonetheless. Of course they got the largest at times crowd response when they played their hits; ‘I Predict A Riot’, ‘Ruby’ and ‘The Angry Mob’ were the big crowd movers. At one point the lead singer decided it would be a good idea to climb the light stack at the corner of the stage – felt a bit sorry for his manager/security at that point who was underneath and looked scared to death! The dude did go pretty high and I genuinely thought he was going to fall. He didn’t, thankfully, and they ended their section on a high.

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Once the Kaiser Chiefs had disappeared the tension really started to rise. The crushing down the front got even more intense (and didn’t let up all evening – thankfully I could always breathe – but I now have several bruises because from the chest down I could barely move). I think one of the defining moments before Green Day comes on is when the black curtain drops and Tre’s drum kit is revealed – people get pretty damn excited at that point. Anyway, after watching several familiar techies set up the stage and a bit more hanging around, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen began to play out over the PA system. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment in that everyone quickly caught on and began to sing. It gave me goosebumps to hear 75,000 people singing those immortal words. At the moment (if I’d ever doubted it!) I knew it was going to be incredible gig. Most of the English fans hadn’t seen Green Day since 2010 and they were ready to see their favourite band again! After that song had come to a close the ever-recognisable ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ started and the Drunk Bunny stumbled onto stage to a rapturous reception – only thing though; where were his beers?! He stumbled around a bit, came down briefly onto the tiny platform in front of us, and then headed off to rapturous applause. The crowd drew breath. They knew that the moment was here, the planning, the friendships, the queuing, the lyrics learning, the blood/sweat/tears had all come down to this point. ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ began to play (actually the Madagascar 2 Soundtrack FYI) and after about a minute, and to the sound of the crowd screaming at the decibel count of an airport runway, Tré Cool bounded onto stage. With green hair. Yup, a lovely deep emerald green graced the top of our favourite drummers head. Mike swiftly followed him over on stage right – I didn’t get much Mike action last night, me being to the left a bit – have to rectify that next time! I spotted Billie Joe over by the tech stand picking up his guitar, he smiled at his techie before walking calmly onto stage, an enormous grin on his face.

And that grin stayed all night. I think that was one of the things that made last night so fucking epic – Green Day looked as if they were having the time of their lives (pun firmly intended). And that reflected – the crowd knew they were happy, so the crowd got happier at the thought… there was an incredible energy in that space last night. They opened with ’99 Revolutions’, quickly followed by ‘Know Your Enemy’; with Billie Joe getting a fan dressed in a Union Jack morph suit up to help him finish the song off. After that we got ‘Stay The Night’ which I know used to be Tom’s favourite trilogy song, I forgot to ask him whether it still is (is it?). During this song Billie Joe exclaimed that they were “going to play all night”, as much as I wished this were true most of the fans there knew there was a hard curfew for 10.30pm; Billie’s such a liar! Another thing he said was that he loved summer because there was “more light” – I was looking at Jason Freese at this point who just laughed at the total randomness of that statement. Billie Joe began his crowd control at about this point – the number of ‘Hey-ho’s’ you get at a GD show are uncountable. It must be an utterly intoxicating feeling to literally be able to twitch your hand and have 75,000 people at your total command. He seemed to be enjoying it!

After that we had ‘Stop When The Red Lights Flash’ followed by ‘Letterbomb’. I was so glad we got the latter of those – I adore this song and it was fantastic to hear it live once again. I noticed that Billie’s stopped screaming “WAKE UP!” in the bridge (a Rebecca Naomi Jones addition), but it was fantastic nonetheless. Then we had ‘Oh Love’, the first single off the trilogy albums – I actually managed to get some (very shitty!) pictures during this song. It was the only time I took pictures because I wanted to be totally in the moment at all other times. I know that at Wembley I spent quite a lot of the gig staring through my camera lense and I didn’t want to do that again – someone with a much calmer/better position than me will have got some much cooler photos than I would’ve managed.

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(Blurry iPhone photo 1)

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(Blurry iPhone photo 2)

After ‘Oh Love’ we had the immortal ‘Holiday/Boulevard of Broken Dreams’. Billie opened the former by screaming the well known words ‘VIVA LA REVOLUTION’ before bursting into the song with the energy of a thousand fireworks. One thing I was annoyed at myself for, however, was that somehow I missed the ‘Amen!’ of ‘can I get another Amen?’ – how on earth I missed this I have absolutely no idea. I figuratively kicked myself for a good five minutes after that. ‘Boulevard’ was as epic as it normally is, and during it Billie Joe got a little kid up with a homemade ‘Green Day Rocks’ sign. It was unbelievable cute – the kid just stood there with an entirely straight face for the whole song… at the end Billie laughed, gave him a hug and sent him off. It was just ‘awwww!’…

Following that we had ‘Stray Heart’, ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’, ‘Waiting’ and ‘Missing You’. Apparently last night was the first time the latter has been played live by the full band. Unfortunately I hadn’t revised those lyrics so I ended up gurning along for most of it, but the chorus was fairly easy to pick up! Then as the sky began to darken into dusk, Green Day started to dig deep, moving back almost twenty years to pull out the epic ‘Burnout’ and ‘Sassafras Roots’. It was so cool that they played the latter song – I’ve never heard it live before and it was awesome to get it, seeing as it’s one of my favourites off Dookie (would’ve been nice to get ‘Pulling Teeth’ as well but oh well!). Then we got ‘Hitchin’ A Ride’ – a particularly apt song for Green Day once again I feel. Also ‘1,2,1,2,3,4!’… After those we got ‘Longview’ (which a fan sang the final verse of) and the ever popular ‘Welcome to Paradise’. Then they did something I didn’t expect; they covered Operation Ivy’s ‘Knowledge’ – I knew they used to do that in the past, but I didn’t expect them to do it last night. Billie Joe got a female fan up on stage to play the guitar for the song, and thankfully she could play it. I always get nervous when they get people up to do something that actually requires talent/lyric-knowing. It would be so cringy if someone got up and was just being a dick, not really knowing anything.

After that we got ‘St. Jimmy’ – I was a little annoyed that we didn’t get serenaded by ‘Are We The Waiting’ first, seeing as that’s my favourite song, but Billie Joe’s firecracker energy during Jimmy more than made up for it. Following that we got more songs from Dookie; ‘When I Come Around’, ‘Basket Case’ and ‘She’. The singalongs to all of these were so epic and it was at this point that I started losing my voice and coughing a lot (I found valiantly on however! I WILL SHOUT ALL NIGHT!). Then there was a very brief lull in energy as the guys hurried off stage, before coming back wearing stupid hats/outfits – it was time for ‘KING FOR A DAAAAAAAAY!!’ I know that some people have scorned Green Day for their continued playing of this song, but boo sucks to them – I love it! I don’t find it gimmicky at all, it’s just a lot of fun. During the Shout Medley that always follows that song, the drunk bunny came back and decided to lie on top of Billie whilst he was lying on the stage. Billie found this funny, however, and just laughed as the bunny laid its head on his arse.

Following that general madness and mayhem we got ‘X-Kid’ and ‘Minority’. These two closed off the main show, and what a way to close it – with the crowd knowing every single word to the incredible ‘Minority’ – shouting it back word for word. The band disappeared from stage for about three minutes after that before coming back out for the encore that consisted of ‘American Idiot’, ‘Jesus of Suburbia’ and ‘Brutal Love’. During AI Billie Joe did try, very briefly, to start a wall of death – but the crowd was just so tightly packed that there was absolutely no way he was going to manage to separate us. I was so glad they played JoS – it’s always wonderful when they play that in the encore, you know the shows nearly ending, but hey ho, here’s a nine minute song for you guys! It was incredible. Due to the fact that I’d missed the “Amen!” in ‘Holiday’, I was making doubly sure that I was concentrating for the “JESUS OF SUBURBIA!” roar during this song – no way I was missing that as well! I love the way that song moves through the sections – IMHO it’s Green Day’s best song, it’s so bloody fantastic and it stirs so many emotions in me that… gah!

And then there was ‘Brutal Love’ - a heart-wrenchingly emotional song that had me in tears. I have never cried at a gig before but that one had me shed a tear or two. It was just incredibly beautiful, a wonderful cherry on top of the madness, and the cuddle after the orgasmic show we had all just experienced. I looked briefly around and could see all the lighters and mobiles in the air, creating a sea of lights around the stadium – the view from the stage must have been intoxicatingly beautiful. To me, an ending like that was a show of perfect unity – we might all come from different homes, different places, be different genders and races etc. but we were all there for the same reason. The Greatest Show On Earth.

And then it ended. And the crowd breathed out. People moved away, picking up odd souvenirs as they went, trying to piece their minds around what they’d just seen. Green Day had once again proved, without pyro, excessive lights, or gimmicks as to why they are the best live band on the planet. It is so difficult to describe how fantastic they are without seeing it with your own eyes, but last night they blew me away.

Here at the end of all things (J), I would just like to say a huge thank you and I love you to the GDCfamily. I miss you guys already and I think you’re all wonderful people. I hope we have a 1001 more opportunities to meet because I feel that the few hours we had were nowhere near enough. The Green Day gig experiences I’ve had in the past twelve months wouldn’t be a scratch on what they have been without you guys. Green Day bring the music, you guys bring the magic. Thank you! Beyond hugs and kisses.

And now we go back to our own lives. We possibly feel sad that it’s over – but just remember, we were there. We saw it. We felt it. We were a part of it, and we have that memory that no one else can take away from us.

Until next time guys,

Bryony

xxx

Thought I might try this... this is a direct copy from my "real" blog, link to which can be found in my signature and on my profile if you're interested.

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Tracks that have been rocking my world this week:

1) Recover – CHVRCHES

2) I Wanna Be A Warhol – Alkaline Trio

3) Best of Friends – Palma Violets

4) Let’s Dance To Joy Division – The Wombats

5) Wessex Boy – Frank Turner

6) On The Ave – Pinhead Gunpowder

7) Surrender The Night – My Chemical Romance

8) The Rock Show – Halestorm

9) Norgaard – The Vaccines

10) Skinny Love – Bon Iver

Well that’s a pretty diverse mix isn’t it? Just in case you wanted to know, I host a radio show at my university radio station (Bailrigg FM). It’s a rock show, but I enjoy lots of other interesting music as well. Track 1 is an electronic/dance kind of track if anyone’s into that stuff; I'm not normally and I really like this song. Track 2 is the lead single off Alkaline Trio’s new album My Shame Is True, 3 is a brilliant track by this band I’m really growing to like – they kinda sound like The Libertines crossed with old school punk ideals. 4 + 9 are just a bit of indie pop if anyone’s feeling that, upbeat and lovely chunky nuggets of poppy goodness. Track 5 is by one of my favourite artists, love this guy – check him out if you haven’t done already; English singer/songwriter with a punk troubadour edge (does that even make any sense?). Track 6 is a bit more punk, as is track 7 which I’m feeling is pretty apt at the moment. Track 8 is just a lovely solid rock track and I can’t wait to hear what these guys do next, and Track 10 is there just because I like it. By the way, how do you pronounce the name? Is it Bon Eeever? Or Bon I-ver… I tend to go with the former; French pronunciation for the win! Obviously some of these tracks are old, some are new, but all of them are pretty damn awesome – what do you think?

Love,

B

XO

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I am currently on a train riding through the Yorkshire Dales on the way from Lancaster to Leeds. There are many ways to take this journey; you can go from Lancaster to Manchester and on that way, or you can go via Skipton (as this train is doing) and ‘across the top’ as it’s called. It amuses me that this called going across the top because the highest point that the Yorkshire dales has must be all of 200m above sea level. Then again, in England, that is pretty high.

Titled this ‘what’s important’ because whilst around us there is much we supposedly need to complain about; a bad economy, a collapsing church (if this concerns you), corrupt politicians, I am reminded when I take journeys like this the sheer beauty of the Isle upon which I live. This is not a piece in how I think English countryside is better than anywhere else (although it is pretty damn good!), it is more a reminder that no matter what apparent shit is circulating around us, I believe we should take the time to

escape and remind ourselves of what truly matters.

I get angry with people occasionally who whine about how life has never been so bad, or that they can’t afford the latest piece of technology that they need so badly, or that this country has gone to the dogs etc. We don’t live in a war torn country, most of us have some form of food on our tables when we need it, most of us have some form of shelter at night, and, speaking only for myself and my family here, we are all fairly healthy. Everything else, to me, seems to be added bonuses.

Maybe this is a slightly naïve view to have but I take a lot of joy in the little things and the natural things. I’m not saying that I reject materialistic things (who wouldn’t be happy if they got a new Burberry trench coat for example??) but this is merely a comment that there is more to life. Last night I noticed the sun shining on the windows of the house opposite and I hurried outside to take photographs of one of the most beautiful sunsets I had seen in a while. Tonight I am traveling home on a train through the beautiful dales with their rolling hills, green fields, gurgling rivers and stone cottages.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not under any illusion that the whole of England is like this, there are some truly scummy places out there (aren’t there in every country?) and when you see the soot blackening chimneys, remnants of an industrial era, you feel worlds away from the beauty that the countryside can provide. Has to be said though, with contrasts like that, you can see why this is the world that Tolkien based Middle Earth on. Regardless of what Peter Jackson says.

Bit of shameless plugging here.

Monday's 5pm-6pm in term time. 87.7 Bailrigg FM.

FB Page https://www.facebook.com/TheRockHourWithBryonyAndRach?ref=ts&fref=ts

Here are some of are earlier shows if you want to give it a listen:

http://www.mixcloud.com/BailriggFM/playlists/the-rock-hour-with-bryony-and-rach/

It's just something I do for fun, but in doing so create a radio show with an hours worth of rock music. If you've got student media at your uni/college I strongly encourage you to get involved! You needn't present if that's not your thing, but there is so much that goes on!! :)

B

XO

So after getting free tickets to this show (join your student media people, it's worth it!), my friend and I headed to Liverpool O2 Academy to go see the four bands on the bill play: Fearless Vampire Killers, Tonight Alive, Chiodos and Black Veil Brides. Now, I'm not a particular fan of any of these bands but I figured I would withold judgement until I'd seen them live in case they were magnificent.

We didn't queue for long because by the time we picked our wristbands up from the box office, the queue was already moving. The O2 Academy in Liverpool is actually really quite big for an academy, the walls are black, the ceiling is black and also, for tonight, the floor was black. I think pretty much every single person in there was wearing black. There was enough black nail varnish to paint walls again I reckon. I was wearing blue jeans and a grey jumper, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Oh well, as I told myself long ago; you don't need to wear the uniform to listen to the music!

That aside, we had missed some of Fearless Vampire Killers' set because of how long it took the doormen to get us inside, but I caught the end and they were pretty damn good. Only scary thing; the lead singer asking a crowd of predominantly fourteen year olds to make sex noises for him. They were charismatic, however, and had the ability to get the crowd moving. The lead singer looked like Gerard Way circa 2007 and the guitarist Frank Iero circa 2004 - clearly know which market they're appealing to there.

We moved down into the crowd for the next band, Tonight Alive, and managed to get quite close to the front considering we hadn't queued at all. This was the only female fronted band of the night and she clearly felt like she had something to prove. They were good, but I think there brand of pop-punk may have been a little bit too bubbly for the crowd that were there to see the two remaining acts. They were good, although for some reason the vocal mix was quite low so at times she got lost in the bass. I tweeted #KerrangTour2013 telling them this and her vocal mix went up - must be reading!! Anyway, she seemed to have been taking most of her pointers from Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt days, much the same vibe. During one of their songs they managed to open up a pit and my friend - who's never been to a gig like that before and is a total indie kid - had the pleasure of being dragged by me into it, and bashed around for a minute or so until the pit died. Oh well, one more of life's rich experiences, eh?

The next band, Chiodos, we the heaviest of the four and my friend, the afore mentioned Indie kid, blanched white as the lead singer came on a roared into his mic. The look on her face was asking me what the hell I had brought her too. This band weren't exactly my type of music but they got the whole floor moving and several mosh pits opening over the upsetting fact that There Are No Penguins In Alaska.

Then we had to wait quite a while for the next band, Black Veil Brides, because their set was fairly elaborate for the techies to set up. You could feel the excitement rising in the room for the headline act, who eventually made their way onto to stage at around quarter to ten. The scream that went up as Andy Biersack (the lead singer) came on was blood curdlingly loud. Lots of fourteen year old girls wishing they could all chuck their training bras at the same time. Mean. He was actually fairly good looking, far more so than I have thought from looking at pictures. That aside they were very good live, huge crowd interaction, tight arrangements and I think if I'd of known a few more of their songs I would've been as into as the people around me seemed to be.

All in all a pretty good night, considering we got free tickets. It did teach me one thing though; if you're going to a gig, you should really try and learn at least a few songs, I don't know about you, but I always feel so much more involved that way.

Until next time,

B

XO

What is a nation? This was the topic that we were addressing today in our history seminar. To me it seems as if the nation is almost a made up concept; scholars throughout the years have tried to come up with criteria and definitions, and yet can't seem to agree. This made-up concept is sold to those who live within it like soap powder adverts (and where have I heard that before?). It's a strange idea, if I tried to tell you what it was to British - what makes all 63 million of us who lives within these geographical boundaries, "British", I'd truly struggle. Is there anything that links all of us together, other than being British? And there we have a cyclic, chicken and egg situation. Which came first?

It's a confusing and almost laughable concept when you truly think about it. We are a strange and warped species. Over the years hundreds of millions of men have died fighting for their "nation" and yet, whilst each of them have their personal ideas, no one had a definition of what that meant. We're prepared to send and be sent, to die for something that nobody can define. It seems to be a habit of ours, not only do it with the construct of nations, we also do it with the construct of religion. And I'm not talking about faith here; have faith if you want to. I am merely questioning the insanity of conflict over something which we have constructed.

We seem to be good at attempting to defend, and definitely die for, imaginary concepts and constructs.

Just a thought,

B

Okay, here we go.

Last night I went to see Les Miserables (as some of you who stalk the single's thread might well know) and I thought it was beyond incredible. It got me thinking about myself, as things like that often do. I sometimes wonder why I didn't go into theatre or music - I feel so out of place. Then I convince myself that I'm not talented enough to even think about doing something like that. Anyway, that's an entirely different story, but what I was thinking about was the power music and story has to change peoples lives...

This is a Green Day fan site, so regardless of whether this is still true, at some point I assume you joined because you had more than a passing interest in the band and their music. This like/love was enough to make you want to connect with other fans who felt like you and this brings to my first point - music has the power to unite, the power to make you feel like you belong. I think this links to the fact that, regardless of what the general comments on this period in your life can be like; high school can be fucking hard. As teenagers and young adults, I feel like we're constantly craving to somewhere where we feel like we can fit in - hopefully this is a place that provides that. Anyway, enough about GDC, back to music...

For me music is about passion - I wrote in my diary about a year ago that I love passionate people, and I believe this is why I fall into my interests so deeply, as in music. Whether it be rock; seeing Billie Joe on stage crying as he sings 'Wake Me Up When September Ends' or roaring as he rampages through 'St Jimmy'; or rap, because regardless of whether you like it or not, some of it does have intense passion behind it. I think this is why Eminem has done so well - whether it's negative or positive passion is up for you to decide. Then you move through to orchestral and classical, some of you may listen to it, some of you might not. I for one do, and I don't feel any shame or music "guilt" as it were for saying so. Aside, I don't believe it's healthy to cut yourself off from any cultural aspect purely because you feel like you "shouldn't" or it doesn't fit in with your genre. I did that for a few years between about 13-6 and then realised that I was missing out on so many beautiful things because of how I was pigeonholing myself.

Anyway, to get to the point of this blog entry; when I hear certain things, or see certain things, I literally feel as if I have a fire in my blood. I'm not sure whether this makes me totally mad, or just means I feel things at a very intense level. I've tried to explain how I feel sometimes to my friends and their reaction seems muted to the experience we've just had. I'm not sure what I'm expecting... maybe I live in a fairy tale. This happened to me last night, after exciting the cinema I felt elated, the music was spinning around my head, the images in front of my eyes and maybe I was expecting Marius to come down the street and treat me like Cosette (although I prefer Eponine). Then reality happens, and it sucks.

This feeling is like a drug, it's adrenaline mixed with fairy tales and I have to wonder whether there is a more toxic mixture anywhere. It's addictive; makes you feel invincible for the few hours you experience it, makes you feel as if you could walk on the moon with your lover on your arm. I suppose the reaction to this would be "get real" but I have to ask, if you're not harming anyone, what's the danger from feeling this way about certain things? Maybe it's similar to falling in love...

I find nothing sexier than passion and conviction. If someone can immerse themselves in something fully and truly care for it then I find it incredibly attractive. Apathy turns me off instantly - get excited for chrissake!

Anyway, I could ramble on this way for a very long time. I just felt like writing it down....

Bryony

XOX

P.S - Sorry for any grammar or spelling mistakes, I was writing this as it tumbled out of my head and I don't want to edit that. :P

So this is something that comes to my attention every time I go on a night out in my divey town. I am unaware as to whether it happens in other towns around the UK, but I'm guessing it does seeing as it occurred as far afield as Australia.

Why does a group of girls going out for a night scream to (some) guys I want you to rub your crotch against my ass?!! Unfortunately, mate, this is not going to make me want to sleep with you. It's going to make me intensely uncomfortable, but you probably won't care about that because you're steaming drunk.

Now I am generalising, I do realise this, not all guys a like this; I have met some very nice guys on nights out. Some girls can be very predatory, but I am just talking from my own experiences (especially last night). One example last night was the three of us being hit on by a group of Geordie squaddies, nice enough lads I suppose but one of them was all over me... "Can I buy you a drink?.." etc. I said I didn't want one but he insisted and pulled me from the dance floor over to the bar where he bought me a VS (don't bust a gut mate!)... and I thanked him for it. He then asks whether he can have a kiss so I kissed him on the cheek, he asks whether that was it, so I gave him a peck and quickly departed for the dance floor. They were persistent, however, following us and asking if we wanted to come back to the camp and whatever; I told him to give up and find one of the many girls in the club who would be willing to go with them. Eventually they got the hint.

I mean sure, I like to look nice (as I can) when I go out and I enjoy the company of both guys and girls; but why, sometimes, does it have to turn into a competition as to who can get laid the fastest? I don't think I've actually been on a night out yet where I haven't had someone (guy or girl) try it on. Maybe it's an integral part of a night out, maybe I should take it as a compliment, but sometimes, y'know, it can get a bit wearing...

On Saturday, at Aintree in England, The Grand National Horse Race was run. This occurs every year and I have no problems with the idea of the race itself.

This particular Saturday started off like any other national, officials pissing about with the tape to mark the start and a couple of jockeys getting thrown by agitated horses here and there. It also ended like any other national; only 15 out of the 40 horses that started, actually finished the race. Of the 25 that didn't finish, 2 were seriously injured and had to put down at the scene. This two brings the total of the number of horse deaths at the national to 35 since the year 2000.

Something clearly has to be done.

As I previously stated I am not against the race itself, it's part of the rich fabric of our culture, but I am against some of the stupid jumps that are on the course. The one that claimed the life of one of the horses this weekend was a jump called 'Becher's Brook' - the landing side of the jump is significantly lower than the take off side - WELL OF COURSE HORSES ARE GOING TO FALL IF THEY DON'T KNOW WHERE THE HELL THEY'RE LANDING!!! It makes me angry that jumps like that are allowed to exist.

Also, there has of course been arguments about the existence of the race and the rules and regs that are in place. A couple of the arguments presented by the 'pro-race' side have been that a) horse racing involves risk; much like being an olympic athlete does and b) the horses enjoy it.

Well in answer to those things; a) an olympic athlete does not get SHOT if they pull a hamstring. There isn't a drive-by going on along the side of the 200m track to 'spice it up' and see which of the athletes is going to make it! Also b) sure I know that horses enjoy racing, of course they do, they love a good gallop, but if they were centric enough to understand "this race may kill you; do you still want to take part?" I'm guessing they might not enjoy it so much. Athletes have a choice when they take to the track, horses do not.

It's been so sad this week as they've shown various clips and things, one of a BBC reporter running into According to Pete's stable a few minutes before he was taking out, asking the stable girl how things were going. I couldn't help but put a voice in there "Yeah he's fine, but he'll be dead in a few minutes anyway..."

I am not against horse racing, but something has to be done to make sure that there is as little chance as physical possible of horses dying from this race.

B

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