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!

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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.

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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: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday (29/09/2017)

Part One: The first day of Hasting’s new DIY punk festival, featuring Nosebleed, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Knocksville and Rotten Foxes.

Photo credit: Massive thanks to Sara-Louise Bowrey (Festival Flyer) for the brilliant photos.

Now in its second year, Wotsit Called Fest is a 2-day DIY punk extravaganza in Hastings. Organised by Toxic Wotsit, there’s a great diversity of bands across the two days: hardcore, skiffle, aggro-folk, ska and plenty of snotty straight-up punk. This is its first year at The Palace and my first year as a punter, so I’m excited to see what all the hype is about.

Bumbling into the bar on Friday night, half an hour before the music’s due to start, it’s good to see the venue already looking packed. There are a lot of excited punks here, including many like me who’ve travelled from further afield, treating the weekend as a little seaside holiday.

Rotten Foxes at Wotsit Called Fest 2017

Rotten Foxes kick off the festivities with loud and lairy hardcore, and an immediate demand to get pints flying through the air. Unlikely bastions of body-positivity, they’re wearing the absolute minimum on stage: bare bellies, leopard print boxers, denim cut-offs so short that you don’t quite know where to look. Bassist, Jimi, has a costume change into a Stone Cold Steve Austin vest midway through the set, in celebration of a wrestling themed tune. They close their set with an enjoyable shoutalong about Danny Dyer – the best kick-up-the-arse the crowd could wish for.

Following them, Knocksville properly get the party started with a hip-shaking rockabilly riot. They blend in punk and ska, to create a potent combo that’s impossible to resist dancing to. There isn’t a still body in the house for their cover of Tainted Love. The smoke machine (amusingly located in a spot that suggests the mixing-desk has caught fire) kicks in just in time for the breakdown, getting everyone moving.

Knocksville at Wotsit Called fest 2017

Jason Walder uses his heavily stickered double-bass as a crowd-pleasing prop throughout the show. He whirls it through the air, straddles its side, and lays it on the floor to play an instrumental section during their biggest stomper, Lockdown. The peak is a song played while standing precariously on the side of the bass, where he courteously pauses mid-tune to give the front row a photo-opportunity. It’s a winning performance and a huge hit with the crowd.

Knocksville would be the ideal lead-in for the headline band, Nosebleed, however before them we have the most hotly-anticipated performance of the weekend: the launch of Matilda’s Scoundrels’ new album As The Tide Turns. This is the first hometown show for the infamous folk-punks since releasing the record on September 8th. Dan and Jens also form half of Toxic Wotsit, the promoters responsible for the festival. This is their show, their hometown and their time. Continue reading “Gig Review: Wotsit Called Fest – Friday (29/09/2017)”

Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)

The most fun I’ve ever had for a fiver, feat. The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Werecats, Mug, Misgivings and more.

Disclaimer: Brace yourselves, these may be the worst gig photos ever taken! I decided they were slightly better than none at all.

On the punk circuit there is a risk of seeing the same 10 touring bands again and again, so it’s always appealing to discover new acts. It takes cheap all-day gigs like the Kick The Crutches all-dayer to enable us to do that: when it’s only £5 to see 12 bands you know it’s going to be worth it.

Although there are bands I already love on the line-up today (I’m most excited for The Kimberly Steaks, Pizzatramp and Werecats) the real draw for me is the bands I’ve not seen before. On A Hiding To Nothing, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Fastfade and Strange Planes are all bands I’ve listened to and heard a lot about lately, but who I’ve not had the opportunity to see live. There is also plenty of genre diversity in the line-up to keep people on their toes for the whole day. I can’t wait.

Fastfade open the show, amusingly already running five minutes behind schedule. They’re a young three-piece from Enfield, playing strong back-to-basics fast punk, like NOFX but smarter. It’s really enjoyable. Three songs in, there’s a drunk heckler shouting ‘one more song’, apparently missing the fact that they’ve got quite a few left. It’s proves for an amusing between-song piece, before they crack into a song appropriately named Idiot. Playing at 2.45pm they grumble about it being too early to start boozing, but late enough for the coffee to have worn off, but they still provide a lively, energetic show. On the last song they toss a drumstick out into the crowd, only to ask us to throw it back because the drummer actually needs it: one of those lovely small-gig moments.

It’s not often that a band blow you out of the water like Nietzsche Trigger Finger. I’ve heard of the duo from Bristol, but this is the first opportunity I’ve had to see them. They’re a complete revelation; I pity the poor punters who haven’t made it to the venue in time for their early set. They play stripped-back thrash with off-the-wall lyrics and funny referential song titles like ‘Gone Girl’ Cat vs. Twitter Eggs, 9/11 Two and Reinventing Kanye West. They drift beautifully from diabolically heavy, to fast hardcore, to clever, percussive acapella sections. I can’t wait to catch them again, and I strongly recommend that you go listen to everything they’ve ever recorded. It’s intricate, interesting and totally unique.

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Next up is Strange Planes, who play bass-driven melodic rock with hints of punk. At this point, I’m drinking a coffee from a shop round the corner that tastes like diesel and pure hatred combined, which is mildly distracting. Conversely, the musical change of pace is accessible and instantly enjoyable. They achieve a great mix of different tones in their vocal harmonies, and the excellent, complex bass really stands out. I love every slow, moody second of their set. The coffee tastes better once it’s stripped away my tastebuds.

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It’s time for super-fun upbeat punk from Werecats. Their poppy melodic tunes never fail to get the crowd moving and singing along, and this is no exception. The title track of their latest EP My Boyfriend’s a Werewolf sounds great, with Pip and Cici switching lead vocals between songs and nailing the harmonies. They’ve got an energetic Fat Wreck feel, in the camp of Teenage Bottlerocket or Bad Cop/Bad Cop, while toeing the classic Ramones line. Werecats are more fun than a ball pool full of puppies wearing party hats, and tight to boot. It’s lovely to see them again, and I can’t resist having a dance-about. Continue reading “Gig Review: Kick The Crutches All Dayer @ The New Cross Inn (23/09/2017)”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September

We’ve done the hard work for you and found the best gigs September has to offer. Get out there and support your local venues.

You’ve survived the summer. You’ve had a hectic few months of eating, drinking, socialising, spending and sunning yourself. You’re savouring the last opportunities to enjoy a pub garden after work on a weekday. Hopefully you’ve caught plenty of sweaty summer shows, some outdoor community concerts and maybe even a festival or two.

Once the August Bank Holiday weekend is over you can stop, right? You can knuckle down to the daily grind, vegetate with Netflix on your sofa and save up your pennies for Christmas. Nope! I hate to break it to you but there’s still an awful lot happening…

We’ve done the hard work and found the best of September’s gigs for you to enjoy:

Wotsit Called Festival

  • Where: The Palace, Hastings
  • When: Friday 29th and Saturday 30th September
  • Who: The Restarts, Nosebleed, Riggots, Pizzatramp…
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £10 advance, £15 OTD

Hosted by the lovely folks in Matilda’s Scoundrels under the Toxic Wotsit moniker, Wotsit Called Fest is two days of straight-up bangers bound to get you stomping feet, throwing elbows and sinking pints with aplomb.

Nosebleed will be royally cavorting around The Palace as headliners on Friday – there are few more exciting things than their riffy punk ‘n’ roll. It’s also the launch party for Matilda’s new album As The Tide Turns, so folk-dancing with reckless abandon is mandatory.

Starting early, Saturday features London thrashers The Restarts, Wigan’s heaviest duo: Riggots, northern post-hardcore from The Fuckin’ Glorious and ska-punk comedy gold from The Crash Mats. There will be cocktails and DJs until 2am which sounds like a delightfully dangerous combination. Not to be missed!

In the meantime, enjoy their pre-fest playlist:


Kick The Crutches All Dayer

  • Where: The New Cross Inn, London
  • When: Saturday 23rd September
  • Who: Vanilla Pod, The Kimberly Steaks, Müg, On a Hiding to Nothing
  • Event Page HERE / Tickets £5 early bird

I can guarantee this is the most fun you will find for £5 this September.

Deep breath! For this princely sum you can see… Vanilla Pod, The Kimberley Steaks, Pizzatramp, Natterers, Misgivings, Müg, BROCKER, On A Hiding To Nothing, Werecats, Nietzsche Trigger Finger, Strange Planes and Fastfade. Phew!

With that many bands, I’m not sure how they’re going to fit any punters in the venue. The merch table’s going to need its own postcode. There are probably some bands you’ve heard of and some you haven’t, so why not get down early and enjoy the whole lot? It’s a great opportunity to discover someone new.

If you catch one band, make sure it’s The Kimberly Steaks. They’re everything that Greenday could have been:

Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need to See in September”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!

The final dose of my PRH adventure, featuring 13 hours of bands, lot of crowdsurfing, and some inappropriate jokes about how much I enjoy Propagandhi.

The final instalment is here! And it doesn’t get better than this line-up.

Make sure you also check out:

Kid Crowdsurfing Punk Rock Holiday

Friday

  • Mainstage Highlight: Propagandhi (duh)
  • Beach Stage Highlight: La Armada / Darko
  • Cover of the Day: Straightline – Boom Boom Boom Boom!!

On Friday morning I wake to discover a small lake forming at the front of the tent. Luckily the dam I built with sullied clothes has kept it at bay and, in fact, it’s evaporated a little in the heat. We venture out of the campsite to a makeshift bar on the roadside, starting the day with battery-acid €1 coffee and Slovenian schnapps called Unicorn Tears. It beats an alarm clock.

Friday is the big one. Although the rest of the week has been fun, there’s not a single band on today’s line-up that I’m willing to miss. The Beach Stage is a Lockjaw Records extravaganza of heavy, technical chaos, and the evening bill is knicker-moisteningly intense: 88 Fingers Louie, Snuff and Propagandhi. Propa-fucking-gandhi! Ask anyone earlier in the week who they’re looking forward to seeing: the answer is always Propagandhi. I’m worried I may die from excitement. Or alcohol poisoning.

Sat at the roadside bar we can hear ominous ripplings of thunder from over the hills, and the skies open once again. I grab another tongue-melting coffee and wait for the storm to pass, knowing that I’m going to need to bail the tent out again.

Amusingly, when the rain lets up, I notice a few people roaming around the campsite, foraging for rubbish. Garbage is a valuable commodity at PRH. You pay €10 on entry that’s returned when you hand in a full trash bag: a system so efficient that it’s a challenge to find enough litter to reclaim your deposit. The €1 cup-deposit scheme also means there’s not a single cup to be found on the ground (the complete opposite of many English festivals). On the last day we wind up are optimistically searching bins for discarded cups, just to reclaim out deposits – that’s how clean it is!

Beach Friday Punk Rock Holiday

I get down to the Beach Stage early and listen to Corbillard sound checking while dipping my toes in the glacial water. The beach is quiet, with a light mist rising from the river. The water’s no longer clear, because the storm has shaken up the silt overnight. As the singer ‘one-two-one-two’s into the mic it booms madly around the mountains, making the strangest echo.  Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part 4: Friday – The Big One!”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part Three: Thursday

Part 3 / 4 of my PRH writeup, featuring Teenage Bottlerocket, Less Than Jake, BONO and a biblical storm.

And so begins the third instalment of my Punk Rock Holiday adventure. Make sure you check out Part One: Monday & Tuesday , Part Two: Wednesday and Part Four: Friday as well.

Campsite Punk Rock Holiday

Thursday

  • Mainstage Highlight: Teenage Bottlerocket
  • Beach Stage Highlight: BONO!
  • Cover of the Day: BONO! – Fuck The Border

On Thursday I’m gutted to miss Actionmen opening the Beach Stage – unavoidable as I’m slammed by a rough bout of food poisoning that has me throwing up for 8 hours. I get a much needed wake-up call from Why Everyone Left, a heavy pop-punk band from Italy. Their set is peppered with A Day To Remember-style beat downs, that I (guiltily) really enjoy.

Slovenian locals Real Life Version do a reasonable impression of Hot Water Music with a tight-as-fuck rhythm section. Barrier Reef/The Great (a collective featuring members of Astpai and Antimaniax) are a fun listen, but I enjoy them even more for being able to collapse on the sand while they play. The delight of the Beach Stage is that you can hear the bands well, echoing around the valley, even if you’re too trashed to stand.

Bono Punk Rock Holiday 1

BONO! are by far the highlight of the Beach Stage on Thursday.  Having ventured all the way from Norwich, they throw down super-fast aggressive punk to a great turn out, demonstrating that there’s still a demand for 90s Sick Of It All-type hardcore. They play a song specifically about Punk Rock Holiday and PRH legend Richie Parker gets hoisted on stage in his wheelchair to play some punk-as-fuck tambourine on their last few tracks. Singer, Dan Hinds, jumps down to rip a hole in the crowd while they tear through a fierce cover of Fuck The Border by Propagandhi, in one of most exciting moments of the day.  Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part Three: Thursday”