Friday, 9 June 2017

Gig Review: The Burnt Tapes and Friends at Urban Bar, Whitechapel 3/6/17

This past weekend was a particularly exciting weekend for punks in London as the Descendents were playing the Forum in Kentish Town on the Sunday. The night before that was also an exciting night for Emma and I though as it was The Burnt Tapes launch party for their incredible new EP named Alterations. The party was taking place at one of my favourite venues, Urban Bar in Whitechapel, with a stacked line up of bands. O'Holy Ghost, Shinjoku Riot, Triple Sundae, Wayfairer and Werecats were all supporting what was promising to be a very special night to celebrate a great band's great release.

When this gig was announced I knew it was one I just couldn't miss. Normally I have to work Saturday nights but, after a little bit of bargaining with a colleague, I got an early shift and all was well. As we arrived in London we discovered that Whitechapel Underground Station was closed for the weekend so we had to make our way to Aldgate and walk the rest of the way. Thankfully the first act, Wayfairer, wasn't due on until 7.30 so we arrived in plenty of time. When we did arrive at Urban Bar we were greeted by Burnt Tapes bassist, and possibly the most positive guy in punk rock, Tone. After some hugs and hellos we made our way upstairs where we bumped into Burnt Tapes guitarist Pan (who is also a member of the CPRW team) who filled us in on the band's tour, including his sun stroke. The Burnt Tapes had gone all out with decorating Urban Bar in anticipation for the party, with colourful bunting, balloons, inflatable animals, pineapples and a massive inflatable palm tree. The party was ready! (We also bumped into Mark of Müg/Umlaut Records, but we see him everywhere! Hi Mark).

Wayfairer aka Ian was first to take to the stage. Except he wasn't on stage, he decided to play his set down on the floor. After reviewing his EP earlier in the year, Emma was particularly looking forward to seeing him live and he definitely didn't disappoint. This is exactly how I like my acoustic punk rock. It's no thrills and direct to the point. Ian's voice carries very well in this setting and I wish I would have known the words to his songs so I could sing along. This was a great set that was finished off with an Alkaline Trio cover. A brilliant way to kick start the night.

Up next was a new band named O'Holy Ghost who were playing their first ever gig. The four piece from London currently have two songs they have released all across the Internet that were recorded by Apologies, I Have None's Joe Watson. Boy, we were impressed by this band. If you're into bands like The Menzingers or Iron Chic, O'Holy Ghost are certainly a band you should be checking out. They put on a fantastic, slick performance. The band's duel vocalists helped give the songs a bigger feel with both doing a great job with cleaner singing and the more gruff, dirty vocals. Unfortunately O'Holy Ghost were the first band to be hit with some sound problems that occured frequently throughout the night. This however didn't take anything away from O'Holy Ghost's first gig. I'm looking forward to many more.

I'd seen Triple Sundae for the first time a couple of weeks earlier supporting Jeff Rosenstock at the Underworld and loved every second of it. I approached their set at Urban Bar wondering if they could catch lightning in a bottle again. Well, I think that I may have enjoyed this set more than I did their Underworld show. The high energy pop punk and Hassan's brilliant vocals work so well together and really got the crowd pumped up. Despite growing issues with the sound, Triple Sundae were excellent throughout.

Following Triple Sundae were a band who have previously contributed a top ten influences post to the site but I've never had the pleasure of seeing live. London four piece Werecats are a band I was very interested to see live. I absolutely loved the duelling vocals of Pip and Cici during their three chord pop punk assault. On record the production is quite slick and well-produced whereas in a live setting there was a wonderful rawness about them which I adored. How it's taken me so long to see this band is beyond me and I'm very disappointed in myself. This Ramonescore pop punk couldn't be more up my street and am hoping to see the band again very soon.

Mexican three piece Shinjoku Riot have been on tour with The Burnt Tapes throughout their entire tour of Europe and the UK and it's clear that both bands have developed a strong friendship. Not being at all familiar with their music I was very curious to see what they were like. The poor sound definitely hit this band the hardest which was a massive shame. Since the show I've checked them out online and am so impressed with the band. Straight forward, sing-a-long punk rock at its finest. Hopefully Shinjoku Riot will be back on our shores very soon!

Now it was time for the main event. London via Athens "regret punks", The Burnt Tapes. The band's new EP is Alterations is one of mine and Emma's favourite releases of the year so far. Pan was nice enough to let me listen early and I was completely blown away and excitedly told Emma that she has to listen to this. I also bumped into Tone at the Jeff Rosenstock gig and gushed excitedly to him just how good Alterations is. Hearing it live took my appreciation of the record up another level. I'm not good enough at words to really express just how good it was. I'm also trying to write this as a neutral to the band and not as someone who loves the band as people and not just as a band. Phil's voice was on absolute top form and was ably backed my Pan and Tone, despite Tone having to share a mic with whoever wasn't using their's due to Urban Bar weirdly only having two microphones. When we saw The Burnt Tapes at Manchester Punk Festival back in April we thought they were great, here they really took things up another level. Despite all of the technical difficulties (I felt so sorry for the poor sound man trying to fix it) The Burnt Tapes put in such a polished performance. Clearly a lot of time and effort was put in crafting these songs, not only so they sound great on record but completely rock when they are played live. One highlight for us was when Pan got a chance to take lead vocal duties on his song Things Get Weird. A song that starts slow but when it kicks in just blows everything away. The crowd at Urban Bar loved this. Finishing their set with a great surprise cover of Dear Landlord's I Live In Hell, in which Phil crowd surfed whilst still managing to play guitar, it's safe to say that The Burnt Tapes absolutely smashed it and played one of the best sets I've watched in ages. Emma and I both came away smiling.

That was the end of the night for us. Dark Days were playing a Pup cover set to finish the night but we knew we had to get a bus replacement service half the way home so decided it would be best to call it a night. As we made our way back to Aldgate, we discussed the night and particularly how much we loved The Burnt Tapes. Not only are they a fantastic band but are just excellent people. Despite the downhearted nature of their songs, they are such a positive group of guys who clearly have a huge love of punk rock music and the community as a whole. The night was named The Burnt Tapes and Friends. I don't think that title was just meant for the line up of bands playing the show but also for everyone who attended the gig. I think we all had and have a lot of love for The Burnt Tapes.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark