Tonight sees an intimate warm up show for US rockers Alien Ant Farm before they head off to Download Festival. It’s an interesting mix of crowd as it ranges from your usual gig goer to dad dancing, raving mum and chain wearing goths. With the price of a ticket on the steep end at £20+ everyone is anticipating a lot from the whole show.
First up stroll the alt-rockers Eva Plays Dead. Their presence screams ‘we’re here to rock and you’re going to enjoy it’. They have quite the punky edge to them, musically and performance wise. Singer Tiggy has the voice, attitude and doesn’t hesitate to get interactive with the early crowd. The entire band feel smooth onstage looking like they were enjoying every minute of the set. They just work together neatly.
Right now, EPD seem to be on a mission to do what it takes to get their name out there. Their performance shines tonight and I imagine it’s just a scratch off the surface of what they can really do.
The Dirty Youth seem be another work-horse band constantly playing up and down the country to earn their recognition and they’ve definitely earned their stripes. They play with ease and high-class showmanship, almost too perfect to believe it wasn’t somewhat rehearsed, but it works for them. Danni is another powerful singer onstage with an eccentric flare. At one point she grabs the mic (with built in light) and strides through the crowd belting out her lungs, which in effect, turns quite a few heads.
I must admit, it’s been a while since I’ve seen two female fronted bands on one bill, but it’s been a great treat to see a crowd enjoy the diversity. These bands have had to work harder to get themselves noticed and hopefully tonight both supports are taking away some new fans.
Finally, as Alien Ant Farm casually stroll out, the crowd erupt. It’s a slow start but they throw in Movies early on which seems to get the crowd grooving. After having the venue downgraded it’s always a little daunting to wonder how the band will come out – will it effect their enthusiasm? Their overall-mood? Or do they even care at all?
They play their Download set first before continuing on with extras which fluctuate from everyone knowing the words to a small handful of die hard fans at the front.
At one point singer Dryden talks about nerves before the show and about his lack of self-respect which of course leads to an overwhelming reception from the crowd – there’s no way he could feel under-appreciated tonight. It also doesn’t stop him from jumping into the crowd several times to party with the crowd. The chemistry feels hit and miss – at points they flow together perfectly, where as at others it’s like the rest of the band are separated from the singer but they all look like they’re having a good time as there’s continuous smiles all round.
Dryden goes on about it being his 40th birthday soon and how AAF are nearly 20 years old and it really makes you ponder for a second the possibilities of a band having such a career due to a cover of Smooth Criminal – a song that is their best and worst trait – it always ends the night on a high and sees the room erupt in great measure but unfortunately overshadows the rest of their original material.
Tonight has been a nostalgia trip for most and a fairly happy one at that.
Alien Ant FarmThe Globe, Cardiff - June 9th 2016.
Photographer: Nadine Ballantyne