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 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 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.

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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”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part Two: Wednesday

Part 2 / 4 of my PRH writeup, featuring Not On Tour, Face to Face, Good Riddance and an entire paragraph on the subject of melon balls.

Welcome to Part Two of my Punk Rock Holiday writeup.  Make sure you also check out Part One, Part Three and Part Four.

Acid Snot Punk Rock Holiday

Wednesday

  • Mainstage Highlight: Face to Face
  • Beach Stage Highlight: Not On Tour
  • Cover of the Day: Acid Snot’s Ska Medley

Today is the first serious band day for me. After a good long sleep and a quick trip to the shop for supplies, I’m feeling fresh and ready to go.

The primary daytime activity at Punk Rock Holiday is recovering on the beach, wearing your hangover like a badge of pride. The sand is populated with inflatables: boats, rubber ducks, unicorns – you name it. Festival-regulars load their vessels with beer and float downstream from the campsite to the Beach Stage, dodging the checkpoints where they confiscate cans on the way into the arena. Genius.

I enjoy watching Acid Snot rinse through some technical pop punk (yes, I did just say that) in the dappled shade of the Beach Stage. This foursome from Barcelona bring the party-vibe: they pull off an amazing medley of Superman, Take On Me, One Love and Rhythm of the Night with some seriously sweet, fast-as-fuck saxophone. Resident wheelchair hero, Richie Parker, joins them on stage to juggle water balloons – a big favourite with the crowd. It’s novel watching a heavier band playing in the sunshine, although it’s just as sweaty as a tiny basement show. Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part Two: Wednesday”

Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part One: Monday + Tuesday

The first installment of sunny Slovenian fun, featuring The Offspring, Petrol Girls, Pennywise and a world-class hangover.

You must have heard the rumours: “Punk Rock Holiday is the best punk festival there is.”

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that statement this week: from hungover punks recovering with a cocktail on the beach, to drunk friends revelling in how good the headline band is. It’s an onstage mantra that every band has repeated.

Everything you’ve heard is true. Breath-taking scenery, sunshine and beaches. Unrelenting punk rock, high-octane hardcore and stagediving chaos. Punk Rock Holiday offers everything you could possibly want from a festival, and does it with a relaxed nonchalance that makes it feel safer and better organised than any outdoor festival I’ve previously attended. Punk Rock Holiday is the best punk festival there is*.

There’s too much to discuss in one article, so here’s five straight days of punk rock and relaxation divided between four posts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Continue reading “Punk Rock Holiday 1.7 Review Part One: Monday + Tuesday”

Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In August

Festival season is upon us! Time to drink warm cans in a field full of grubby strangers and enjoy a well-deserved break from the real world.

There are so many high-calibre punk shows this month it’s going to be hard to keep up.

For me, August is going to be ruled by a week in Slovenia for Punk Rock Holiday. I’ve wanted to attend for years, but this is the first time I’ve managed to secure tickets. Never before have I had the opportunity to combine bands, beers and beaches – I can barely contain my excitement.

Headliners this year include Propa-fucking-gandhi, Good Riddance and The Offspring, plus heavyweights like Snuff, Face to Face and Teenage Bottlerocket. Of the less-obvious bands on the Beach Stage, I strongly recommend checking out Not On Tour, BONO! and Sombulance. I’m concerned that I may not survive 5 straight days of beer and heatstroke but I’m gonna give it a bloody good try.

PRH Lineup

I also recommend visiting Boomtown Fair for their unparalleled array of partying options. As usual Last Gang in Town’s selections for the Devil Kicks Dancehall stage are sterling: King Prawn, The Filaments, Wonk Unit, Inner Terrestrials, Pizzatramp, The JB Conspiracy to name a handful… Check out the full line-up, there isn’t a bad apple on the whole list.

The weekend before is Rebellion up in Blackpool: a social experiment to determine whether punks can survive constant exposure to loud noises, solely with the help of lager, chips and fry ups. The annual punk extravaganza always pulls in big names from across the scene, including many of the same bands as Punk Rock Holiday, plus hundreds of others like Bad Religion, Sham 69, Slaves and many of the smaller UK punk regulars.

I should also be making my annual pilgrimage to Devon for Beautiful Days – a chilled-out grassroots festival run by Levellers. It sells out every year based only on word of mouth: there’s no advertising, no sponsorship and no bullshit whatsoever. This year’s line-up includes Stiff Little Fingers, Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Hepcat, Matilda’s Scoundrels, Ferocious Dog, Therapy? and Songhoy Blues. If you’re heading down there, make sure you have a cold pint down The Bimble Inn for me!

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Enjoying the Bimble Inn slightly too much in 2015.

For those of you less inclined to spend £100s getting drunk, sunburned and rained-on in a muddy field, there are plenty of tent-free shows worth going to. Read on for my top picks in August. Continue reading “Gig Guide: Bands You Need To See In August”