Bayside / Moneen - Bar Academy, Birmingham (22/04/2007)
Arriving slightly late after a day of family fun to the sold out Birmingham Bar Academy (The littlest one of the 3 venues) I got there just in time for the last song of opening band Attack In Black.
I really can’t warrant a review of them as it was about half way through said song and I was only just acclimatising myself to the packed and humid venue!
It was really nice to see the venue rammed for once, and going up against other gigs on the same night including the Give It A Name sponsored event at the Barfly with Hit The Lights, Beat Union and more it was even more impressive. Sometimes Birmingham gigs can be a bit lacklustre in terms of turn out and general vibe, but tonight put that thought to the back of my mind.
After a seemingly long wait the second band took to the stage, and surprised me by being Bayside and not Moneen as I had thought. The two foreign bands (New York, USA and Canada respectively) were doing a co-headlining jaunt and thus were doing the old switcheroo each night. So it was Birmingham’s turn for Moneen to headline. Not a bad thing in my eyes, although the crowd thinned down to about 1/3 of the size for these guys. More on that later.
I’m more than familiar with Bayside’s new (Read: Amazing) “The Walking Wounded” album on Victory Records and the rocky punky songs within so that’s what I wanted. I can’t say I was ever sold on their previous offerings so thankfully there was a healthy balance of old and new in their set tonight. My personal favourite is the title track “The Walking Wounded” as the shredding guitar solo makes me nearly hyperventilate every time. I was very worried that it might not cut the mustard in the live arena and be one of those things it took about 50 takes recording and sounds flat in real life. Fortunately I was wrong. By the time they played that song mid-set they had the crowd in the palm of their hands with a somewhat ridiculous mosh-pit forming with small curly haired fat kids pushing each other (Would you do this in the street? And you’re ruining other people’s entertainment who don’t want to be pushed. Grow up. Rant over.) and many sing-a-long moments to boot. The band as a whole sounded really tight, with the throbbing bass sound sounding tasty and the guitar licks soaring above the other noises at just the right level to add that weighty machismo air they need. Everything sounded just right and although I certainly prefer their newer stuff the old songs still got a foot tap or body shake from me. They certainly took band of the night from me, and by the looks of things most people at the venue. But I fear that’s just due to a slight mismatch of bands rather than one being better than the other. Either way Bayside were brilliant captivating performers and really hit the nail on the head with a sterling show.
Again, like with Bayside I’m only really familiar with their impressive latest CD “The Red Tree” released on Vagrant Records but the majority of their set came from this and so I was in my element. The songs sound more “beefed up” in the live arena and particularly the more rocky bunch of new tracks sounded really rather punishing (In a good way). Some of the vocals are screamed more than on record and have a devilish feel about them. Birmingham can’t have been loving the more experimental side to Moneen or the lack of true power-rock moments from them that Bayside kick out with such reckless abandon as it honestly went from 100% packed to about 1/3 of this crowd. That was a bit disappointing as I really think Moneen deserved their attention. But to be honest although from similar backgrounds it was a bit of a mismatch as I would put Moneen with much heavier bands on a different bill.
They weren’t quite as tight as their friends in Bayside, every now and again making little mistakes, but near the end of their set they suddenly came together and played a blinder. Moneen’s lead singer suddenly threw himself around, eventually getting into the crowd and chucking his body around as he continued to sing. Then as their last song they played a lengthy impromptu jam it seemed like that was really heavy, brooding and atmospheric. I loved it. The singer grabbed a stage monitor and pushed it into the faces of the front row and he gave the microphone to a few select punters (Who decided to just yell “Moneen are awesome” and “AARRRRRRRGH!”). They may not have had the entire Birmingham crowd that Bayside toyed with, but I feel the people left really got a treat. The passion and energy the band had couldn’t be faltered and I left a very hot, but happy man.
Listen: www.myspace.com/bayside & www.myspace.com/moneen