Florida’s own We The Kings return to these less sunny shores for the fourth time, playing their largest set of headlining shows to date in the UK. Such a task may daunt many a young man, but not We The Kings frontman Travis Clark, as he and his band mates hit the stage and roll straight into an assured run through of ‘Skyway Avenue’.
Rewind a few hours though, and I See Stars (****) take the stage full of energy and confidence, which is exactly what you want from an opening band. Despite being the odd ones out on this line-up, their sound could be described as nothing but a mash up of Forever The Sickest Kids and A Day To Remember. Whilst it’s clear that their sound is not to everyone’s liking, it’s also clear that they have brought people down to the show, and for those here to see the band they lap it up, as the band run through songs like ‘3-D’ and ‘The Common Hours’ which unfortunately for the band, cause nothing more than a stir amongst the crowd.
Up next are the UK’s own All Forgotten (**) but based on the evidence put in front of the crowd, they would not be proud to claim them as their own. Tonight, the band’s melodic post-hardcore falls terribly flat, and new vocalist Dan Lawrence lacks the stage presence or the vocal ability of previous vocalist Jon Thorne. The band’s newer material like ‘Deadweight’ and ‘Hands’ lacks any sort of punch, and even the only older song in the set ‘Love From A Mother’ (which unfortunately will be the last time this song is ever played live) is nothing compared to the All Forgotten of old, and their set leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of this reviewer.
Thankfully VersaEmerge (***) and the forceful presence of lead singer Sierra Kusterbeck are to follow, and their arrival is more than welcome as they’re generally well received amongst the crowd. Kusterbeck is a delight to watch as she moves gracefully across the stage, and her vocals stay strong throughout the energetic ‘Past Praying For’ and ‘Fire (Aim Your Arrows High)’. It’s a shame though that the band choose to end their set with the underwhelming ‘Whisperer’, and as the band leave the stage, one can’t help but wonder if the appeal of the band is more down to the appeal of Kusterbeck than the band’s pop-rock by the numbers.
Speaking of pop-rock by the numbers, We The Kings‘ (***) appeal is apparent. A “heartthrob” singer in Travis Clark and lyrics about girls and heartbreak, there’s no false pretence about the band. They are what they are they are and they’re proud of it. Based on their live show, there’s no reason to be ashamed, as the band put on a tight show that entertains the crowd and doesn’t take itself too seriously; even bringing out a solo acoustic set from Clark halfway through. The extent of the band’s light heartedness comes when they open up, what would be a massive circle pit by anyone’s standards, for their cover of Jimmy Eat World‘s ‘The Middle’. The band are joined Max Helyer of You Me At Six for the climactic run through of ‘Check Yes Juliet’, which goes to show how much bigger this band are getting, and based on this show it’s apparent that they are only going to continue getting bigger.
Written by Oliver Thompson