Review – Real Friends

Date: Tuesday 22nd October 2019

Venue: Stylus, Leeds University Union

Supports: Belmont, Grayscale

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First on tonight were Belmont bringing their raw and heavy version of pop punk to tonight’s crowd Starting out with big hitter ‘Hollowed Out’ should have been a solid start, unfortunately the band were hampered by the mic being too low in mix which seemed to continue until near the end. Following this it was good to hear new track ‘By My Side’ and despite issues sounded fantastic bringing a similar vibe to later Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! tracks. Switching from old to new the band then jumped in with ‘731’ which mixed really well and saw the band throwing themselves around on stage. Despite there being lots of energy on stage, the growing crowd weren’t quite in the mood yet to cause the carnage that the band wanted – one of the only problems with an early midweek gig. As Belmont ended with ‘Overstepping’ they finally got the movement that they wanted out of the crowd with a small pit opening for the second half of the song. All in all a decent turnout in the end for a band that aren’t too well known across this side of the pond and from the sounds of it, vocalist Taz Johnson seemed happy with just having new people in the room to play to. It was a real shame that they had mic issues as this could have been a stormed of a set if all went to plan, but even still Belmont fought through and delivered a solid set to stir the crowd and prepare them for the two following acts to come.

Belmont

Next up tonight bringing chaos from the outset were Grayscale. Despite being very much on the opposite end of the pop punk spectrum from Belmont, a pit had opened up right from the start of the first track. The band had a very poppy feel to the tracks especially newer ones from their recently released album ‘Nella Vita’. The album seems to have been received really well as they have a huge following in the crowd singing along to every word with ‘Baby Blue’ being a personal highlight for me. Even given the party going off in the crowd, the band managed to match the energy on the stage and putting tons of enjoyment into the performance.  Taking a quick pause in their set as Ben Ray from Slam Dunk stepped on to the stage, the band announced that they’d be back in Leeds next year for Slam Dunk Festival 2020 to huge applause. Following this announcement the crowd kicked it up another gear with circle pits opening up for ‘Fever Dream’ and continued throughout. As the set neared the end you could see the clear happiness on the bands faces as crowd shouted the words back at him. Despite the earlier issues, the mix was perfect for Grayscale and the whole band sounded tight on stage. Delivering a solid support set there wasn’t a single person that wasn’t warmed up for tonight’s headliner as the band left the stage. I’ll definitely be adding ‘Nella Vita’ to my ever growing list of albums to listen to.

Grayscale

As Real Friends took to the stage it was clear that tonight was going to be a fun one. Having seen the band play in Stylus a few years back with Puppy I was ready for a fantastic show and Real Friends certainly didn’t disappoint. Out of the gates there were crowd surfers flying across the barriers and everyone still stood on the ground were moving. Starting out with a bang the band had played through both ‘Summer’ and ‘Mess’ within their first four tracks which set the scene for the incredible set still in waiting. The band sounded amazing and everything seemed to just click into place for them to play a fantastic set. Breaking out older track ‘Maybe This Place Is The Same…’ was a huge highlight for me as that was the album that first got me listening to the band and was played through perfectly to really capture the feeling of the track. With the energy as full whack it was then time for Real Friends to show off their other side as they slowed things down for an acoustic version on ‘Sixteen’. As the phone lights were held high in the sky you could really feel the emotion behind the lyrics and with the whole crowd shouting them back it really made for a very communal feeling that everyone was in this together. After a couple of heartfelt acoustic tracks Real Friends switched it back up in complete contrast to end the set on a high launching into penultimate track ‘Me First’. As the song went on the crowd kept getting rowdier even forming a wall of death before the final chorus to really make the most of the rooms’ energy. With the majority of tracks being from new album composure it only felt right for the band to end with opening track ‘From The Outside’ which sounded incredible live and definitely ended the set in fashion.

As the band finished up the final chorus it was obvious that everyone was left in awe of what they had witnessed tonight. A flawless pop punk set from a band that are no strangers to putting on a great show. For one final touch before finishing vocalist Dan Lambton left the crowd with the parting words of ‘If you get the chance to be kind then take it with both hands’ which is a fantastic message to be sending and really relevant to a band that have helped a lot of people with the music they’ve put out. There is a reason that they are one of the most loved bands in the scene and moments like that really prove why. Following the brilliant release that was ‘Composure’, Real Friends are only going to climb higher and higher and it is very much deserved.

Real Friends