Gig Review: The Grabowskis @ The Smokehouse (03/06/2017)

On a swelteringly sunny day in June, there’s nothing quite like cramming into a windowless shoebox of a venue to watch three frantically good punk bands.

The Smokehouse starts to pack out around 8.30pm, just in time for Chestburster to take the stage. The band do a fantastic job of revving up the crowd. Each of their songs is themed around a different horror movie and, if that’s not great enough, they serve it up in 40 second blasts of heavy grind.

They try and fool us by introducing themselves as a shit thrash metal band, but I’m totally overjoyed watching them. They sound like waking up to 17 cups of coffees being thrown in your face; every moment is hilarious, enlivening and face-meltingly fast.

They make a valiant attempt at a zombie circle pit during Tar Man that I’m almost a little too keen for. A third of the set is a rollicking comedic ride of back-to-back movie references and ten second aural assaults. Singer, Rob Saunders, is comedy gold, but it’s the facial expressions made by the rest of the band that really have me in stitches.

They somehow pack 21 songs into 20 minutes, referencing Phantasm, Monstersquad, Mad Max 3 and Toxic Avenger. When they finish slaying us, I desperately hope that they invite me to their next film night.

The Minor Discomfort Band are up next. It’s no joke to describe them as a punk-rock barn-dance. They are a relatively new and exiting group straight outta East Anglia, featuring members of so many other bands that you could almost call them a DIY supergroup. They play tight, country-influenced punk, which has the whole room stomping like a country hoedown in seconds.

We are incredibly lucky that they are able to step in at short notice for the show – everyone there is keen to see them and shouting along with the words. They only released MDB EP No. 1 in November but singalong songs like No Prospects and Your Drugs go down an absolute storm. Every track The Minor Discomfort Band play is a rabble-rousing folk riot.

Grabowskis poster 2


The night is powered by piggybacks and human pyramids. The wooden floor is slippery with summer sweat; on the bottom of a human pyramid my knees are slooooowly sliding further apart, threating to topple us. Apparently the new dance craze in Ipswich is a version of skanking where your feet don’t connect, they just go skidding across the wood floor like it’s ice.

I’m impressed that The Grabowskis have made the effort to come all the way over to the UK just for one gig in Ipswich, and I’m seriously glad that they did. Their 77-tinged rock ‘n’ roll punk is great fun. They throw in a handful of lively little ska-breaks, a folk stomper, plus a tin whistle and a kazoo. Within moments, they transform The Smokehouse into beer-assisted, slippery pit madness.

I love watching European bands in the UK, because you know that if they’ve travelled this far you’re getting the crème de la crème of mainland punk. I don’t understand a lot of the words, but I get the key messages: “Scum!”, “In Germany we don’t like the police!” and, “Here’s another one for the fascist wankers!” It’s a powerful, energetic live show and I’m very grateful for the opportunity to see them.

I strongly recommend that you check out all three bands: Chestburster, Minor Discomfort Band and The Grabowskis. Keep an eye on promoters Uncomfortable Beach Party for the most exciting Ipswich shows around.

Video of The Grabowskis courtesy of Dan Rutter – check out his You Tube page for more more gigs and some cracking horror.

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