Tonight in the University Stylus is a bill that provides Leeds’ Saturday night crowd with several different strains of emo, depending on your taste.
Beautiful Bodies are up first, feeling almost like they’re stuck in 2009. However their set is vibrant and pop-fuelled, and its undeniably fun with frontwoman Alicia Solombrino throwing shapes and spending half the time standing on the barrier in front of the crowd.Up next are Have Mercy- and you’d have to pray to a deity to do exactly that for you if you want to avoid feeling utterly pessimistic for the duration of their set. That being said, if the melancholy of the likes of Death Cab For Cutie or Lonely The Brave appeals to you, maybe this is your thing. It’s irrefutable that they’re good at what they do, but the audience don’t seem to quite connect. The odd thing is, their on-stage jokes are funny and they seem like a good spirited band, before they oppose this whole view with their songs. Two Years feels coarse, honest and all of the things it’s supposed to feel, while the title just about sums up how long their set feels.Thank God for the Maine, who are far, far perkier. Frontman John O’Callaghan is incredibly loose with his body, which seems to make everyone else feel automatically at ease while he lets the music move him as he sings the lyrics. English Girls gets them off to a good start, while in the middle of Diet Soda Society, O’Callaghan stops to generate some energy in the room “is everyone alive? Are you all breathing? No-one is too cool, don’t fight it! I’ve been drinking green tea all day, let’s go!!!” He yells, which seemingly does the job, the song that follows, Right Girl is impassioned and goes down the best amongst the fans. With the focus on building momentum throughout the show, it’s a shame their final song is the slowest however Another Night On Mars definitely has a lot of feeling and this makes it soar; so there’s no harm done and the Maine end their set somewhat triumphantly.Mayday Parade seem to be feeding off the Maine’s energy and launch themselves into One Of Them Will Destroy The Other, right away demonstrating that any moment frontman Derek Sanders stops singing, he can have the entire floor standing area, as well as the majority of the balcony sing his lyrics for him. It’s easy to see by the looks on people’s faces that this is a band whose music has sound-tracked many a teen memory- whether it be good or bad, there’s a strong feeling of connection on a higher level to the music in the room tonight.
Three Cheers For Five Years is a euphoric song, probably stemming from the fact it’s one of the first songs written by the band ten years ago. Placed on the setlist next to the latter, it’s obvious Hollow is a newer song and it’s morose, echoing quality underlined by a heavy bass and sombre yet powerful guitars, show just how much the band have evolved. For the most part, Mayday Parade’s lighting is less than appealing, however during this track a bright white light casts dramatic shadows onto the wall and makes a real different to heightening the atmosphere. “We’re gonna play a special song tonight that we haven’t played in a long time just for you Leeds!” Derek announces, before they play Kids In Love- not met with quite the response you’d expect for a song they rarely play, but still it works well for a feel-good dance moment.Black Cat is an excellent addition to the setlist; in all its funky, jazzy upbeat fun, Derek gives away the fact he and his band will be playing this year’s Slam Dunk Festival, which is little ahead of the actual announcement- it goes without saying this goes down a treat.
The band exit the stage, leaving Derek and drummer Jake in front of the masses. Derek takes a seat at a keyboard slightly downstage right, and as they both sing their way through Miserable At Best, it’s the perfect end to a night filled with the finest emo-rock America has to offer. They finish things off properly with Jersey, to lift the mood just a little before they go. If nothing else, tonight proves Mayday Parade speak to their fans on levels that some bands struggle to reach. Lucky for said fans, they’ll be back in May to play a slot at the aforementioned Slam Dunk Festival in Leeds, with dates also in Birmingham and Hatfield.
Photos by Erin Moore at Forte Photography UK