LIVE: Vans “Off The Wall” Music Night @ Academy 3/Club Academy, Manchester (23/10/2010)

Date: October 23rd, 2010
Venue: Academy 3/Club Academy, Manchester
Line-up: Fenix TX, Dead Swans, Canterbury, Sylosis, Not Advised, Bleed From Within, Failsafe, Yashin, Francesqa, While She Sleeps
MySpace: None available


Vans have always been well loved and known for their quality in shoes and other apparel, but also for the hosting of great music events and festivals. Obviously the Warped Tour in the US, the biggest and most successful touring punk festival in the country, is the brand’s biggest and most reknowned achievement in the entertainment field, but every now and then they do a little thing here and there on UK shores. 2010 brings the Vans “Off The Wall” Music Night to Manchester at their student union Academy, a night spread across two rooms/stages of some of today’s best up and coming acts, all that could be described as punk, some very loosely and others straight-up. With 5 acts on each stage and therefore 10 different bands in total over 5 hours, it’s nowhere near as huge or extravagant as a Warped Tour, but with great acts on offer there’s still no need to complain.


Stage one openers Francesqa (***) also opened up the Slam Dunk Festival earlier in the year, a privilege given to them via winning the competition to open the Kerrang! Introducing stage and has since seen them soar in popularity thick and fast. Along with their popularity improving so has their live performance, with the band now standing as tight and confident compared to the shaky and sometimes vulnerable appearance they were showing back in May. Songs like ‘Ghost’ and ‘A Little Closer’ breathe potential radio hits, and leaves anticipation for a full-length and headline tour.

Fans of E4’s teen comedy The Inbetweeners should be familiar with Failsafe (**), who popped up in one of the episodes of the programme’s third series. Vocalist Jim Norris is a bouncy and energetic young fellow, and though the Preston grown 5-piece are shedding effort and throwing small inflatable Vans balls into the crowd it just comes across as a bit plain and stagnant. Thankfully little synth is brought into play, and one or two songs like ‘Routines’ bring enough light entertainment to keep spirits up.

Last time Not Advised (****) made a visit into the Northern capital, vocalist Jim Thomas had to take a backseat whilst his fellow band members took vocal duties. Thankfully this time around he’s fully covered and more than raring to get the party going. The Southampton pop-punkers have a great arsenal of tracks at their disposal and can execute them efficiently, and when tracks like ‘A Red Light Situation’ and ‘The A.R.K.’ make an appearance the crowd feed off the upbeat vibe they generate.

Offering out their debut album ‘Thank You’ for free legal download has worked well to Canterbury‘s (***) advantage. Though sing-a-longs aren’t coming full force, a sense of familiarity with the band’s material is definitely present in the audience. Their pop-rock hooks are easily caught on the brains and lips, and there’s a friendliness and openness in the tones of co-vocalists Mike Sparks‘ and Luke Prebbles‘ soft Southern-twanged voices. Forthcoming single ‘Calm Down’ shows the band are progressing with their songwriting too, and is a song that was welcomed like it was one of the older and more familiar other tracks already on offer.

It seems that Fenix TX (*****) are the band on most people’s lips tonight, and it’s no wonder as they power through a set laden with their hits. Bringing back memories of yester-year from when many of us would have been enjoying our total and utter youth, they play songs such as ‘Phoebe Cates’ and even a cover song of Cee-Lo Green‘s hit of the moment ‘Fuck You’. Providing a party and non-stop dancing, you would’ve thought you had been transported back to the early 00’s in a time machine, as they brought their set to an end with ‘Tearjerker’ and ‘A Song For Everyone’. It was clear for all to see, even to those not huge fans of the band, that everyone was having the time of their lives in the cramped and sweaty venue, and it’s no wonder with a band that was lapping up everything being thrown at them. Simply outstanding.


Upon entering a very sparse Club Academy – the room choice of the second ‘heavy’ stage – it was very clear that Sheffield’s While She Sleeps (****) would not have a crowd indicative of their talent. Playing to around 30 people, they tore through the set with a viscosity to match their music, with songs like ‘Crows’ and ‘Proud Of The Demon In Me’ getting some adequate crowd participation as vocalist Lawrence Taylor encouraged a ruckus. Dangling from the pipes on the roof, the unexpected is always around the corner from such a captivating band. Expect huge things.

Next up is Glaswegians Yashin (***), making an unbridled return to Manchester just weeks after headlining at Moho Live just down the road. By this time the venue had started to steadily fill as ‘Friends In High Places’ and ‘The First Rule Of Fight Club’ echoed around the venue walls, and whilst they’re nothing exciting, or new for that matter, they put in a steady performance in front of the predominantly young crowd.

It would appear that Glasgow has taken over Manchester as Bleed From Within (***) take to the stage, whether or not there is any men amongst all that hair is still unclear for all to see. Regardless, they seem excited to be here, if only the crowd didn’t seem so apathetic. A few hardcore fans sung back every word on the barrier, and seemed appreciated by vocalist Scott Kennedy who was clearly in his element on the stage. I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed as to the other member’s performance, they clearly have talent in abundance, just a shame they couldn’t fully embrace it.

Sylosis (****) have been around on the underground metal scene for a long while now, having seen them a couple of times before I knew what to expect, and they didn’t let me down one iota. Delivering each song brutally and with unnerving passion, they do what the other two bands preceding them didn’t, not only did they look the part but they also sounded the part too. It just goes to show why they’ve been on the scene and survived strong through it for so long.

Finally, second stage headliners Dead Swans (*****) take to the plateau, and pick up from where Sylosis left off by battering through songs from their entire back-catalogue. Playing songs like ‘Preferring The Worst’ and ‘Thinking Of You’ with absolute haste and precision, they yet again show why they’re such a huge name in the UK hardcore scene today. Genuinely exciting and fierce, they whip the venue into an intense frenzy, showing everyone what they are capable of; bursting ear drums, unrivalled emotion, and a deep sense of anger and competency. All to captivating, they are a band that are near impossible to ever get bored of watching.

Written by Zach Redrup and Dominic Wyatt

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