Live Review and Photos: Methyr Rock 2012 – Sunday (2/9/2012)

The final day of Merthyr Rock is upon us and the first band Already Heard catches today is Shadows Chasing Ghosts. The London based metalcore outfit sound almost like Welsh heroes Bullet For My Valentine and maybe that’s why so many have turned up so early to listen to them. With an energetic and lively set the likes of which I can confidently say has never been seen in a sleepy South Wales town on a Sunday morning, they battle against their timeslot to produce a rousing opening.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Next up are the more reserved Verses with their melodic brand of pop-rock-punk. Sounding like all the best bits of Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic they produce a gentler set than the aforementioned metalcore rioters, but with no less passion and style. ‘Stand and Stare’ is a highlight, a song which bursts into life with chattering guitars and has a hook so catchy I was humming it quite a while after they had left the stage.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Up next on the main stage is the mighty James Cleaver Quintet. They are confident, swaggering and a real force to be reckoned with live. They open with ‘This is Now’ and power onwards with all the ferocity you expect of their punk rock sound. It speaks volumes of a band if they can debut a completely new song in a festival setting and get a positive crowd response but this is what the JCQ do today. After a storming version of ‘Sink or Swim’ the band have shown themselves to be an exciting live prospect and have shown Wales a very good time indeed.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

When you think of classic band names, or even good ones, Blowgoat doesn’t immediately spring to mind. However, these hardcore skate punkers are here to part-entertain and part-terrify Merthyr Rocks today. It says a lot of the band that the most entertaining part of the set was watching the lead singer try to injure himself as seriously as possible. He succeeds and by the end of the set has a mouthful of blood and a nasty looking cut on his head. Musically, Blowgoat are mental, but wholly fun to listen to. As a live band, it would be wise to keep paramedics on stand-by at their next gig.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Straight Lines can’t follow the self-mutilation that Blowgoat purvey but do the best to charm the crowd instead with their infectious brand of very poppy pop-punk. They follow the theme of the weekend of very likeable Welsh pop-punk bands. There is little depth to their songs but they do the pop-punk thing better than most and pull of a very entertaining set here today, relying on material from their debut album ‘Freaks Like Us.’

The exciting Marmozets are next up and they deliver one of the most brutal and jaw dropping live performances of the weekend. Playing through songs from their new ‘Vexed’ EP as well as dropping in a couple of older tracks, they are a reckless and incredible live band. Half the band spend most of the set writhing around the floor, pounding their instruments (don’t snigger, it’s not a euphemism) whilst the other half of the band do their best to avoid tripping over them. Front woman Becca Macintyre jumps around the stage like a woman possessed, screaming and generally amazing everybody. These guys are going places fast and they’re doing it in style.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

There is a growing trend for a certain style of “lad-rock” and Don Broco are one of the foremost bands in this field. They mix catchy pop-punk hooks, classic rock riffs wrapped in a package of Britpop laddishness to create some absolutely massive tunes. The crowd are clearly loving it, forming the biggest circle pit of the weekend and proceeding to do press-ups in the middle of it (which kind of tells you everything you need to know about the make-up of the band.) Their set is mainly them running through these massive tunes in order of popularity, with new single ‘Actors’ getting the best response. However, there is time to throw in some less well known album tracks like ‘Hold True’ which has apparently only been played live a couple of times before. No matter what they play, Don Broco are definite crowd-pleasers.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Page 44 are up next on the James McClaren stage. I am always sceptical of a band who have found their “fame” through winning what is effectively a battle of the bands contest and so I don’t think I was ever going to warm to these Red Bull Bedroom Jam winners. This is fine by me, however, as they play a set filled with the most vapid, middle-of-the-road pop-rock I have ever heard. They are a band that makes Eliot Minor look edgy, that your mum thinks are cool. Their set is so forgettable that the thing I remember most was that the guitarist had a pretty cool jacket on.

Future of the Left go some way to lift the spirits after the drudgery of Page 44. With a jittery, Queens of the Stone Age-esque, alternative rock sound; they manage to keep the crowd entertained. They are a reasonable inconspicuous band and they bluster their way through their allotted set without ever truly thrilling the crowd. Still, they are enjoyable enough and they didn’t win a battle of the bands contest to get here, so that’s something.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

We Are The Ocean are up next, with their new look, four piece set-up. With the loss of a vocalist last year, it is now up to other members of the band to fill in when required which they do admirably throughout. Their sound is somewhere between indie-rock and pop-punk, with a Kings of Leon vibe to tracks like ‘Now And Then,’ especially now they have a simpler set-up. This new, more minimalist sound works well for them. Whilst older tracks sound a bit different but in a good way, tracks from their new album genuinely impress and hint a bright future still ahead for this band.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Deaf Havana are without a doubt the band that a lot of people are looking forward to today. There is an absolutely massive crowd gathered here today and they are not disappointed. The band is becoming more and more the consummate rock band, real big stars in their own right. Last week they were opening Reading Festival to the biggest crowd they had ever played to and although there are less people here today, they still give everything to the crowd. Gorgeous pop-rock sing-alongs like ‘Little White Lies’ are impossible to resist and there is a lot of charming between song banter to engage the crowd even more. Songs like ‘Leeches’ get a great response and they sound great too, but it is breakthrough single ‘The Past Six Years’ that gets the best response. The journey this band have been on is quite remarkable and let’s just say they won’t be playing the Purple Turtle anymore; they are a bona fide massive rock band and that’s not going to change.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Veterans A are the headliners tonight on the James McClaren stage. Watched by Sean Smith from The Blackout, they produce a set heavy on hits and also heavy on comedy. This is the most funny and engaging the band have ever been and it is very welcoming. Whilst many of the youngsters in the crowd may not know what’s going on, those who have been around for a while will know the thrills of A. The tongue-in-cheek humour of songs like ‘Starbucks’ makes for such a good time tonight and although it seems weird to see them on a bill juxtaposed against so many young, serious bands. They are just so much fun. Closing with the massive ‘Nothing,’ they prove they still have life left in them as they add another generation of kids to their fan base tonight.

Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett.

Kids in Glass Houses are a little bit the local heroes nowadays. With the success of ‘In Gold Blood’ and a slew of festival appearances this summer, the suave pop-punkers have really taken the world by storm. Today, as headliners, they bring the party vibe as much as Skindred did the night before. Opening with the huge sing-along ‘Give Me What I Want,’ front man Aled Phillips goads the crowd into bigger and bigger reactions. He is a front man in every sense of the word, with limitless energy. Through ‘Dirt’ tracks ‘For Better Or Hearse’ (which has the most annoyingly catchy woah-oh bit) and single ‘Undercover Lover’ Aled is the ringleader of the biggest sing-alongs of the weekend.  The band debut a darker, brooding completely new track half way through the set and that still doesn’t halt the atmosphere. Opening with slower, sultry guitars before bursting into life, it glitters with despair and is definitely not as upbeat and poppy as their previous output. After that fourth album tease, they smash home just how many hits they do have by playing ‘Fisticuffs’ into ‘Easy Tiger’ into ‘Haunt The Haunted.’ Following this up is an emotional tribute to recently deceased Welsh music champion James McClaren as ‘Sunshine’ is dedicated to him. They then promptly close in epic fashion with ‘Saturday’ and ‘Matters At All.’ Kids in Glass Houses are the perfect closing band for Merthyr Rocks. They deliver a perfect set here tonight and give the closing night a real feel-good moment. Same time next year, then? 

View more of Already Heard’s coverage of Merthyr Rock 2012 here.

Words by Tom White (@WhiteyWitters). Photos by Sarah Louise Bennett (@SarahLouise152)

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