Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Saturday (30/09/2017)

Part Two: The main day at Hastings’ premier DIY punk fest, featuring performances from The Restarts, Riggots, Pizzatramp, Millie Manders, The Fuckin’ Glorious, The Barracks, Natterers, The Crash Mats, The Dead Anyways and Cheap Dates.

Photo credit: Massive thanks to Sara-Louise Bowrey from Festival Flyer (Cheap Dates – Barracks) and Mark Richards (The Fuckin’ Glorious – The Restarts) for bringing this to life with their tremendous images.

Check out my review of Part One: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday for the full story!

After scoffing lunch on the beach I’m back at The Palace and ready to start another rollicking day of DIY fun.

Although Saturday’s gig doesn’t start until the respectable time of 3.30pm, bedraggled punks gradually stumble into the bar from 2pm onwards. The drink of choice this morning is the espresso martini: both the beginning and the end of the hangover.

It feels like The Palace has been designed specifically for Wotsit Called Fest. Toxic Wotsit’s logo, colour-scheme and matching cocktail (the Toxic Avenger – held responsible for many of Saturday’s haggard faces) are all a fierce nuclear-waste green, coincidentally the colour of The Palace’s tiny back-room. The sound is reasonably good, but otherwise the room is rough, ready and clearly not designed for bands; the walls are adorned with giant mirrors and oil painting of dignitaries riding horses. It all adds to the DIY punk feel.

Cheap Dates at Wotsite Called Fest 2017

Local skiffle-punks Cheap Dates are a fitting opening act: coaxing us gently back into the land of the living with some varied covers. They’re a quartet with a mandolin, washboard and an acoustic guitar, plus a bass constructed from a bit of rope tied to a plastic crate. They all sing, and occasional cameos from a kazoo and a melodica add to the fun. By far the highlight of their set is a version of All Saints’ Never Ever – now that’s what I call a cover.

The Dead Anyways at Wostsit Called Fest 2017

Up next is The Dead Anyways, who provide smiling, self-deprecating punk in a typically British style. They’re one of my favourite bands of the day; they may not be the liveliest or most hardcore act to take the stage, but they have an instant melodic appeal that aligns perfectly with my taste. Combining earnest songwriting, foot-tapping rhythms and a gritty vocal, they’ll appeal to fans of Southport, Spoilers and Bear Trade. They plod between songs with understated humour and an affable stage-presence, aided by the appearance of the guitarist’s two young daughters. The kids give us a giggle and a photo opportunity, both leaning head-in-hands at the side of the stage, evidently dissatisfied by the lack of Peppa Pig covers. They’re the only two disappointed customers in the room.

The Crash Mats at Wotsit Called fest 2017

Following The Dead Anyways is the band most likely to cover the Peppa Pig theme tune: The Crash Mats. They don’t, but instead they throw in a delightful version of the Chucklevision theme that makes me grin like a lunatic. The grizzly three-piece play cracking sausage rock ‘n’ roll straight out of Oldham, with short, snappy ska segments. Their songs cover a variety of profound topics, including wrestling, meat pies and Neighbours, mainly taken from their new album 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. My favourite tune is Soppy Love Song, which works even better live than on the album: beginning with slow parody ballad before all hell breaks loose at the end.

The set is peppered with chuckle-worthy anecdotes and complaints about how high they are (apparently the drive from Oldham’s a long one). During Don’t Tell Mum The Babysitter’s Dead they encourage us to enact a reverse wall of death, where we start in a brawling pit then divide ourselves into two neat rows by the end of the song. Unfortunately we peak a bit early and wind up standing facing each other for half the song. We’ll know better for next time!

Natterers

Yorkshire’s new premier hardcore export Natterers are next –  I saw them last week and I swear they just keep getting better. Singer, Emma, starts the set by apologising for being a bit lacklustre due to her hangover, but they’re not muted or tame in the slightest. Thundering through 25 minutes of politically-charged hardcore, they’re a whirlwind of fast, furious talent, with songs supporting hunt saboteurs and condemning the destruction of the environment. Emma owns the room – charging around the dance-floor and writhing on the stage before finally crawling underneath it. Their brand of hardcore is given an edge by angular art-rock influences, monstrously chunky riffs and the most aggressive vocals of the festival. It’s raw, gritty and glorious.

Barracks

Hastings’ diehard street-punks and premier sock models, The Barracks have all the rebellious attitude of a drunk arguing with a lamppost at 3am, and a great deal more energy. They’re shoutalong punk at its best; doing a better job of getting the whole room cavorting and yelling about boozing than Dropkick Murphys or Street Dogs ever could. “Why do Tories float?” they joke, “Because they’re scum!” Classic.

Bassist, Mark Tanner (one of the festival’s promoters), made a tactical decision to get stupendously drunk last night, in an effort to prevent himself getting on the booze too early today. Despite a catastrophic hangover, his tactic does appear to have worked miracles, although he needs multiple cans to get through the set. The promoters have provided a whole crate of Wotsits at the door, eschewed by the largely vegan crowd, so this seem like the perfect band to hurl them at. The Palace is briefly transformed into a melee of flying cheesy potato snacks. The Barracks close with boozy anthem Last Call, a demand for the chaos to continue for the rest of the night: “Let’s go drinking ‘till our last call: wasted, no fit state at all!”

tfg.jpg

The Fuckin’ Glorious are the closest thing to a Yorkshire supergroup you’re going to find, featuring members of Acid Drop, Freaks Union, Lowlife UK and The Dead Pets to name a few. They’re a bunch of angry Northern bastards who are, quite simply, really bloody enjoyable. It’s rough and ready punk sung with a scowl, underpinned by grooving overdriven rhythms. It feels like the right moment for a grown man to climb on someone’s shoulders, hurling around the room with a precariously balanced pint in his hand.

Fuckin Glorious Wotsit Called Fest

Throughout the set they refer to their majestic back-drop (an acrylic wolf-blanket they’ve gaffa-taped to the wall), with singer, Beaker, eventually adopting it as a cape and calling himself Super Twat. Bassist, Stiv, asks the audience, “Is it obvious that we haven’t got 30 minutes’ worth of songs?” Frankly I’m glad they don’t – they’ve more north vs. south jokes than a Guy Ritchie movie, and their banter nearly tops Pizzatramp and The Crash Mats. They invite the audience to name one of their songs, to which one of The Barracks yells, “Syphilis!” It’s all in beautiful contrast to the ornately-framed mirrors and oil paintings on the walls of The Palace, however the crushed debris of abandoned Wotsits strewn across the dancefloor seems oddly appropriate.

Millie Manders

There’s a lot more to Millie Manders and The Shutup than meets the eye. They invade The Palace next, bouncing through some delightfully jumpy ska-punk. Mander’s sets are always full of sassy, tuneful pop, but below the surface there are teasingly tongue-in-cheek lyrics an expert grasp of musical theory. The Shutup take us on a dizzy journey through a range of genres: Little Big Mouth lulls us into the security of skankable pop, but we get a taste of the chaos to come in demented love-song Teddy. Starting out sugary-sweet she builds to alarming, feral lunacy with aplomb. Later in the set they swagger through percussive, near spoken-word sections, sultry saxophone solos, and vicious hardcore. Manders has the soulful voice of a diva, with all the attitude of London grime. The highlight is their accelerated cover of The Jam’s Pretty Green.

Cover photo

Pizzatramp assemble one of the biggest crowds of the weekend, packing out The Palace even before they’ve begun playing. By now you’d think that people might have grown weary of hearing the same ten recycled jokes between songs, but if anything the familiarity just whips the audience into frenzy faster. “Play it fast, Dan,” has a near-Pavlovian effect, ripping open the first proper pit of the day.

It’s such a treat to watch. Singer/6-stringer, Jimbob seems to be having a one-man competition to see how many times his hat can fall off. I’ve never seen anyone with the ability to shred on bass the way Sam does in every single song. Dan’s fundamentally an incredibly fast metal drummer, tossing in little fills and flourishes and driving the whole show. Blowing Chunks inspires absolute brutality down the front, including a round of piggy-back jousting. A successful human-pyramid causes the only pause. Pizzatramp’s little 10-second song skit gives everyone a chance to catch their breath, only for crowd-surfing pandemonium to resume during Crackula and CCTV. It’s fast, frenetic and fun as fuck.

Pizzatramp.jpg

On the way out, I encounter two things that are the sign of a bloody good gig. Firstly, someone’s been sick down the stairs to the toilets. Secondly, the toilet is full of punks singing a Vengaboys tune. I also run into The Fuckin’ Glorious’ Ben Grim wearing an ill-fitting cut off Andrew WK t-shirt that absolutely makes my day. Walking round The Palace, it sounds like a Yorkshire coach has just dumped its whole cargo on the venue; the weekend has been marvellous opportunity for Matilda’s Scoundrels to get all of the Northern contingent down South, saving them a trip for once.

Riggots.jpg

Wigan’s Riggots provide aggressive, discordant prog-core entropy. Their songs are brimming of heavy, dark grooves and complex rhythm changes. Through the artificial smoke you can just make out the looks of stunned awe on people’s faces. Drummer, Rob Fairhurst, has such fluent mastery of time signatures that his heart must beat in 13/8. This is also Joe Heaton’s third show on bass, helping the show to feel more fluid and a little closer to the recorded version.

Riggots 2.jpg

Singer/axe-wielder Martin Battle looks most at home when getting up close and personal with the crowd. He drags his mic-stand offstage and dominates the dancefloor, chucking out chunky riffs in a full assault. All the while, he alternates from calm lyrics to monosyllabic screams and furious howls torn from the back of his throat, wrapping mouth round the mic at the end of verses for effect. Mental Skeleton is a highlight, but the pinnacle is newer demo Stracqualursi – one of their most ferocious and erratic songs. They finish with The Duchess: a dark, angular onslaught that’s nonetheless ideal for singing along.

restarts wotsit called fest.jpg

Watching The Restarts headline now, you could believe that they invented punk – they’re consummate professionals, delivering classic punk refrains in style. They’re here to show us how it’s done.

Their between-song gaps are filled political vigour: the moment they howl Legacy of Bigotry the dance floor explodes. A man loses a shoe in a failed crowdsurfing attempt. The whole room becomes one big pit: jostling to the punchy rock ‘n’ roll guitar, fist-pumping to the anthemic singalongs, and skanking around for the few brief bars of ska. Outsider and Time Waster get huge reactions. Suddenly aware that it’s the end of the night, there’s a wave of crowd-surfing and piggy-backing, plus grins aplenty.

wotsit called crowdsurf

The promoters, Toxic Wotsit, all deserve a massive pat on a back and a round of applause. There’s not a dull moment all weekend, and the turnaround between bands has allowed ample time to grab food and catch up with your mates. Wotist Called is an excellent weekend away on the coast, and I can’t wait to do it all over again next year.

Sham City Roasters Vegan Grilled Cheese

Finally, a big shout out goes to Sham City Roasters for being exceptionally skilled at slaying hangovers. After a shaky dalliance with the amusement arcade 2p machines on Sunday morning, I grabbed a vegan grilled cheese and a mug of their White Riot brew that was so good I immediately dived in for round two, buying the same meal twice. Frankly, I wouldn’t have gotten through my Sunday without them. Thank you.

Big thanks to Sara-Louise Bowrey (Festival Flyer) and Mark Richards for the stunning photos.

Check out the first part of my review here: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday.

For further reading, check out my recent interview with Nosebleed and my reviews of Matilda’s Scoundrels’ As The Tide Turns and The Crash Mats’ 69 Peruvian Panpipe Classics. Also keep your eyes peeled next week for some interviews conducted at Wotsit Called!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s