Post-Gig Reflections from a Promoter Who’s Prone to Panic Attacks

A brutally honest account of the anxiety and stress that comes with putting on a punk gig.

Article by Sarah Williams. Photos from Friday’s gig courtesy of Sam Dawes at This Is Noise.

Four people have turned up for the gig so far, they’re standing awkwardly in the corner nursing pints and whispering about where everyone else is. The guy taking money on the door is twiddling his thumbs. I need to sell fifty tickets to cover the cost of putting on the show, so I guess I’ll be living on ramen this month.

The sound engineer is frantically trying to fix the PA, which started rattling and cutting out during the sound check. Two guitarists are scowling at the set up – there’s not enough room on stage and the sound is terrible. We’re running an hour behind and none of the bands have played yet; I’m going to cut the set times and maybe cut the opening act entirely. The headliner band is here apart from the singer, who couldn’t get out of work on time – apparently he’s stuck on a train somewhere. There’s a good chance he won’t make it to the gig at all.

“What the hell were you thinking, Sarah?” the venue manager asks angrily. “There’s no point in us keeping the venue open for four people. This is a waste of time – we’re going to cancel the show if you don’t sort this out.”

My parents are here too: “I can’t believe this is what you’re doing with your life! What a waste of time. Couldn’t you have been a doctor or a lawyer? You are a walking disappointment.”

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Worst case scenario. Fortunately, the real gig was a success. No disasters whatsoever. Nonetheless, that was the nightmare I woke up from the morning after I booked the band and the venue. I am riddled with anxiety at the best of times, so putting an event together has reminded me why I don’t do it regularly.

I recently moved to a completely different part of the country and, as a result, had to bury myself in a deluge of job applications, interviews and utility bills. The last thing I need on top of all that is to be driving 200 miles, promoting a show and trying to squeeze in all the other shows I want to attend. Still, there is a part of me that enjoys being overwhelmed, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than live music.

As such, I thought it’d be a great idea to put on a show at The Smokehouse in Ipswich, a few weeks after moving to Manchester. Darko, Actionmen, PMX and Pessimist are playing as part of my birthday celebration and as a send-off from the venue, where I’ve been working for the past few months. On Thursday I’m going to catch PMX and Actionmen in Manchester, my gig takes place on the Friday, and on Saturday I’m catching PUP and The Menzingers in London. In theory, it should be fun.

Continue reading “Post-Gig Reflections from a Promoter Who’s Prone to Panic Attacks”

Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To

Valentine’s Day Special: 5 banging punk rock tunes to bonk to on this most hallowed of commercial holidays.

Article by Sarah Williams. Disclaimer: SATIRE. Total satire.

Valentine’s Day. A time of roses, romance and rampant consumerism. It’s also time to make tender, passionate love to your sweetheart, or at least to bang whichever crusty reprobate you stumbled into at the grindcore show last night.

We here at Shout Louder believe that you can (and should) incorporate punk rock into every element of your life, so why not let it be the soundtrack to your sexy time? We have trawled through thousands of punk rock songs to bring you this carefully curated list of bedroom bangers.

We have tried to ensure there’s something here for everyone: from the light-hearted bonkers, to the hardcore heavy-weights, even covering couples who just can’t stop arguing. Don’t worry if Cupid hasn’t sought you with his arrow this year. I am sure these tunes will make an equally suitable soundtrack to your tearful, lonely masturbation, if you’re willing to pause the James Blunt.

In the interest of honesty, I have not personally road-tested (duvet-tested?) these tunes. I have had some memorable experiences to the likes of Pendulum, Papa Roach and Tenacious D over the years, but I’m not normally one to put on my mate’s DIY band while I’m tearing my clothes off. Please do give these a try and give us a blow-by-blow account of your experiences in the comments section.

The Offspring – Self Esteem

“Aaah, it’s time to relax, and you know what that means. A glass of wine, your favourite easy chair and, of course, this compact disc playing on your home stereo. So go on, indulge yourself…”

The Offspring’s aptly titled classic album Smash offers a plethora of punk songs for sending your partner into knee-trembling oblivion. Bad Habit and Killboy Powerhead would both provide a powerful and moving experience, or perhaps you’d rather invite them to Come Out And Play?

Your best bet is Self Esteem, which offers a bleak reminder that you’re being used, that you’re worthless and your partner is probably fucking all your friends. It’s okay because you like the abuse.

So, if you’ve spent Valentine’s Day staring at your phone, waiting for your someone to text you back, only for them to turn up on your doorstep late at night, drunk again and looking to score, this is the song for you. You don’t need to stick up for yourself. Embrace it. Stare deeply into your lover’s eyes, hovering just inches from their face and gently stroke their hair with the dangerous intensity of a would-be stalker. Remember, the more you suffer, the more it shows you really care. Right?

Almeida – Kinslayer

Have you ever wondered what it would like to be a drum kit in a hardcore band? Well, this is your opportunity. Keep pace with this track and you’ll get a blast beating straight through the headboard.

If you like your nights to be loud, fast and hard with some intensely technical finger-action, Almeida are the band for you. You’ll be howling like Tom West’s soaring choruses in no time. As evidenced in this video, they’ll even come hang out in your bedroom if you ask nicely enough. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Rock Songs to F**k To”

All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?

Mark Bartlett dissects the magic of recording, songwriting democracy and why we should all contribute to the art we enjoy.

Check Out: All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo/pop-punk/post-hardcore/whatever-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

Bands, let’s all examine our work ethic for a moment…

I want to look as excited as I actually feel but I’m just really, really sleepy (and still recovering from a nasty bout of flu). It’s the first of 5 days of recording our new EP All Talk at The Clubhouse in Tunbridge Wells with Ricky Beetlestone. The spirit is absolutely willing but there are giant fuck-off bags under my eyes and a tired rashness to my cheeks that’s making me look like Phil Mitchell at peak booziness.

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I finished work at 2am last night, which meant I was forced to get the N199 night bus outside Charing Cross with all the pissed up Friday night misfits, thus eventually crawling into bed at 3:45am. This isn’t ideal for a 7:45 wake-up time. To be fair, I don’t have to do anything today apart from be here and give approving nods and dismissive headshakes.

I know absolutely fuck all about the technical aspects of the recording process so, after meeting all round nice chap Ricky and lugging a few drum bits around, I snuggled into the leather sofa at the back to try and have a nap. Actually, I did pause to be suitably impressed by the monolithic mixing desk, which seemingly had 500 different dials and doohickeys that a luddite like myself could never comprehend.

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Despite my sleepiness (that I hope didn’t come off as apathetic rudeness to our new producer friend), I am excited. This is the best part of being in a band. We’re making a record; it’s going into the digital cloud to live forever and provide some evidence to future society about exactly who their silly ancestors were.

And this is where the internal panic sets in and confidence turns to doubt. Are all the parts up to scratch? Are the songs too long? Will people hate my voice as much as I do? Are the lyrics cringey? Is this the best we can do? Continue reading “All Talk #2: Are You Trying Hard Enough?”

All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?

Mark Bartlett examines the trials and rewards of slogging away determinedly in punk scene, in the first of a new series of opinion pieces.

Hi, I’m Mark Bartlett, lead singer of obscure London emo-punks Our Lives In Cinema.

I’m currently in my bed. It’s raining outside; the wind is fucking noisy. I’m really tired and I’ve got a stinking cold. My eyeballs hurt as I’m writing, probably because I don’t own a computer and do all of my writing on the pages app on my phone.

I get myself pretty stressed out, and I feel like I have too much on my plate what with having a full time job (with very strange shift patterns) and all the demands associated with that. Next week my band is going into the studio to record EP no. 2 All Talk. We are also hosting a big charity fest/release party on March 3rd in Kingston, with some of my favourite UK bands. We are going to make new videos, get new merch and press ahead full steam with our plans for 2018.

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When I get stressed out, my wife Ruth always asks why I don’t just drop a bunch of stuff (and get off my phone). After all… hobbies are supposed to be fun and relaxing right? I agreed. I resolved to quit social media and stop being such a try-hard, try to write some songs and be ‘off grid’ for a bit.

This lasted for one week max. A fortnight later, I’ve started organising a festival and taken on all the other stuff that comes with releasing a new record. This forced me to think about why I bother and what the overall point is. I think it’s important every now and then to re-examine why you’re in a band in the first place, give yourself a little bit of self-therapy and re-adjust your expectations accordingly. Continue reading “All Talk #1: What’s The Point Of Being In A DIY Punk Band?”

Top 5 Predictions For 2018

We cast our minds to the future to predict the trends in UK DIY punk for 2018.

Article by Sarah Williams.

Warning: this article is 70% ambitious, 20% self-indulgent and 10% late. Also, trigger warning: some mention of sexual assault.

The beginning of the year is the perfect time for big, sweeping generalisations. How many times have you recently heard that ‘2017 has been a great year for music’?

In 2016 the big news in the entertainment industry was the unprecedented number of celebrity deaths. Last year focussed more on the aftermath of two disappointing votes: in wake of Brexit, Trump and the disappointing UK general election I found my ever-dwindling faith in humanity diminishing further, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

The world of DIY punk was even more uplifting than usual in the context of the depressing political climate. The creativity, talent and camaraderie present in our insular music haven is what gives me hope for society as a whole, and it has flourished in response to the shitstorm around us. I think that creative growth is likely to continue in the new year, which made me consider what else might be on the horizon for 2018.

Through a process of extreme guesswork and mild narcissism, below I’ve compiled my top predictions for 2018. I would love to know whether you agree and what your predictions would be.

#5: We’ll see some weird and wacky merchandising ideas

I encountered a plethora esoteric merch in 2017: miniature vinyl, hats based on obscure in-jokes, a band-branded jars of vegan honey…. There is a tradition within DIY punk to offer something other than the mainstream, but the rise of digital formats and pay-what-you-want releases pushes bands to invent new ways of staying afloat financially.

I’m sure I’m not alone in having more band t-shirts that will actually fit in my wardrobe (I recently spent 30 minutes debating whether to organise them by genre, alphabetically or by size – suggestions welcome). Although I want to financially support small bands at every opportunity, there are only so many shirts I can handle. Patches and badges are obvious; lighters and hats aren’t uncommon; Pizzatramp and Wonk Unit have baby-grows but I don’t think they’ll fit.

Colourful vinyl variants are now standard issue, satisfying the need for a physical product to accompany an album release however, with legions of DIY bands out there vying for our attention, there’s a demand for more unusual products.

I like to think that Andy Davies of Revenge of The Psychotronic Man is ahead of the curve in terms of creative and utterly ridiculous merchandising. In 2017 they’ve brought out an EP on cassette only, created a lift-up and reveal Mr Blobby themed t-shirt (below left) and produced two lines of baseball caps based on a drinking in-joke (below right). That’s on top of their epic ‘it’s fucking booze time’ clock.

Andy’s not alone in his endeavours. In 2014 Darko included ‘essential’ beard oil in some US releases of Sea of Trees, although I’m still waiting to be sold a Bonsai Mammoth plant. In 2015 Random Hand proved that punks love mugs, and yet I haven’t seen a DIY band selling mugs since (Mug are seriously missing a trick on that one).

Some things will be cost prohibitive but we can dream big. Matilda’s Scoundrels branded inflatable dinghy, for all your crowd-sailing needs? A plastic bobble-head version of Faintest Idea’s trombonist, Robin ‘Bobble’ Smith? Grand Collapse could have the monopoly on Jenga knock-offs. On the other hand, perhaps bands like Shit Present should stick to t-shirts… Continue reading “Top 5 Predictions For 2018”

Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017

Shout Louder’s favourite gigs of 2017.

Article by Sarah Williams.

This was an unbelievably tough call. I’ve been to more gigs this year than I ever have before, and the vast majority of them have been worth shouting about. It’d probably be easier to do Top 5 Worst Gigs.

Strangely, some of the best gigs I’ve seen haven’t been punk at all. I spent a lot of this year working at The Smokehouse, a DIY music venue in Ipswich, so I’ve attended a lot of shows that I wouldn’t normally give time to. Easily my most memorable gig this year was Rich Quick, a fast lyrical MC from Philadelphia. The night was quite poorly attended, which meant that those of us behind the bar could actually go and enjoy the performance. Rich spent the whole set roaming through the crowd, rapping straight in our faces and handing out prints of his artwork. It was really unique, intimate and one that I’ll be telling people about in years to come.

Two of my other favourite shows (that didn’t make the cut) were Run The Jewels at the Albert Hall in Manchester, and the Youngblood Brass Band at Islington Assembly Hall in London. Although both performances were incredible, energetic and extremely memorable in their own right, it was the venues that really set these two gigs apart. The Albert Hall is a restored Wesleyan chapel with wood panels, stained glass windows and a huge pipe organ that was a quirky contrast to RTJ’s emblematic fist-and-gun stage display. Islington Assembly Hall is a Grade 2 listed hall full of 1930s art deco features, including a sprung wood floor that made it so much fun to dance around to the band.

But, after much deliberation, I managed to select these five shows as my top gigs of the year:

#5: Descendents @ Kentish Town Forum, London

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This gig would have been higher up my list if it weren’t for the support acts. Without being disrespectful of The Kenneths and Abrasive Wheels (who are both good in their own right), when you’re paying £35 a ticket you expect to see bands closer to the genre and calibre of Descendents. As such the evening felt a bit disconnected.

That being said, Descendents turned up and put on an unbelievable show. Opening with Everything Sux, they charged through 32 hits back-to-back, including not one but two encores. I’ve never seen a crowd demand two encores before, but it was absolutely warranted in this case. They’re as tight and accomplished as you would expect of a band their size. There wan’t a single moment in the set that I didn’t really enjoy.

Check out our review of the gig here.

 

#4: Kick The Crutches All-Dayer @ The New Cross Inn

As far as I’m concerned, this gig is what DIY punk is all about. £5 for 12 bands. A brilliant venue in London. Record label distros. A relaxed atmosphere and a line-up that didn’t stop. It was a completely accessible day of music in London.

Better-known acts like The Kimberly Steaks and Pizzatramp (and Vanilla Pod, although they had to pull out last-minute) are worth going to see on their own, so as part of an all-dayer they’re a fantastic excuse to rock up and check out some band you’re less familiar with. My biggest take-away from the day was Bristolian act Neitzsche Trigger Finger, easily one of the strangest and most entrancing I’ve seen all year. I also got to catch Fastfade, Strange Planes and On A Hiding To Nothing for the first time, and completely loved all of them. It was also a treat to catch Mug, Misgivings and Werecats, all of whom are consistently great. In short, the standard was held extremely high for over ten hours of fast-punk frivolity. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Gigs of 2017”

Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017

Shout Louder’s selection of the most raucous punk get-togethers in the UK and further afield.

Article by Sarah Williams.

The only thing better than an all-day punk show is multiple days of punk shows. Festivals are undoubtedly the most important part of my year. You get to see your favourite bands, discover new ones and if it’s a bigger event there’s a good chance that your friends will travel from far and wide to party together. I love how punks from around the UK are drawn to gigs like Manchester Punk Festival or Wonkfest like a big punk rock Mecca; there’s nothing better than weekends spent watching bands, catching up and crashing on mates’ floors.

Admittedly, I’ve only been to a handful of major festivals this year. This Top 5 is intended to be a personal and somewhat self-indulgent recollection of my favourite bigger events of 2017. Hopefully reading it will bring back some positive memories for you too.

#5: Wotsit Called Fest

  • When: September 29th – 30th
  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • Festival Highlight: Matilda’s Scoundrels’ riotous set

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2017 saw the second Wotsit Called Festival – a little DIY fest run by a collective in Hastings. It was a wonderful weekend away by the seaside, without a dull moment musically.

Friday was the huge party, serving as Matilda’s Scoundrels‘ release show for As The Tide Turns. They played an absolutley storming set full of dancing, crowd-surfing, human pyramids and all that malarkey. Following them were Nosebleed who caused their usual well-dressed ruckus, including a stage-invasion, getting out into the crowd and generally causing chaos. Getting to witness two of the UK’s best live acts all in one place in such an intimate setting was really rewarding.

The diversity of the line-up was what bumped Wotsit Called into the Top 5 for me. I greatly enjoyed starting the day with some skiffle covers, followed by melodic gruff from The Dead Anyways and then gradually descending into the entropy of Riggots via PizzatrampNatterers and The Crash Mats, among many others. This is still a relatively small punk gathering, but definitely one to watch for next year.

Check out our reviews here: Friday and Saturday.

 

#4: Wonkfest

  • When:  June 1st 2018
  • Where: Tufnell Park Dome and The Boston Arms, London
  • Festival Highlight: The raucous Pizzatramp pit

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At the start of Wonkfest I was joking with a friend that it might be funny to find the drunkest person at the festival at attempt to interview them. Later in the evening, I reached the unfortunate conclusion that the drunkest person at the festival may actually be me. As such, my memory of the headline bands is a tad hazy (Wonk Unit played, right?) and on the way home I fell backwards over my own bicycle and got trapped in a hedge for ten minutes. I’m not proud, but I did greatly enjoy waking up bruised, broken and covered in gold glitter. In hindsight, perhaps drinking vodka on the train at 9.30am wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Although it’s the drunken debauchery that will stick in my memory, the festival itself was as fantastic as it is every year. The gig is split between two stages, running 20 minute sets back-to-back with few breaks. It’s a format that works well, although you do have to skip a band if you want to eat, smoke or drunkenly make out with someone. Matilda’s Scoundrels opened the show with an aggro-folk riot, Spoilers were the closest things to Snuff that you’re going to find apart, perhaps, from Simon Wells playing a sweet acoustic set downstairs. Nova Twins were my highlight for the second year running; they’ve got an unprecedented amount of swagger. Aerial Salad and The Kimberly Steaks played exciting and energetic sets, between them managing to be so close to early Greenday that I felt justified in jeering at all the people paying to watch Greenday at Hyde Park the same night. Finally, the pit for Pizzatramp was one of the most wonderful, enjoyably violent experiences I’ve had all year. We got a huge rowboat, people crowd-surfing on inflatable pizza slices and general elbow-dodging chaos. What an incredible rollercoaster of punk fun. Continue reading “Top 5 Punk Festivals of 2017”