Monday, 2 July 2018

Gig Review: Polite Riot Festival Day One 22/6/18

Imagine planning on staying in London for a couple of nights for a festival only to arrive at your Air BnB to discover that your host has double booked your room leaving you with, in theory, nowhere to stay. That was the situation faced by Emma and I last week. Luckily we don't live that far from London so were able to get home but what a bad way to start a weekend! Things quickly improved though, as we arrived at the New Cross Inn for Polite Riot Festival – a brand new punk rock festival put together by the legends that are Be Sharp Promotions, Umlaut Records and Kick The Crutches featuring twenty bands over three days.

The band tasked with opening the entire festival are a reasonably new band on the scene. Pop punks Swan Prince hail from the Midlands and recently released a superb brand new EP titled Never Look Back. Having spent time the week before reviewing the EP I was quite looking forward to seeing the songs performed live. Sadly lead singer Rachel had been unwell all week so I don't feel like we got the full Swan Prince experience. That, however, did not stop me really enjoying their set of energetic pop punk jams. It's quite clear that these guys have something pretty special and I look forward to seeing them again when they're 100%.

Up next were Irish pop punk quartet No Matter. We'd last seen them at Manchester Punk Festival earlier in the year and were very much looking forward to seeing them again. If you've not heard No Matter yet, they play fast pop punk music clearly influenced by 90s Lookout Records acts such as Green Day and Screeching Weasel. They're perfect for a support slot for the evening's headliners, Teenage Bottlerocket, as they power through the set with incredible energy. No Matter do a wonderful job of combining fast and energetic punk with infectious hooks that you just can't help but have a bop to. The three pronged vocal assault of Dan, Cat and Jarlath is superb live. No Matter are one of the most exciting bands in the scene currently and you need to check them out if you haven't already.

Eat Defeat are about to explode. Mark my words on that. Having already heard their upcoming new album I Think We'll Be OK (check out the review here) I'm very excited for what's in store for them for the rest of the year. Like No Matter before them, the last time we saw Eat Defeat was at MPF in April. They were one of our highlights of the entire festival and again at Polite Riot they were a big highlight. Eat Defeat play positive pop punk music that I find really empowering. Despite guitarist Jimmy breaking a string on the first song, which I think was Smile from the new album, Eat Defeat slayed. I found my eyes transfixed on the stage the entire time watching this great band who really are on the cusp of something very special. They played a handful of new songs as well as plenty of favourites, all of which were great. Finishing up with what seems to becoming their traditional set closer Not Today, Old Friend which features the great crowd participation part of shouting "I think we'll be ok", Eat Defeat are bloody brilliant.

You could be forgiven for thinking that the next band, Spoilers, were headlining the first night of Polite Riot festival. There were plenty in attendance at the quickly filling up New Cross Inn that had clearly turned up for Spoilers. And I'm not surprised as they played another superb punk rock set. Quite incredibly this was my first time seeing Spoilers live and I was quite keen to check them out. I have to say, I was very impressed. Playing their own brand of melodic punk rock, they quickly had the room singing along. There is a cheeky chappy feel to Spoilers that is really endearing. At one point they got Gareth James of Second In Line to stand at the front of the stage and he got the crowd to sing the theme tune of classic British sitcom Only Fools And Horses at him, as Second In Line have covered it but never play it live. This is the kind of thing you can only expect at a punk show. Finishing their set with the awesome Punks Don't Die, which was dedicated to former Pisdicables member and New Cross Inn regular Mike Crampton, Spoilers wowed the New Cross Inn and had the crowd suitably warmed up for Teenage Bottlerocket.

Wyoming pop punk legends Teenage Bottlerocket playing the New Cross Inn is a massive deal. Sure they have played there once before but that was at an open mic night because their show with the Descendents got cancelled. Now that they were back as a headliner of a scheduled festival, I couldn't have been more excited. New Cross was now packed and ready for a big rowdy sing-a-long and as soon as the band exploded into the opening two tracks, Freak Out and Skate Or Die, we were off! Like a lot of pop punk bands, Teenage Bottlerocket are relentless on stage – playing incredibly fast and barely pausing between songs. It's just banger after banger after banger and it's exhausting, but in the best way possible. I always forget just how many TBR songs I love just because there are so many! Highlights included Radio, Bigger Than Kiss, Stupid Game, Bloodbath At Burger King, They Call Me Steve and So Far Away. There was also a nice moment where they covered the Tony Sly song Via Munich which was dedicated to Ray Rocket's sadly departed twin brother Brandon. Ray mentioned that Brandon would have loved playing a show like the one at the New Cross Inn. For me this was the best time I've seen TBR, their music feels so much more suited to a small and sweaty pub show rather than the bigger academy venues I've seen them previously. Finishing the set, and the first day of Polite Riot Festival, with an encore of the song Done With Love sent everyone away happy.

We now had to head back to Bedford on the train (stupid Air BnB) but we were so pumped for the rest of the weekend. What a first night!

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

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