Last Friday, Illinois sad boys, Real Friends, brought an incredible show to Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC. The lineup was stacked with awesome bands that truly went together perfectly and made for a memorable show for everyone in attendance.
Opening the show was Australia’s own Eat Your Heart out. With their vibrant stage presence and exciting energy, the band kicked the night off with a certain nostalgia that couldn’t be ignored. Front woman Caitlin Henry’s vocals, that had strength and power reminiscent of Paramore singer Hayley Williams, set the mood for the show. The venue was intimate and allowed for an undeniably strong crowd connection. The fans were in for a good true to the roots pop punk show.
Following up Eat Your Heart out was a band that picked the pace up just a bit more. Grayscale was next on the bill for the evening. Their songs were fast paced and in no time fans began to crowd surf throughout the venue. Though their performance on stage was very strong and impressive it was the look on fans crowd surfing that made this set so special. As each crowd surfer landed on the stage you saw some of the biggest and most excited smiles you could ever hope to see. As the Grayscale set progressed not only did they keep a steady flow of crowd surfing but they also were the first set of the night to have a circle pit start. This moment solidified that you were at a very exciting pop punk show. I honestly do not believe I have witnessed such a powerful and connected crowd quite like this all year.
As Grayscale’s set came to a close it was down to the final set before the headliner for the evening. Rounding out the opening sets were none other than British pop punk band Boston Manor. This I do believe was the most intense set out of the first three of the night. With their incredibly energetic stage presence and classic pop punk vibes this with a somewhat darker twist Boston Manor brought a different energy to the show that gave the crowd a different feel to it. Though their set was an all around powerful one it was their performance of their song “Bad Machine” that really stuck out the most. It’s dark sound, haunting vocals, and lyrics lead it to be one of those songs that made your hair stand up to hear live. This song definitely created a distinct mood for their set.
As Boston Manor’s set came to an end we were down to the final set of the night, Real Friends. They have a classic pop punk sound and a crazy ability to take deep and dark lyrics and give them an upbeat sound. In a way they give an incredibly nostalgic feeling to their shows through their sound and energy. Opening with one of my personal favorites “Me First”, the crowd immediately began to sing along and quickly connected with the band. With a setlist that was stacked with both their newer songs as well as several fan favorites there was truly a favorite song for both new and old fans alike. Though the band does in fact put on an absolutely amazing show with their performance there is something more to a Real Friends show. I believe they try to make sure every fan feels accepted. It’s something very prominent when you catch them live and I believe it makes for a more intimate and connected show. As the incredible set progressed there were a few moments in particular that stuck out to me. Towards the end of the night frontman, Dan Lambton, said to the crowd “Let’s play some sad songs” to which the crowd cheered at its loudest. As fans excitedly awaited to hear the next song the intro to “I’ve given up on you” filled the venue. With its slow acoustic feeling and exceptionally powerful lyrics this was a song that truly left a mark on the night. Fans sang along and some held lighters and phone flashlights up. It felt as if this moment was frozen in time as you listened in on what seemed to be the entire crowd singing in sync. Some were even shedding tears at the beauty of how absolutely amazing this performance was. A couple of songs later the mood came back down again for a moment for bassist Kyle Fasel to give some insight about the next song they would be playing. He told how the next song for the night was one written for his best friend nearly ten years ago who had recently passed away. He then dedicated the performance all to him. “Home For Fall” began to play and this was a moment where you really could feel the emotion from the band pouring out into the crowd. And as expected, The fans fed off of it in multiple different ways. From crowd surfing and singing along, to hearing faint sobs every now and then, this was a song that had lyrics that laid heavy in the air. As the evening wrapped up and the last song “From The Outside” was played, it was evident what a fantastic show this was by the member’s and fan’s smiling faces as everyone sang along and crowd surfed one more time. Dan helped different fans who were crowd surfing onto the stage, high fiving and even hugging some. This demonstrated how awesome Real Friends are and not just as musicians but as humans as well. They wanted a great night filled with music and their fans. I would consider that goal achieved.
Though pop punk is not everyone’s genre it seems as if Real Friends have a way of making a connection with everyone fan or not. This show was proof just how powerful and strong their music is. That being said I do believe out of all the shows I have seen in 2018 that this is by far the best and probably the highlight of my 2018 concert season.