Unfortunately due to work commitments, we couldn’t make it to day one of the event which is a shame as the lineup looked great. Walking into The Venue, I was almost taken aback with how few people there were. I will say now before going into more detail that this was definitely not down to the lack of effort the organisers put into making this happen, nor did it dampen the spirits of the bands who played over the weekend with all the performances being full of energy.
With a few timing difficulties to start off with on Saturday, Joshua Nash took to the stage at 12:35, some 20 minutes later than scheduled. Each of his songs went down well with the crowd that was there, with a few short breaks to talk about the band that he was in and to complain about the cold weather. He ended his set on the first song that he released, “Lost”.
After a quick change over, the organisers decided to switch a couple of acts and Sally Pepper made her way onto the stage. With confidence from the get go, she made us laugh a few times with comments about how one of her new songs was about dickheads. This was followed by a quick story on how a lot of her new material came from one particular dickhead “so cheers for being a c**t”. Ending the set with her new single “Sepia” she showed the audience why she’s one of five finalists in the competition to play at Slam Dunk North in May.
Last Chance bounced onto the stage with mega amounts of energy. When they started playing their new single “Shut Down” there were lots of heads banging in the crowd. Their drummer played with a look of sheer determination, enjoyment and possibly a hint of pain on his face throughout the whole set.
Ocean Sunset View were on next starting with “Jerking Off To Blink” which gained a very puzzled reaction from the room. The band were trying to use all the space on the stage but being the largest band of the day on so far it was a little tight with the 2 drum kits on stage. James Herron on lead vocals joked saying “I’d like to say you all look sexy, but I’m covered in smoke and can’t see a thing”. Towards the end of the set they covered Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” in a Punk Goes Pop style which surprisingly had a lot of the crowd singing along.
The venue was about a quarter full by this point in the day and the team had worked hard to get back on track with timings. There were girls going around handing out shots of Fireball who are a sponsor of the event. It did seem that a lot of the people that were there were either in other bands or part of the press for the event in some way.
The next act is normally a solo act but he “dragged” some others on to help his “crippling depression”, at least this is what Jonny Gill said to introduce his music. After a song or two he made the crowd laugh by saying “I know what you’re all thinking… It’s not sad yet. Just you wait”. He then shared that he got some inspiration for his music from growing up down the road to The Venue in North Duffield. A surprise in the set was a punk-pop cover of Enrique’s “Hero”. This definitely got people singing and bobbing their heads as I don’t think anyone expected to hear that song. Finishing the set with “Friday Night Lights”, he then joked about most of his music being free as “I don’t value myself or anything I create”.
A Few Too Many were on next after a slight change in running order and it kind of looked like there was a few too many people on the stage as it was a little cramped. The first song they played was “Moving Forward” which is off their debut album Lessons Learned. They played four songs off their new EP to give the crowd a taste of their new music, finishing the set with an older track “I Always Knew”. A very professional performance considering the technical difficulties of the bassist’s mic stand falling half way through a song.
The crowd numbers still hadn’t really increased at this stage in the day, but it didn’t dampen the mood of those there, they were all there to enjoy the music. The Famous Class took to the stage next for a very jumpy performance. A few songs into the set they announced that one of the band members went into the charity shop next door and bought a box of naked barbie dolls for £10. These then popped up around the venue for the rest of the weekend in some strange places. They recently released their first new song in years called “When Life Was Easy” which was very catchy and had lots of heads moving in the crowd.
The trio Elastic Waste from West Yorkshire were up next, starting with their very short “Soundcheck Song” which was just to make sure everything was working properly before carrying on with their set. They made it clear from the start that there wasn’t going to be much talking as they wanted to play as many songs as they could. “Time to Change” went down well with the audience, and at this point I noticed there were a good few people wearing T-shirts sporting the band’s logo. It did feel like a slightly rushed set, but they still didn’t have enough time for their final song, so they ended the set on “If I Can Take It Back” before rushing off the stage.
After a dramatic drum intro, Shaded burst into their high energy set. With the lead singer not being able to stand still for long, they played the first few songs with barely a pause. Said lead singer had me flinching a few times thinking he might have punched something or someone with the amount of times he threw his fist in the air. They mentioned the 4-hour drive to the venue and announced that the past few weeks they had been in the studio recording new material before playing a new song called “Tell Me”. Before their last song, “Better With You”, they thanked the crowd for coming and told everyone to go and say “hi” at their merch stand.
Starting with their song “Sylvester”, Catch Fire opened their set with one of their most popular songs. They took a short break to get everyone to take a step closer towards the stage and to ask how everyone was doing. When they played the first song they ever released, “Bad Behaviour”, it seemed there were more people entering the venue and they were all instantly nodding along. They played a couple more songs off their latest EP before announcing that they had just recorded their new album which got some cheers of support from the crowd.
Coast to Coast were on next, however the venue seemed to have emptied slightly as it was around dinner (or tea time as they call it up north). They introduced themselves and said “Let’s move!” before beginning their set. They briefly asked the crowd if they had enjoyed Shaded and Catch Fire, and raised a big cheer when they asked who was looking forward to Mallory Knox. The next song, “Cornerstone”, from two years ago gained a great reaction from the small crowd. Unfortunately, at this point in the set my stomach got the better me too and I had to nip out and grab a bite to eat.
Taking dramatic entrances to a new level, Altered Sky’s intro with a backing track was an interesting way to start the set. With a crow mask and a lantern, lead singer Ana Nowosielska danced about the stage while the other band members took their positions. They kicked off with the first song off their EP, “This War is Mine” and instantly had the room’s attention. The entire set was full of energy and they were constantly trying to get the crowd involved, whether it was bringing them closer to the stage or when guitarist Ryan Zdrojewski got the crowd’s hands in the air clapping along. Towards the end they had to apologise that they had to rush off as they had another gig to play in Leeds after they finished. Always the hard workers!
With a few technical difficulties throughout their first song, Grumble Bee began their set with “Sky Writer”. After Jack Bennett on lead vocals and guitar had a quick check to make sure the mic was working, they continued through their performance. There was lots of cheering from the crowd after “Red” which showed how well the band’s status is growing. Numbers were rising in the venue at this point and there was a lot of headbanging throughout from the newcomers. When they announced they only had one more song left there was a couple of boos from the front of the crowd before they began “H.C.A.D.C.”, during which the bass player was head banging so hard his man-bun fell out.
We knew it was time for the first of the co-headliners when crew quickly cleared the stage of the extra drum kit and had what looked like a more thorough sound check. The Bottom Line made their way onto the stage with a big cheer from the still growing audience. They instantly tried bringing the crowd further forward before beginning their set. They took a short pause after a couple of songs to mention how they had played The Riverside venue next door, 7 years ago. Trying to use all the stage they could, the band members pulled some elaborate moves like the lead singer spinning his guitar around his body.
They were really getting the crowd going throughout the entire set, getting phrases sung back to them and especially when the guitarist jumped down into the crowd. After saying that they had all been up since 4am and were ready for a drink, they asked the crowd who was already drunk. They made quick introductions of the band members before saying they were going to play a brand-new song. During the penultimate song, the lead singer decided it was time for a crowd surf which went quite successfully.
When it was time for Mallory Knox the room was about three times as full as it had been all day and the crowd were all gathered around the front of the stage. They went straight into their first song “Black Holes”, the first music video the band released after they had a lineup switch around (Sam Douglas became lead vocalist upon the departure of Mikey Chapman at the start of the year). They quickly thanked the crowd for turning up before moving onto their next song “Beggars” which was a throwback to five years ago.
After a few more songs Douglas asked the crowd how they were doing and when the response wasn’t as loud as he wanted he pushed with “You guys are northern, you need to be louder than me! I’m a southerner, I’m a softie!” He then had them sing along to the next song, “Getaway”. Mallory Knox announced that they had been very busy the last 6 months writing and recording new material and they were going to play a new song tonight that no one had ever heard before. They had the room’s full attention by the time they played “Sugar”… apart from the couple in the audience playing catch with some left-over barbie dolls from earlier. Mallory Knox have come a long way in the last 10 years, from the beginning when they had “no beer bellies and they weren’t alcoholics” to playing festivals and headlining their own tours.
Douglas had some more good news for the fans in the crowd saying that they had just been signed to a new record label this week and to expect more from them which received a huge cheer. The last song of the set, “Better off Without You”, had a lot of the audience singing along and having a little dance. Douglas told everyone to “go get pissed!” before they gave a quick wave and ended their set. There were chants of “One more song” but the crowd weren’t to be lucky as the set had already overrun slightly.
Overall, the second day of Pop-Punk Pile Up was a quiet success. Although there wasn’t the largest number of attendees, the organisers worked non-stop to make the day run as smoothly as possible, even if the traffic did try to stop certain bands from making it!
Photos by Jack Barker Photography