2020 Crew Review: Jack Barker – Photographer/Reviewer

Well 2020 wasn’t exactly the year we expected, was it? Things started off so well in January with being offered a new job which meant I would be able to get to a few more gigs and myself and fellow Moshville Times reviewer Kristal putting an offer on our first house which we were due to be moving into in late spring. Then the world fell apart, and we all ended up spending months at home and became excited by things like getting a 9 pack of toilet roll or fresh banana bread rather than the lights dimming as a band walks on stage and waiting for the music to kick in. But 2020 hasn’t been all bad, I eventually started my new job 3 months later than planned and we moved into our new home at the end of June and have been decorating ever since. There have also been some highlights in the world of music which I will now try to share with some specially selected 2020 categories.

Best Album

Staying at home for most of the year has given me plenty of chance to listen to new albums. In no particular order three of my favourites are listed below (and sorry to the boss as I know he isn’t a fan of Bring Me the Horizon).

This is one of the albums that I had been looking forward too since the start of the year and my excitement only grew when we were teased with a taster of what was to come with the tracks “The Violence”, “They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care)”, “Antisocialist” and “Down To Hell” were released prior to the albums debut. The rest of the album certainly doesn’t disappoint, and I love their new sound.

  • Bring Me The Horizon – Post Human: Survival Horror

Having not been a huge fan of the bands last album I was a little sceptical when I heard that they had released new material and after the first listen of “Parasite Eve” I still wasn’t convinced. However, it was a grower, and it was soon stuck in my head. The next track to be released “Obey” a collaboration with YUNGBLUD got me thinking that I might just like this slightly new direction for the band and the third single “Teardrops” sealed the deal.

An end of year review from me would not be complete without a mention for Black Stone Cherry. As one of my favourite bands the news that they were due to release their 7th studio album was exciting news and almost made up for the fact that that COVID forced them to postpone their UK tour in October. It’s hard to pick some stand out tracks for this album but “Some Stories” is very fitting for current times with talk of conspiracy theories and about deciding what stories to believe, listen up anti-vaxxers. The cover of ELO’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” also brings a slight twist to the overall sound of the album.

Best Single

There have been some amazing singles too this year, here are a few of the songs that I have had on repeat over the last 12 months.

  • A Day to Remember – Mind Reader

With their new album delayed indefinitely earlier in the year it was a surprise to see A Day To Remember release Mind Reader back in April. With a mix of rock and dance, the melody is an upbeat tune that was needed in the middle of the first lockdown.

  • Hollywood Undead – Heart of a Champion (featuring Papa Roach and Ice Nine Kills)

Winning the competition for the most number of people feature on a track this year (as far as I know), Hollywood Undead, Papa Roach and Ice Nine kills collaborated on this brilliant track. With the vocals of Jacoby Shaddix and Spencer Charnas being the icing on the cake this giant advert for Hollywood Undead’s cannabis business Dove and Grenade, this is however a brilliant track in its one right.

  • Atreyu – Superhero (Featuring M. Shadows and Aaron Gillespie)

An inspiring track and very relevant in 2020 when what we could all do with right now is a superhero to come and kick COVID-19’s ass.

Best Video

With a little more time on their hands this year bands have made some very different music videos, here are a few of my favourite.

  • Five Finger Death Punch – Little Bit Off

It was not just tour plans that were disrupted due to the pandemic, video shoots were cancelled too with band members stranded in different parts of countries or even further afield. This did not stop Five Finger Death Punch from making a video for “Little Bit Off”, referring to their storyboard of their original plans for the video shoot, Evan Moody instead takes a walk around a deserted Lag Vegas. The scenes of empty cities were one that was replicated around the world during 2020 but will be a weird sight to look back on in year to come when the world returns to normal.

  • I Prevail – DOA

This is a video highlighting a lot of things wrong with America in 2020. The facts that this video was released just days before the killing of George Floyd made it all the more relevant. The video shows scenes of bullying, mass shooting and police brutality amongst other things and the lyrics “I can’t breath!” now send shivers down your spine and bring back memories of the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. Hopefully this video will serve as a time capsule of a particularly catastrophic four years in American history which should end with the eviction of the orange idiot from the white house next year.

  • Papa Roach – Feels Like Home

With boredom setting in Papa Roach used some of their spare time to make another video for “Feels Like Home”, having already made a live video at Nova Rock and an acoustic video for the track, the band had a little fun for the third edition. With the opening scene showing Jacoby Shaddix remember happier times jetting around the world with the help of a tablet and a toilet seat, he and the rest of the band roped in their families for a performance in the garage, garden, shower and any other rooms they could find.

Bowling For Soup (c) Jack Barker

Best Gig

Well this one won’t take long, with the world locking down and pretty much banning live music in March there wasn’t much time to squeeze in many gigs this year. In fact, I only managed a grand total of three… so here are my top three:

  1. Bowling for Soup – O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester(13th February 2020)
  2. Starset – Manchester Academy 2 (11th February 2020)
  3. The Calling – Holmfirth Picturedrome (8th February 2020)

Best Lockdown Performance

Well, this is definitely a 2020 category if there ever was one. With bands unable to perform to live crowds, with a few exceptions for drive-in and socially distanced gigs. Many bands took to live streams to keep their fans entertained and to help bring in some cash for their struggling crew and favourite venues. With work and moving house and the large amount of DIY that comes with it, there hasn’t been much time to enjoy many of these live streams, however I did manage to catch a few, with the best two below:

  • Black Stone Cherry – Live from the sky

This was the first proper live steam in a music venue that I had seen. Ditching the webcams and acoustic performances bands had resorted to earlier in the year, Black Stone Cherry used a film crew for this pre-recorded show. With no audience the camera crew were able to get up close and personal with the band as they rocked out in an unusual layout on the stage as they were all facing each other rather the looking out into an empty venue. As the show was broadcast on the same day as their latest album was released the setlist included a few new tracks sandwiched between many fan favourites. A particularly funny moment towards the end of the show was drummer John Fred Young getting a drumstick stuck in his hair.

Squeezing one last live stream in this year the Hollywood Undead House Party showed us exactly what we all need to do once social distancing and COVID-19 are consigned to the history booked, throw the mother of all house parties, or as they say, “Fuck that shit, let’s start a riot”. With special guests literally bringing the house down, this was a fun live stream and made me really look forward to the day we can all get back to a gig venue for a face-to-face Hollywood Undead show.

Best Music Memory

Not 100% music related but still. For me, this one is getting my girlfriend a very cool birthday present and seeing her face when she realised what it actually was. The gift was a bracelet from The Guitarwrist made from a guitar string used by Black Stone Cherry on their 2018 UK tour. I would highly recommend this company as buying this bracelet also meant money was donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust. Although getting such a good present from a birthday in November did make getting an equally good Christmas present very tricky (by the way, we’re not sponsored to say this!).

Worst Music Memory

There have been a few of these this year. Looking back on things now, I think the most hard hitting news was the first gig to be cancelled, which in my case this was I Prevail’s UK tour that was cancelled in the very early days of the pandemic. Who would have known back then that we would still not be allowed to go to gigs some nine months later? There were similar cancellations throughout the year but when Green Day’s Hella Mega Tour was cancelled in June less that two weeks before we were due to see them, this was a more of a “when” will we receive the cancelation news not “if”.

New Bands Discovered

There have been several bands that I have discovered this year. PopEvil are probably one of the biggest names, although I’m still not sure how I haven’t discovered them earlier. They are definitely on the bucket list to see live when bands can tour again. Smash Into Pieces and Silent Theory are another couple of bands that I have been listening to throughout the year.

Looking forward to in 2021

An end to the pandemic and a return of live music are definitely on the wish list for next year. Hopefully by mid to late 2021 we will all have had our vaccines and bands will be making up for lost time and we will have lots of gigs to go to. But for the start of the year, we will likely have to make do with a few more live streams and new albums such as A Day to Remember’s new release coming in March. With other bands such as Papa Roach and Godsmack also due to release new albums, 2021 could be a very good year for new music.

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