Emma Blackery, BriBry and Dave Giles performed at the O2 Islington Academy in London last Saturday for the final date of Upload Tour 3.
The tour was hosted by Luke Cutforth and spanned 13 dates across the UK and Ireland. TenEighty caught up with Dave, BriBry and Luke ahead of their last show.
“Tonight is going to be interesting because it’s twice as big as anything we’ve done so far on this tour,” says Dave Giles, the organiser of Upload Tour and one of the acts performing. “It’s definitely scaled up in terms of our production. We’re probably at the limit of what we can do without getting a lot more people involved to help out.”
All of the dates on the tour so far have had around 300 attendees. The London date however has a capacity of 800. Echoing Dave, Luke Cutforth finds the sheer scale of it nerve-wracking.
“This is the first one where there is no space for me to be shit,” he laughs. “There was one date where I walked on stage and literally forgot everything, so I sort of made noises for three minutes. There’s no space for that here.”
There is a clear understanding between all of them that this is the night that can prove everything the tour is capable of, and despite Luke’s own fears, all three are excited and full of energy. After being on the road for ten days straight, we’d expect the boys to be knackered, but they aren’t.
“I don’t really get low,” says BriBry. “I like to sleep and I eat a lot of crap, so that keeps my energy up. Dave and all the lads – hashtag lads – go out drinking and all that, whereas Luke, Emma and myself don’t. And that helps. We’re the boring ones!”
BriBry’s fiancée, Candice Cathers, joined the tour on its sixth date and this gave him an added boost of energy. “Usually I count down to something at the end of the tour – usually like a present. Luckily this present arrived early and the last few days have been flying by. It’s been very nice.”
Luke compares this tour to the previous ones and notes that everything has run very smoothly. “I literally said to Emma this morning, ‘I don’t feel like this has been a thirteen-date tour, do you?’ because I don’t feel the same exhaustion I felt last year.
“She agreed with me, which means that it’s not that I’ve got used to it but because it’s been run really, really well. And that’s a massive credit to Dave and all the crew.”
For Dave, however, things have been a little bit more stressful. “I’ve tried to make sure with this tour that those guys – Emma, Bri and Luke – have had very little to worry about. So if I’m more stressed, that’s good, because they’re not.”
This is the first Upload Tour to feature a female artist on the lineup, and while Dave was at first unsure how it would work, he believes Emma Blackery has become part of the family now. “I went to an all-boys school, at music college I was in an all-boys guitar band. So other than when I’ve had a girlfriend I’ve never really learnt how to hang out with girls. Let alone for ten days straight.”
“It hasn’t changed the dynamic at all because Emma can be like a lad,” adds BriBry. “Candice is not a lad at all. All she wants to do is talk about books and stuff. But it doesn’t change anything. We all respect each other, so there are never any complaints, even when there are conversations that would normally take one of us out of our comfort zone. It’s been a good learning and bonding experience for all.”
Luke is really happy to have Emma on board, noting that her presence has helped keep the tour balanced. “Otherwise I’d just be stuck in a van with four men for two weeks,” he laughs. “And I’m quite a girly boy, so having that female influence helps counter the lads.”
It’s clear all of them have really bonded while on the road, even when things have been cramped on the bus. “I have very long legs, so I’m often in people’s faces with them,” laughs BriBry.
“It’s been good fun and it’s brought us all closer together,” says Luke. “We all feel that this is a really good group we want to move forward with. It’s been the least drama-y tour yet.”
Of course there’s space for tomfoolery. Both Luke and BriBry reveal that Dave has got his penis out on several occasions while messing around on the bus. “Yeah, I do that a lot,” laughs Dave, “I do that to boost morale. If I lower the tone enough everyone feels a bit more comfortable. Something like that!”
BriBry adds: “I don’t mind, it’s just a willy! In fairness, for such a large man – both wide and tall – it’s not very impressive.”
Luke and BriBry both have their own personal highlights from the tour: for Luke it was the Newcastle date, for BriBry it was Glasgow. “In Newcastle we packed in about 380 people into a venue that looked like it could only fit 200,” says Luke.
“They were all pretty excitable. You could tell they wanted to see us – especially considering we haven’t played there before. That was the one where I went ‘holy crap, this is really really lovely’.”
“I love going to Scotland, so Glasgow was my favourite show,” says Bri. “Obviously we’re not famous but they made us feel like we were part of One Direction or something.”
The night kicks off with Danny Gruff, who has accompanied Upload’s stars throughout the tour. Despite being unfamiliar to a YouTube crowd, Danny’s warm and jovial nature soon has the crowd enthralled. A rhythmic guitar player and warm vocalist, his greatest asset is his ability to make everyone feel welcomed and part of the show.
He does this through regular interaction with the crowd – in places stopping mid-song to crack a joke. At one point he compares his rap skills to one of hip-hop’s greatest: “After this you’ll say 50 Cent? 50 Pence more like!” It’s this self-awareness, along with an understanding of the audience he’s performing to, that sets the tone of the night.
First of the billed acts is Dave, a true and humble showman who brings raw charm to each of his shows. A seasoned performer, those familiar with his gigs knew what to expect but got to witness it on a larger scale. Those who didn’t know him were in for a treat.
Having seen him live before, we’re aware he usually performs Bangarang from within the crowd. Due to the capacity of the venue, however, we thought it’s unlikely. Somehow he pulls it off – stepping over the barrier and entering a sea of 800-odd sardine-packed fans. Dave is a master at creating these sort of special moments, giving the Upload Tour a truly unique edge (even if it did freak out the security behind-the-scenes, before they realised he was safe.)
Whether it’s I’ll Be Fine (Give Me Time), Whisky & Wings which he performs with Nick Kent, or his collaboration with Danny Nan Said Romance is Dead, Dave delivers honest and observant songs that celebrate significant lessons and moments from his life. His songs are personal yet performed with such heart and humour they become accessible to all. Which, for a big-bearded scruffy bloke performing to a crowd of predominantly teenage girls, is impressive.
Next up is BriBry, whose silky voice with its Irish inflection translates beautifully live, filling the Islington Academy with a stark and profound atmosphere. The audience, who are prone to screaming their heads off from time to time, become far more reflective.
Nevertheless, they go mental for Candice’s appearance: the duo perform Care and their natural loving chemistry created one of the night’s most tender moments. We’re also impressed by his take on Weightless by All Time Low. Taking on such a well known pop punk song and transforming it into a folk sing-a-long can be a risky move, but BriBry succeeds and gives it a dance-like edge thanks to the merciless thump of his stomp box.
There are some silly moments with BriBry too: for one song he takes to the keyboard for a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Nash Grier. The opening line, “Nash Grier’s parents were very hairy, it was very scary,” gets the audience chuckling before the song descends into an amusing (but obviously fictional) story that ends with Emma Blackery shooting Nash.
A deafening roar, far louder than anything else heard on the night, greets Upload’s newest addition as she appeared on stage. As it was her first tour we were worried Emma would find it tough, and that it might be evident in her performance. It soon becomes clear that she’d truly come into her own. There is strength and conviction with all of her vocals and her stage presence towers far above her (rather short) height.
If Emma is nervous at all it can only suspected through her multiple F-bombs, but this is expected of her bold personality, and it only comes across as true to who she is, warming the audience to her more. They sing along word-for-word for numbers such as Go The Distance and The Promise creating a heart-warming experience for everyone involved. It’s clear that Emma’s fans love her very much, and it’s hard not to smile at such affection.
The biggest response comes for Emma’s last song, Fuck You Google+, a tirade against the ill-fortuned social media platform that has been forced upon online content creators and their audiences. A ukulele isn’t usually the weapon of choice for a protest song, but it’s an apt one within the YouTube community, and gives space for Emma’s adoring fans to sing louder than before.
Throughout the night Luke is a confident and charismatic host, entertaining the Islington Academy with YouTube-themed jokes and comical stories about the acts. There’s also a surprise appearance from Patty Walters, who accompanied Luke on their song A Song About A Girl.
The highlight of the night is undoubtedly the encore when all the acts take to the stage together. They perform an exceptional cover of Royals by Lorde, which features Luke on keys, BriBry on percussion (stomping that floor-shuddering stomp box once more), Dave and Danny on guitars with Emma taking lead vocals. The varying tones of their voices fuse blissfully through soulful harmonies that never once faltered. It’s a fitting climax that fills the venue with warmth.
You wouldn’t expect to get this much out of a gig that is essentially a bill of acoustic acts, but what we believe sets Upload Tour apart is the fact that all its musicians are YouTubers too. In this community we see fans connecting with artist in ways far beyond creative admiration.
Due to the nature of vlogging – which is often done alongside music-related videos – the artists show facets of who they are, and through showcasing their personalities in this way the YouTube community in return nurtures their talents. This brings a whole new dynamic to shows such as Upload, as it becomes special in a personal way for each and every attendee.
So what’s next for The Upload Tour? “I think we will scale up from here. The people coming to the gigs are enjoying them and I really want to turn them into more of a show,” says Dave.
“And this kind of venue – the O2 Islington Academy – is the true test of whether or not we can do that. So if tonight goes well, it’ll mean that from now on we’ll only be doing 400 cap venues or more. We are here to put on a great show, and for you to be entertained and for us to entertain you.”
Photos by Olly Newport