It’s been a week since the Gunnersville Concert series in London, so what made the Sunday so special? The final day of Gunnersville can only be described as a noughties emo's wet dream come true.

After walking through a peaceful park; past the swans on the lake, across the uneven grassy fields, following the path set by flags either side, the smell of street food wafts into your face and a gigantic blue and orange striped tent towers over everything.You could easily think you were going to a carnival Circus, but alas, the army of skinny Jean and plaid shirt wearers,with bedazzled bodies, tells you something else, as they all sprawl across the grass, or pack in tight against the metallic barriers,to make sure they’re at the front.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

A little after an hour of the gates opening, the day starts with the Grungey Punk tones of Milk Teeth. A cheerful trio, whose hair lengths combined could give Rapunzel a run for her money. They started off a little tame and awkward looking, but as the set progressed they seemed to find their feet and their sense of humour; cracking jokes about not setting the person next to you on fire, when the lighters came out for ‘Swear Jar’, a softer track of theirs.

 The pace really picked up for songs like ‘I stabbed You First’ and ‘Nearby Catfight’, with frontwoman Becky resembling a bass pounding Cousin It (from the Addams Family) as she sang, with an air of Courtney Love in her Hole days coming through. They got cheers for commenting on being “fed up of those fu****g Tories” and drummer Oli must have been working on leg day, as he frequently jumped out of his seat, mid song, to smile and give a thumbs up to the crowd.

Milk Teeth at Gunnersville

After a short break, however, the second best performance of the day happened. It was clear these guys were hotly anticipated, by a crowd who were chanting “As It Is” before the band ran onto the stage looking and sounding like the Pied Piper’s of Emos, in their: tight black attire, guyliner and side partings,with flashes of red coming from frontman Patty Walters’ braces and microphone. A frontman who is the Indiana Jones of microphones, as he swings and throws his mic around the stage, leaping and poking his tongue out; egging on the crowd to up the anti. You’d definitely want him on your rounders team with that level of hand eye coordination. 

Images taken from As It Is official Instagram page

The infectious energy these guys exuburated rubbed off on the audience, with the pits opening up and crowd surfers descending down the sea of pumping fists, when ‘The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)” played. They went so hard stage crew kept having to adjust the cymbals on the drum kit. They were the chatty bad boys of the line-up, especially with the guitarist crouching down to blow kisses at the front row. After announcing the “world is a pretty fu***d up place right now”, they ended their set with bangers ‘Wounded World” and ‘The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)’,taken from last year’s album: The Great Depression.

Images taken from As It Is official Instagram page

 With ‘The Stigma’ being a fairly soft and slow tempo song ( to begin with at least) it seemed strange at first to end the set with it, but as the band put down their instruments and waved goodbye to the harmonious roar of the crowd singing the final lines, it was clear why any band would want to end a set like that. It could have been their headline slot.

In almost complete juxtaposition to As It Is, with blindingly white suits and upbeat songs, came The Maine, travelling across the ocean on an aeroplane, which they must have said about five times during their set. It was an anticlimactic start, as the band themselves set up the stage and instruments; only to disappear and reappear, but this time to some suspense building music. 

Images taken from As It Is official Instagram page

Sound quality was poor for the majority of the first half of their set and they seemed a little stiff and uncomfortable on stage, which made it difficult to hear the vocals and really enjoy the music. However, after a little while, things picked up; they found their groove and ended on a high with “ Bad Behaviour” and “ Black Butterflies and DeJa Vu”. They showed off a whimsical side with the messages that played during each song, for instance: “Sorry for the inconvenience, You Me At Six will be on soon,” which really lightened the mood too and provided good photo opportunities for the crowd, but it did mean that people at the back didn’t benefit from the cameras showing off what’s happening on stage. One lucky soul, going by the name of Chris (definitely not Christopher as we learnt) went down as a legend amongst his friends, after being invited on stage to sing the chorus of “Girls Do What They Want”- a moment for laughter and union for everyone there. With their “life is good” reminders and general cheerfulness, they really were the chalk to As It Is’ cheese.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

The mood dropped a few notches after this, as Sundara Karma’s turn came, not because they were bad- they weren’t- but the fact that hardly anyone actually seemed to know who they were, or like the hippy indie vibes their music has, so they just seemed like the wrong fit for the bill really; most bands fell into pop/punk after all. Something they themselves acknowledged, with the gracefully moving frontman Oscar Pollock actually apologising for not being a rock band. Everyone who stayed in the tent for their performance did seem to at least recognise their single “She Said”, which actually ignited some movement and singing, so it didn’t fall entirely flat. The more interactive they became, as the set went on, the better the response was from the audience, with the only other reactions previous to this, stemming from Oscar removing his blazer to reveal a ripped torso, as he sashayed and squatted through the set, when not armed with a guitar or piano. This seemed to be when most people headed to the portaloos, to avoid the general 20-30 minute queues spilling across the field,between sets.

Photographer: Jon Stone – Image taken from Deaf Havana’s Facebook Page

All this only made people more eager for Deaf Havana, who swaggered onto the stage, with an air of ownership. There was a subtle pink glow from the lights and they were feeling happy to be back on UK turf, after a gruelling tour in Asia, where they spent more time in the air than the ground. So thankful, they claimed they only wanted to hang out with their pals in You Me At Six; powering on through a set made up of material from Old Souls onwards. Again, there were some shaky sound issues, but for the most part not enough to make a severe impact on the set. Beaming to be playing in London again, they confidently commanded the stage and altogether simply enjoyed themselves. Finishing the set on songs like ‘Trigger’ and ‘Sinner’ left everyone in dancing spirits and set the base for energy levels that carried on propelling upwards from this point.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

The penultimate band of the (now) evening, was American legends Jimmy Eat World, bringing us opener ‘Pain’, as the start of what was essentially a greatest hits playlist, with some newer and heavier tracks scattered between, which were the only songs lacking a signing crowd; most of whom had actually come specifically for them. With phones waving in the air to catch the raucous ‘Salt, Sweat, Sugar’ and obviously ending the set on their most famous track ‘The Middle’- the soundtrack to teenagers’ lives everywhere. The Jimmy Eat World guys were quite rigid until these last few songs, you probably could have literally drawn a small circle around them and they wouldn’t have moved- not even facially. Almost as though they had specifically reserved all energy to go all out at the end (which encompassed the literal letting down of hair for bassist Rick Burch) . Yet, they had an entire festival captivated- including several bands, who watched from the side of the stage,looking up to the band they admired growing up, as it was clear these were the oldest on the bill too.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

You Me At Six sight Jimmy Eat World as a big influence, which Josh Franceschi reiterated on the evening, thanking them;clearly overwhelmed with wonderment that they played the same lineup as their childhood heroes. But, before this the crowd didn’t want to say goodbye to Jimmy Eat World and demanded more, then began to get rowdier and sing when songs like Limp Bizkit’s ‘Rollin’, or My Chemical Romance’s ‘Teenagers’ came on; acting as a vocal warm up for the onslaught of  banger after banger when You Me At Six accumulated on the stage, with half of London probably being able to hear the uproar ‘Underdog’ caused, with swathes of bodies littering the tops of the crowd; carrying them into the arms of security guarding the barriers.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

This performance, just over a decade after the release of their debut album, was teetering on the verge of being iconic and it’s crystal clear that they’ve still got what it takes and have more to give. Most of them were sporting a trucker style jacket and dark skinny jeans,just in varying colours. Notably though, Josh’s was customised and when the camera focused on him, blown up on the big screen, you were able to see comments like the fluorescent green “Go Vegan”on the white collar of his jacket. There were tributes to his dog (who got the blame for Josh missing sound check) too amongst the doodles and writing.

There were no surprises in terms of the setlist for this, as they simply played all their singles in order, from ‘Save It For The Bedroom’ through to the most recent ‘What It’s Like’. There’s nothing simple about nailing a two hour set though, no matter how long you’ve been gigging for.There was one little rarity though in the form of Sean Smith, who galloped onto the stage for ‘The Consequence’, which is probably the first time people have seen him on stage for a while, to the excitable pleasure of everyone there. There was also a little awkwardness when a spontaneous Killers tribute came in the form of ‘When You Were Young’; leaving Josh singing alone, passing comment on the fact “You don’t f**k with the killers”.

Image from Gunnersville London Facebook Page

There were slight intervals between the transitions as we moved between albums, with noticeable colour changes in lighting and general mood shifts, probably most apparent as they entered their dark era, for the tracks off Sinners Never Sleep, which was the first time we saw them get gritty and sombre. To add to this phase’s aesthetic, fire cannons made their debut of the day, with crazily tall vertical blasts of flame adding dramatic flare where needed- especially on ‘Bite My Tongue’. As frontman Josh danced his jacket off, throwing shapes across the stage, his gesticulations added some character to the songs and helped people out if they forgot the lyrics, e.g. walking his fingers for “baby steps” during ‘Kiss and Tell’. It probably wasn’t wise to ask everyone to remove their clothes and make some noise though, when ‘Reckless’ came up- risky indeed. Although the only consequence was a hypnotic chaos of helicopter tee shirts.

The small breaks also allowed Josh to share some sincere secrets about his struggles with depression, alcohol and drugs; explaining he wouldn’t be here if he didn’t love music so much, as he introduced ‘Take On The World’, as a happier song and the revelation that “life isn’t bad,” despite what’s currently going on in the world. Blasts of pale confetti danced above the heads of everyone, ebbing and flowing over the lighter flames swaying;gravity seemingly paused to create this picturesque emotional moment, with petals still failing to fall long after the song had finished. 

Getting stroked and hair tousled by fans as he (Josh) crowd surfs during the most recent singles, he looks genuinely happy and proud of where they’ve come and where they’ll go announcing an album release in the new year. It’s not over for them yet and they’ve still got the fire in their bellies and so do the fans, uniting like a family for celebration.

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