A Day to Remember
W/ The Story So Far, Every Time I Die, Mallory Knox
@ Alexandra Palace, London, 12/02/14
The older I get, the less new bands I can get into. Maybe it’s an age thing. The days of me sitting around watching MTV for hours on end are long gone so not much really sticks. The Story So Far are one band, however, that I did notice. After a succession of splits and EPs, the Walnut Creek punks hit the mainstream last year with their album What You Don’t See and a well-earned spot on the Warped tour. They play the energetic brand of pop punk championed by the likes of The Wonder Years and I couldn’t wait to see if they could cut it live. Unfortunately, I missed their set through my own ineptitude. Ditto Every Time I Die and Mallory Knox. Which is a shame, I was impressed with Mallory Knox’s debut and lets face it, any band named after a character in Natural Born Killers can’t be bad.
There are some bands that when you listen to their studio recordings, you just know you are only getting half the story. ADTR are one of those bands. They’ve been near the top of my ‘to see’ list since I first listened to 2009’s Homesick, still one of my favourite albums. I was less enamored with last year’s Common Courtesy, partly because of all the faffing about between songs. It’s a ‘window into the creative process’ that, frankly, I could do without. After ‘I Remember’ there’s about 6 minutes of it. Despite that, they remain a band notoriously difficult to define. Are they punk? Hardcore? Metalcore?
Does it even matter?
Anyway, bring it ADTR. Here is your chance.
They take the stage in a flash of pyro to the thumping strains of All I Want. They are much less poppy in a live environment. Surprisingly, a lot of their lighter material seemed to fall a little flat while the more hardcore songs went down a storm. Fast Forward to 2012 sequeing into 2nd Sucks was absolutely brutal. Mid-set they surprised everyone, and showcased their considerable skills in the process, by going acoustic for a song and a half. Surprisingly, the set was weighted considerably toward older material, highlights being My Life For Hire and You Should Have Killed me When You Had the Chance. The guitar interplay between Neil Westfall and comparative new boy Kevin Skaff was just as layered and complex as it sounds on the records, but live it has an added punchiness that powers the songs effortlessly toward their thundering conclusions.
I don’t know what the huge multi-level doll’s house stage set was all about, but the band made full use of it, jumping around with admirable intensity. At one point, somebody (it might have been Jeremy McKinnon, it might not have been) crowd surfed in a giant bubble. Haven’t seen that at a gig before. I was also stumped during the encores when the band brought out about 25 bemused-looking teenage girls to stand behind them. Maybe they were competition winners or something. Or maybe they were just a bunch of horny groupies. Who knows?
The choice of venue wasn’t ideal. As legendary as it is, the Ally Pally is like a gigantic cavernous shoebox stuck on the edge of north London. It’s not easy to get to, the acoustics are awful, and if you are more than ten rows from the front you can’t see shit. ADTR are at that awkward stage in the UK where they can’t decide whether they want to be an arena band or not. Personally, I wish they had either bitten the bullet and booked the 02, or done two or three nights in a smaller venue. Ally Pally is the worst possible choice. But what the fuck do I know?
All I want
I’m Made of Wax, Larry.
Fast Forward to 2012
Right Back at it Again
A Shot in the Dark
City of Ocala
You Had me @ Hello
If It Means a Lot to You
Mr Highway’s Thinking About the End
Life Lesson’s Learned the Hard Way
My Life for Hire
Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail
You Should Have Killed Me When You Had the Chance
Have Faith in Me
Plot to Bomb Panhandle
All Signs Point to Lauderdale
The Downfall of us All