So my final gig of the year was one of my highlights of the year – musically at least.

You know you have that band that are just so incredible live, so you go to all their shows? Okay, I have a few (BMTH and Slipknot being obvious ones!) but a couple of years back that band was Your Demise. And then they were no more. Bummer.

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But on Friday night they reformed to perform at The Ghost Inside Benefit Show at Camden Underworld. If you’re a reader of my blog, chances are we have similar taste in music, so you won’t have missed the fact that the members of The Ghost Inside were involved in a pretty horrific bus crash last month, in which the drivers of both vehicles passed away. The band themselves are stable but in a very bad state and are facing huge medical bills.

It’s actually lovely to see people rallying around to help the cause. There have been a couple of benefit shows, other bands have made donations, and Epitaph are passing on all profits from the sale of The Ghost Insides music directly to the band (so get buying their records!). There’s also a hugely successful Go Fund Me if anyone wants to donate.

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The benefit show was headlined by You Me At Six, with tickets on sale for a minimum donation of £20. Underworld is a ridiculously small venue for a band this size, so predictably tickets sold out pretty quickly! Now I’ll be honest, I know very little YMA6, but I really, really enjoyed their performance. Josh Francesci is an excellent front man and I think I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to see the band perform such an intimate show.

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It was obviously Your Demise that I was there for (musically – although I would have tried for a ticket even if they hadn’t been playing, because it’s for a great cause) and they didn’t disappoint. They still have that great energy and crowd interaction, and Ed was hanging from the ceiling at points just like back in the good old days! There was a little entertaining moment when he had to check his phone to help with lyrics he’d forgotten, but that didn’t spoil things!yd

It was a bit of an odd combination of bands I think, although with it being a benefit show it didn’t really matter. But you could clearly see who was there for YD and who were there for YMA6!

I can’t not mention Deaf Havana, who opened the show. I’m a fan of the band, I find them quite chilled and I’ve seen them perform a lot around little West London venues over the last few years. The crowd was a little sparse for their performance (I think a lot of people who were coming for YMA6 didn’t arrive til a bit later) but there was such a great vibe and everyone got really involved. Deaf Havana have been consistently good each time I’ve seen them, but this time they raised the bar a little.

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It was such a fun night, and I really hope the money raised helped a little toward helping The Ghost Inside.

L xx

All photos my own.

It’s been quite a busy week, so this is a packed post! You know what it’s like coming up to Christmas, things get a little bit hectic…

Xmas at MeatLiquor

Monday evening I popped down to MeatLiquor in Brighton to check out their Christmas menu – it was all delicious with a unique twist – exactly what I’d expect from the chain. Obviously this gets its own post!

meatliquor

Kraken Rum Think Ink Pines

On Tuesday I went along to the launch party for Think Ink Pines, the Worlds first all black Christmas tree shop, a pop up from Kraken Rum in Shoreditch, and had an ace time! You can read all about it here.

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Three Mobile Christmas Party

I love the team at Three and I have a December birthday, so I was over the moon to be invited to the launch of their new campaign – Merry Birthday at The Hoxton in Holborn. I will be posting about this soon, but I’m holding it back for my actual birthday next Sunday, haha!

Here’s a picture of the amazing cake they had, which you’ll find out more about soon! threecake

Clash Social with Three Mobile

On Thursday I went along with Three to the launch night of Clash Social, who had partnered with Horizons/Gowelion (BBC Cymru Wales) for a Welsh music showcase at The Dead Dolls Club in Peckham. I was so impressed with some of the acts, and I can’t wait to tell you about them in detail!

There was also a free Patrón tequila bar, so of course it was a good night!

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The Ghost Inside Benefit Show 

You’re more than likely to have heard that the band The Ghost Inside are in a pretty bad way, and this gig, held at the Underworld in Camden was put on to raise money to help with their medical bills. It was such a fantastic night and such a small venue for headliner You Me At Six. Also playing were Deaf Havana and Your Demise – the latter haven’t toured in as long as I can remember and came together to perform as a one off again for the cause. You can read more here.

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Moleculart 2015

This one’s a bit of a curveball. I spent my Saturday night at the Bargehouse on South Bank at an interactive art exhibition hosted by Lollipop and ABQ London (you may remember them from the Breaking Bad pop up bar I wrote about here). It was…. interesting. More about this coming soon.

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So that was my week, next week should be a bit quieter!

L xx

Last night myself and Luisa (Eat Sleep Luisa Repeat) went along to the launch party for Think Ink Pines, a pop up rum bar and Christmas tree shop opened by Kraken Black Spiced Rum.

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But these are no ordinary Christmas trees – they’re black! Kraken have taken real trees and dyed the natural green needles with squid ink for what is apparantly the worlds first black Christmas tree shop.

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And it’s not only trees, you’ll find other festive foliage including holly, wreaths and poinsettias all with a gothic twist. And Kraken Christmas cards although sadly I didn’t see those!

If you want to pop down and grab a tree you can visit Think Ink Pines at 186 Hackney Road, E2 7QL – where trees range in price (dependent on size) from £15 to £50. You can make a reservation for a tree via Twitter using hashtag #thinkinkpines. The bar opens today (9th December) and closes on 13th December, so be quick!

kraken think ink pines

It was such a fun event – there were impromptu renditions of Christmas carols by heavy metal band Heck and we were obviously treated to copious Kraken cocktails (which will be available priced at £5 at the bar) with a Christmassy twist – such as Squid Bite (1 part Kraken rum, 3 parts mulled cider, cinnamon and apple slivers) and Kraken S’Pores (a shot of Kraken’s Ink, cracker rim and fire roasted marshmallows) which were my favourites.

kraken think ink pines

We also came away with my favourite kind of goodie bag – one filled with alcohol and branded mason jars.

Obviously I had to have a photo with the Kraken Hunter…

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Last year my Christmas tree was white, this year I’m seriously tempted by black…

L xx

All photos my own.

Last week I started a little round up of my life post series, it seemed to go down pretty well so I’m going to keep it going, at least for a bit!

This week was a pretty good week, I had a couple of cool blogger events, met some awesome new people and caught up with good friends I hadn’t seen for a while.

An evening with Frank & Jack Daniels

You know by now that I like a bit of JD, right? So obviously I had a fantastic time at an event celebrating 100 years of Sinatra, featuring a showing of the original Oceans 11 movie, some Blackjack and free flowing Whisky Sours and Sinatra Century whisky. More about this on the blog soon.

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SuperDry party with Idris Elba

Well, this one was a bit of a let down – but at least I had some good company, including my blogger friend Lauren of Saharasplash.

If you aren’t aware, Idris launched a range of mens clothing with Superdry this week, and we went along to the launch party. Idris made a brief appearance with a bunch of male models on arrival, but afterward was nowhere to be seen. There were complimentary Asahi beers and terrible cocktails but the venue (the Superdry store on Regent Street) was overcrowded and it just wasn’t fun.

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Thanksgiving Dinner

We went straight from Superdry to Thanksgiving Dinner at The Breakfast Club, so Thursday evening got a lot better! Good food, great company, and worth of its own post so watch this space.

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The Independent Label Market

I was up way too early for a Saturday morning to be first in line at the Exit Records stand at the Independent Label Market at Old Spitalfields Market. My Californian friend Davis is a vinyl collector, so I was sent to haggle for rare test presses – I think I did pretty well, leaving with £173 worth of vinyl!

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Expressing my inner Barista with Nespresso & Currys PC World

Now I’m not the biggest coffee drinker, so I wasn’t sure how this one would turn out, but I had such a good time at this Joe Blogs organised event at The Fable in Farringdon. The Johnny Walker and Kraken cocktails were obviously the highlight! But I did also learn a little about coffee…

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Bring Me The Horizon

Every time BMTH are playing in or around London I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ll be there, and this time I trekked all the way to Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill to see my favourite band. As usual, they didn’t disappoint.

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So that’s my week in a few paragraphs! Anyone get up to anything good?

L xx

All photos my own.

People always ask me what I enjoy most about blogging – they usually expect ‘free stuff’ to be the answer. I’m not going to lie, you do get a fair few products thrown your way, but for me it’s the social side that I love. I’ve had so many opportunities to meet people and attend events and enjoy experiences that I wouldn’t otherwise have had.

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A recent last minute Thursday night out with Three Mobile was the perfect example. It was my first time working with the brand, and I really hope to again, as I had so much fun! Three had arranged a little tour of Camden Roundhouse for us with the Joe Strummer Foundation, followed by a private gig at The Monarch with Lyza Jane and Bless. Oh and some food and too many Desperados, haha! Sounds like my kind of event, right?

This is going to be a bit of a long post I’m afraid, as I have so much to say about the evening!

The Joe Strummer Foundation

Okay, first things first – if you aren’t sure who Joe Strummer is, he’s a British musician most well known for being the co-founder, rhythm guitarist, lyricist and lead vocalist of the Clash. Shortly after his death in 2002, the Joe Strummer Foundation (also known as Strummerville), a non-profit organisation, was established by his wife, Lucinda Garland, with the main purpose to reflect Joe’s contribution to music by supporting aspiring musicians and funding projects worldwide which create social mobility through music. You can read a little more about their objectives here.

Strummerville have so many interesting projects worldwide, and have some cool events – including a couple of gigs coming up in collaboration with Dr Martens (the London date is headlined by a band I love, Bury Tomorrow).

Roundhouse Studios

As you can imagine, I’ve been to the Roundhouse more times than I can remember (most recently to see One Direction and Little Mix at the Apple Music Festival which you can read about here).

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But I didn’t know that the Roundhouse isn’t just a music venue – it also comprises of the Paul Hamlyn Roundhouse Studios, a creative space for young people. You can read more about the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and their contribution to the venue here.

Now, I don’t think we could have a better guide for our tour of the Roundhouse Studios than Strummerville really, as their relationship with the venue goes back almost ten years, when the charity contributed funds to the redevelopment of the Roundhouse. Strummerville even have their own rehearsal room within the studios for their younger beneficiary bands to use. It’s a great little room, really inspiring, with original Joe Strummer lyrics and sketchings on the walls, as well as doodles by other bands.

strummerville roundhouse studios

strummerville roundhouse studios

Strummerville aren’t the only ones with their own rehearsal rooms, we also saw rooms sponsored by Nandos and Gibson, among others.

roundhouse studios nandos

roundhouse studios gibson

One room I particularly loved was a circular performance space, which you reach through slightly creepy tunnel like corridors.

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If you stand right in the centre of the room, it does some crazy things to the acoustics!

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At the time of our visit, we almost interrupted a spoken word group rehearsal – did you know that the studios aren’t just used for music, but for theatre, circus, and spoken word as well? Oh and there’s even a TV recording studio sponsored by Bloomberg…

roundhouse studios bloomberg

We also found out a little bit about the venues history – I don’t know about you, but I love finding out stuff like this. Built in 1847 to be used as a railway repair shed, the Roundhouse was later used as a liquor warehouse for Gilbey’s Gin before becoming an arts centre in 1960. It actually closed in 1983, and sat derelict for a while before being bought by The Norman Trust in 1996 with the intention of giving it a new lease of life. Later, in 2000 Sir Torquil Norman CBE founded The Roundhouse Trust. You can read more about the history here.

It really was a fun, interesting tour, and it’s so nice to see so many organisations taking such an active role in helping inspire and give opportunities to the next generation, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds who would otherwise be unable to develop their skills. Having previously dated someone in a fledgling band, I know how awkward and expensive finding rehearsal and recording space can be, and I was therefore really impressed how reasonable the rates are for Roundhouse Studios, particularly given its location. If you’re under 25 in London, definitely check them out!

roundhouse studios

The Music

After our tour of Roundhouse Studios, we were taken down the road to The Monarch, for a private acoustic performance from two of Strummervilles up and coming talents – Lyza Jane and Bless.

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Watching Lyza Jane perform, a girl crush quickly developed! I mean, look at her – she’s just so effortlessly cool. I loved her outfit, which featured rings from The Great Frog and a tshirt from her own Etsy store, Pantsu & Pantsu (check it out, it’s a super cute range of embroidered cotton pieces, some with pom poms!). She was so lovely to chat to as well.

Anyway, her music! Lyza has a beautiful voice, you can take a look at her videos on her YouTube channel. Before branching out on her own, Lyza, was a backing singer for the band Alabama 3, and performed with them at Glastonbury. Lyza has written and produced her own music, predominantly electronica, and usually heavier than her performance for the evening which was very singer songwriter. Her most recent EP, Milk Teeth, is out now.

lyza

Next up were Bless – a group of London guys who formed after having previously been members of two seperate bands. Their sound was very retro rock’n’roll – again not my usual thing but enjoyable nonetheless. They were a great bunch of guys and stayed for a few drinks to talk politics, songwriting influences and veganism.

bless

Bless are releasing their debut EP, Music Comes First (which they kindly gave me a copy of) on 11th December – and on the same night they’ll be back performing at The Monarch. If you find yourself at a loose end near Camden that evening, give them a go, they’re great fun!

You can check Bless out on their YouTube channel.

The Phone

You’re possibly wondering what Three have to do with this? Well, they kindly made the evening happen – and kindly gave me a Samsung S6 Edge which I could take my photographs of the evening on.

phone

Photo by Becca Talbot

Have you noticed how much better my photos are than when taken with my usual (and in need of replacement!) iPhone? I’ve been a loyal iPhone user since they came out years and years ago, so getting used to an Android was a bit odd, but it was really user friendly, so I guess it’s time for a change! You can find out more about Samsung handsets here at the Three Samsung Hub.

Now, I’ve also been a loyal O2 user for years (mainly for O2 Priority tickets) so it was interesting to try out a new network. I’m always losing signal and 3G usually with my current network, and I can tell you that I usually do at the Roundhouse. But with Three I was able to upload to my Instagram super speedily, I was so impressed!

Three have recently enhanced their network with new technology they’ve named 4G Super-Voice to tackle indoor blackspots. Now I’m no tech expert but I believe at the moment you need a compatible handset to use 4G Super-Voice but they’re due to roll it out to more handsets soon. And did you know that they were voted most reliable UK network this year by YouGov?

Another reason I want to move over to Three is for my regular travelling abroad – they’re the only network with no roaming charge! You’ve got yourself a convert Three, I can’t wait for my current contract to expire so I can change to your network!

The Food

You’ll know by now how much I love my food by now right? So I have to give a little mention of the delicious steak and cheese sandwich I ate at The Monarch!

sandwich

Well, that’s it from me for now, so if you’ve reached the end of this post thank you for persevering! And thank you Three for a wonderful evening!

L xx

All photos my own unless otherwise stated.

Lamb of God at Wembley Arena was one of my most anticipated gigs for this year – I have so much love for this band. Oh and Megadeth aren’t bad either, haha! But I was mostly there for Lamb of God.

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In the aftermath of the attack on La Bataclan in Paris the night before, and with a lot of upcoming gigs being cancelled/postponed, a lot people on my social media queried my decision to still go, and I am aware that a lot of people stayed at home. I’m not going to dwell too much on the subject, but I’m not going to let fear control my life. And as far as I’m concerned, a gig at Wembley was at no greater threat than it had been a few days before, or would be in the future. But it was nice to see the lights at both Wembley Arena and Stadium lit up in tricolore in support of Paris.wembley

So, Lamb of God. They were pretty damn good, as always. Opening with ‘Walk With Me In Hell’, they had a decent set time, around an hour and a half, and as expected from them, it was full of energy from start to finish. I love Lamb of God live, they’re always so much fun.

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It was a great, varied set, featuring old favourites like ‘Now You’ve Got Something To Die For’, ‘Ghost Walking’and ‘Set To Fail’, mixed in with songs from the new album.

Randy Blythe did take a moment to reflect on the tragedy in Paris, articulating my own thoughts much better than I can; “What happened makes me sad, it makes me cry, and it makes me angry. But it will not make me afraid, and it will not make me hate”. He went on to praise the audience for attending, and dedicated ‘512’ to the victims at La Bataclan.

Another dedication was made to Dio, with the song ‘Ruin’ – as the Heaven & Hell tour was the last time Lamb of God played at Wembley.

log3

They closed their set with ‘Black Label’, and I’ll be honest, the whole thing was so good I almost forgot they weren’t the headlining act.

On to Megadeth. I like them, don’t get me wrong, but I just prefer them on record. Following Lamb of God did them no favours – the sound for Lamb of God was excellent, so it’s hard to blame technical difficulties for Dave Mustaines muffled vocals. megadeth

Things did take a turn for the better about halfway through fortunately, and Chris Adler and David Ellefson impressed – I’m not usually a fan of a guitar solo but this was pretty good.

A new track was played; ‘Fatal Illusion’ from next years upcoming album, ‘Dystopia’. It was alright. I think maybe my critique of Megadeth is always a little on the harsh side.

Like Lamb of God before them, Megadeth performed a tribute to Paris, in the form of their rendition of the French National Anthem, ‘La Marseilles’.

Not a bad set over all, but Lamb of God (as expected) definitely stole the show.

Sylosis and Children of Bodom also played, but as usual I was late and missed them, which was a shame.

L xx

All photos my own.

After spending Saturday at Aftershock, which you can read about here, we made the 6 hour drive from Sacramento to San Bernardino for Knotfest (who knew California was so big?!)

knotfest

The Music

We arrived a little late so missed some of the earlier bands but made it in time to catch a little Cannibal Corpse. After that we skipped the music for a bit to check out what else was around.

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The line up for me later in the day was basically the same as that at Aftershock. Clutch were excellent, again. A MUCH bigger stage for them this time.

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Bring Me The Horizon played the exact same set that they did at Aftershock, and got pretty much the exact same crowd reaction. I’m still surprised that they’re so popular in the USA (not that it’s not well deserved) and also that Americans don’t know Chelsea Smile. But maybe the lack of knowledge of their older stuff is more of a new fan thing, rather than an American thing? Whichever.

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After the little bit of a disappointing show at Aftershock, Slipknot were back on form at Knotfest. It seemed much more of an enthusiastic performance, from Clown in particular – he actually walked through the audience at one point. And I was happy that they changed up the set list.

The sound at San Manuel Amphitheatre, in the actual fixed main stage area, is excellent and I think that made a massive difference. I actually really like the way the main stage is set up – it has a semi circular pit area (on concrete – ouch!) with tiered seating behind, both of these areas are for premium ticket holders. General admission ticket holders can watch from the lawn area at the back – but with the MASSIVE screens, that is by no means a bad view. I’ve been in both the pit area and the seats (because I’m a bit pathetic and girly and also sometimes my feet hurt) for varying bands, and both were great.

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As usual, apologies for the awful/lack of photography. Taking pictures just isn’t at the front of my mind when I’m watching a band. I know I need to improve on that…

Knotfest Museum

Despite being at Knotfest for the whole weekend last year, I managed to miss the Slipknot Museum, and this year I got lucky – I didn’t realise they were closing it at 7pm on the Sunday, and I managed to be the last one in!

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It’s basically a circus tent with a load of Slipknot paraphernalia (with no explanations), curated by the band themselves from their own collections – old jumpsuits, masks, art, previously used equipment etc.

I’ll leave you with a few photos.

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Outside the entrance are frozen goat heads on spikes – I was so lucky that, just as I was about to kiss one for a selfie, one of the security guys pointed out it was real…

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Here’s the outtake, haha!

goatselfie

Vendors

One thing that struck me about Knotfest 2015 was that it was almost exactly the same in terms of layout as it was in 2014 – even the majority of the vendors were the same.

Quite a lot were generic festival stalls, and having browsed similar at Aftershock I didn’t spend too much time on them.

knotfeststall

I did buy the most me tshirt ever from the Bring Me The Horizon merch stand though. It’s a really colourful sublimated print with the umbrella motif, new for this tour. I absolutely love it.

bmthshirt

VIP Area

Like with the vendors, the VIP area was the same as last year, even down to having the same (very good!) Mexican food truck. The only real addition this year were clown statues, and not particularly Slipknotty ones.

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I like the VIP area at Knotfest a lot. It is handy to be able to access it – unlike Aftershock, Knotfest has no real shaded areas in the main arena, so the sun can get a bit overbearing. The VIP area has a lot of gazebos and covered areas. It also has a pool table, sports on TV and a decent bar.

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It is however a lot more expensive (about $100 more I think) to upgrade to a VIP ticket, but I think if you can afford it (especially if you aren’t used to the heat, like me!), do it.

Food

Last year, as it was my first American festival, I was really impressed with the quality of the food. The choice wasn’t huge – basically Mexican, Chinese or Italian, but it was all really good! And it was EXACTLY the same this year. I won’t talk about the food anymore really, other than to leave a pic, as I posted in details about what I ate here.

knotfestfood

And I really like the drinks on offer at Knotfest…

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Camping

Now, I didn’t actually camp at Knotfest this year, but I did last year, so I wanted to stick in a little section about that experience. It was completely different to camping at a UK festival – well, general camping anyway. It follows the format of VIP camping at UK festivals, where you camp next to your car. Except you pay for a camping pass per car, rather than per person, and it allows for up to 6 people. I think it’s around $120 per car. You can see here how idyllic the setting was! It did get surprisingly cold at night though.

knotfestcamping

Other Stuff

Knotfest had a lot of other attractions on offer. I didn’t have time to see them this year, but they were repeats from last year so I didn’t miss out. They included the Ring of Fire ride, flaming carnival games, the Thunderdome fighting arena and steel drums. If you’re interested you can read more about them here.

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Overall, Knotfest is a great festival, and a must do for a Slipknot fan. But I do think that once you’ve been once, you don’t necessarily need to go again. I think I’ll give it a miss next year for an alternative event.

L xx

All photos my own.

Remember I said that the WWE NXT at Aftershock would need it’s own post here? Well, here it is.

I don’t follow NXT, so I was a little clueless as to who everyone was, but I’d never been to wrestling before and I had a gap between bands so thought I’d give it a go. And I’m so glad I did.

I caught two matches. The first was between Alexa Bliss and local (San Jose) favourite and NXT Womens Champion Bayley.

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There was SO much love for Bayley in the crowd, it must have sucked to be Alexa.

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As expected, Bayley won.

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Anyway, Alexa vs Bayley was entertaining, but the real highlight was Samoa Joe vs Baron Corbin. As with the Divas, everyone was rooting for the local guy, Samoa Joe from Huntington Beach.

It was a little more interesting this time though, as Corey Taylor was in the audience and had a little altercation with Baron Corbin, which I’m sure everyone has seen or read about by now.

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Photo by Adam Cleland

I was lucky enough to be sitting right behind Corey in the audience (and we spoke/touched which is why I didn’t mind that I missed out on the meet and greet with him!) so I had a perfect view. And I think my videos are pretty decent. They won’t be anything you haven’t seen by now, but give the main one below a little watch if you like.

I also went to WWE Raw in San Diego on the Monday, so more wrestling here!

L xx

All photos and footage my own unless stated otherwise.