Fall Out Boy, The Academy Is, Thursday, Hundred Reasons, Capdown

Penny Broadhurst 27/05/2006

I feel like someone's mum. Millennium Square is filled with emo-haired kids and the only people who look over 20 are blatantly bored-looking parents. Slam Dunk Festival is the all-ages festival spin-off from the regular metal/punk/ska/emo club held at the Cockpit. There is a definite under-18 skew to the audience that frankly I am unused to. 14-year-olds who have moved beyond McFly banners to writing "FUCK ME F.O.B.!" on their actual faces. Scary stuff. There are also a slew of older fans that are unamused by the pop punk fare on offer and came for the more grown-up bands. Of which more later.

My younger companion and I arrive a little late due to failing public transport. We miss hellogoodbye, the opening act, and swap cash money for ridiculously priced drinks tokens. We work out that we can afford two half pints of Coke each. They are being poured out of a 2 litre bottle that cost less than the drinks token.

After being bombarded by street teamers throwing free CDs in our faces, The Hush Sound take the stage. The songs fronted by their girl vocalist sound like a less inventive Gwen Stefani, but are sufficiently poppy and danceable to wake up the largely indifferent crowd. The boy-voiced numbers sound like Maroon 5 without the hooks - i.e. dire. They are on this bill due to label politics and frankly don't fit.

Crikey, Capdown are still going. I don't think they've advanced a great deal since the last time I saw them - it's still decent-ish ska punk with top saxophone action. Popular with the regular Slam Dunk crowd.

The appearance of Hundred Reasons sees a surge of older males to the front of the "arena". Their banter consists of "Do you want to rock?" and "Let's ROCK!" at regular intervals, and they pump out their rocking tunes with ease, the older guys closing their eyes and singing along with gusto.

Thursday take the stage to another surge. Less emo hair is in evidence during their set and they are both heavy and interesting for most of their set, though it gets a bit samey towards the end. Too much for quite a few of the kiddiewinks, who look on in confusion - particularly given that the band keep slagging off ska and making related jokes. They are far too heavy to fit the pop bill. When they finish, there is a mass exodus of older blokes and mainly young lads and teenage girls are left.

The Academy Is leap onto the stage with gusto to an intro tape of The Final Countdown, and their lanky lead singer looks like Russell Brand with even more lustrous locks. Said singer sounds the dead spit of Darren Hayes, and watching teenage boys "RAWK" to Savage Garden meets pop punk leaves me laughing mightily. Pete Wentz appears for 30 seconds on one song and the girlies go wild with screaming. How is this different from Busted?

Finally, Fall Out Boy come on to the strains of Livin' On A Prayer and fail to top that tune with their own creations (and I'm no Bon Jovi fanatic). They give good banter and a reasonable selection of tunes from their collection of hits, but there is far too much mucking around between songs. Every changeover seems to require a different guitar and the drum tech fiddling with the kit. Pete Wentz is clearly the only star in the band - Patrick being too bland and fat of face and the others being barely noticeable. When the dude from Academy Is comes on for their obligatory duet, Pete is put briefly in the shade by his pouting poses, but then Pete comes back on with a terrible hat and the girls go wild again.

3 out of 5 - entertaining enough, but too much hanging around and a badly put together bill leaves me tired long before the early 10.45 finish.

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