This is a night for the kids. Female kids. The whole evening I am able to walk to the bar unimpeded or wander into the gents without let or hindrance. I'll return to this venue tomorrow and things will be very different.
First onstage are
Fort Hope. They're young,
professional and covered in tattoos. Real ones, and not the 'Hello Kitty' kind.
Having checked Twitter before the gig, it is abundantly clear which of tonight's bands is generating the most excited internet traffic. NeverShoutNever have drawn declarations of love, pictures and smiley faces from all quarters. When the band comes on stage there is such a high pitched shriek that bats chasing insects in the evening air outside the venue plug their ears and fall from the sky.
'Band' is a relative term. NeverShoutNever is a vehicle for the rather weird but undeniable charisma of Cristofer Drew. He is dressed as some kind of
urchin but addresses the screaming crowd with the formal courtesy of a gentleman. Missouri
Drew's youthful charm is his major selling point. He alternates between a green guitar and a ukulele and appears to have only a rudimentary grasp of either, but it really doesn't matter.
If a lot of teen acts flirt with metal, rap or dance, Drew is unique. The majority of his performance is a kind of shuffling skiffle blues. It's Justin Bieber playing Lonnie Donegan. It's certainly an original take.
The young girls scream themselves silly. Drew's actual music seems to be the least important part of his performance. He teases them, advises them that they are all special and not alone and plays the perfect non-sexually threatening teen boyfriend.
When NeverShoutNever depart, the composition of the crowd down the front alters subtly. The younger girls move to the back, allowing the slightly older ones and, gasp, boys, to move forward.
We Are the In Crowd bound onto the stage and immediately deliver a fine old pop rock racket.
Vocals are shared between Tay Jardine and Jordan Eckes and soon everyone is bouncing up and down, waving their arms (again) and generally loving it.
My own party is here because they happened across the band at a tiny gig at the Borderline a couple of years ago. Since then, WAtIC's popularity has clearly soared.
What I like about the band is that they haven't smoothed off their rough edges. They're very competent but they are not slick - they still feel like a proper young and hungrily enthusiastic rock band.
There is one moment that makes me blanch. Tay describes how when she put up some band photos on Twitter she got bombarded with messages along the lines that she had gotten fat but that this was OK because Twitter followers are family and families can say horrible things to each other.
To me this just seems horrifying, and not just because she is clearly a regularly shaped young woman. I'm more disturbed by the apparent validation of cyber bullying and that it seems almost unremarkable to the people involved. To paraphrase William Gibson in Neuromancer, I've just been generation-gapped.
The set roars on and for the encore all the bands appear onstage and celebrate the end of the tour with a big group hug.
We Are the In Crowd look all set to progress further and maybe horn in on some of Paramore's fanbase.
Cristofer Drew may go on to rule the world.