After the on-running joke that is the London Midlands train service, myself and a train full of fans finally arrived to the venue slightly too late to see the first band however the disappointment was soon replaced with a sense of excitement.
Hitting the stage like a tidal wave of fun, All Time Low [9/10] proved why they are headlining rooms this size on the other side of the Atlantic. Opening with ‘A Love Like War’ the boys from Baltimore were on top form, with a quick follow up of ‘Lost In Stereo’. The setlist saw a smattering of tracks from all of their albums, except from 2005’s The Party Scene and each track fitted seamlessly into the set. However it wasn’t just the songs that stood out, the enjoyment of each member of All Time Low of performing together was not wasted on the audience, the bromance between Alex and Jack leads to endless, top quality, penis jokes. The infectious fun that was happening on stage was only enhance by the addition of an outstanding light show and a stage set up fit for an arena. With this being the bands first venture into arenas in the UK, personally, I was nervous on how many people would actually go see them however the show was sold out. The moment that it really hit you how much All Time Low means to their fans was during ‘Therapy’ when Alex took center stage with a lone spot light however the rest of the arena was lit up from peoples phones, the 2015 equivalent to the traditional lighter in the air. This set firmly felt like one from a band deserving to play for thousands of people, and even with a set lasting 11 songs, it didn’t feel long enough. The ending of ‘Dear Maria, Count Me In’ felt like a real moment of celebration of a band who has worked hard for a decade to get there and that the next decade of their career, if the reaction to the new single in the arena was anything to go by.
As a stark contrast to the previous band, You Me At Six  strolled on stage with dead serious expressions on their faces matched with a minimalist stage set up. With a setlist that drew heavily from Cavalier Youth, and completely neglected their classic debut album Take Off Your Colours, You Me At Six had set themselves up for a huge uphill battle. With Josh, the band usually has a charismatic, energetic frontman however he broke his ankle shortly before the tour so his movement was limited. The band just failed to get out of second gear all night, and while the addition of pyro helped some of the new tracks come across better live, it still lacked the element of fun that All Time Low’s set had in abundance. The big screens behind the band added an extra emphasis for tracks like ‘Reckless’ however couldn’t make up for the feeling that, at times, the band were out of their depth on a stage that size. With tracks such as ‘Loverboy’ and ‘Underdog’ stuck in the middle of the set, it was obvious to all that You Me At Six firmly believed their days of being the poster boys of UK pop punk are over, although the biggest crowd reactions were reserved for those tracks. By the time You Me At Six left the stage for the firs time, the overwhelming consensus around the venue was that All Time Low had outperformed them, however the encore saw You Me At Six reemerge with a vigor that the main chunk of the set had lacked. Coming back with ‘Bite My Tongue’, a song that shows a different side of You Me At Six, with the breakdown and screaming parts, it highlighted how creative they are and what wide array of genres they have played in their career. The ending of ‘Fresh Start Fever’ and ‘Lived A Lie’ showed the musical direction the band will probably continue down. Even the addition of confetti and fireworks couldn’t hide the feeling of being let down at the lack of tracks such as ‘Save It For The Bedroom’, ‘Jealous Minds Think Alike’ and ‘The Rumour’ that would have definitely improved a set that a set that felt half hearted at best. With them headlining Slam Dunk, a festival notorious for the large number of die hard pop punk fans, it will be intriguing to see if the band continue with this set list and how the absence of so many pop punk classics from the set will go down with festival attendees.