Friday, 7 December 2018

Gig Review: Junior Battles at New River Studios 3/12/18

So you're full of the world's worst ever cold, you've had a late one the night before because of a gig, you have a busy day at work… the sensible thing to do is to stay in, watch Liam Bakes and get an early night, right? Yeah. Not me though, I decide to head straight to London from work for another gig. The gig in question was one that I felt like I couldn't miss but almost did. The gig in question was Junior Battles’ first ever UK show. It was originally scheduled for Friday the 16th of November, I excitedly brought my ticket and waited patiently. Then I sadly had to bail because Emma had to have her wisdom teeth taken out that day and I had to nurse her back to health. Then as luck would have it, for me at least, Junior Battles had to cancel the show due to a cancelled flight meaning they wouldn't make it to London in time. This meant that the show would be rescheduled to Monday the 3rd of December. This would be the fourth gig from new London promoter Gold Soul Theory Promotions, formed by Hassan Afaneh of Triple Sundae. Taking place at the awesome New River Studios in North London with support being provided by Triple Sundae, The Run Up and Sugar Rush, this was sure to be a great night despite me feeling like death.

I arrived at New River Studios halfway through Sugar Rush's set. I wasn't at all aware of the band's sound before the gig and I was pleasantly surprised by it. Catchy indie pop pun tunes with multiple vocalists and plenty of charisma and charm. Tackling a variety of social issues, it felt like Sugar Rush really were trying to inspire the crowd with their music which was great. Midway through, drummer Laura and guitarist Marcello swapped instruments to finish the set. The set was finished with a great song with the hook "everything's fine, nothing is fucked" which was a delightfully optimistic way to finish things up for Sugar Rush.

Next to take to the stage were London punks Triple Sundae who were making their final London appearance of the year. 2018 has been a good year for Triple Sundae with the release their EP Peace Of Mind on Umlaut Records, supporting the likes of Red City Radio, Consumed, Guttermouth and Pkew Pkew Pkew and getting out of London and playing more shows around the UK. Things are looking bright for these guys! Not a band to rest on their laurels, Triple Sundae have recently been in the studio working on a new EP and they treated us to some new songs from it. These new songs – wow! I loved Peace Of Mind (spoiler alert: it is going to be on my top ten EPs of 2018) but these new tracks blow them out of the water. These are melodic gruff punk rock beauties that really accentuate Hassan's amazing vocal. Also, shout out to guitarist Mike's energy on stage – never staying still for a moment and even popping out a couple of perfectly executed Busted jumps.

Bristol five piece The Run Up have been tour support for Junior Battles for the entirety of the tour. If you're familiar with The Run Up, you will know about their terrible luck with vans. On this tour they managed to use four different ones. It's a long and complicated story, if you ever catch them live – which you should – ask them about it. Because of the issue with vans, normal Run Up drummer Harry ended up not being able to make it to London for the show but a couple of members of the Junior Battles line up stood in to ensure that the show could go on – what fine chaps! At the end of the spring, The Run Up released a brand new EP titled Good Friends, Bad Luck which I thought was their finest release yet. This was the the first chance I've had to hear these songs live and boy was I impressed. Largely tackling the topic of friendship, the songs work so great live when you are surrounded by a group of your buddies. The big highlight for me, and at every Run Up gig, is when they played Learning Loss. Hilariously lead singer Larry (and not stand in drummer Glenn) messed up the start of the song so began to sing on the first chorus, as did I despite my cold attempting to kill me. It's always so great to see The Run Up live, I can't wait for the next time.

I now have to admit I'm not overly familiar with Junior Battles. I'd heard of them and knew I enjoyed the music that I had listened to so was expecting to really have a great time seeing these four Canadians live. Playing energetic sing-along pop punk songs, it wasn't long before a lot of clearly hardcore fans who were so excited to finally these chaps. There were a couple of nice moments where first Larry joined them for one song and towards the end of the set The Run Up's Charlie, Lawrence and Dan joined them on guitar for a song. It's clear that a big friendship has been built up through the tour which is always just so lovely to see. I did end up ducking out of the gig a little early because I was starting to feel pretty much dead on my feet but I was so impressed with Junior Battles and will definitely be listening to them properly and hoping they find their way back to the UK again.

This was a great night and I'm glad I forced myself to go despite feeling so unwell. A massive amount of love to Gold Soul Theory Promotions and the bands for making this happen despite the difficulties with travel.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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