OPINION: A team effort (…we are greater than the sum of our parts)

Words by Ed King / Pic by Aatish Ramchurm

Whilst promoting the next NOT NORMAL NOT OK live gig fundraiser, being held at Centrala on 25th October, I was messaged by someone who’d just got their tickets saying: ‘thank you for making a positive difference’. Simple enough, but something in me was uncomfortable – from well planned birthday presents to professional praise I’ve been waiting too long to hear, I can feel awkward from adulation. This was different though.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK was launched just over a year ago in response to a deluge of stories we heard about sexual violence in the local live music scene. And it started where most things do, for me, as a piece of writing. Namely an op-ed featured on Birmingham Review, which originally ended on a general call to arms to tackle sexual violence – ‘we should join together and form a campaign…’ that sort of thing.

Then we thought, why not just put a campaign together and use that drum banging energy to get people to join in – the call to arms became a social media drive, with our sticker campaign as the initial outreach activity. And it went well; venues reached out in support, promoters and artists invited us to their gigs to hand out stickers, and a reasonable chunk of both the music and mainstream media got solidly behind the campaign.

We had achieved our aim of bringing the issue out of the shadows – our logo was appearing on t-shirts, guitars, drum kits, and the occasional toilet room door at venues across the city. Our social media spiked with sign ups, the mailing list gained traction, whilst countless people asked how they could get more involved. Plus, after a relatively short time, we had already started helping victims of sexual violence get the help they needed – linking them to our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police. We had even had a few curious phone calls, such as people asking “…should I be worried?” A question that answers itself if you stop and think about it.

(On that note, we would rather see someone get help to address and change their negative behaviour than burn them at the stake. If you need help, whatever your problems with sexual violence, be honest and reach out.)

But from my days evaluating consumer based PR campaigns, NOT NORMAL NOT OK launched with aplomb. We had reached our audience; the singular idea had grown into a force of its own, propelled and shaped by the ongoing support of people across the city. And right there… that’s why ‘thank you’ makes me uncomfortable.

There are a team of amazing volunteers who have supported NOT NORMAL NOT OK from day one – pushing the message at gigs and handing out stickers wherever they go. There are the people who take the time to read and share our social media activity – which encourages new people to learn about the campaign and seek help if they need it. There are the venue managers and promoters that have been so embracing – allowing us into their premises and supporting our campaign teams. There’s everyone who’s bought a badge, worn a sticker, or turned up to our events. And there are our campaign partners at RSVP and West Midlands Police – who have made this into something more than just a paper tiger, helping us get the right support to those who have suffered abuse.

I waited for a few minutes before responding to the message I mentioned at the start of this article, offering: ‘Team effort – thanks to you too’, as my reply. I hope it didn’t sound ungrateful. It certainly wasn’t meant to. But the absolute truth is that the successes of the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign comes when we make that team effort, when we are greater than the sum of our parts.

I love the picture at the top of this post. It was a great gig, with everyone on stage and off sharing in a sense of real group achievement.

And we’re asking you now, as we asked when we launched this campaign, please continue to help – come to the Centrala fundraiser on 25th October, be part of the next group photo we’re planning to take. Buy a pen, buy a fridge magnet. Help us hand out more stickers at more gigs and help us reach more people via social media. Get involved.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK has made some great progress in the past year and we’re about to embark on a new outreach activity that will help us make even more – click here for more info. But this only works, really works, if we don’t do it alone. And whatever ‘thank you’s are left hanging in the air can be more deservedly shared by all of us.

NOT NORMAL NOT OK is hosting a live gig fundraiser on Friday 25th October at Centrala – with Flight Brigade, Hannah Brown and Lycio all performing live. All money raised will be used to support the venue ‘tool kit’ and staff training programme, for more info visit www.notnormalnotok.com/venue-tool-kit-staff-training-programme

Tickets are priced at £5 Early bird / £7 standard advance, then more on the door – for direct event info and links to online ticket sales, click here to visit the Facebook event page.

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NOT NORMAL NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues surrounding sexual violence – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL NOT OK website.

THE GALLERY: Wood and Nails @ The Flapper 02.03.19

Words by Ed King / Pics by Aatish Ramchurn

On Saturday 2nd March, Wood and Nails headlined at The Flapper – with support from Dearist, George Gadd, and Last Light.

Promoted by Surprise You’re Dead, the gig was a raucous celebration of Wood and Nails’ latest single ‘Searching for an Exit’ – which you can wrap your grubby little music-for-free ears around here. Or better still, click here to buy something from the band in question and keep them in diamond crusted plectrums. Or food. Or whatever it is that artistes need to survive these days.

But by all on and offline reports, recollections, fervent cries and night terrors of loss and longing, the evening was a rip-roaring success. So much so, in fact, that the Birmingham Review front line reporter has been missing in action ever since… if found, please return to BRHQ.

Luckily, we had more troops in the crowd – a man who shall now and forever be referred to as ‘photo ninja’, for his Matrixesque ability to weave through a mosh pit whilst messing about with that all important ISO.

And as for the rest of you, indulge yourselves in some glorious gig shots from Saturday 2nd March at The Flapper in THE GALLERY – featuring headliners Wood and Nails, alongside support acts Last Light, George Gadd, and Dearist. There are a few picked cherries to begin with, then the larger mosaic gallery – so viddy below my droogs, such a gromky shoom horrorshow:

Woods and Nails @ The Flapper 02.03.19 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on Wood and Nails, visit their Spotify artist profile by clicking here – or to visit the Wood and Nails Facebook page for more info and links, click here.

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Dearist – supporting Woods and Nails @ The Flapper 02.03.19 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on Dearist, visit www.facebook.com/DearistUK

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George Gadd – supporting Woods and Nails @ The Flapper 02.03.19 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on George Gadd, visit www.georgegadd.bandcamp.com

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Last Light – supporting Woods and Nails @ The Flapper 02.03.19 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on Last Light, visit www.soundcloud.com/lastlightuk

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Gallery not found.

All photography by Aatish Ramchurn / Aatish Photography.

For more from Surprise You’re Dead, including further event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.surpriseyouredeadmusic.co.uk

For more on The Flapper, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.theflapper.co.uk

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NOT NORMAL – NOT OK is a campaign to encourage safety and respect within live music venues, and to combat the culture of sexual assault and aggression – from dance floor to dressing room.

To learn more about the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here. To sign up and join the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK campaign, click here.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this feature – or if you want to report an act of sexual aggression, abuse, or assault – click here for information via the ‘Help & Support’ page on the NOT NORMAL – NOT OK website.

ELEANOR’S PICK: Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

ELEANOR’S PICK: Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Words by Eleanor Sutcliffe

Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) comes to the NEC in Birmingham on 28th May. For a direct event information, including venue details and online ticket sales, visit www.gentingarena.co.uk/whats-on/slam-dunk-festival

As one of the most anticipated dates in the UK pop punk calendar, it’s safe to say Slam Dunk Festival are taking no prisoners with this year’s line up. With a bevy of bands and artists descending upon the NEC in just under a week’s time, I took it upon myself to comb through the roster and select a number that I personally love.

ELEANOR’S PICK: Holding Absence at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Holding Absence / Rock Sound Breakout Stage

Birmingham favourites, Holding Absence, are set to make their Slam Dunk debut this year on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. Having recently announced the departure of guitarist Feisal El-Khazragi, it will be one of their first performances without him in their line up. But with Holding Absence recently nominated for Best British Breakthrough Band at the 2018 Heavy Metal Awards, plus playing a string of dates supporting Being as an Ocean across Europe in June, they’re certainly not letting El-Khazragi’s departure slow them down.

Represented by Sharptone Records – who bought us the likes of Don Broco, Miss May I and We Came As Romans – the Cardiff based band also recently toured and released a co-EP with Loathe titled This Is As One, which earned them numerous positive reviews from critics for tracks such as ‘Saint Cecilia’.

Holding Absence perform at 3:30pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. For more on Holding Absence, visit www.holdingabsence.com

Saint Cecilia’ – Holding Absence

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ELEANOR’S PICK: PVRIS at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

PVRIS / Jägermeister Main Stage

Having recently performed at Coachella, PVRIS will be returning to Birmingham hot off the heels of the American leg of their All We Know of Heaven, All We Need Of Hell tour – promoting their latest album of the same name.

Lynn Gunn’s dreamy vocals, combined with the band’s heavy rock influences, have earned them a dedicated fanbase and won them Rock Sound’s Artist of the Year Award back in 2017. Here’s hoping PVRIS also perform some tracks from their debut album, White Noise, with songs such as ‘St. Patrick’ and ‘My House’ being on my personal wish list.

PVRIS perform at 8:15 pm on the Jägermeister Main Stage. For more on PVRIS, visit www.pvris.com

‘Anyone Else’ – PVRIS

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ELEANOR’S PICK: Taking Back Sunday at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Taking Back Sunday / Monster Energy Main Stage

Returning to Slam Dunk for the 3rd time, Taking Back Sunday were in the first wave of bands to be confirmed to at perform this year’s festival.

Having released their 7th album, Tidal Waves, in September 2016, and parting ways with their original guitarist Eddie Rayes last month, it will be interesting to see if we get to hear any new material from the group. Although I’m hoping to hear classic tracks such as ‘You’re So Last Summer’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’ as well as songs such as ‘You Can’t Look Back’ from their latest album live.

Taking Back Sunday perform at 8:05pm on the Monster Energy Main Stage. For more on Taking Back Sunday, visit www.takingbacksunday.com

‘You’re So Last Summer’ – Taking Back Sunday

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ELEANOR’S PICK: Astroid Boys at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18Astroid Boys / Impericon Stage

The Impericon stage will be hosting hardcore grime band Astroid Boys, who have always delivered impressive shows in Birmingham. Growing steadily since their formation back in 2012, they were bought to my attention after being featured in BBC Radio 4’s documentary Operation Grime, which tailed them on a tour across the UK.

Astroid Boys‘ music is not for the faint hearted – expect brutal lyrics addressing issues such as racism, mashed with hardcore and grime influences to create a sound you probably have never heard before… but will just as probably want to listen to again.

Astroid Boys perform at 2:20 pm on the Impericon Stage. For more on Astroid Boys, visit www.astroid-boys.com

‘Foreigners’ – Astroid Boys

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ELEANOR’S PICK: As It Is at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

As It Is / Signature Brew Stage

Announcing the August release of their latest album, The Great Depression, only a few days ago, Brighton based As It Is will be headlining the Signature Brew stage this year.

A band who’ve amassed a dedicated fan base with tracks such as ‘Dial Tones’ and ‘Hey Rachel’, their material is catchy, easy to listen to and fun – however it’s unfair to assume they lack a more serious side. Their latest release, ‘The Wounded World’, delves into a much darker side of their ever-expanding noise, having been cited by the band as a ‘new era’ of their music which expands on ‘the societal romanticisation of depression’ and ‘the disrepair of present-day human connection’.

As ever with this band, though, As It Is approach their subject with the respect and sensitivity it warrants – referencing their new material as a means for them to work to create a positive change for mental health.

As It Is perform at 8:30pm on the Signature Brew Stage. For more from As It Is, visit www.asitisofficial.bandcamp.com

‘The Wounded World’ – As It Is

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ELEANOR’S PICK: Luke Rainsford at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Luke Rainsford / The Key Club Acoustic Stage

The Key Club Acoustic Stage is hosting a stellar line up of bands and artists, including Birmingham’s Luke Rainsford – combining upbeat guitar with gut wrenching vocals, making music that is hard hitting but a real treat to listen to.

Having toured the UK extensively since the release of I Feel At Home With You in February 2017, and having recently released his latest EP, I Just Don’t Deserve To Be Loved, in April 2018, Rainsford’s music deals with difficult issues such as loss, bereavement, low self esteem and mental health. Good, honest stuff.

Luke Rainsford performs at 4:15 pm on The Key Club Acoustic Stage. For more on Luke Rainsford, visit www.lukerainsford.bandcamp.com

‘Home Safe’ – Luke Rainsford

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltnvyxgWovs

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ELEANOR’S PICK: Stand Atlantic at Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) @ NEC 28.05.18

Stand Atlantic / Rock Sound Breakout Stage

Australian trio, Stand Atlantic, will also be making their Slam Dunk debut this year, having recently toured with other performers such as ROAM and Knuckle Puck. With their latest EP, Sidewinder, reaching an impressive #10 on Rock Sound’s Top 50 Albums of 2017, and having been cited by Kerrang! as one of the hottest bands of 2018, Stand Atlantic are proving they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Claiming influences from Blink-182 to The 1975, they’re certainly considered a mixed bag musically too – but in the best possible way. Trust me. Go and listen to ‘Coffee at Midnight’. You can thank me later.

Stand Atlantic perform at 6:00 pm on the Rock Sound Breakout Stage. For more on Stand Atlantic, visit www.facebook.com/StandAtlantic 

‘Coffee at Midnight’ – Stand Atlantic

Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands) comes to the NEC in Birmingham on 28th May. For direct information on Slam Dunk Festival 2018, including details on all the events happening across the UK, visit www.slamdunkmusic.com

For a direct info and online ticket sales for Slam Dunk Festival 2018 (Midlands), visit www.gentingarena.co.uk/whats-on/slam-dunk-festival

For more from the Genting Arena, including full events listing and venue details, visit www.gentingarena.co.uk

THE GALLERY: Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

 

 

 

Words by Ed King / Pics by Aatish Ramchurn & Eleanor Sutcliffe

“…can anyone take my ticket?”

A man stands in the doorway at the Hare & Hounds, gesticulating like a proud Neville Chamberlain. OK, bad example. But it’s 7:30pm, the venue has just opened, and there’s a queue forming behind him. As gigs on a school night go this is looking promising.

And so it should be, the once ‘rising balloon’ now ‘rock powerhouse’ of Rews have returned to the city – bolting a Birmingham gig onto the end of their UK spring tour, before finishing their run with dates in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Plus, they’ve sold out. On a Thursday. Something that’s a shiny badge of honour for bands that play in the second city, and one that is unassailable Rews deserve.

Since releasing their debut album, Pyro, back in November 2017, the Marshall signed two piece have been relentless in their performances and promotion – with their penultimate single, ‘Your Tears’, recently receiving a week of A-List airplay on Radio One. Rews are on the march, and it’s working. This is a band that you only have to see play once to become hooked. And from most of the DJs on Auntie’s No1 station to the room full of people coming tonight, there’s many who’d agree.

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeThe Hare 2 continues to fill up, with the venue’s narrow stairs looking like a bathroom queue at a house party. Roddy Woomble is playing in Hare 1, launching the promo campaign of this year’s Mosley Folk Festival, and it’s a busy night all round in Kings Heath. The buzz in the air is both cliché and palpable, with a healthy half room turnout by the time Rews’ first support band, P.E.T, swagger on stage – dripping head to toe in punk paraphernalia and attitude.

“Take your hands off me, I’M NOT YOUR P.E.T”, declares front woman, Abi Whistance, screaming into the mic and over the crowd – who have edged closer to the stage to find out where this ‘tiny but mighty’ noise is coming from.

P.E.T are relatively fresh faces on the Birmingham live circuit, having formed as the leaves fell in 2017. But already they’re already picking up a wealth of support and steam, with their unrelenting thrash punk and dead pan humour – stabbing the ribcages of the establishment with ‘Eton Mess’, to cutting off those wandering hands with their eponymous opening track. It’s raw, unashamed, and musically solid. This is a band who could get somewhere, or take us all down in the most colourful of ways whilst trying. But I’d watch out for P.E.T… tonight’s ‘rising balloon’ baton has been firmly handed over.

You Dirty Blue – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeThe rolling cymbal crashes and rough vocals of You Dirty Blue are on stage next, washing the room with waves of psychedelic and garage rock. I’m reticent to call it ‘blues rock’ again, as the man to my left is currently reading the BPREVIEW for tonight’s gig, smirking, shaking his head like a straight laced Will Self, and muttering “…this is not blues”. He might even be right, in his lexicon and record collection at least, but it seems no one really cares as the Tamworth two piece kick out tracks from their Tough Crowd EP and beyond.

Walls of sound are built and knocked to the ground, riffs get scatter gunned, as Leon James’ rough but endearing vocals lead us through a Velvet Underground tinged Purple Haze with some Seattle seeded two fingers up. You Dirty Blue’s final track, of both tonight’s set and their Tough Crowd EP – ‘Gallow Dancer’, punches a particular hole in the room, with a melodic hook and chorus I dedicate to the smart phone wielding ‘man to my left’. It’s like drowning in a lava lamp whilst John Peel and Bruce Pavitt play you ‘some really cool shit’. And if you have any room on the inside of your forearm left, carve You Dirty Blue as a musical reminder. Awesome stuff.

Some set changes ensue and fervent mummering begins, as Rews get ready for their headline set – the eager beaver Thursday night crowd pushing itself towards the front of the stage. Awesome to see such enthusiasm, but not easy when you’re juggling drum kits on a busy stage. Lights down, lights up, mummering stops, and like the opening scene in Back to the Future (minus the clock, coffee or dog food) we are poised – somewhere a plectrum glints…

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor SutcliffeImmediate and personable, Rews (aka Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams) beam their appreciation to the crowd and across the room – launching into the staple of tracks from their debut album. ‘Let it Roll’ bounces off stage declaring the rock intentions of tonight’s set, reeling in an already health and safety defying audience with invisible fish hooks. No one here gets out alive, or at least until the end of the set, as the great and good from Pyro and beyond (…album two?) get a rigorous shake. Or even ‘Shake Shake’, but not until a little later.

There’s a real joy in watching Rews perform, and not just because their already tight performance seems even more polished this time around. It’s the sheer energy and enjoyment you get sweeping off stage. Rews are in Birmingham at the end of a long and arduous tour (…think snow, lots of snow) but tonight could be the first time they’ve stepped on stage after a month in the sun and several nights of interrupted sleep. The banter is great as well, with the closeness between the two musicians making the whole room feel part of something special.

Then comes ‘the moment’. Rews had alluded to adding a “sort of an electro acoustic rendition of one of our older songs” into the set, after their gig in Leeds a few nights before. And as Williams leaves her stool to join Tohill at the front of the stage, this is what we’re about to getRews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – soft steel strings and a tapped out percussion deliver a stripped back version of ‘Everything’, one of Rews’ older tracks that is getting a post Pyro make-over. It’s beautiful. My job is to find words but often I can’t, and this just works. Rews work. Add your own hyperbole.

Crammed into the edges of the merch stand, I let the rest of the set wash through me. I think I scribble the words ‘triumphant’ and ‘step up’ into my notebook, but any serious reportage is done for the day. Thankfully there’s a load of pics to help you piece this night together (see below) if you weren’t there to witness it first hand – with the full Flickr of pics from Aatish Ramchurn here, and from Eleanor Sutcliffe here.

And it you didn’t make it to the Hare and Hounds on 22nd March, or if you’ve not seen this continuously impressive rock duo before, I strongly suggest checking Rews out for yourself. If you haven’t got a copy of Pyro, start there. But if you ever see them on a bill poster, in whatever corner of the globe you call home, then put your hands in your pocket and buy a ticket. It’s hard to imagine you’ll feel short changed. And next time Rews come back to Birmingham, you might want to move a little quickly whilst you’re at it.

 

 

 

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn & Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on Rews, visit www.rewsmusic.com

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You Dirty Blue – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn & Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

For more on You Dirty Blue, visit www.youdirtyblue.com

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P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn & Eleanor Sutcliffe

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Aatish Ramchurn

P.E.T – supporting Rews @ Hare & Hounds 22.03.18 / Eleanor Sutcliffe

For more on P.E.T, visit www.facebook.com/petbanduk

For more from Metropolis Music, visit www.metropolismusic.com

For more on the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), including venue details and further event listings, visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

THE GALLERY: Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

 

 

 

Words & pics by Aatish Ramchurn

As I drive onto Lower Trinity Street to park my car I see a red, double-decker tour bus with a trailer right outside Mama Roux’s. At first I thought a band due to play in the main room of the O2 Institute had parked outside the wrong venue; it’s normally vans and cars I see parked on this street, not tour buses fit for major rock stars.

Currents – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewBut of course, it makes sense. Tonight’s headline act, Miss May I, are traveling across the UK and Europe on their We Are Stronger Than Before tour with American bands, Fit For A King and Currents, along with Void of Vision from Australia. It’s only right such a metalcore smorgasbord should be in a big, comfortable tour bus together.

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewI arrive just in time to see Currents, who hail from Connecticut, open the night. This is their first international tour, which also means their first time in Birmingham. Usually, not many people arrive at a gig early enough to watch the opening acts but Currents really give it their all on the stage in front of the first few that watch them. First impressions count after all.

I shoot the first three songs of Currents’ set, then take advantage of a rare opportunity to sit in a booth upstairs at Mama Roux’s, reviewing the images I’ve taken.

As the next band set up the stage, I scan the room from the balcony, looking for interesting perspectives to shoot from. The room isn’t filling up with too many more people,Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review so it appears this night won’t be the busiest – great for me making my way to and from the front of the stage, perhaps not so great for those on it.

I head to the floor to shoot Void of Vision, another band performing for the first time in Birmingham, although going by their solid set and engagement with the crowd you wouldn’t believe that. Donning a baseball cap and oversized t-shirt, frontman Jack Bergin paces the stage, encouraging the audience to start circle pits and wave their arms in the air.

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewFrom seeing a few people wearing their t-shirts, and a few comments I overhear, I sense that the main support act, Fit for a King, are the band a lot of people are really looking forward to. Their presence on stage has more people heading towards the front, giving me relatively little space to shoot from, but keeping us all in a nice and understanding crowd.

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewIt’s only fair that I extend that courtesy too, by keeping my stance as low as possible, and by keeping my time at the front of the stage short so the ticket paying public can make use of the space. After all, fans have shelled out over £12 a ticket to experience a great night of metalcore, not the back of a photographer’s head. I spend the rest of Fit for a King’s set on the fringes of the room, enjoying watching the majority of people sing along to their songs word for word. I just know that Fit for a King are a band that really means something to these fans.

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewThe atmosphere starts to feel a bit deflated by the time Ohio’s Miss May I grace the stage. It could be that people are slightly drained from the excitement of Fit for a King, but Miss May I don’t quite get the reception that I would have expected for a headline act.

They open their set with a few singles from their latest album, Shadows Inside, but it isn’t until they play more familiar numbers like ‘Hey Mister’ that the crowd really starts to give the band their full energy. Perhaps four full hours of metalcore can get a little too much in the end, but overall I’m sure it was an enjoyable night for the fans. 

 

 

 

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review
Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

For more on Miss May I, visit www.missmayimusic.com

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Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham ReviewFit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Fit for a King – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

For more on Fit for a King, visit www.fitforakingband.com

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Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Void of Vision – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

For more on Void of Vision, visit www.voidofvision.com

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Currents – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Currents – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Currents – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

Currents – supporting Miss May I @ Mama Roux’s 24.01.18 / Aatish Ramchurn – Birmingham Review

For more on Currents, visit www.currentsofficial.com

For more on Mama Roux’s, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit www.facebook.com/mamarouxs

For more on Surprise You’re Dead! Music, visit www.surpriseyouredeadmusic.co.uk