REVIEW gig Old Subbacultcha Old Subbacultcha

Mayday Parade tackle a venue worthy of their monster sound

Florida rockers step up to the plate at Camden's grandiose KOKO – but are their best song-writing days behind them?

MaydayOne could be forgiven for thinking the appetite for slick, sugar-coated pop rock had waned somewhat in recent years, with the resurgence of more thrashy, visceral pop punk seemingly sating the hunger for angsty teens on both sides of the Atlantic. However, judging by the queue stretching around Camden's impressive Koko for Florida's anthemic chorus-mongers Mayday Parade's sell out show, you'd also be quite wrong. If Mayday Parade are sickly sweet, then bill-openers
Divided by Friday are vomit-inducingly saccharine. With lead guitar switched for a keyboard, and a frontman decked out in a white tuxedo, we fortunately only catch their final couple of bubblegum pop numbers, which sit uncomfortably somewhere between Maroon 5, new era Fall Out Boy and Backstreet Boys. (4/10) Next up, it's Bath boys
Decade. Following from a well-received debut EP, last month saw them release their first full-length in the shape of
Good Luck, and tonight they're more than eager to be showing it off in the live arena. While their bouncy stage presence and air for a good melody wins the affections of the younger pop punk fans in the audience, their clever use of discord and a distinctly British edge sets them apart from – and pushes them above – the endless UK bands trying to emulate their counterparts across the pond. With big choruses and throbbing, bassy riffs, it would be great to see Decade following in the footsteps of the likes of You Me At Six, Kids In Glass Houses and Lower Than Atlantis as a British band showing the yanks how it's done. Watch this space. (8/10) While Decade provide a slice of welcome respite to the onslaught of upbeat peppiness, New Jersey pop punk heroes
Man Overboard take to the stage to a rapturous response from the largely young, female audience, with their oft-mocked rally cry of 'Defend Pop Punk'. But far from heartthrobs, dual frontmen Nik Bruzzese and Zac Eisenstein pitch themselves at either end of the 'nerdy' spectrum, one short and stout, the other tall, lanky and bespectacled, respectively. It's their ear for a decent melody that drives the crowd wild tonight, and cherry-picking from their three full-lengths
Real Talk,
Man Overboard and last year's
Heart Attack, they blast through a short but sweet set of pop punk anthems for a new generation. Think Blink-182 without the dick jokes (their name itself an homage to a song by Mark, Tom and Travis), their vocals are high and lyrics are sometimes cringingly frank, but it's impossible to not let their hooks bury themselves so deep inside your head that you'll be singing them for days. They finish their set with a reworked version of the acoustic track 'Love Your Friends, Die Laughing', which pretty much sums up what they're about – it's not rocket science but it's all good fun. (7/10) For a band that have been producing music for the last eight years – sitting somewhat under the radar in the UK at least – it's impressive to see
Mayday Parade still garnering such a young and enthusiastic crowd. Beginning as an emotionally-charged pop punk band in the mid-Noughties (leaning particularly heavily on the 'emo' part), the last four albums have seen them slowly transform into a solid melodic rock band with their sights so obviously set on arenas. Indeed opening their set with 'Ghosts' from last year's aptly titled
Monsters In the Closet it's not long before Derek Sanders' soft intro vocals give way to shredding dual lead guitars courtesy of Alex Garcia and Brooks Betts, creating a sound well worthy of tonight's elaborate Victorian opera house. Surprisingly, though, it is the older tracks from the band's 2007 debut album
A Lesson in Romantics that get the young crowd most pumped, as the band pull out the album's anthemic opener 'Jamie All Over' early on. The infectious 'Black Cat' gets the biggest singalong of the night, setting the floor aloft with a sea of pogoing teens. On the whole, the newer material sounds slightly more staid, with tracks like '12 Through 15' sitting quite blandly in comparison with their younger, more visceral writing. However, there is no denying that Mayday Parade have really mastered the art of writing melodic, singalong rock, and their musicianship is second-to-none. Their energy and presence on the stage is exceptional too. Sanders bounds around barefoot with youthful exuberance, his bright blue eyes gleaming through flailing, long bedraggled locks, while Betts and Garcia frequently mount monitors to thrash out screeching solos. If there was a hole left for stadium-sized emo-rock bands when My Chemical Romance called it a day last year, then Mayday Parade are surely their natural successors. Things lull a bit when Sanders brings out a keyboard for the predictable inclusion of soppy ballad 'Miserable at Best', and though the crowd sing along to every word, the show really wouldn't suffer if this track were put to bed permanently in the live setting. It picks back up again with 'Kids in Love' before the band take us right back to their roots with 'Three Cheers for Five Years' – the first song they ever wrote together – displaying the perfect compromise between earnest sentimentality and unbridled energy. Ending things on 'Jersey', another track from
A Lesson in Romantics, it could be argued that they used up all their best hooks early on in their career, with its blistering chorus ringing through the expansive hall to a fervant response. Encoring with the odd choice of the drawn-out 'The Last Something That Meant Anything' there's a feeling that things should have been left on a high tonight, with the audience hungry for more. The same could equally be said for their career as a whole, though I'm sure tonight's euphoric sold-out crowd would fight to the death to defend the opposite. (7/10)
Thanks to Mark at Devil PR