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”

Iron Chic and Bear Trade @ The Montague Arms – 11/06/2017 [Gig Review]

Two of melodic gruff punk’s finest acts deliver ‘sad punk for happy drunks’ at a matinee show in South London.

On a beautifully sunny day in June, I once again find myself piling into a black box filled with the great unwashed. I’ve arrived in South London early for the first of two Iron Chic shows at The Montague Arms in Peckham. To begin with, they booked a normal 7pm-doors gig with The Exhausts and Molar supporting but, when it sold out so quickly, they added a 4pm matinee gig aimed at out-of-towner’s like myself. When they announced the early show, I was immediately spurred into buying tickets by the addition of Bear Trade to the bill.

18740432_10155077354351558_8401191309469344203_n

If you were to ask me what my biggest musical discovery of 2015 was, it would undoubtedly be Bear Trade. I first saw them supporting Red City Radio at the Brixton Windmill, where I fell head-over-heels in love with them approximately 3 bars in. Overlooking the fact that I find their beardy Northern gruffness overwhelmingly sexy*, I honestly believe Bear Trade are the best melodic punk band in the UK right now, and yet I still often come across people who haven’t heard of them.

Iron Chic fans who’ve not discovered Bear Trade yet are in for a real treat: they sound extremely similar live, in the best way. Bear Trade open with Sea Legs, the first track on their new album Silent Unspeakable (released on Everything Sucks in April). The new album continues in the style of their earlier release Blood & Sand with some poppier overtones, however live you wouldn’t know the difference between the old and new material; the crowd reacts well to both.

Greg Robson’s growly vocal is the musical equivalent of supping single-malt by a roaring fire in a log cabin: it’s warm and comforting, with the occasional group, “Oof!” thrown in. The songs are interspersed with, bassist, Lloyd’s charmingly nonchalant banter. He towers over us at the centre of the unusually high stage, making a dry jokes and pulling a couple of faces that are all Sid Haig in House of a 1,000 Corpses (that’s a compliment, by the way).

Old favourites Bleedin’ Heart Trouble and Anathema get the best reaction from the crowd, but newer tracks Sexy Beast, Inglorious and As Long As We Have Tea are probably my favourites of the set. The new songs are as passionate and emotive as ever; every song is satisfyingly gruff with intricately melodic guitar harmonies, underpinned by outstanding drumming. Continue reading “Iron Chic and Bear Trade @ The Montague Arms – 11/06/2017 [Gig Review]”