Sunday, 4 May 2014


I don't think it's any secret to say that Brand New are one of my favourite bands, having tallied up thousands of plays and nine shows since they graced the poster of Reading 2009 and my love began. This time they were over for eight shows during my Easter Holiday, which is just screaming for a road trip. I guess, due to the train being my primary mode of transport, it's just a trip. I apologise in advance for this reading like a diary entry, because it basically is. I meant to update as we went along, but I thought I'd get something down after the fact seeing as it didn't turn out like that.

Starting off in Southampton and London was a blessing; due to the proximity of both venues it meant I could sleep in my own bed - something which I came to miss in the week after. Although that said, I did have to go to the former with my father, so I suppose I did pay a price.

From there the adventures began! First up to Leeds, where - after eventually finding the right Travelodge - I finally got to meet Shannon, who I've known from the world wide web for quite a while now. Is always really cool to get to meet 'new' people! Unfortunately the Reading vs Leicester match had been moved to a Monday evening for Sky, which meant I had to circle the city looking for a pub showing it. When there I got talking to a lovely man who had the misfortune of supporting Nottingham Forest. After seeing The Royals throw away a lead yet again I decided to head to the Academy. I definitely thought that Leeds would be a more raucous city, probably didn't help that my late arrival meant I experienced the gig by myself. The aftershow 'party' was pretty cool, and got to run into the `hardcore` who were all doing multiple dates - the majority doing all of them.

Glasgow was up next, which meant having to concentrate real hard when it came to Scottish accents. Most of the time it wasn't too bad, but Kim and her dad have an almost impenetrable wall of sound that's impossible to decipher. There was also a conversation about jaywalking, that exactly mirrored one I had in Leeds - kinda spooky. Onto the famous Barrowlands, which is a beautiful little-ish venue, in the heart of Celtic country by the sound of it. Kim and I befriended a loveable fella, who had no friends into Brand New - which is a crime. Another internet friend became somebody I know irl (sort of), as Zoe was dragged over by Kim. (Apparently I'm taller, and happier in person - make of that what you will). Plus running into William Brown for the first time in almost a year was lovely. On the way out somebody decided to throw beer over my head, which wasn't so great. Despite staying with Kimberley she decided to head home, as the rest of us went out to the infamous Cathouse. I've head a lot of stories about this shadiest of nightclubs, but it actually isn't that bad. Just how you'd expect a Glaswegian alternative night to be.

From Glasgow it was back to the North East to Newcastle. On the train down two girls sat across from me very into The Front Bottoms. Kate, and... Kate's friend, who I would run into later in the night as she screamed and made disparaging comments about my group of friends. What is with children, on pretty much every train between Leeds and Manchester there were kids screaming their heads off, it felt like I was in a bad sketch. Newcastle itself is rather grim, especially when sitting in Gotham - which isn't the world's nicest establishment. I actually stumbled on the back of the Academy whilst Vince and Garrett were outside. Was no chance in the world I was going to go up to them, mind. The worst thing about Newcastle was in the gig itself when Jesse acknowledged that they were playing the same setlist, and vowed to change it up for the next three gigs. After all, it's not like they played all albums back-to-back recently. The aftershow party this time was in a rather odd venue, and involved Kim and Jamie's incredulous exclamations about how I didn't know songs (generally, I was too young), and myself rapping Childish Gambino's 3005. One of the highlights of life.

The day off gave me a chance to go see one of my housemates, Natalie, up in her native Guisborough. A surprisingly nice place considering it's positioned somewhere between Redcar and Middelsbrough. A full bladder, and a hangover that had only just kicked in made the forty-five minute journey from Darlington one of my least pleasurable. The plan from there was to go out in Redcar for a bar crawl, which wasn't as bad as expected. Especially, it turns out, when you spend a majority of the evening talking about wrestling. Although, a word of warning, that can actually alienate the non-wrestling class.

Another early start was because I had to get from Middelsbrough to Wigan for the Reading game. I actually had to go into Manchester to come back out. I decided to leave my stuff in left luggage, which turned out to be the most expensive decision I made. (£8 for three hours?). Plus then watching a 3-0 loss, not getting back into Manchester early enough for The Front Bottoms but still catching half of Saves the Day. It was basically the worst scenario I could've imagined. Changing up the setlist apparently means starting with a Nine Inch Nails' cover that nobody knows. Great. Plus when outside the shirt I bought off a tout was, deliberately I think, two sizes too small. I wanted a shirt with the tour dates, but I must have got there too late for them to actually have any left. The fact it was Good Friday meant that the trams were finished, and I had to leg it for a bus - so I didn't actually find out the shirt was too small until it was too late. It's now a present for Lauren, though, so not all bad.

Then were the two Hit The Decks. First up was the lovely Bristol. For the second time in five days I managed to go to the wrong hotel. The worst part this time, though, was that I had come from almost exactly where I was meant to be. The fifty minute walk I had could have been five. Proper Ibis are pretty plush though, I'm definitely a fan. When I finally got into Bristol I ran straight into Murray (it's rather gutting that I got into both Bristol, and Nottingham just after The Xcerts' sets), and then old school friends, alongside Peter and Natalie [2], which was pretty strange but very cool! Bristol doesn't really work as a venue for Hit The Deck, everything is a twenty minute walk away. I imagine it would have been a lot better had you not been walking everywhere for a week prior. The increasing frustration at Brand New's static setlist semi-boiled over, but Propaganda is enough to take anybody's mind off Jesse Lacey and co.. Especially when you're pretty much the only people in it.

The final day! Hit The Deck in Nottingham, a city dear to my heart. Rain hit at exactly the wrong time as I struggled toward the Premier Inn. My legs, by this point, were rather dead, and my feet were in so, so much pain. Eventually Lauren managed to actually get to Nottingham, after doing her best to miss out, and the final day fun could commence. Gnarwolves in The Rescue Rooms was kinda mental, that band have got big things in store. Plus I always forget quite how much I like KIGH. Good thing they're playing everything before they split up later in the year. I ended up getting a Talon of the Hawk vinyl from Kate - who was temporarily TFB's merch seller as the band went to load out, which my mum proceeded on spilling tea over when I eventually got home. The final Brand New show was probably the best, although the relief from them not opening with NINs is probably not to be underestimated. It was a fun week. It was a good week. It was a tiring week.

Jamie's pessimism about whether they'll ever be back, or even a band for much longer, has got through to me, and if it was the last time I'll get to see them then it probably wasn't the way I'd like it to end. The shows a couple of years ago were much better, but without any new material it was always fairly likely to be like that. That said, if they never do come back, then I'll be quite happy with The Front Bottoms. New favourites.

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