The benefits of writing ‘morning pages.’

morningpages
I bought a journal from my favourite little store in Cardiff, Tiger for ¬£2. It fits in my handbag quite easily, and being the type of person that’s equipped with a pen at all times, I can write where ever and whenever I want when I’m out and about. I originally bought the journal just to keep track of things. To-do lists for the day, numbers and emails that I needed to get in touch with. I just like to write things down rather than using my phone. But, as I found myself heading to work with nothing but dread filling my head, on my 8am morning commute I started writing what I was feeling, and trying to analyse why I was feeling that way. I wrote for the whole journey, my handwriting at times messy and difficult to read. But despite my cramping fingers, my head felt lighter as I got off the bus and walked to my place of work.

Since that morning, I’ve started writing religiously in my journal. Not so much diary entries – at times they’re fictional. There’s been times of boredom where I’ll make up a character inside my head and make them come to life in the pages of my book. Illustrations of what goes on inside my head. Sometimes they’re filled with personal feelings, and sometimes just a line of what someone has said to me. It’s relaxing to have a place my head can vent, instead of inside itself.

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In the writing world, people have spoken highly about the practise of morning pages. The idea is to write three pages before you get on with your day, and write whatever it is that’s on your mind. It could be an idea, it could be an emotion or even an insecurity. Write it down, even if your mind feels empty. There’s always something going on. This practise came to light whilst I was studying in university – my lecturer spoke highly of it, telling us that most of her ideas are developed in those morning pages. I promised to do it, but I never did. I finished university earlier this year, and I’m finally doing it. Hand on heart, that ¬£2 journal is the best thing I’ve purchased.

I can’t say that it’s a cure to every issue, but it does make you lighter. It empties your head of your morning anxiety – and if you don’t do it in the morning, but instead write it at night, it clears you of your day and leave you refreshed. It’s something you’ve got to stick to. I have always found writing to be rather therapeutic, even when I delved into places that I didn’t want to go. The whole practise of ink staining white lined paper, for some reason, gives you a sense of validation. There are some things that I have written in my journal that I wouldn’t whisper in secret, like some of my own insecurities, but this black and white knitted journal knows them all. And I can see the progression in my writing, the positivity I’m placing in myself as I clear my head every morning. It’s actually rather empowering, and even more so to think that this positivity is coming from me.

I urge anyone to try it for a month, or even a week, and feel the benefits of a lighter, clearer and empowered mind.

Relax

Slam Dunk SOUTH Experience [PART TWO] – Goldfinger, Frank Iero andthe Patience, Less Than Jake & Headliners Neck Deep, Enter Shikari, Against Me! –

After reeling in the happiness from meeting Matty and Dan from Zebrahead, we headed back to the Fireball stage (we spent most of our day here, to be honest!) to catch Goldfinger’s set. I’ve always loved Goldfinger, even if I never listened to albums in full, or even know the name of their albums. Back in the day, I used to – uh, oh, don’t arrest me – download music of the dreaded LimeWire and burn it onto disks. I first heard them on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater back in the day, and then later stumbled across the song on YouTube that sparked my love for the band. They’re a feel good, lively band, and I’m a sucker for that. Especially in the summer time!

Most of the ska/punk stage is full of jokes – you’ve got Zebrahead, as mentioned previously, Less Than Jake and Bowling For Soup. All bands that are notorious for crackin’ a few jokes and havin’ a good ol’ drink. If I was to say that Goldfinger also had a joke around on stage, I’m sure readers would get tired of me repeating myself. Like I said, we spent most of our time at this stage.

Now, everyone knows that John Fieldmann is a punk, rock, ska, you name it – he’s into a bit of everything and basically loves to work on music. He’s worked hard and has had a massive effect in today’s rock scene, helping produce music for The Used, Good Charlotte and Blink 182 (that’s just to name a few!) and even signed Itch from The King Blues, Blitz Kids and Beartooth. He’s a busy guy, but his passion lies in being the frontman for Goldfinger, and on stage, that passion really does shine. With bassist and vocalist Mike Herrera from MxPx, Story Of The Year guitarist, Phil Sneed and New Found Glory drummer Cyrus Bolooki, Goldfinger couldn’t be further than what it started as. But does that stop them getting the crowd pumped, screaming back each lyric of each song? Nope. They opened with ‘Spokesman,’ a well-known song that would appear on almost every Greatest Hits album that Goldfinger will ever release. But apart from playing classic hits the band previously released, a few days before Slam Dunk kicked off, they announced their upcoming new album and released the track ‘Put The Knife Away,’ and I’ll be totally honest – I never listened to it until I was in the crowd. For a song that had quite literally only been released, the crowd recieved it so well and kept their lively movements. Already knowing the lyrics to scream back, and in all honesty, the fact that the band were having such a good time playing made the crowd have a good time listening. Even the lesser known tracks were recieved well – because even though Goldfinger are an amazing band, it’s also the name and songs such as ‘Superman’ and their cover of ’99 Red Balloons’ are what attracts most people. It was nice seeing the crowds support for everything, and not just the songs they knew. Big up to the guys of Goldfinger! (By the way, they finished with ’99 Red Balloons’ and I’ve never seen such a party. Aweeesome!)

Reel Big Fish were up next on the Fireball stage. A band that changed the way that most people remember A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me,’ and a band that, quite rightly, the closest definition to ska in the modern day in mainstream media. But, being a loving girlfriend and already seeing every band that I wanted to so far, we journeyed across the campus to the Signature stage where Frank Iero andthe Patience were up. Now, Owen knows more about this band than I do. The best I can do is, hey, Frank Iero is that guitarist from My Chemical Romance, right? Besides, they were bringing part of the Reel Big Fish crew on stage for almost every set – Zebrahead, Goldfinger. I could probably get away with saying I saw some of them, at least.

(Video taken by Owen Jeffreys)

Frank Iero andthe Patience isn’t, how can I say this? Isn’t a band I would probably ever listen to outside of a music show. For some reason, the produced records I hear through speakers doesn’t really do anything for me, and most of the time I’ll skip the songs if they show up on my Spotify Daily Mix. But, I have seen Frank Iero andthe Patience twice this year. The first time with Taking Back Sunday and, in that live setting, I love it. He sounds so much better live. He’s energetic, he’s fun and when it’s live and right in front of you, you can feel that energy more than through a pair of speakers. It’s quite spectacular, really. Frank Iero andthe Patience is the first band that I pretty much know zilch from, yet as soon as he plays live, I’d be the first one to dance. It’s fair to say I won’t be buying his records, (he gets enough of Owen’s money!) but I would more than likely buy tickets to any show they do locally to me. I urge everyone, if they see Frank Iero’s name pop up for a local show, go and see them. Go and check them out at a festival because you will not be disappointed. I’ve previously reviewed Frank Iero andthe Patience, and it’s probably a lot similar to what I’m saying here, but Owen caught the full Slam Dunk set on the video below (whilst using my head as a tripod – y’know, team work makes the dream work.)

Now, I had a great time at Frank Iero andthe Patience set, but guess what? Time for Less Than Jake. I cannot tell you, how happy I was to be seeing Less Than Jake again. Seeing them with The Road To Warped Tour a few years a go, and then at the Students Union in Cardiff with Zebrahead (*again*) and Reel Big Fish, (perfect line-up, right?) I was buzzing. Before I went and snapped my femur in half, I was the first person diving into pits, jumping wildly in the crowds and skanking to every song I could. And all those movements were involuntry, it’s just the way LTJ makes you feel. So, the first time after having pins and rods stuck into my leg, I’m standing in the crowd waiting for my favourite band and, it was hardly much different. It was just as exciting, even being quite far at the back. For a band that’s name doesn’t come up all that often, the stage filled up more than it did before. LTJ definitely brought it in, making jokes that we [the crowd] had to pretend to like them so they could prove to their booking agent that they’re enjoyable. Chris DeMakes holding a “douche rag” – as he called it – in his back pocket and consistently making jokes about other bands like Green Day and My Chemical Romance. Also, side note, if you’re a big fan of MCR, LTJ said that they’d be returning in 2018 because they can’t afford their big houses anymore. Fingers crossed it is true, I’d die if I could hear ‘Give ‘Em Hell Kid’ live. But anyway, being older and obviously wanting to write about and experience the music rather than the atmosphere more nowadays (not voluntry, I’d still be pitting if it wasn’t for this gammy leg) but I actually enjoyed them for their talents and their skills. Roger Lima sounds so good live. It’s almost emotional listening to him sing ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short.’ I probably would have shed a tear if I wasn’t so set on screaming the words as loud as I could so they could hopefully hear me from the back. There is nothing else I can say about LTJ apart from positive things.

This is where my Slam Dunk experience goes a bit awol. I went to the show one-hundred-percent certain about where and who I was going to be seeing. I even circled the bands on our schedule and downloaded the app to be reminded 15 minutes before they were due to start. So, according to my plan, the headliner we were going to be seeing was… Neck Deep! I know, I know, it was the Take To The Skies ten year anniversary – but I had seen Enter Shikari twice before and, well, I hadn’t listened to them in a very long time. What else could I experience at their show? So, there we were, eagerly awaiting the arrival of Neck Deep while the entire crowd sings along to ‘Welcome To The Black Parade’ when the music just cuts off and the boys jump on stage. Woo, they’re here! The first song they played was ‘Happy Judgement Day’ that was recently released for their upcoming album ‘The Peace and The Panic.’ It was obvious that they’d be plugging the album, since all their merch was for that album. Still, out of the two new singles, ‘Happy Judgement Day’ is my favourite so, hell yeah! Here’s the truth, I couldn’t get into it. The crowd seemed tired and just, too exhausted to be there. Sure, you could hear the voices, including my own shouting back, but the Monster Energy stage just sounded awful. I’ve heard plenty of things about Neck Deep being terrible live, and I couldn’t even give you an honest opinion because the sound was so unclear that I didn’t even know they were playing ‘Serpents’ until I heard Ben Barlow do his usual shouting thing. It wasn’t as epic as a headliner act should be, and it was a total disappointment. I love the band, I love their music and I listened to them the next day and still loved them. It’s just, for a band that does rely on atmosphere, the fogginess and unclarity of the stage’s sound didn’t help and did no justice. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only myself that decided to switch out.

I stayed for awhile, I was hoping I’d get more into it and enjoy Neck Deep some more, but I never. Shame. So we left to catch a bit of Shikari, since I heard that the show they put on at Birmingham and Leeds was amazing. We got a burger and stood quite far to the side at the back. I was not disappointed. We arrived right at the best time. They played ‘Return To Energiser.’ Not my favourite Shikari song, but regardless, it sounded amazing, it felt amazing. The lights were out of the world and this was the kind of end Slam Dunk needed. I danced. I was so far back where people were sitting and standing. People are tired, blahblahblah. Nope, I was moving with the music, burger in hand, and as SOON as I heard the words “Ladies and Gentlemen” play from the stage, I freaked. I had two bites left of a cheeseburger, and I held onto it with dear life. (I wasn’t willing to throw away any part of a ¬£7 cheeseburger even though it tasted vile.) I was jumping, and for a person who was complaining that her feet hurt, I couldn’t help it. It took me back years to when I loved Shikari. To when I first heard Take To The Skies. When I first fell in love with Jonny Sniper. There’s no words to describe their set – it was by far the best spectacle and I’m just sad that I didn’t manage to catch the whole thing. But what can ya do? All I can hope is to grab tickets to their next show and enjoy everything they have to offer. Being there has definitely made me love Shikari again, though. If not even more than I did when I was younger – I can’t stop listening to them.

We had already seen two headliners, why not catch part of another? After Jonny Sniper was finished and I had heartburn from going nuts whilst still digesting a burger, and then finishing it off after the song had finished, we decided to go catch a bit of the Against Me! set. Again, I’ve only heard the one or two songs and that’s when Owen will play them on guitar. They sound good, but I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to them. I only found out a few days prior about the singer, which is brave and intriguing and I wanted to see what this band were like as well as try and catch Thrash Unreal. That’s the only song I properly know, and even so, I just had to message Owen to make sure I got the name right. Shikari put me in the mood to end Slam Dunk right, so even thought I knew nothing of what they were playing, I was still groovin’ around and enjoying every last minute that I could. Seeing the band, seeing the singer do what she does best despite everything, I was amazed. I was amazed by the bravery that it must take to still put yourself out there like that. Earlier in the day, whilst checking out the merch stands, I noticed there was a book on the Aginst Me! stall titled ‘Tranny’ which I will be picking up as soon as I get the money. I don’t know the music, but being in that environment is enough to make me support them. And listening to a Spotify shuffled playlist of Against Me! is on my agenda.

And that’s it. After Against Me! we caught the end of Shikari with Rou climbing frames and giving Slam Dunk the send off it needed and it was done. Everyone leaving the campus to go back to normal life, and I was already dreading it. It was an emotional day, really. With current events and the fear that a lot of people had going into Slam Dunk – enough fear that people sold their tickets – it was amazing to see just how much the world of music can bring us together. We look out for each other. Someone falls in a pit and we pick them up. Someone isn’t looking so good, we help them out. There were many comments by bands made throughout the day, none of which I can remember enough to recite word for word. But it was the same anectode that I give you now, that music is our last place to come together and enjoy ourselves. And I think that’s what I took away from Slam Dunk the most, that living in fear is only ever going to stop you from living your life. If we stand together, even if it’s just at a festival, we make our world a nicer, safer and happier place – maybe only for a short amount of time. But it’s our place to forget what kind of world is on the outside.

Reflective, huh? I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience – and I’d like to see what you guys thought. Feel free to leave a comment, follow me, leave a like or just go about your life. I’m grateful you’re even here!

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All photos and videos in this article were taken and filmed by Owen Jeffreys, which can be checked out and followed by following these links: Instagram | YouTube 

 

music

Let’s talk about: Fear.

I wanted to stay away from these kinds of posts for awhile, especially during a time when I’m attempting to concentrate on rebuilding myself as a writer, and most importantly, enjoying it again. I finished university and spent the last three years having all these great ideas for stories, but no effort to write them – because I was already working on the first project I started, which I eventually started to hate. Hey, that’s the life of being a writer, isn’t it? Or not. I’m still figuring it on.

But I digress, fear is the topic of this week. And fear has been overwhelming in the day-to-day lives of some. Even more so now, when there has been attacks in places there shouldn’t have been (although there shouldn’t be any, full stop), an increase in armed police on our streets ensuring our safety and terror threats shutting down events at even the slightest whoft. It’s crazy, and it¬†does¬†scare me. It scares me because there are people experiencing things that should never be experienced. It breaks my heart thinking about the war-torn countries that I’ve never visited. The families that watch bombs drop while their kids are out playing, or in school, or at a friends. The people just waiting for the tragedy to happen to them, because they live in such an awful place that it’s just a matter of time to lose someone they know. It honestly hurts me to think about the pain that these people go through. My entire body feels limp when I hear about bombs and threats on the news – Paris, Manchester, Kabul, Syria to name a few. The lists grows every single day, and it’s heartbreaking. I don’t need to go into reasons why it’s heartbreaking and explain every emotion I feel at every “BREAKING NEWS” article or news clip that I see. You know how I feel, or at least I hope you do. We need more people to feel this way. To feel empathy and love and care for all types of people from all types of places.

I write this because today, Rock AM Ring got shut down on it’s first evening because of a terror threat. Tens of thousands of fans evacuated from the site, and in that little bit of unity singing “You Will Never Walk Alone.” I can’t begin to imagine the fear the people of RAR must of felt. They didn’t know the details, they only knew it was a terror threat, but there they were all standing side by side and making a terrible situation that little bit better. I can tell you now, that while I hate the thought of fear holding people back, I would have been the first person to start crying.

Now, I travel to Austria in eleven days for Nova Rock Festival in Nickelsdorf. My biggest fear up until this point was attempting to find my way around a foreign country to get from Vienna airport to Pannonia Fields I. I’ll admit, I saw the tweets come rolling in about RAR and my stomach churned. I was at the exact festival last year, almost going again this year until we seen the Nova Rock line-up. But this isn’t about me, I was just shocked that it happened, as would anyone. Here’s a little backstory to why I decided to write about this topic:

I told my mother about it. I told her that RAR was shut down and everyone needed to be evacuated, and she told me I wasn’t going to Austria. Bad luck, mum, I’m going no matter what. I wouldn’t miss Green Day and Blink-182 headlining a festival for anything. So, she gets mad, telling me I shouldn’t have told her. And I probably shouldn’t have, because I know it’s just going to make her worry more about me when I’m away. She doesn’t like me going into the city center on my own. She didn’t want me to work this weekend because of the UEFA Championships. I don’t have that kind of fear, and that’s what I want to talk about it.

I don’t know how it feels to have that kind of fear. To have a voice in the back of your head telling you all the things that could go wrong. The constant whispering. To let that voice stop you from doing the things you need to do. Since the Manchester attack, so many people have sold their gig tickets. Slam Dunk, Blink-182, Download. I’ve seen the tickets go up for sale left, right and center. I don’t know why I don’t feel it, but I won’t let my life be stopped because of a threat, or a risk, or whatever you want to call it. I can’t stop these things from happening, but I can try my best to enjoy what little pleasure the world has left to offer and hope for the best.

I can’t guarantee that I won’t walk two steps out of my house and get run over by a crazed driver. I can’t guarantee that I won’t go to work one day and be stabbed by some high chick. I can’t guarantee that I won’t take my dogs for a walk and get mauled by some super-cute German Sheppard. There are a thousand ways I could meet my demise – but all those ways I could at whatever time of day, isn’t going to stop me. Sure, I’ll be on edge and I’ll be extra vigilant – just like any other person that’s heard of all these attacks. But these things aren’t written in stone. Imagine putting something off because it happened somewhere else, to find out later that it went ahead and it was just as amazing as you thought. Wouldn’t that suck? I know the risks that travelling provides. I know that I could get lost in a random city, get mugged because of my vulnerability of a foreign country. My plane could crash land. My bus could catch fire. My head could explode into a thousand pieces because I overthought everything and it’s frazzled my brain. And I know the risk of evacuation – but I trust in those who aim to protect us to do just that. I trust the goodness in the majority of people to guide and help me. I’m not afraid, because all I want to do is to experience what I can before it all turns into hell. That’s all I want to do. And I suggest we all do it, because by giving into fear, is giving these people who want to ruin our world, exactly what they want. We can’t give in to that, otherwise we’re handing them our lives.

Ramblings

Slam Dunk SOUTH Experience [PART ONE] – The Ataris, Zebrahead, Cute Is What We Aim For –

The forecast and prediction of rain was enough to not only put everyone in a panic of “what to wear” but also enough to make the expectations of the day lower. Waking up was hard, getting ready was hard. But, boring parts aside; we set off from Cardiff to Hatfield and was ready for a day full of music and fun. We just had to get past the cue first – which was the longest part of the day. People were already drinking and getting in to the party spirit, we were quite far back in the cue to get our wristbands. Thankfully,¬†that cue moved quickly – it was going through bag checks that took something close to ten years.

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(Original schedule for Slam Dunk!)

We got into Slam Dunk at some time after one, and already everyone was in a good mood and figuring out their schedules for the day. We went and got food, two cheesy chips and two bottles of Coke, was, wait¬†how much?!¬†Yep, ¬£15. Total rip off for something that wasn’t even great, but that’s what festivals do. They know people are hungry and thirsty and being in a venue pretty far from everything, people would need to eat and drink on site. Expensive days ahead. After sorting out our stomachs to the relaxing music of Andrew McMahon, we headed down to the Fireball Stage to see The Ataris.

(The Ataris taken by Owen Jeffreys)

Now, this is the first time I have had the pleasure of seeing The Ataris. I missed them in Cardiff earlier on in the year, so I was excited, and even on the third day, so were they. They kicked off the set with¬†In This Diary,¬†and being the first band on the agenda for a lot of people, the crowd starting moving quickly. They were interactive and they were fun. The Ataris were the best band to choose to get the Fireball stage viewers set for the day, especially finishing up with their version of The Boys Of Summer.¬†Do you know how long I’ve waited to scream those words at the top of my lungs? (Yeah, I know it’s a cover, but The Ataris does it better, okay?!)¬†But it was obvious that Slam Dunk go-to party starters, Zebrahead were up next. Even though the t-shirts were bopping about in the crowd with their bottles and pints in hand, they were only¬†just¬†getting started. Zebrahead are known, if not famous in the scene for going hard at their shows. They are a tad predictable, using the same kind of theme as they did last year. (I say theme, but the theme is¬†always drinking) but they get one of their crew members up, or Beer no.2 as they called him, on an inflatable boat to send right the way back to the soundboard and back again. Most people would slate a band for always doing the same thing, but it’s always fun with Zebrahead. The guy got three-quarters of the way down before a group of lads literally just carried him down and then back, handing him back to the crowd of hands to make the last stretch of his journey to the stage. But, people were too busy dancing to the hits Zebrahead were handing out, and he went crashing into the crowd. That’s right, screw you, Beer no.2!

ZH 16(Photo taken at Slam Dunk Midlands 2016 by Owen Jeffreys)

I’ve got to say, Slam Dunk tickets were bought as a gift for me from my boyfriend, Owen, so he let me have a say in a lot of the bands we got to see. For the third band, I decided Cute Is What We Aim For would be a swell idea. The last time in the UK was supporting Paramore in 2006, and at that time in my life, I was twelve years old and no one liked the same music as me. CIWWAF is a nostalgic band for me, the same as We The Kings, and I was crazy into the dudes with long hair covering most of their face, and I felt like I should honor my twelve year old self and take her to see the bands she used to be into. It¬†was¬†amazing to hear the Curse Of Curves and Sweet Talk 101 live on the Monster Energy Stage. I was sitting in a corner, having a breather and taking advantage of an empty place to sit, and I couldn’t help but dance as soon as I figured out what songs they were playing. It’s just a shame that I wasn’t into it as I used to be, and it was nostalgia making me dance rather than the excitement of being in front of the guys. Nevertheless, I¬†really want this band to release new stuff to get back into. It felt like the nostalgia is what brought most of the people in the crowd to see them, because the hits would get an amazing reception. Being on the floor, all I could see was butts moving, but their lesser known songs got less butts moving, unless it was to get more alcohol or shield themselves from the rain that got a bit heavier. Wow, great reviewing here! I’m happy I got to see them regardless, and next stop, was Goldfinger.

We left the Monster Energy Stage before the set finished and decided to take the time before the next band to have a scan around merch from record labels. There were some great deals going on, a band shirt and a CD for ¬£20, a lot of the sellers trying to push their sales as usual, but the best part. I stumbled upon Zebrahead’s Matty and Dan. I couldn’t tell you what stall they were doing a meet and greet at, because my head was spinning that¬†oh my god¬†I get to actually meet them this time.¬†I got their album signed at Slam Dunk midlands last year, but as soon as I approached Matty, school-girl version of myself came out in full fan-girl mode.

“I’ve been to all your shows in Cardiff, and we saw your show in Birmingham last year too!” I said, bright-red and sweaty.

“Oh wow, even back in… Barfly?” He remembers Barfly! In my opinion, the best venue Cardiff ever had to offer. Of course I was there. Zebrahead are amazing now, but it was all so new back then that it was even better experience. “What’s your name?” Matty asked.

“I’m Jess,” he takes my hand to shake and tells me his name, in which I reply, like a complete stalker, “I know.” I’m not good at this… socialising stuff. We have a joke and he tells me he really appreciates my love and support for the band and hopes that I continue doing so before I ask if I can take a photo with him. He jokingly protests before delicately leaning in to my sweaty and broadly smiling face to get in a selfie. I give him a hug, and somehow, despite the amount of partying he’s done, he’s less sweaty than me. I almost feel bad putting my face on his clothes. We move on to see Dan. Now, Dan’s crazy on stage. He’s always lively, cocky and just a great laugh to watch. And he’s pretty much the same off stage, too. I tell him the same thing as I told Matty, but this time tell him I’ve got two of his guitar picks and bless his heart – he does try and find another one to give to me. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have one, but we get talking and my boyfriend shows him a picture from Slam Dunk Birmingham.

(Selfies of myself, Owen, Matty and Dan.)

“That’s such a rad photo! Can you please send it to me through my Facebook?” he asks Owen. “Send me some flaccid dick pics too, I want some of that,” and then proceeds to show us a “baby photo” of himself. Spoiler, it’s a photo of a baby in a crib with a 10″ hard-on.¬†We laugh and we all complain about the signal strength Hatfield has to offer. None of us could connect to anything, even though our phones deceptively told us we had full signal. We move on to selfie taking, but this time Dan takes my phone and takes around thirty – yes, thirty photos of everything other than us. He takes pictures of the girl that just had selfies with him, and gets another selfie with her. He takes photos of Owen, and then photos of Owen’s crotch before finally passing the phone back and getting in a selfie with us. I ask him if he plans on catching Goldfinger, since they were going to be starting in the next five minutes, and we part ways. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more satisfied with meeting members of my favourite band before – Zebrahead are great guys on and off stage, and yes, Matty, I will support and love the band like the fan-girl I am, forever.

NEXT SLAM DUNK POST INCLUDING: GOLDFINGER, FRANK IERO & THE PATIENCE, LESS THAN JAKE, NECK DEEP, AGAINST ME AND ENTER SHIKARI

Big appreciation and love for Owen for consistently taking awesome photos, he’s uploading Frank Iero & The Patience set on YouTube. Give him a follow and show your support!

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music

The Albums that Shaped Me.

1. Blink-182 “Enema of the State”¬†is¬†not¬†my favourite album of Blink-182. In fact, my favourite enema-of-the-statewould be “Take Off your Pants and Jacket,” and has been since I discovered it.
This album features songs such as “Going Away to College”, “Rock Show” and “Adam’s Song” which are some of the major hits Blink 182 have to this day. Whilst I’m a hardcore Blink fan now, 1999’s “Enema of the State” was what introduced me to the band that would follow me through life. A band that wouldn’t leave my side and who will forever have my support. I would have been about four or five years old for the release of this album, but when I actually started to explore my own music tastes, this was the band that showed me the pop-punk genre. I know it seems a little clich√©d but this album felt like the start of my own individuality – and Blink-182 would become the band that I relied heavily on when I was unsure of myself. They would become the pick me up I would rely on when school got too annoying, when I wanted to drown out the sounds of people around me and whenever I wanted to be just plain silly. Blink-182 is also the reason I’ve become so close to some of the most important people in my life, and the reason why I have so many memories of running back into clubs with my friends to shout the words of “Always” on my knees as if I’m proposing to them. It’s hard not to love Blink-182.

2. Pink Floyd “The Wall”¬†is what my mother would probably say her favourite band is. Or at¬†least one of them. Literally from the moment I started creating¬†any memories I can the-wallremember this band,¬†just as much as I can remember The Beatles “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.” Nowadays, I don’t listen to them all that much. I think the last time I actually listened to a full album was when my boyfriend and I properly set up the vinyl player in
our room and I decided to see what an old Pink Floyd album would sound like. But the band has now turned into a comfort blanket. They’re a band that will be featured in playlists that I listen to when I’m feeling down, because it’s like remembering my family together playing “name the song games” and certain songs just reminds me of the stories my mam would tell me, even when I’ve heard them a thousand times before. It reminds me of the times my mother would quote the words “if you don’t eat your meat you cant have any pudding, how can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!” Most of all, it’s special to me because it’s special to her. It’s hard to explain, but this album will be featured in every music collection I own, just for the sheer comfort and memories of it all.

3. My Chemical Romance “I brought you my bullets, you brought me your love”¬†is the first album I purchased with my own money. Granted, I only knew the name when I found this in store because all I had heard before this was a seli_brought_you_my_bullets_you_brought_me_your_love_coverect few songs from the “Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge” album. Which, is of course, an album that should be in the hearts of every pop-punk fan. In all honesty, I hated this album when I first listened to it on the stereo I had gotten for Christmas. I didn’t know it, I couldn’t get into it and, at the time, it just sounded gross on full blast. I think after a couple of weeks I actually traded it with my brothers¬†Fightstar’s “Grand Unification,” album because at least I could sing along to it. It took me a few years to actually listen to Bullets again, but this time, it was amazing. Years upon years was now spent listening to sometimes overproduced tracks that would sound entirely different live. But the pure rawness, the brilliance and the emotion of this album stuck out to me on the second listen. Before this, I was only into the pop-punk scene of sing alongs and catchy guitar riffs, but after this, I started listening to everything. I started listening to¬†music¬†instead of just catchy chorus’s. (Sorry Blink, you’re still my favourite band, but you don’t take much brains!) Only ever really hearing the sounds of metal emitting from my brothers cave, Bullets made me want to explore into heavier music. It brought me to bands such as Bring Me The Horizon, From First To Last and (with help from my brother) The Used. “The Black Parade” album did give MCR a bad reputation for awhile, with the movement and the cult attire, but there’s been many of people I have borrowed Bullets to that’s decided they’re not such a bad band after all.

4.Pink “Mizzunderstood.”¬†In an industry dominated mostly by male vocalists, Pink has never failed to show off her talents and her personality. She’s an influence to many, many female artists in the industry today. Most of all, an influence of mine. This album was a fairly early Christmas present, and whilst I say Blink’s “Enema of the State” started out my music expinkploration, Pink’s album was the reason I would sing at the top of my lungs. “Mizzunderstood” became the first album, along with my first stereo, that I was blast whenever I needed to vent. Whenever I needed five minutes of loud music to destress eight or nine year old me. Plus, the song “Just Like a Pill” gave me reason to say “bitch” as much as I wanted to without getting my butt smacked. My mam’s the one who bought it, so she couldn’t be angry at me. Of course, that would be the only time I was allowed to swear, so I’d make sure this album would come with me on car rides. In 2006, I went to see Pink live on her “I’m Not Dead” tour with my cousins girlfriend – now wife – and it was probably the most character shaping experience I’ve had. Pink’s fans ranged from a lot more than just angsty teenagers with issues at home and school. It was 2006’s version of the LGBT community. If I speak honestly, the love, the acceptance and the care I have from people comes from what Pink has spoken and sung about. Pink has forever made me want to be a better person, if not her…

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Cardiff girl and big adventures

I’ve always wanted to travel. It’s been a massive want since my independence. I’ve stared at images of foreign countries and their nature for years and dreamed of the day I would be seeing them with my own eyes. But I never really traveled my own country much either, so even when I’d so desperately want to get on a plane and head to wherever it would take me, it was daunting knowing I wouldn’t even know my way around Wales, let alone a foreign country.

Last year changed that. And music was the biggest reason for it. My first adventure started with Slam Dunk Midlands, and I traveled with friends a lot more confident than myself. So whilst I was nervous of getting lost in a place that seemed so far away from home, my nerves were put at ease knowing that the people around me could probably get us out of any sticky situations. It was an adventure in itself – getting to Birmingham, finding the venue, going around all the stages, thinking we could last the night at the afterparty and ultimately wandering the streets until our early morning bus. Practically falling asleep in McDonalds whilst getting stared out by old women was my lowest point, but nevertheless, it felt amazing that I was able to do that. I got to meet The King Blues frontman, Itch, too. It was the most surreal experience ever – I actually got to meet a hero of mine.

Then, not even a week later, I traveled to Germany for the Rock AM Ring festival. It was insane. Not only did I fly over, but I caught a bus and hoped for the best. Sure, I had people with me, but still. No one spoke a word of English, so we had to rely on trust. From Frankfurt airport and onto a random, completely desolate bus at 1a.m. we finally arrived in Koblenz, where the plan¬†was¬†to get a train. Obviously, after spending however long on the bus, (I was in and out of sleep,) trains were no longer running. So, into a taxi we went and just hoped he knew where we were meant to be going. We weren’t allowed to actually drive into the campsite so we needed to get out on the road and walk the rest of the way. So backpacks hoisted onto our shoulders, we made our descent in the pitch black. It was such a wonderful, nerve-wracking experience that it brought my love for adventures out even more.

This year, I get to indulge in my love for music and adventure even more. Starting with next week, actually. I’ll be seeing my teenage anthems played live by Taking Back Sunday in Manchester with Frank Iero and the Celebration as support. Then, in April, I’ll be once again heading to Bristol to see Real Friends, a band that has recently pulled on my heart strings. A few smaller gigs in between, such as tribute bands Green Haze, The Offspin and Paramore (or less) around Cardiff and then I’ll be heading to Austria for Nova Rock 2017.

Now, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve ever been vocal about my love for pop punk and metal on this blog before. But I’ll be seeing Green Day, System of a Down, Linkin Park, Rancid, Slayer, Good Charlotte, Pendulum and so so much more. The best part of it? Blink 182 are headlining. Blink one-eight-two. A band that’s been my favourite since I started getting listening and exploring my own musical tastes. A bonus is, a month later, they’ll be playing in Cardiff, where in the comfort of my own hometown, I can confidently be an emotional wreck and go mental to Feeling This live.

Side note, and a little soppy: none of this would be possible without my best friend and soul mate. A man that’s made all my dreams come true and makes my future far brighter than I thought it could be. (He gets up before the tickets go on sale while I’m busy snoozin’,) but with him and the friends that have previously adventured with me, I wouldn’t have this confidence and motivation to leave my comfort zone. I thank you all greatly!

With all these upcoming adventures and concerts I’ll be attending, I’ll be trying to keep this blog up-to-date with reviews, experiences and just all the good times I can possibly gather into one gallery. I hope you’ll share in these adventures with me~

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“Happiness is a journey, not a destination.”

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Everything has changed. I’m an entirely different person to what I was a year ago; to what I was when I first entered 2016. The story’s the same, the face is the same but everything feels different. I’ve always strived for some sort of happiness, to feel something more than numb. But what this year has shown me is no matter what, happiness is not a destination, but a journey. And perhaps a neverending journey, but with every piece of progress, with every ounce of confidence that I gain, I know I’m closer to what once felt impossible. I’m getting there and it sure feels good.

There’s a thousand things I want to do and I want to change, but for everything I’ve ever gone through, for ever decision I’ve ever made, I’m so glad that I’m here right now. There are days when all I want is to not exist, and those days of feeling nothing are still going to be a part of my life. But recently, those days have lessened and I’m reminded that there’s more to life than what it is right now. I got the chance to travel to Germany, to experience something amazing with the best people I could. I’ve got to write and write and write to my hearts content. At first, I thought that what I was doing in the present would be what I would end up doing forever, and I lost so much motivation because I could never see myself any different than a deadbeat. And whilst I still may not make it in a world where there are so many other talented people; where I can easily be brushed under the carpet and forgotten about, I might just have fun trying. I might be working a minimum-wage bar job with long hours with headaches that hurt the back of my eyes, but these eyes have so much more to see. So much more to appreciate.

Positivity doesn’t come to me that often. Especially not the type where I want to write it and show it because I know soon enough I’ll want to write how I want the earth to swallow me up. Some things won’t change, but the way you handle each situation and each downfall will get better. Everyone is fighting their own battle, but we fight it side by side.

Peace, xoalaskaar.

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