Despite being the seventh date of the Truth Decay Tour, this gig unexpectedly became album release day due to vinyl production issues. The night’s lineup of You Me At Six, Waterparks, The Maine and Bears In Trees is a dream for any overgrown emo kid, with doors opening (fittingly) at 6 pm for nearly five hours of pop-punk fun.
Bears in Trees – The Maine – Waterparks – You Me At Six
Cardiff International Arena – 10 February 2023
Words: Gabriella Bosticco
Photography: Georgia Brittain
You Me At Six
Many people had braved a seat on the wet floor, their stamina challenged by tonight’s alt-rock marathon. As soon as headline act You Me At Six came on stage, everyone was back on their feet and bouncing along to the new track Deep Cuts.
Their setup feels like looking into a club, with strips of light that line layered platforms and an extension that allows frontman Josh Franceschi to get right up close to the audience.
As a band that has managed to maintain the nostalgia of their late 2000s sound while still producing music that sounds distinctly fresh, You Me At Six’s setlist shifts between the new and the old seamlessly. Brand new songs like heartLESS sound just as vibrant and bittersweet as old hits like Liquid Confidence.
Franceshi maintains his belting vocals for the entire set, well and truly proving himself as an underrated star. This is particularly excellent during the relentless back-to-back run of heavier songs Bite My Tongue, What’s It Like, No Future? Yeah Right, and MAKEMEFEELALIVE, where he growls his way through them seemingly effortlessly, complemented perfectly by the hard-hitting instruments behind him.
Despite Franceschi offering forgiveness for not knowing the words to the newly released album, the majority of the crowd joins in for deliciously cheesy God Bless The 90s Kids. They slow it down for the emotional Take On The World and Franceschi takes an LGBTQ+ flag from the audience and proudly parades it around the stage. The main set ends with an acoustic rendition of No One Does It Better.
For their four-song encore, Franceschi promises “nothing but straight-up bangers” and delivers, even working in a brief cover of When You Were Young during the punchy classic Reckless.
With two old favourites bookended by the electronic hip-hip and R&B tones underlying Suckapunch and Beautiful Way, the band ensure that they siphon every last bit of energy from the crowd, leaving many a hoarse voice exiting the arena.
Bears In Trees
First up were Croydon four-piece Bears In Trees, who self-describe as halfway between My Chemical Romance and High School Musical. They feel like the weird Gen-Z kids let loose as openers, which works in their favour.
Complete with an electric ukulele, they have a relatively folksy sound in comparison to the rest of the bands. This results in a soft yet energetic start that leaves the crowd excited for what’s to come.
Dressed all in white, Arizona’s The Maine brings a comparatively rockier sound backed by years of experience. They also bring a second shout-out to My Chemical Romance, leading the somewhat confused crowd in singing the opening of Welcome To The Black Parade, followed by Smash Mouth’s All Star.
Their audience interaction is extensive, even bringing a fan onstage for the last chorus of Black Butterflies and Déjà Vu.
The final opener, Waterparks, returns to the more chaotic vibe from the offset, with inflatable tennis balls on either side of the stage. Their set is a masterclass in showing off their range in just a 45-minute window.
It begins with cheery, poppy songs that showcase the quick, slick vocals that characterise their sound. This, of course, includes the viral TikTok hit I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Wanna Die Anymore, and an acoustic performance of Lucky You gives frontman Awsten Knight an intimate solo moment.
The band then transitioned towards their punk side, with the dark, screamy Turbulent and ending on the distorted vocals of Real Super Dark, leaving the crowd thoroughly warmed up for the main event.