Gig Review: F.O.D. and For I Am @ The Eagle Inn [16/02/2018]

F.O.D. and For I Am provide surprising evening of skate/pop-punk shenanigans in Manchester with help from Upstream Colour, Aerial Salad and a bear.

Review by Sarah Williams. Photos by Dean Unsworth.

This was a gig full of surprises. I was surprised to find a tiny venue in the back of The Eagle Inn in Salford, a building that has more in common with a mythical labyrinth than a pub. The venue has more height than floor-space, a minuscule stage and a lot of exposed brickwork, all found via a maze of corridors. A floor has been removed to make way for a stage, so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see an open fireplace 8 feet up the wall, just above the guitarists’ head.

When I arrive the crowd is a little sparse, so by the end of the night I’m pleased to see the room full of people dancing and cavorting, with plenty of further surprises along the way. The evening serves as proof that you can find a room full of drunk Belgians having a great time just about anywhere, even in Salford. So much great punk rock seems to be coming out of their country at the moment that it’s almost unfair on the rest of us – F.O.D. and For I Am are just some of the highlights and I’m chuffed they have decided to tour this far.

Also, I was surprisingly late. I’m still getting the hang of the Manchester bus system (by which I mean I still expect them to move quickly, rather than oozing their way round town like treacle) and, as a result, I unfortunately missed Clayface. I was gutted, as they were great when I saw them at Pie Race last year.

Aerial Salad Jamie Munro cred Dean Unsworth

I do make it in time for Aerial Salad. I am always excited to see this fresh power-punk trio, although I think it’s the first time I’ve seen them in their hometown. [Irrelevant side note: I did have the chance to see them at the Manchfester all-dayer 2 years ago, but I skipped their set because I was hungry and I thought their name was shit. I’ve learned my lesson.]

Aerial Salad are the tightest I have seen them by a distance; their recent extended tour with Wonk Unit has clearly given them the practice they needed. That said, they’ve still not quite got the hang of talking to the audience rather than to each other between songs, although Jamie’s awkward anecdotes about leaving his corporate sell-out job are endearing. Continue reading “Gig Review: F.O.D. and For I Am @ The Eagle Inn [16/02/2018]”

Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)

An exciting London charity all-dayer featuring Kamikaze Girls, Almedia, Eat Defeat, The Burnt Tapes, Sombulance and more.

Photo credit: Awesome pics courtesy of Roberto Gasparro @ LivePix.

Now in its third year, Might As Well Fest is socially-responsible all dayer split across two tiny London venues: The Macbeth in Hoxton and the infamous Old Blue Last in Shoreditch. If the cracking line-up isn’t enough to coax people down, the promoters are also using the forces of music for good, raising money for two worthy causes: CALM and SANDS.

When I hurriedly stumble into The Macbeth at 3.20pm, I’m concerned that I’m late but turns out that I needn’t have worried: they’ve had some troubles of their own. Don Blake and Sweet Little Machine have pulled out last minute, and You Know The Drill’s van has broken down outside Birmingham. As a result, they’ve had to shift timings, drum kits, amps and expectations. The change in the set times is actually a positive: the opening bands will now have a bigger crowd and the heel-draggers like me, who couldn’t make it earlier, won’t be missing out. Nonetheless, I’m reminded that we ought to be extremely thankful to anyone with the resilience to put on DIY shows!


A handful of early-birds assemble to watch Thirteen, a Scottish group who’ve joined the bill at the last minute. They play old school punk with a rock ‘n’ roll flavour, which is good, but slightly out-of-sorts with the rest of the line-up, which is a combination of fast-punk and pop-punk. It’s good pub-punk and not a bad way to kick things off for the day.

As I reviewed their EP recently, I have been very excited to catch Our Lives In Cinema live. This is only their 8th gig and their freshness shows: they look a little awkward on stage at the beginning of the set, settling in after two songs.

They open with Cut and Run – an awesome throwback to a lot of energetic early noughties punk. You can hear a strong Jeff Rosenstock influence in Mark Bartlett’s frantic, emotional singing which is conveyed better live. Bartlett has a unique style of performance: he packs as many words into a bar as possible while shaking around the stage. Currently it looks a little awkward, but with more practice I expect it to become an integral part of their act. Otherwise, they’ve got a good, solid rhythm section, strong drumming and great backing vocals. They close on their most anthemic song, I Got This, leaving the audience happy. Once they’ve got a few more shows under their belt, I look forward to seeing a much more confident and comfortable band.

Lay It On The Line are up next at The Macbeth. They’re the most hardcore band of the day. It’s a brutal and disordered performance, with frontman Mike spending much of show writhing, crouched or lying on the stage while screaming bloody murder. He gives the impression of a man on the edge of breakdown extremely well. It’s all held together with some warmer guitar backing, adding a more melodic edge to their otherwise extreme sound.

It’s unusual to see bands with two standalone singers (Casual Nausea’s the only one I can think of), but it really works. Mike and Alice and equally adept at screaming and conveying a lot of anger and emotion. It’s hard to make out the lyrics but their explanations of the songs are both surprising and entertaining – one song’s dedicated to fans of the Marquis de Sade (of which they assume there are none in the room), another is about a head teacher who was killed by a rent boy after he failed to pay up…  It’s fascinating to know what inspires people’s song writing sometimes. They pull out a fantastic cover of Rotting Out’s Positive Views and end the set in a wail of feedback.


Recap are up next, and they are fantastic. That’s the least you can expect from Dave House and Mark Pavey’s latest project – a reincarnation of Pacer and follow-up to The Steal. They jokingly say it’s only their second show, but they’re anything but new to the game. Continue reading “Gig Review: Might As Well Fest III (07/10/2017)”

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. Continue reading “Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Saturday (30/09/2017)”

Gig Review: Gnarwolves @ The Borderline (20/05/2017)

You can taste the anticipation in the Borderline before Gnarwolves take the stage. I’m primed, in position, and I’ve made a tactical effort to finish my drink so I don’t end up wearing it.

Here are 5 things I learned tonight:

  • The revamped Borderline is perfectly designed for stage-diving pandemonium
  • Kamikaze Girls are fucking awesome (okay, I kinda knew that already)
  • Shut Up is destined to be the best song on the new Gnarwolves album
  • Bottle to Bottle has become so close to my heart that hearing it live makes me tear up
  • I have just seen the best show of the year so far

Continue reading “Gig Review: Gnarwolves @ The Borderline (20/05/2017)”

Gig Review: Snuff @ The Underworld (19/05/2017)

UK punk legends Snuff with Youth Man and Not Tonight & The Headaches in Camden’s favourite basement.

At 28 years old, it’s entirely possible that I’m the youngest person in the room for tonight’s Snuff show, but you wouldn’t know it from the sheer energy and enthusiasm buzzing through the audience. Down the front I’m rubbing elbows with greying, toothless punks who no doubt know a great deal more about being in a pit that I ever will. While waiting for the band to come on, I get chatting to a guy who is at least 20 years my senior, who is lamenting the fact he wasn’t around to have caught Snuff when they first formed in the late ‘80s. He assures me that it doesn’t matter how long it took you to discover the band, what matters is that you’re here now and you’re ready to throw down.

And throw down we do: enthralled as ever by the magnetism of the mosh pit (why is it so appealing to leap into a brawl of sweaty strangers?) I find myself dancing, jumping and wrestling my way through a high-octane set of shout-along classics, danceable instrumental romps and rarities from Snuff’s extensive back-catalogue.

Continue reading “Gig Review: Snuff @ The Underworld (19/05/2017)”

Gig Review: Forever Unclean @ The Smokehouse (10/05/2017)

Forever Unclean spoil Ipswich with an energetic show, supported by Resuscitators and Con-Party.

Arriving at The Smokehouse at sunset, I’m stoked to see that there’s already a keen crowd assembled for some noisy Wednesday night fun – obviously, word has gotten around about how fun Danish indie/skate punks Forever Unclean are going to be!

Continue reading “Gig Review: Forever Unclean @ The Smokehouse (10/05/2017)”

Gig Review: The Menzingers @ Koko (19/04/2017)

The Menzingers, The Flatliners and The Dirty Nil get Camden shouting.

I imagine that watching The Menzingers as a punk fan is the closest I’ll ever get to watching Robbie Williams as a pop fan: in every song the crowd were belting the lyrics out, word-perfect and at full volume, at times even louder the band. If frontman Greg Barnett had dropped the mic and walked out, the audience could have carried the show.

This speaks volumes to how well The Menzingers have not only mastered writing catchy hooks, but how they have tapped into a seam of identifiable, bittersweet sentiments that resonate perfectly with a contemporary audience. Their song-writing truly encapsulates the flawed existence that many of us experience, illustrated best in The Obituaries where the crowd scream, “I will fuck this up, I fucking know it,” repeatedly at the top of their lungs.

Continue reading “Gig Review: The Menzingers @ Koko (19/04/2017)”