(An edited version of this review originally appeared in The Oxford Music Scene)
Remember when teenagers used to go to gigs to get messed up and wreck shit?
Nor do I, but I’ve heard stories. Stories that flush embarrassment and whither in the presence of the 400 shrieking adolescents who fluffed up their hair especially to sob innuendo at the three emo-core staples playing the Academy tonight. The Maine, We The Kings and headliners The Academy Is, three bands whose ability to provoke hysteria (or nausea) seems to increase exponentially with their set times and ratio skinny jeans : length of fringe.
Upstairs is near capacity by the time The Maine arrive to skip blithely through a barrage of tracks with one overexcited tempo change per number - harkening back, perhaps, to the days when boybands would stand up if a song modulated. We The Kings spring through an identical setlist: although this time we are exposed to an irredeemable cover of ‘Feel Good inc.’, Fred Durst-esque rap included. ‘I want to see you move’, shouts frontman Travis Clark. I want to see him burn.
Finally our headliners, deserving of some respect both for navigating through what must be gigantic piles of cash (courtesy of label mate Pete Wentz) and for not, as their predecessors chose to do, coming on stage to an inexplicable hip-hop sample. The Academy Is… manage to provoke as yet untold levels of hysteria: when front man William Beckett magnanimously breaks from writhing around in self-indulgent misery to pass out bottles of water his audience react like they were quaffing Holy Water from Jesus himself. Single Slow Down nearly provokes a stampede and, as if things couldn’t get any worse, the frontman from We Are Kings joins the band for a hug during ‘About a Girl’.
Fleeing the scores of fans clustering outside around the artist’s entrance, I struggled and finally hit upon the one redeeming feature of the gig. For the past week, some joker had managed to proclaim ‘The Academy Is… Sold Out!’ in large red letters over the front of the venue. The co-incidence, and resulting confusion, is literally the only good thing that came of inviting these three bands to Oxford.Liz Dodd