Gym Class Heroes, Madina Lake, Hangar 18
Fiona Doran 03/02/2007
Gym Class Heroes are difficult to define. From the label Fueled by Ramen, which is also associated with groups like Panic! At The Disco, Paramore and Fall out Boy, they are seen as the more diverse band on bill, and this works in their favour. Upon face value they could be understood as hip hop but they are definitely more than that pigeon hole, with an emphasis on live performances, instruments and outstanding lyrics. This diversity can help describe the mix of fans that filled the Oxford Zodiac tonight. The place was rammed with an array of people from many subcultures and the atmosphere of this sold out gig was tinged with excitement.
Opening act Hangar 18 had everyone moving, and congratulations to them for putting everyone in such good spirits; supporting bands rarely have the mood lift this group managed. Next on stage was the emo-esque Madina Lake, whose music incited a moshpit, in which I got caught up in and incidentally, I loved it. The lead singer's dive into the crowd, however, unfortunately left him with a swollen and bloody lip, but they managed to complete a fantastic set. Energy-filled performances and the release of multiple large, yellow balloons led to the Zodiac having an excitable, maybe ever-so-hyper atmosphere. As soon as Madina Lake left the stage, everyone was desperate for the arrival of the Gym Class Heroes, and when they did appear they were met with rapturous cheering and screaming. The crowd were definitely ready to have a good time and Gym Class Heroes were ready to deliver.
Their talent is undeniable; each group member played their instrument with passion and originality. Their set was roughly the same pace throughout, with a danceable beat, but there was never a dull moment. One standout moment was Disashi's guitar solo which was extremely impressive, receiving a thunderous applause. Highlights included 'New Friend Request' which Travis dedicated to all the MySpace fans, which was everyone if the cheers were anything to go by, fan's favourite 'Cupids Chokehold', 'Scandalous Scholastic' and 'Clothes Off' which features a sample of Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump.
Songs featured on the band's most recent album 'As Cruel as School Children' were the most popular, but other earlier songs were also well received, including a mix of three or four older tracks shortened to make one song performance, which they pulled off extremely well.
The energy created by Gym Class Heroes was incredible; every song was faultless and played with real conviction. The vocal delivery by Travis was worth a special mention, his voice didn't stumble once and pauses he created for the audience to sing the lyrics were electric. The encore demanded by the audience was satisfied by their return, although because everyone has been enjoying themselves so much, the gig was over all too soon.
What was truly great about this performance was the enthusiasm that came across whilst the band were on stage: they obviously love playing live, and the fans appreciated this. Where other bands need fancy lighting and a dressed up stage to look professional, Gym Class Heroes rely purely on their stage presence and high quality performance. The culmination of the pure talent, fantastic lyrics, packed out venue and amazing atmosphere produced a dazzlingly memorable gig, and left me with an experience I won't forget in a hurry.