Gig Review: Only Strangers’ Album Launch @ The Pilgrim’s Pit [03/03/2018]

We visit Stoke-On-Trent to celebrate Only Strangers new album, with support from Rising Strike and The Kirkz.

Article by Sarah Williams.

I admit, I was sceptical about travelling to Stoke-On-Trent for a gig on a Saturday night. It’s not exacty known as a hive of musical activity. Fortunately, I was proved completely wrong – I wound up enjoying one of those fleeting gig experiences that you can never recreate.

The Pilgrim’s Pit is an unusual space: esoteric artwork and a ‘city of culture’ sign adorn the exposed brick; UV lighting makes your teeth glow like rave-yard tombstones; bunting and model aeroplanes hang from the ceiling. The room has just enough space for thirty audience members, with barely room for the drumkit against the back wall. The bands stand on the concrete floor like the rest of us – no stages or barriers here.

Even without the intimacy of the venue, this would be a special evening. It’s the launch of Only Strangers’ self titled debut album, a truly high-quality record that they’ve invested two years in making (read our review here). They’re ready to share it with the world for the first time, so they’ve invited a handful of friends and family along to the show. I’m sure they could pack out a bigger venue given the chance, but they’ve chosen to celebrate in their hometown with select few. Playing with them are some of their close friends, who happen to be two classic TNS bands: indestructible Macc’ lads The Kirkz and a ska-core assault from Rising Strike.

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The Kirkz are on first, filling the room with their nu-metal infused, hooky hardcore. It’s classic TNS fare that sounds just as hard as ever. They open with Zombie Nation and it’s impossible not to get into the catchy chorus on Tanks and Machinery. The room stays stubbornly sub-zero despite all the bodies congregating into confined space. Max, unmistakable Captain of The Kirkz, roams energetically around in the small gap in front of the mic stands, pausing between songs to instruct people to mime the T-sign at him if they need to get past to use the toilet. A slight downside to the lack of elbowroom is that there’s little definition between the guitars and vocals (which miraculously improves in time for Only Strangers, like it was some sort of plot), but it’s a fresh and raucous set that buzzes with energy. The Kirkz remain a stone cold classic act; it’s a great start to the evening. Continue reading “Gig Review: Only Strangers’ Album Launch @ The Pilgrim’s Pit [03/03/2018]”

Gig Review: Vanilla Pod @ The Smokehouse (24/06/2017)

Vanilla Pod keep it fast and fresh with support from The Kirkz and Aerial Salad.

Another Saturday, another trip down The Smokehouse. It’s starting to feel like a second home.

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Aerial Salad have so much potential it hurts. The three-piece from Manchester are four days into their first proper tour. Before the set, frontman Jamie Munro tumbles out of the venue, bubbling with anecdotes of tour debauchery and 8am facedrugs. [EDIT: Jamie would like to point out that he was not a fan of the guy snorting pills for breakfast. Poor life choices right there.]. He’s concerned that he’s not going to last until Wonkfest next weekend. They’re a young bunch but they’re growing into the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle damn quickly.

Growing is something they’re doing a lot of: I’ve seen them a few times in the last year and every single time they get better. They’ve been playing together since they were 14, and when their set kicks off you can immediately feel their untainted youthful energy and passion. Recently, they’ve been playing increasingly bigger line-ups, including a show with Bouncing Souls and a slot at The Fest in Florida. This tour celebrates the release of their first album, Roach, which is now out on Alex Wonk’s label, Plasterer Records.

They perform an entertaining set of stomping pop punk, of the Teenage Bottlerocket / early-Alkaline Trio variety. They sound a hell of a lot like Greenday, but in a good way rather than an overly-derivative-3-chord way, or an American-Idiot-eyeliner-overload way. They give me a massive urge to get high, play Tony Hawks and eat too much pizza.

Continue reading “Gig Review: Vanilla Pod @ The Smokehouse (24/06/2017)”