Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Gig Review: Polite Riot Festival Day Two 23/6/18

We found ourselves back down at the New Cross Inn in time for the 4pm start of the second day of Polite Riot Festival. This was kind of a new bands day with plenty of acts playing that aren't necessarily bands you would expect Be Sharp or Umlaut to book. I was excited for the day to begin and discover some new favourite bands.

First up were recently reformed three piece Snap Out who were playing their final show with drummer Davide before he moved to Japan the next day. What a lovely thing to do on your final day in the UK. Snap Out started the day with a bang with their loud and alternative take on punk rock. I was particularly impressed with the slickness of their set, playing what looked to my untrained eyes to be really intricate guitar lines whilst coming across as being really laid back. I hope that it's not long before Snap Out find a new drummer so I can see them again.

Up next were a band playing what I believe was their second ever show together, Modern Shakes. Modern Shakes are a new band featuring ex-Janowski member Ian Crooks who you may also know as Wayfairer. Man, I enjoyed Modern Shakes. The three piece play that wonderful sing-along gruff punk stuff that I love. Ian has such a great vocal style and he and the rest of the band quickly have the whole room's attention and I notice a few people around the room giving each other looks of "these guys are great." Unfortunately the band don't quite have enough material to fill a whole thirty minute set, they are very new. This just left me wanting more and more. I'm very excited for Modern Shakes.

I think the band most people left the Saturday of Polite Riot talking about were London's Love Songs. Another band playing one of their first shows together, not that you would have known it given the strength of this performance. These guys have a bit of a distinct sound playing a heavier form of gruff punk that truly captivated everyone in attendance. They had a really strong stage presence that meant it was impossible for anyone to pay any attention to anything other than what was happening on the stage. When they finished their set I think there was a collective agreement that these guys have got something special.

Umlaut Records roster members Fastfade were next to take to the New Cross stage. Despite being regulars of the New Cross scene, they fit in well in this theme of newer bands. Huge shout out has to go to Fastfade bass player Joe for playing the set despite having his leg in a cast, it must be so frustrating wanting to bounce around on stage and not being able to. If you haven't heard Fastfade yet, they play a fast and energetic skate punk style similar to the 90s Epi-Fat era. There is a youthful exuberance in Fastfade that I find infectious when I see them live. It's clear they try to enjoy themselves on stage as much as possible during and between songs. Fastfade are a really bloody good band who get better and better each time I see them. With some luck and plenty of hard work these guys are going to do some great stuff within this punk scene.

Mean Caesar are yet another new band playing Polite Riot. The five piece are veterans of the UK punk scene having been members of a whole host of other bands before coming together late in 2017. I was very excited about Mean Caesar having first caught them supporting The Copyrights in April and being seriously impressed by them. This time they were even better than before. Another band playing their own form of melodic gruff punk rock, Mean Caesar's take on the style has a maturity about it that I thought was excellent. Front person Danny Lester is on this occasion the star of the show as he prowls around the stage, as well as in front of the stage, blasting out the lyrics. A little birdie tells me that Mean Caesar's first release will be out soon and, judging from the strength of their live show, it's going to be great. Keep your eyes and ears peeled.

If you ask me, Müg are the most underrated band in the UK punk rock scene. The four piece melodic skate punk band have been playing shows around the UK for eight years now and I quite shamefully have only managed to see them twice before Polite Riot Festival. However it was this set that really wowed me. It was fun, it was energetic, it featured brilliant songs - old, new and some Descendents covers. What I love about Müg is how much they clearly enjoy playing on stage together. It's four old friends playing music they love for the fun of it and it's this attitude that really wins over the crowd. Don't get me wrong though, the music is bloody great – they play hard and fast, singer Kingly has one of the most recognisable voices in the scene and the harmonies the band deliver are wonderful. Müg really did smash this set. Talking to some folk – who have seen Müg many more times than me – after the set about the performance, they said that it was the best their best performance in two years. One of my highlights of the entire weekend.

Last up were headliners Apologies, I Have None. The crowd at the New Cross Inn appeared to grow in time to see the London based band. It seemed as if some people turned up just for Apologies which is a bit of a shame as they missed a fantastic day of punk rock music. To be honest I'm running out of way to describe just how much I enjoy watching Apologies, I Have None live. They are just amazing. For close to an hour the people in attendance stood mesmerised by Josh, Joe, James and Simon as they played what was essentially a best of set. I'm always amazed by the way they seamlessly link the songs together in such a natural way despite songs being written years apart. This is one reason why they are so highly thought of in the punk scene, not just in the UK but all over the world. Highlights of the set included Sat In Vicky Park, The 26, Raging Through The Thick And Heavy Darkness Of A Bloodlust, Love And Medication and Wraith but in truth I could name every song as a highlight – they're just so good! Apologies were such a great pick to headline the second day of Polite Riot Festival. Flying the flag high for UK punk rock.

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

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