Having attended gigs at the Academy venues for the better part of 12 years, it’s safe to say I’ve made a few memories along the way. With the majority of the shows I’ve attended being of the pop-punk and emo persuasion, these memories come with a side-serving of pogoing, moshing, beer, high-fives and good times. From Goldfinger to Jimmy Eat World, and Sugarcult to All Time Low, I like to think I’ve seen a bit of everything that the scene has to offer.
My favourite Academy memory-and the one that put that assumption to the sword-was the occasion I watched New Found Glory act as their own support act.
I don’t know why this memory should stick out over all of the others. Musically, New Found Glory aren’t superior to other bands within the genre. Certainly, they’re a favourite of mine, but so were many others that I watched at the Academy. The best explanation I can come up with, is the bizarre and fortunate set of circumstances that surrounded that particular gig.
The first reason being that this was the first gig I attended at Club Academy. The smallest of the Academy venue collection, the intimacy almost guarantees a brilliant atmosphere, and the chance to get up, close, and personal with your heroes.
The second reason was the first support act. International Superheroes of Hardcore may sound like a ridiculous name for a band-and to be honest, it is. The point is though, that the band knew this. It was New Found Glory dressed in superhero costumes; singing/shouting about their love of old-school hardcore. It was ridiculous, loud, and, lyrically,very witty. The band got everyone warmed up for themselves in the most hilarious way possible. How many other bands can boast that?
The third reason is that this show introduced me to one of my favourite bands of all time. With all of the hype surrounding the first support act, it would’ve been very easy to ignore the second. That second support act was Kids in Glass Houses; fresh from recording their second album ‘Dirt’.
I was aware of this band, but had (wrongly) assumed that they played twee indie-pop. How wrong I was. They stormed the stage, playing ‘Artbreaker I’-the sort of sleazy pop-punk gem that is so catchy, it ought to be illegal. Following on from this, their set was wall to wall energy, with frontman Aled Phillips repeatedly swinging from the rafters, when he was taking a break from bounding around the stage like some kind of welsh rock-and-roll kangaroo. Needless to say, I was hooked. After the conclusion of the gig, I went home and downloaded every single song I could. I almost forgot about the headlining band that I’d paid to watch in the first place.
The final reason was that-pure and simple-I had come to watch a New Found Glory set. This is a band that, throughout its history, has consistently and effortlessly delivered brilliant live shows of pure pop-punk fun. When New Found Glory rock through the hits from ‘Sticks and Stones’ and ‘Catalyst’, you can’t help but forget your troubles, smile, and sing along.
Before the set began, I managed to squeeze my way to the front of the crowd (admittedly that’s not that far from the back at Club Academy), and rocked out with the kind of youthful abandon that should be unseemly for a 22 year-old man. At a show like this, however, this type of behaviour is not only accepted, but encouraged; as such, it’s the perfect cathartic release. I left the venue exhausted, sweaty but above all, happy. You can’t ask for much more than that from a pop-punk show.
So there you go, that’s my favourite memory of the Academy. Here’s hoping to many more that can top that!
Featured in the following MDMArchive online exhibitions:Manchester Academy Memories