You Me At Six have had an interesting career. On the one hand, they’ve sold out Wembley Arena, toured America, and secured a number one album with Cavalier Youth in 2014. On the other hand, they’ve faced personal battles which has almost resulted in the breaking up of the band on multiple occasions. In 2019 though, they seem to have found peace with their status in the scene and are actually releasing music they want to rather than music they think will sell them the most records.
While I don’t find myself listening to You Me At Six that often these days, I really enjoyed listening to their first few albums at school and as a pop-punk enthusiast it was a big deal that five guys from down the road to where I grew up were able to reach such success as a band in that genre. When I found out they were headlining Gunnersville just down the road from where I live, playing all their singles in chronological order, and for only 36 quid, I was interested!
For a new festival, Gunnersville did a great job and I had a lot of fun! There were two things which I feel let the festival down though…the first was the lack of non-musical entertainment. I’m not expecting a theme park at a music festival, and to be honest I’m not really looking for much more than a good lineup, but Gunnersville was quite small and consisted of a few food stalls and a small merch stand. The other issue I had was with the sound. Fortunately the sound was good for headliners You Me At Six, but for the support acts it was pretty poor. One other observation, not a criticism, is that the stage was in a tent. I understand if a festival has multiple stages and it makes sense to have the smaller stages in tents to contain the noise, but when the one and only stage is in a tent it’s easy to forget you’re at a festival. This was not just any tent either…I’m pretty sure it was the NME Stage from Reading Festival! Observations and criticisms aside though, I was really impressed with the lineup, the cost, and for someone who lives in the area the convenience was a bonus too.
It certainly wasn’t just You Me At Six that initially drew me to the festival. The rest of the lineup was fantastic: Jimmy Eat World, Deaf Havana, Sundara Karma, The Maine and As It Is. Interestingly, other than As It Is these are all bands I don’t listen to much at all, but actually really like. Especially Jimmy Eat World – they have so many great tracks and I feel guilty that I don’t listen to them more. They played all the hits at Gunnersville too: Sweetness, Bleed American, Pain, A Praise Chorus, Hear You Me, and of course, The Middle. It was an enjoyable set and I’d be keen to see them again.
The stand out set of the night was of course You Me At Six. The vibe completely changed when they hit the stage. It was dark, the tent had filled out, and the DJ had done a sterling job warming up the crowd with mid-noughties emo classics. As soon as You Me At Six appeared the atmosphere was electric. From start to finish You Me At Six gave it their all in this performance and I’m sure for them it felt like one of the highlights of their career. There’s no denying You Me At Six are not at the heights they once were commercially, but that doesn’t matter. Their core fanbase is so dedicated and they were out in force at Gunnersville. The band’s latest album VI, which conveniently secured a number 6 spot in the charts last year, saw the band steer towards a more groovy, pop direction, but it suits them and the singles (Fast Forward, 3AM, Back Again, Straight To My Head) sounded great live! Save It For The Bedroom and Jealous Minds Think Alike, from their first album Take Off Your Colours, were great fun too.
Gunnersville feels like the end of the VI era, and while You Me At Six may already have their sights on the next phase after releasing ‘What It’s Like’ a few weeks ago, they should be proud of everything they’ve achieved in this album cycle and for closing it off with such an impressive headline show.