Give It A Name 2005

author PP date 19/05/05

What are we looking at here' The emo festival of the year. What other festival offers Funeral For A Friend, Mae, Alexisonfire, Fightstar, Mewithoutyou, Coheed & Cambria, Finch and Rise Against, all on the same stage, one after another, on the same day. The bank holiday Monday was destined to be a great day. I mean, how could the festival arrangers screw up when the lineup filled with the biggest stars of emo and punk rock' There's no way they can fuck up, right' Well, think again.

The venue, Alexandra's Palace, was completely sold out (8,000). When the designers of the venue decided to call it a palace, they really meant it. The first thing you saw when you entered the venue was a giant entrance hall with huge pillars everywhere, some windows on the ceiling, an enormous fountain in the middle of a very forestry square, and the floors that were covered in marble-like material. The next hall was a gigantic concrete square with some merchandise stands from the bands and designer outlets. This hall also housed a long bar (hell, we'll come to those later on the feature. God damn them). All of this is looking really fancy, and next hall is the actual concert hall. An amazingly big, stadium-like stage had been built on one end of this concrete hall, and the other end housed two ridiculously small bars and hot dog/burger stands (oh we will get to those later too, don't worry.)

And so it was Charlie Busted's turn to hit the stage. No, we're not talking about Busted, but about his post-hardcore band, Fightstar. The crowd was quite evenly divided by those who were willing to throw their beers at him (I found out later that throwing beer was probably the worst possible idea at this venue, read more later) and those who were obviously lifetime fans of Busted, and were here only because they would get yet another glimpse of Charlie on stage. But what I don't get is how can Fightstar call themselves a post-hardcore band and play nearly acoustic, slow, and to be honest, boring songs half of their set. This was actually my first time hearing Fightstar, and it was as I expected; very, very average. They started their set all right though, playing some proper post-hardcore anthems with some close to good screaming from Charlie. But as soon as they hit the slow, acoustic songs, the beer cups started flying towards them. Okay, I am exaggerating a little bit, because there were a total of 4 or 5 things that were thrown at them, but they were the only one that things were being thrown at today. There's nothing special about this band, Charlie fanboys and girls. [5]

Next up, to my surprise, was Mae instead of The Lucky Nine. Mae is a relatively new band on the indie rock/emo scene even in the US, so they were genuinely overwhelmed by the sudden quadrupling of the crowd sizes. This is a band that has played in front of 2,000 people at the maximum in the North America, and here they were standing in front of 8,000 emo fans. They delivered their soft, relaxing indie rock set with such passion that it inspired the crowd to go along with the band. Hell, their lead singer even asked the crowd for a permission to take a photos from stage, which he did several times during their set. We heard all of their most famous songs like 'Summertime', 'The Everglow' and the song that's already gained a status of a classic, 'Sun'. Great stuff, everyone enjoyed them, and I think Mae can go home with a couple of hundred new fans in their pockets. [9]

The Lucky Nine, who I thought would be playing before Mae, is a band fronted by the ex- Hundred Reasons frontman. I saw Hundred Reasons when they supported Incubus, so I expected another soft, nearly acoustic band to step up to the stage. Boy, was I wrong about them. Lucky Nine's no where near acoustic, they're not soft, and they're definitely not a band you wanna mess with. Their post-hardcore set included manic screaming crossed with clean vocals, heavily distorted but yet melodic guitars, and basically all 5 songs from their debut EP. I was impressed, it will be interesting to follow them once they release their full length effort. [7]

As Give It A Name had already screwed up the order of the bands playing today, I headed out for the bar straight after Lucky Nine's set, not knowing which band would play next. The bar system was unbelievably unorganized. Mass confusion, hysteria, and claustrophobia were what the people queuing for the bars were experiencing. For no reason at all, the safety decided to start pushing safety barriers in between the bar and the people ordering drinks, pushing them even further away from the bar desk and causing mass confusion on what to do. This certainly didn't help with the line, which was already more than 40 minutes long. I simply had to give up queuing for the drinks after I heard which band got on next. As soon as the first notes of 'Accidents' by Alexisonfire blasted out of the speakers, well over half of the people queuing for beer started running towards the concert hall again. They delivered the one of the most intense, aggressive, energetic, superb sets I have seen on a stadium-sized venue. The crowd went absolutely mental, creating dozens of circle pits all over the hall. Everyone seemed to know the lyrics, and it seemed as if 90% of the people had come here just because of Alexisonfire. Were they worth it' Hell yes. Just an example of the bizarreness of the crowd and Alexisonfire's effect tonight: During the beginning of 'Pulmonary Archery', where there is a long, slow, instrumental introduction lasting well over a minute, an empty circle in the very middle of the crowd started growing. And growing. And growing. And growing. And it kept on growing every second, and it got up to a point where George, the vocalist of Alexisonfire, had to say 'Holy shit, look at that hole. It keeps on getting bigger and bigger'. It got up to a point where the hole was bigger than the whole of Astoria, and that's when it exploded. George's screamo vocals hit in, the tempo of the song went punktastic, and senseless maniacs started flying all around that circle, that was completely empty just moments before. This was an unforgettable performance by Alexisonfire [9]

Rise Against had a lot to live up to after Alexisonfire's performance. They are a true story of the classic from the underground into the consciousness of the masses type. Yet tonight's 8,000 people were the biggest crowd they have played in front of during their career. Usually political hardcore punk is at it's best at small venues resembling more of dirty bathrooms than a proper gig venue, but tonight Rise Against really hit the fan. Their fast hardcore punk sound seemed to be in it's element at this gigantic venue, and it seemed as if they noticed it themselves as well. Songs like 'State Of The Union' and 'Heaven Knows' were played with passion and dedication, while Tim was jumping around the stage faster than a cheetah. Great performance, if you take in account that Tim had nearly lost his voice the other day in Belgium. Dallas, the backup vocalist and guitarist of Alexisonfire, actually helped Tim out by singing 'Give It All' in it's entirety. He shrieked a lot more than Tim normally does, so that sounded pretty neat. Good stuff [9]

What would an emo festival be without the emocore kings Coheed & Cambria' The dark skin, gigantic afro-type hair, and a high pitch voice is certainly an inimitable mixture. It becomes impossible to imitate once you add the complex guitar riffs, lyrics about fantasy characters' lives and a rigorous stage show on top of that. Coheed & Cambria played two new songs today, starting their set with 'Kashmire' from their upcoming full length to be released in August. It was a long epic, which included more instrumental parts than actual singing, and it is bound to become a classic. In fact, judging by 'Kashmire' and 'Selfish Little Whore', the new album is going to be even better than the last two. Claudio got massive applauses from the crowd during the 3 and a half minute long guitar solo of 'Selfish Little Whore', which he partly played behind his neck. Just the image of him standing there, performing an impressively complex solo behind his neck gave cold shivers to most of the crowd. Most of their songs today fitted perfectly to the stadium-like atmosphere. The crowd echoed back 'Good Eye, Sniper' louder than Claudio could sing them out, and 'In Keeping Secrets Of Silent Earth' saw the crowd exploding during the humming parts. Awesome stuff [9]

Straight after Coheed & Cambria I made a run for the food shops before everyone else. After all, it had been a god 10 hours from my last meal (breakfast). I ran all the way to the other end of the giant hall only to face a line longer than the wall of china. So I had a choice. Either I would just not eat, or I would start queuing up and would miss half of Finch's set. But of the little that I saw of it, it wasn't that good. Their stage show just doesn't get to me, at all. They played a lot of new songs from 'Say Hello To Sunshine', which sounded more like a combination of Deftones and Underoath, than what we are used to from 'What It Is To Burn'. I'm gonna go ahead and give them a 7 despite their stageshow, because judging by the couple of new songs they played, they have evolved and the new record won't be 'What It Is To Burn v.2'. [7]

Finally, to finish off the great night, Funeral For A Friend hit the stage. I liked their first record. It's not my favorite, but there are some quality songs on that album. Their first song was 'Escape Artists Never Die', which was a great start. But tonight, FFAF failed to catch my interest. It had been a long day nearly without any food or beer, and FFAF just sounded very'boring. There's nothing special about this band, I don't understand why they are hyped up so much. Their screamo vocals sounded faint, and their clean vocals sounded exactly the same in every single song. They tried, and they tried, but not even their decent stage show could save their performance tonight. Nice try welsh kids, but add some more depth into your music and I'll give you a good review. [6]

Overall, the festival was a disaster. Sure, the musical acts were fucking awesome, but the overall organization was terrible. You weren't allowed to re-enter the venue, which meant that if you wanted to have a beer or some food, you'd have to queue for anywhere between 40 minutes and three hours. That is completely unacceptable. How could the arrangers not foresee that a 10 hour long festival housing 8,000 people, would cause queues. Who was the person who decided to only have THREE bars for 8,000 people''' I would like to have a couple of words with him, because I don't think it would be much different to be without water in Sahara for a couple of days as opposed to what it was like tonight. But once I queued that grand 50 minutes for my beers, they tasted better than anything a man could ever dream of having during that moment. The first one went down the throat with one go, and the next one went pretty quick as well. Anyway, the festival arrangers should consider the organizational flaws for next year. If they fix them up, the festival will be worth a 9er, perhaps even a full 10er. [4]

Date: 02.05.2005

Venue: Alexandra's Palace, London, UK

Bands: MewithoutYou, Fightstar, Mae, Lucky Nine, Alexisonfire, Rise Against, Coheed & Cambria, Finch, Funeral For A Friend

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