I have a talent.
And that talent is that, no matter how early I leave and how on-time I seem to be, I always miss opening bands.
Sadly, in the past that has been the case with both Only Rivals and Blitz Kids (missing Only Rivals opening for All Time Low in March and Blitz Kids at Slam Dunk South in May) so I was super determined not to miss either of them at this concert and I was not disappointed.
This was my second time seeing, and reviewing, Only Rivals. (The first review can be found here, if you are interested in seeing how they've developed in the last six months.) Previously, I couldn't help drawing comparisons between them and other bands; I knew they had a mixture of various bands elements shoved together, so they sounded predictable and repetitive and blended in with the rest of the scene. However, at this show they could not have been more different. Singer Stephen Arkins has more confidence and stage presence than he did previously, showing that the support slot for All Time Low and the other shows they've been busy with over the past half of a year have caused the band to grow in leaps and bounds. There was a higher percentage of communication with the crowd, another thing that was previously lacking, and it's obvious to see that the band have grown to have more faith in themselves and the songs that they have written. With another support slot on the Pop Punks Not Dead tour with New Found Glory, The Story So Far, State Champs and Candy Hearts coming up quickly in November, you can tell it's going to help Only Rivals develop even more, making me extremely excited to see what new music they will be releasing after all they've learnt from their peers and in themselves. The majority of the set was comprised of the 'Details EP' (which, by the way, is superb and definitely deserves a purchase) with just one other song slotted in, the memorable 'Arsonist' that I fell in love with first time around and still adore in the live environment now, and it was amazing to see a good crowd reaction for a fairly unknown opening band.
Only Rivals setlist:
When I Die
When I Die
Second up were Blitz Kids, a band who have been going from strength to strength since the release of Red Bull Records debut 'The Good Youth', playing slots ranging from Channel 4's Sunday Brunch to Black Sabbath's 'BST Hyde Park' show last month. With the members dancing backstage to 'Slam' by Pendulum playing before their set, you can tell the energy and excitement they exude in their live performance isn't false at all, because once they bound on to the stage the adrenaline doesn't let up through the full half an hour. The entire audience was singing along to every word of their songs, proving that this support slot was both a stroke of genius and a perfect fit. I've been eager to see Blitz Kids for months now and I was most definitely not disappointed. Joey James vocals are even more on point live, meaning that instead of being unable to live up to their recorded songs they completely surpass them in a live environment, which is very rare indeed. During the penultimate song, the potential arena-filler 'On My Own', Joey came down to the crowd making fans squeal and rush forward to grab his hand, the likes of which are usually only caused by big names such as Pete Wentz. But maybe that's the point. It's easy to draw comparisons between Blitz Kids and You Me At Six or Fall Out Boy, both bands which saw a speedy growth to chart-topping status. Not many people have realised it, and I don't even think they know it themselves yet, but Blitz Kids are soaring their way to big name status, and I can't see anything slowing the trajectory any time soon.
Blitz Kids setlist:
All I Want Is Everything
Run For Cover
Sold My Soul
On My Own
Sadly, due to an early train and a late stage time, I only managed to see five songs of Young Guns headline set, three of those being from the soon to be released, as yet untitled third album. Kicking off with recent release 'I Want Out' (which, coincidentally, had a video released today) it's obvious that Young Guns are back with a vengeance after the two year gap since the release of 'Bones'. I've seen Young Guns once before, two months before the release of 'All Our Kings Are Dead', so I wasn't expecting their new songs to get such an intense crowd reaction so immediately. The three new tracks have a stronger dance-oriented sound, which is not a negative - all bands develop and after such a great chart success with their second album it's amazing to hear such a marked difference between the songs. This is a band that is not afraid to take risks. The other two songs they played while I was still there were 'Weight of the World' and 'Stitches', both from their first album. On the one hand, it was unfortunate because it means I still haven't heard a single song from 'Bones' live, but on the other it was amazing to see the crowd singing along to these songs as no one knew them last time I saw them performed live. I'm going to be seeing Young Guns at Reading Festival, so I can't wait to see if these songs live up in a festival environment as well as they did at the intimate warm-up last night.