Thursday, 16 June 2022

Gig Review: Slam Dunk Festival 2022 at Hatfield House 4/6/22


Slam Dunk Festival 2022 has come and gone and it was another great day of friends, fun, food and fantastic music. After a train journey where I accidentally got on the wrong train and brought some strangers with us, Emma and I arrived an hour before the opening band was due to start and met up with our group. Once everyone had gathered, we made our way into the festival. After getting through the ticket barrier, we were held in some kind of holding area before we were allowed in to the main festival arena. We later found out there was a problem with the card reader machines at the bars so the organisers made the decision to get people to wait outside for longer before they let us in.
 

Once inside we made our way to the Dickies stage, where we would spend the majority of our day, to see opening act The Suicide Machines. Their set started at 11.40am which was pretty silly but showed just what a stacked line up the stage had in store for the day. This was the band’s first time back in the UK in almost twenty years and it was good to see a nice sized crowd gathered early to see them. When the band appeared and began their set you could certainly tell from the crowd’s stillness that it was still oh so early for a punk show. So, after playing one song, the band’s lead singer Jay Navarro climbed into the crowd and decided to spend the rest of the set there. This was a masterclass on how to control a crowd, as from then on the set got rowdier and rowdier. Jay was passing the microphone around the crowd giving plenty of people the chance to have a sing and it was a lot of fun. I was really impressed with how smoothly things ran despite the chaos that was happening. They played a mixture of old favourites such as Break The Glass, High Anxiety and of course New Girl, alongside some songs from their most recent album, Revolution Spring. This was the perfect way to start the day and I was pumped to see them do a full set the next night at the New Cross Inn.


After Suicide Machines we made our way to the Rock Scene stage for Meet Me @ The Altar. Meet Me @ The Altar are one of the most exciting new bands in the scene and I was keen to check them out – it was great to see that I wasn’t the only one as the tent was very busy. Playing a mixture of pop punk and easycore, MMATA were the perfect Slam Dunk Festival band, displaying plenty of energy on the stage as the band jumped around the stage. This energy poured over into the crowd who responded in kind. One of the highlights of the set was when they played Hit Like A Girl and dedicated it to all the women in the crowd. This lead to a couple of ladies in the crowd getting on their friend’s shoulders. Then a chap also decided to do this, I get that he was having fun and enjoying the band but perhaps read the room, mate. The band also did a fun and slightly cheesy cover song medley where they played Sweetness by Jimmy Eat World, My Friends Over You by New Found Glory, My Own Worst Enemy by Lit and Break Stuff by Limp Bizkit. This was a fun moment that was a nice nod to the band’s musical roots and something very fun for the crowd. This was the band’s first time in the UK but I expect that we’ll be seeing them many more times in the future.


Next on the agenda was seeing a bit of Hot Water Music. We had a while to kill before then though so decided to grab some food. I enjoyed a delicious vegan hot dog before heading back to the Dickies stage. We had only planned to see a bit of Hot Water Music as they clashed with another band but we did manage to get four songs, including my personal favourite HWM song Wayfarer. The band had had some issues with their airline misplacing their gear but thankfully they were able to borrow stuff from the other bands and the show was able to go on. The band sounded in top form and it was difficult to pull myself away to go see and the next band.

Pinkshift were one of the bands I was most excited to check out. We headed over to the Key Club tent, a tent with two stages dedicated to the newer bands on the scene, as the band were just about to start. Pinkshift were another band who were making their first appearances in the UK and I was very pleased to see the size of the crowd that had gathered. It was also a super enthusiastic crowd which is always great to see. Pinkshift play a fun mix of 90s grunge and 2000s pop punk that works wonderfully well. I was under the impression that the band was a three piece but for the tour they have become a five piece which gave them a massive sound. Their front person Ashrita Kumar was extremely powerful onstage, I struggled to keep my eyes off them. With a big voice and an endless supply of energy, they put everything they had into the performance and it’s so pleasing to see. The same can be said of their bandmates who bounced around the stage throughout. Pinkshift are the future of pop punk. They’ve just signed to Hopeless Records so expect to hear some exciting new songs soon!


After Pinkshift, we headed back to the Dickies stage for the band I was probably most excited for – actual punk rock legends in the form of The Vandals. I’ve been wanting to see The Vandals for the best part of twenty years and have never managed it. They were the last of the bands I loved when I was getting into punk rock that I was desperate to see live but never have. I had kind of resigned myself to the fact that I was probably never going to get the chance. I was very happy to be proven wrong. When they took to the stage I left our group of friends who were hanging out by the sound tent and near enough ran down towards the front to get the best possible position. Now, I said in our preview podcast that I was fully expecting to be disappointed by the set, as I had hyped it up to myself so much and I wondered how well their humour would translate in 2022, but I was very pleased to see my concerns were unwarranted. The Vandals were everything I hoped they would be. They played a set full of my favourite songs, played really well and cracked me up. Any band that has Brooks Wackerman playing drums for them is going to be super tight and I was so impressed by Warren Fitzgerald’s incredible guitar playing whilst also being the silliest person at the festival. The Vandals are all about having as much fun as possible and the crowd responded really well to them. I assume there were a lot of other people in the crowd who had waited years to see the band and everyone lapped it up. Highlights of the set included People That Are Going To Hell, It’s A Fact, Oi To The World, I’ve Got An Ape Drape, My Girlfriend’s Dead and cover Don’t Stop Me Now where Warren took over lead vocals and hid behind a banner having off the side of the stage. It was wonderful and I hope it’s not so long before The Vandals return, hopefully for their own tour.


Streetlight Manifesto were next to take to the Dickies stage and there was an excitement in the air. Streetlight are another band that rarely play anywhere and haven’t been to the UK for a long, long time. We’d gone for a quick lap of the festival site to stretch our legs between the Vandals and Streetlight Manifesto sets but made it back as the band were soundchecking. It seemed as if they had been having some trouble with the sound which I think delayed the start of their set. However, as soon as the band started the set with A Moment Of Violence, all of the waiting was forgotten and the crowd went off. It felt like everyone around me was not only singing along to every word but every horn line as well. I stood in awe witnessing the technical proficiency that the band play with. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch some very skilled bands over the years but not many come close to touching Streetlight. If it’s possible, they’re potentially too good. Streetlight aren’t a band that talk much between songs (which was a big contrast to The Vandals), instead they focus on blasting through their set. If I’m being completely honest, this took something away from the set for me as it felt too well rehearsed but, as the songs are so long, I guess it meant they could squeeze more in to the set. And let’s be honest, we see Streetlight for the music not the banter. Dan #2 and I spoke on the CPRW Podcast about how next time we see Streetlight we hope it will be at their own show rather than a festival so we can get more deep cuts in the set, hopefully that’s a thing that will happen again one day.


Mom Jeans were next on our itinerary. The four piece were playing on the Key Club stage and we made our way over as soon as Streetlight Manifesto finished their set. Earlier in the week Emma and I had been in North London for The Flatliners gig at Tufnell Park. Before the gig we stopped in Camden for some pizza and passed the Underworld where Mom Jeans had been headlining. They had a huge queue waiting to get in at around 6pm and from everything I’ve heard from friends who went it was a very special night. I had listened to them a bit in preparation for Slam Dunk and enjoyed their take on jangly emo/pop punk so decided I would go and check them out. This was a fantastic decision (well done me) as they put on a fantastic show. Despite not knowing the songs they played well at all, I felt super included in the set just from the fantastic atmosphere that the crowd had created. We were all there to see a top band do their thing and have a great time. Festivals are always a great opportunity to go and see bands that you perhaps wouldn’t normally and I’m very pleased I caught Mom Jeans. Also the best dancer of the weekend award has to go to the band’s bass player, supplying some sick and dope moves.


After a brief comfort break, we headed back to the Dickies stage to see the end of Pennywise’s set. We caught Society, their cover of Stand By Me, Fuck Authority and Bro Hymn and that was enough to keep me happy. Pennywise are such a good festival band, they have such a big following and they always play the big hits that’ll keep their fans happy. Even if you don’t know much of Pennywise’s back catalogue, there’s no doubt you know Fuck Authority and Bro Hymn and will have sung your lungs out with the band to the choruses of both songs. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Pennywise and I’m glad they never change.

I think one of the bands our group was most excited to see was The Interrupters. The Californians have played a huge role in making ska punk cool again and are one of the best live bands in the world at the moment. They’re also an absolutely perfect festival band with their songs about family, friendship, unity and empowerment. Being surrounded by so many friends and likeminded people seeing The Interrupters is a special feeling, especially with the content of their songs. After the last couple of years, these messages hit home harder than ever. With only forty-five minutes for their set The Interrupters powered through, seemingly trying to squeeze as many songs in as possible and I personally really appreciated it. We got to hear so many favourites, a couple of brand new songs and I nice covers medley. I’ve seen them play a similar covers medley before where they teased playing songs from bands from San Francisco. They’ve now changed this up a bit where they teased playing songs from Epitaph Records releases instead. They played intros to Keep Em Separated by The Offspring, Linoleum by NOFX and Ruby Soho by Rancid, before settling on playing a full cover of Sorrow by Bad Religion. I’d love to hear a recorded version of the cover. This was my fourth time seeing The Interrupters live and something that’s always seriously impressed me was how tight and slick the band are, there aren’t many better at the moment. They’re back in the UK for a full tour in a couple of months and they’ll have UK ska favourites The Skints and Bar Stool Preachers as support. Those will be special nights.


We headed back to the Dickies stage next to see The Flatliners. It was kind of weird to see the band play this tent as it seemed to be more of a new band stage and The Flatliners are anything but new. After seeing them play a full headline set a couple of days earlier we knew they were in top form and were looking forward to seeing the band playing more of a ‘best of’ set. And that’s exactly what we got. Songs such as Resuscitation Of The Year, Carry The Banner, Count Your Bruises, Monumental and set closer Eulogy sounded as good as ever. Chris Cresswell has one of the most consistently brilliant voices in punk rock. In the space of a few days I’d heard him sing in a venue, outside with Hot Water Music and then inside a tent with the Flatliners. All three times he sounded brilliant. The Flatliners provided half an hour of pure sing-along joy before we headed back to the Dickies stage.


When we arrived at back to the Dickies stage Boston’s Dropkick Murphys were already in full swing. We met back up with our group and all quickly realised something was not right at all with the sound. We were stood very central with the stage and all we could really hear was the bass. Admittedly, from looking at the set list from the day before, we knew that we wouldn’t know many of the songs they were playing (the majority of our group were a bunch of old school DKM fans who hadn’t listened to a lot of the band’s newer material) so that didn’t help but even songs like Worker’s Song and Barroom Hero sounded off because of the loud bass. I had theorised that the setlist was as it was because lead singer Al Barr hadn’t been able to make the tour due to important family commitments so you’ve got to commend the rest of the band for soldiering on without him. Unfortunately, I did find this set quite disappointing and I don’t think I was the only one. Maybe I should have taken the time to really listen to the band’s latest album Turn Up That Dial before going to see them.

While most of our group stayed at The Dickies stage for headliners Sum 41, we decided to head back to the Key Club one last time to see Nova Twins before catching the end of the Canadian pop punk legends. Nova Twins are a band from London who have been making waves in the UK alternative scene. I didn’t know much about them other than the bit of research I had done for my preview but I was looking forward to witnessing them live. As they confidently strode onto the stage it felt like something big was about to happen. Despite Sum 41 playing just two minutes away, I was impressed by the size of the crowd that gathered. I also enjoyed how diverse the crowd looked. There were folk from all walks of life ready to party with the band. Mixing punk, hip hop and rave music, the set offered something for everyone. It was a powerful set which I have no doubt moved a lot of people in the crowd. Whether you were a long time fan of Nova Twins or you popped in because you didn’t fancy watching Sum 41, I am certain you were transfixed on what was happening on the stage. The band’s singer had this great swagger about them whilst the bassist gleefully hopped around the stage with boundless energy. Coming away from the set I was of the opinion that, of all the bands in the UK at the moment, Nova Twins should be band that the mainstream press should be really getting behind. Not only are they an excellent band but they feel important and something the alternative music scene really needs right now.


After Nova Twins, we made our journey back to the Dickies stage one last time for Sum 41. Sum 41 are a band I grew up on as a teenager but had never seen live. We arrived back at the stage as the band were halfway through their set. We attempted to get back to the spot we had been in all day with our friends but it was so crowded there was no way of getting back in. Unfortunately, we were really far back and struggled to get any kind of decent view. We could see that the band had a massive inflatable devil on stage with them as well as fire and a full light show. It looked to be a very impressive sight and it was nice to have something interesting to look at, as I could barely see the members of the band. I think this was part of the problem of having no real clashes for the headliner. There were sooooo many people there. From what I’ve heard from friends after the festival, Sum 41 put on a superb show and showed why they have achieved all they have in their career. The songs I did get to hear the band play included In Too Deep, Queen’s We Will Rock You, Fat Lip and Still Waiting. Some top tier Sum 41 and a classic cover.


After Sum 41’s set, everyone in the festival made the slow walk back to the buses and trains in an attempt to get back home. This sadly proved harder than we had hoped due to disruptions on the train line but we eventually made it home after what was a fun filled day. For whatever reason, Slam Dunk does seem to get a lot of stick from people. I’m sure a lot of the time it’s warranted but I always see Slam Dunk as a great day out with my friends watching bands we perhaps wouldn’t normally go and see. No doubt you’ll see me back at Hatfield House in 2023.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Album Review: Successfully Not Giving Up by Captain Asshole


If I’ve spoken to you about any one band over the past three years, there’s a very high chance that it’s Germany’s Captain Asshole. I first discovered them after they sent me their debut album, What An Awful Life, for me to check out. I instantly fell in love with the band and have been championing them to anyone who will listen ever since. Earlier this year the band released their second album, Successfully Not Giving Up, with the support of SBÄM Records and Say-10 Records.

Now whenever a band release a follow up to an album I absolutely adore, there’s always the worry of disappointment. Will they capture the same magic of what came before? Will they rest on their laurels and phone an album in? Will it click with me in the same way? These are all thoughts that ran through my head when I heard about this release. Happily, Captain Asshole seem to write songs that are completely tailored to my own personal pop punk tastes. Gruff vocals, big choruses, loads of energy and gang vocals galore. As soon as I heard the first single, Dave Lizewski, I knew I didn’t need to worry – this was going to be another special release.


Successfully Not Giving Up begins with the first single, Dave Lizewski. In true Captain Asshole style the song and the album kicks off with a big gang vocal opening. I speak about gang vocals a lot on the various CPRW platforms and how much I love them, but have I ever mentioned why? It’s the way that they make a song feel more inclusive for everyone. Kicking the song/album off with them instantly made me feel involved and I love that very much. After the opening chorus, the tempo jumps up and Manu’s vocals come in on the opening verse. As ever, he’s not alone as Max adds his own vocals giving the song a huge sound. There’s a huge feeling of positivity throughout the song, as the band sing about it being okay to feel different and to keep on pushing forward towards your dreams. Max starts the second song, The Sleepwalking Dead. This song has more of an extended introduction before Max jumps in and is quickly followed by Manu. I already love how the pair are sharing vocals so much. The energy is special and it gives me the goosebumps. The song is about plodding away through your life and feeling stuck in a rut. The song finishes with another classic Captain Asshole trope, the slow building finale with the big gang vocals and harmonies. Can’t wait to sing along with this bit next time I get to see them. The third track is titled Boy, I’m Homesick. On this song the band talk about remembering times past and realising how things haven’t changed for the better. This was one of the songs that was picked as a single before Successfully Not Giving Up was released. It’s clear why this was, as the song showcases all of what the band are about. If you’re a first time listener of the band it welcomes you in perfectly and is probably really relatable.

Ghost In A Nutshell (possibly the best title on the album) is a song all about bettering yourself. On the track Manu talks about looking at his life, particularly at the times where he’s been at his lowest, and attempting to bring himself back from the edge. This is a more serious feeling song than I’m used to hearing from the band and it’s great to see them expanding their songwriting topics like this. The band seem to resist adding all the gang vocals to the song which gives it a much more personal feeling. When the rest of the band do join Manu on vocals the song gets a cathartic feeling which adds a fantastic new layer to the track. The fifth song, Crushing High Lifes, brings the tempo way back up. The band talk about how quickly you can be brought back down to earth after experiencing a massive high, something we all go through from time to time. This is another song that is pure energy. I loved the opening guitar part, it’s a bit more riffy than previous Captain Asshole songs and it’s a great, if not a bit too subtle, addition to the song. It proves that the band are a lot more than experts and choruses, there’s excellent musicianship in here as well. Bringing the first half of the album to a close is You’ve Smashed The Window With Your Head Fred. The opening of the song has this big building segment that eases you into the song before Manu’s vocals eventually come in. This is one of the slower songs on the album but it still packs plenty of punch. This song looks at the need to keep going to gigs as you’re getting older and questioning why you’re still doing it. It’s the great moments you experience and the wanting to do it all over again and again. For anyone in their mid 30s and older, this is a song you will probably relate with a lot.

The second half of the album starts with Better Broken. Here Captain Asshole sing about trying to make your way through life despite all the hardships that may befall you. It’s about learning to exist and be your best even when things feel like they are at their worst. I really enjoy the switch in intensity that happens between the verse and the chorus. There’s a contrast but they also manage to bleed effortlessly into each other. I really love the chorus “it’s hard to walk with broken legs, It’s hard to think with fucked up brains, hard to forget and hard to love, it’s hard to live with a broken heart.” What a great chorus! Apocalypse Whenever was another single released in the build up to Successfully Not Giving Up’s release. The band put out an outstanding video for it that I seriously suggest you check out. Once again, this is an archetypal Captain Asshole song and another perfect choice for a single. Big chorus: check. Endless energy: check. Gang vocals: check. Harmonies: check! The production on the track makes it sound huge and it’s a song that’s begging to be played as loudly as possible. The song is about the planet coming to an impending doom and people’s ignorance to it. Despite the doom that is approaching, the band leave the song with a positive message about still believing and fighting the good fight until the very end. I agree with this statement. The ninth song is titled The One With Unagi. This track has an intense beginning, with no intro we are just greeted by Manu’s vocals shouting “drink down the weight of another year, it’s been a while for you and me”. This song is about meeting up with old acquaintances and trying to force a friendship that isn’t there anymore. As people grow older, they change and turn into different people than who they were when they were younger. I really like this as a song topic, I don’t feel like it’s one that’s really covered much despite everyone going through it at some point. Max and Manu take turns on the verses and combine for the choruses. It feels as if each of them is playing the role of old friends at the bar and we’re hearing their inner monologue throughout the song. This is such good songwriting.

Home Alone II is up next. Home Alone was one of my favourites off of debut album, What An Awful Life, so when I saw the song title my interest really peaked. I’ve heard plenty of songs about the lockdowns that happened in 2020 and 2021 and this is among the better ones. Max and Manu sing about their experiences during this time and talk about the feelings of isolation that they felt and how they coped during these difficult times. There’s an all around darker tone to the song, it makes me think about a metaphoric cloud that seemed to follow everyone around in this understandably difficult time in our lives. Max and Manu do such a good job (arguably too good a job if you want to forget all about it) of painting a picture of what it was like at the time. The penultimate song on Successfully Not Giving Up is Good News, Everyone. This song is all about growing up and taking a different path to your friends. The majority of people reading this will have seen their friends take different paths to you and you will probably have doubted your own life choices. Don’t do that. Everyone lives their lives differently and that’s completely fine. Live your dream. That’s the message I get from the song and I found it uplifting. The final track on the album is Post Malört. I think it’s now law for Captain Asshole to have a song on each album that mentions their beloved The Fest in Gainesville. On What An Awful Life they had Holiday Inn now they have Post Malört. It’s about finding a place in the world where you find comfort and feel like you belong. On this occasion it’s at The Fest but I’m sure we’ve all got our special festivals and venues where the whole world feels right and you’re completely at ease. This is an ode to those amazing spaces that give us so much.

Successfully Not Giving Up is another amazing album from Captain Asshole. In my eyes, theses folk can do no wrong. They’ve managed to keep hold of everything I loved from their previous album and have still found a way of evolving and progressing their sound. This album feels more contained and succinct than What An Awful Life, with every song heading in the same direction. It gives the album a more intimate feel but also explodes with sound throughout. A true album of the year contender. I cannot wait to see these songs, as well as all my other favourites, at least two times this year. I am hoping for more though. Do not sleep on Captain Asshole. They’re the real deal.

Stream and download Successfully Not Giving Up on Bandcamp.

Like Captain Asshole on Facebook.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Column: Slam Dunk Festival 2022 Preview


Slam Dunk Festival 2022 has really come around quickly, hasn’t it? This probably is because 2021’s edition of the festival only took place in September due to easing of Covid-19 restrictions. It was a great day out and I have many fond memories and now I’m looking forward to spending another day in Hatfield (hopefully in the sunshine) with lots of my friends and watching lots of fantastic bands. Slam Dunk always put on an absolutely stacked line up with heavy hitters from most points of the alternative music umbrella.

Obviously, we’re most excited for the punk and ska stuff that’s happening at The Dickies stage. With no Punk In Drublic stage this year and Rancid and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones both pulling out early doors, the Slam Dunk organisers have really put together a mega line up. However, one complaint that Slam Dunk and many other festivals quite rightly get is the lack of diversity on the line ups. So, instead of doing my standard picks for the festival, I’m going to focus in on the acts that have members who don’t identify as men or have people of colour in them. It’s great to see these bands being included on the line up and it’s really a great step in the right direction of having a more inclusive line up at the festival.


As December Falls
Nottingham’s As December Falls are an alternative rock four piece. The band released their first EP in 2016 and have since released two further full lengths. If you’re unaware of their sound (like I was) then the easiest comparison is probably Paramore. Their songs are packed with plenty of hooks and lead singer Bethany Curtis has a really impressive vocal. I imagine this young band are already turning a lot of heads in their scene and look to get bigger and bigger with a set at 2000 Trees also scheduled for 2022. As December Falls play on the Key Club Stage.

Hot Milk
Hot Milk are a dual fronted emo power-pop band from Manchester. Starting with just a bottle of wine and an acoustic guitar, Hot Milk have developed a huge sound and are seemingly unafraid to explore different sounds in their music. The two different vocalists complement each other well and the breakdowns in their songs look set to start some mega pits. Catch Hot Milk on the Rock Scene Stage.

The Interrupters
California’s The Interrupters have played a big part in bringing ska punk back to the forefront of the punk scene in recent years. Following the release of their album Fight The Good Fight, the band really blew up and deservedly so. After Rancid decided to drop off Slam Dunk this year, I don’t think the organisers could’ve got a more like for like replacement. Singing songs of friendship, family and unity, The Interrupters are one of the can’t miss bands of the entire weekend. The Interrupters are playing the Dickies Stage.

KennyHoopla
Ohio’s KennyHoopla combines indie punk with elements of hip hop, pop punk and new wave. Despite their young age, Kenny has been making big waves in the scene and has already earned big tour support slots with the likes of Yungblud and Machine Gun Kelly. It seems like Kenny is on the way to some very big things and it won’t be many more years until they are placed much higher up the bill. Jump on the KennyHoopla train at the Rock Scene Stage.

Magnolia Park
Magnolia Park only formed in 2019 so the fact that they have found their way onto the Slam Dunk line up already is a testament to how highly thought of the Orlando, Florida, based band are. The pop punk band have a massive sound and write songs fit for big arenas. I particularly like their message of inclusivity and their desire to have a pop punk genre where people of all backgrounds are represented on and off the stage. Magnolia Park could become a very important band in the pop punk scene in the years to come. Magnolia Park are on the Key Club Stage.

Meet Me @ The Altar
Meet Me @ The Altar are one of the most exciting new bands in pop punk. Taking elements of 2000s pop punk and giving it a fresh sound, MMATA are going to earn thousands of new fans at Slam Dunk Festival. They’ve been hotly tipped for a couple of years now and have recently signed to Fueled By Ramen, the home of bands such as Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, Paramore and All Time Low – that’s some really impressive company. The three piece look set to be the next massive success story for the label. I’m looking forward to seeing Meet Me @ The Altar at Rock Scene Stage.

Nova Twins
It’s amazing to see two black women headlining the Key Club Stage at Slam Dunk. And it’s very much deserved. Amy Love and Georgia South bring together heavy basslines, dashes of electronics and a grimey punk attitude to create their own self described sound of Urban Punk. A very unique band in the alternative scene that will command your attention. Catch them headlining the Key Club Stage.

Pinkshift
I was so pleased when I saw Pinkshift announced for Slam Dunk 2022. The three piece have been one of my favourite discoveries of the past couple of years and I’m pleased to see everyone else becoming a fan of the band as well. Combining the heaviness of 90s grunge along with the irrepressible hooks of 2000s pop punk, Pinkshift have enough crossover appeal for fans of the crunchier and softer sides of pop punk. Do not miss Pinkshift! They play the Key Club Stage.

The Summer Set
The Summer Set are a long running pop rock band from Arizona, USA. Their original run was between 2007 and 2017 but in 2021 the four piece announced they would be reforming. I assume that means that Slam Dunk Festival is their first time back in the UK since they reformed so that’s got to be so exciting for fans of the band. The Summer Set are playing the Rock Sound Stage.

Yours Truly
Yours Truly are flying over all the way from Australia for Slam Dunk Festival. The pop punk act have been making big waves in their homeland with their debut album, Self Care, peaking at number 19 in the album charts. An incredible achievement. Now the four piece are gearing up for their next release and have already released a couple of new singles this year from their forthcoming EP. Yours Truly play the Rock Sound Stage.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Gig Review: SKIV and The Overjoyed at New Cross Inn, London 15/7/22


I don’t think there are many better ways to spend a Sunday than at the New Cross Inn for an all dayer. It’s especially nice when you get a line-up that’s just an absolute mates fest. This was the case on Sunday the 15th of May when SKIV threw a party to celebrate the launch of their debut full length, No Context Bangers. They put together a stacked six band line up which also featured The Overjoyed (who they were on a UK tour with), Triple Sundae, Shackleford, Girls Like Us and Not The Face.


Opening the show were Brighton punx Not The Face. Not The Face are a new band on the scene but I recognised their lead singer Cat from their time in Demon Smiles. It’s great to see Cat in a new band as they have a fantastic vocal. It was great to see Not The Face on stage. They didn’t take things too seriously and were just having a great time together. This sense of fun was a great way to start what was, in essence, a celebration and Not The Face were a great pick to start things off. The band themselves play a straight forward punk rock sound reminiscent of 90s Fat Wreck but also threw in some ska upstrokes for good measure. I expect Not The Face will be a band I see many more times over the next few years.


Next to the stage were Girls Like Us. Unfortunately, due to some technical problems, the band ended up starting their set half an hour later than planned. That coupled with the half hour allotted for set changeovers meant there was an hour long wait between Not The Face and Girls Like Us. This did unfortunately take away some of the momentum of the gig and, even when the band did eventually get going, the sound didn’t seem quite as good as it usually does at NXI. Something I didn’t expect to see was SKIV’s Conor on guitar for the band. I’m not sure if they are a member of the band or they were filling in for someone but it’s always nice to see Conor on stage. Girls Like Us play 90s style grunge inspired riot grrrl punk and, despite the technical difficulties they had, you’ve got to admire the energy and passion they put into their set. Much like Not The Face before them, it was great to see the band having a lot of fun on stage and I’m definitely keen to check them out again – hopefully with better sound next time!


Shackleford are a band I’ve wanted to see live for absolutely ages and the wait was finally over as they were next to take to the stage. The Nuneaton based four piece play perfect melodic pop punk with stunning vocals and hooks for days. They’re one of those bands that I’ve always thought that if they were based in somewhere like London or Manchester they would be a much bigger band in the UK’s DIY scene. The lead vocals from Dave and Ross sounded spot on and any sound problems that hampered Girls Like Us seemed to have been sorted out. Playing a set full of songs from 2021’s excellent Shackleford: III album, I was hooked on the band and when they finished I felt extremely frustrated that this was my very first time seeing them. It felt like some seriously wasted time. Shackleford shot through their set in an attempt to try and make up some of the lost time and it felt like it was over far too soon for my liking. I hope to see them come back down to London again soon. If you’ve not listened to Shackleford yet, then I suggest you crack on with that.


Next on the day were CPRW favourites Triple Sundae. This would be their first appearance together on the NXI stage since January 2020 and there were a lot of people excited to see it. To give a very brief history lesson, Triple Sundae did a tour in Greece and the UK with The Overjoyed way back in 2015 and the bands have remained good friends ever since. It was great to see members of The Overjoyed go right down to the front of the stage to watch Triple Sundae. We’ve seen every Triple Sundae set since gigs started again and they’ve killed it every single time. This was obviously no different. Playing through all the favourites from Glow and Peace Of Mind and getting some special sing-alongs, they also treated us to one of their new songs. The big highlights were that they went old school and played Avoiding Everything Is Not Your Only Option and Unseen. For Unseen they were joined on stage by Conor to play guitar. As soon as the song started, lead singer Hassan jumped down into the crowd to start the pit up as well as singing. Of course, as is tradition, Grey Market’s Theo took the microphone to sing on the song as well. Seeing six people on stage performing this was quite the moment. Triple Sundae are still really, really good and I never get bored of seeing them perform.


The penultimate act of the night were The Overjoyed who had travelled all the way from Athens to tour the UK. You may know this story but the first time Emma and I really got introduced to the New Cross Inn punk scene was when The Overjoyed headlined a show back in 2017. Since then, the venue and people there have become big parts in our lives and I always link The Overjoyed to that moment. Since that gig, The Overjoyed have released the excellent Aced Out album which has been on regular rotation at CPRW towers ever since. It was amazing to finally hear so many of those songs live. The passion and energy which the band played with was mesmerising and they managed to take the mood of the crowd, which was already pretty high, to a whole other level. I said in my review of the Tree House Fire gig from the couple of nights before how THF always feel like a NXI band despite being from far away (Wales). The same can definitely be said about The Overjoyed. This felt like a homecoming for the band as a lot of people were so excited to see them back. Tone from The Burnt Tapes was down at the front of the crowd and I’d never seen him so excited. He was running around like a child who’d just had a whole load of sugar and that enthusiasm was infectious. The Overjoyed played an incredible set that I think the whole room were sad to see finish. Hopefully they’ll be back soon.


Finally, it was time for SKIV to officially launch their debut album, No Context Bangers, into the world. I’ve seen SKIV a lot of times over the last few years and have always said what a talented group of musicians the band are, but on the album, and with this performance, they’ve really taken things to a whole new level. Since Conor moved to guitar and Leo Harvey (formerly of Just Say Nay) took over bass duties something has seriously clicked and I can see this version of SKIV doing some exciting things. There was so much love and enthusiasm in the room for the band and it didn’t take long for a succession of stage dives and crowd surfs to begin when they started the set. The set, which I guess is what the band had hoped for, was one big party full of fantastic vibes. I was lucky enough to get the album a few weeks early so was reasonably familiar with the new songs – hearing them live gave them a whole new dimension. Something that really impressed me with the album (reviewing coming soon-ish) was the variation in sound, this really helps in the band’s live show. The different styles prevent any staleness in the set and keeps you on your toes. Jordan’s voice (which is one of my favourites in the scene) was on top form and the fact that Conor is taking lead vocals on more songs pleases me greatly. If you don’t know Conor’s other band, Cereal Box Heroes, then I seriously suggest you check them out. This was the best set I’ve ever seen SKIV play and, like I said, they seem to have taken things to a whole new level. There was a new maturity about them, they were slicker, they sounded amazing and it capped off a great day. If you’ve not checked out No Context Bangers yet then make sure you head to the INiiT Records Bandcamp page now.


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

Monday, 30 May 2022

Gig Review: Tree House Fire at New Cross Inn, 13/5/22


You know that when Be Sharp Promotions put on a ska and reggae show at the New Cross Inn that it’s going to be an evening full of great music, great times and great peoples. On Friday the 13th of May Tree House Fire were back in South London to play their Rocket album in full to celebrate its ten year anniversary. Along the with Tree House Fire, we had a stacked line-up to enjoy thanks to Zen Baseballbat, Till I’m Bones and Lo(u)ser.


We arrived at NXI quite early and used the time to catch up with our friends. It was nice to see a lot of people had arrived early to catch LA native Lo(u)ser open the show. Armed with just his electric guitar and a Nintendo-themed video projected behind him, I got the impression that not many people in the room knew what to expect from this performance. What we got was a fun, upbeat ska pop half an hour. This was one of the freshest and most creative sets I’ve seen at NXI in quite some time. Lo(u)ser (real named Chris Graue) quickly got the crowd on side and there was a lot of folk saying super positive things about the set when it was completed. There was a moment midway through the set where Chris left the stage and with an advert playing on the projector screen, before returning wearing just a pair of TMNT shorts and socks. I’m not sure why but he joked that he’s just a man with a guitar and that he needed to do something else as he’s just a man with a guitar. This was a very special treat to open the show and I’m glad I got to witness it.


Next up was the debut performance from Till I’m Bones. The band formed earlier this year and features Jak Coleman and Charlotte Corry, formerly of NXI favourites Just Say Nay. It would be super easy and extremely lazy to just say that Till I’m Bones are a continuation of Jak and Charlotte’s former band, which I understand to an extent as Jak has such a recognisable vocal and distinctive songwriting style there will be comparisons, but after getting to see them live it’s clear that this new project is a whole new beast – and I loved it. There’s a whole new intensity to the sound which I would assume is partly the influence of the bands other members, Beth (bass), Gary (guitar) and Aaron (drums). As mentioned, this was their first ever show as Till I’m Bones and my goodness they’ve set the standard very high for their future performances. What an absolute pleasure to witness what will be a big player in the UK ska punk scene in the very near future take their first steps into the world. Till I’m Bones have a handful of gigs all over the UK lined up already and I seriously suggest you get to one near you – what a band!


The penultimate support act of the evening were Zen Baseballbat. Despite being around forever now, this was astonishingly the band’s first ever time at New Cross Inn. Coming down from Manchester, it was nice to see a sizable crowd gathered to check them out, I would imagine it was the first time for a lot of people in attendance. For the next half hour or so we got to witness some great ska/new wave from an extremely watchable band. I’ve long said that ska bands have some of the best musicians in the DIY scene, this allows the band to play their songs perfectly whilst also having a dance around the stage. There was a real charm to the set which added to my enjoyment. Playing a set full of tracks from the newest album, Better Ways To Love & Offend, Zen Baseballbat showed there’s plenty of life in the long running band and look set to earn a whole new generation of fans.


Now it was time for the evening’s final act, Tree House Fire. Despite being all the way from Wales, Tree House Fire feel like a NXI band. They are absolutely loved in South London and return again and again. When it was announced that the five-piece would be playing their debut album Rocket in full, there was much excitement among the regulars at the venue who have been going to see them for years. The band first came to my attention long after Rocket was released so I didn’t have the same excitement that a lot of people had but was still looking forward to seeing one of the best live acts in the UK ska scene. As soon as they began playing the whole room began to sway, I looked at so many friends with big smiles on their faces as they sang and danced along with the band and I loved seeing it. Something that always impresses me whenever I see Tree House Fire is just how tight they are musically, they are some seriously talented musicians. Lead singer Sam oozes charisma on stage and commands the room throughout the set, they seriously have the crowd in the palm of their hand. With each song they play they get an even bigger reaction and it’s just an absolute pleasure to be in the room. This was another great set from Tree House Fire and I’m sure it won’t be long until the next one.


This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Album Review: Lose Your Delusion by A Wilhelm Scream (by Omar Ramlugon)


There’s always been something very special about A Wilhelm Scream’s records. The sheer amount of explosive riffing, shred-tastic solos and sharp, pointedly emotional but often surprisingly funny lyrics they manage to pack into each album is something quite inspiring. Arguably, this reached its high point on 2013’s Partycrasher, which incorporated even more technical metal soloing and musicianship, as well as some of their most nakedly confessional lyrics. But it’s been a long nine years since then, during which time they lost lead guitar player Mike Supina and found his replacement in the form of Senses Fail’s Jason Milbank.


With the band members now past forty, it could be understandable if Lose Your Delusion was a more sombre, reflective, slower record, especially given just how long it's taken to come together. But I’m happy to say that this isn’t what’s happened at all. The New Bedford quintet have come back out of the gate swinging with just as much fury and melody as ever before, finding a satisfying middle ground between Ruiner’s slightly poppier approach and Partycrasher’s near-metal bombast, with ‘The Enigma’ and ‘GIMMETHESHAKES’ exemplifying this splitting of the difference between those two periods of the band’s lifespan, with a ripping bass guitar solo on the latter. Lyrically, there seems to be a slightly more socio-political bite, with lines like ‘[...] And at the risk of getting sued: "Hey, ain't that America!"/ You can get shot or lick the boot. You choose’ catching you by surprise, or ‘Apocalypse Porn’s pretty unabashed screed against the United States’ continual failing of its people.

Elsewhere, ‘Yo Canada’ reminds of Strung Out’s skate punk melodic charge, while ‘Figure Eights In My Head’ is almost into ballad territory, a paean to old beloved friends. It seems like guitarist and vocalist Trevor Reilly has been given even more time to shine than before across Lose Your Delusion, his sweeter, more nasal delivery a fine counterpart to lead singer Nuno Pereira’s gut-level roar, while new string-slinger Milbank fits nicely into the group, taking a more understated approach compared to Supina’s fret pyrotechnics but still capable of some dazzlingly fast runs that will make your heart race.

‘Be One To No One’ is the album’s beating heart, a frank and candid commentary on wrestling with depression and stress set to furiously energetic melodic punk, but it also touches on the life affirming quality of your loved ones helping you through those difficult times, with lines like ‘But I don't feel like a waste / I'm no longer a drain [...] You couldn't matter more to me / And that ain't no lie’ as bracing as they are uplifting.

Lose Your Delusion is a welcome return from one the most talented and most sincere bands in punk rock. While not everything works as well as Partycrasher, the fact that the band are still willing to upend their apple cart this far into their career speaks volumes as to their artistry, as demonstrated by ‘Downtown Start II’ where Pereira drops his hardcore snarl for the verses, revealing a rich and smooth baritone singing voice almost reminiscent of Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan, and in the process adding yet another layer to one of the best songs on the album.

It’s a really good album, and if you’re already a Wilhelm fan then you will have undoubtedly already bought/streamed this by now. But for anyone with a nose for fast, melodic punk with finger-burning guitar solos and lyrics that range from snarky and biting to nakedly confessional, this is for you.

Stream and download Lose Your Delusion on Bandcamp.

Like A Wilhelm Scream on Facebook.

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Gig Review: Days N Daze at New Cross Inn, London 10/5/22 (by Emma Prew)


‘Folk’ punk is to me what ‘ska’ punk is to Colin – which, if you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know is a big deal. It was my entry into the expansive genre of punk rock as a whole and I still love the folkier side of punk music now. That being said, I’d never seen Houston, Texas, folk punk legends Days N Daze before and so, especially given how much I loved their 2020 album, Show Me The Blueprints, I was very excited when the opportunity arose to see them live – and at our favourite venue, as well!

It was a bit touch and go about whether we were actually going to be able to go to either of the two Days N Daze shows at the New Cross Inn, after the first night sold out before we got around to purchasing tickets and the second night followed suit soon after. Thankfully, due to Colin being more organised than me, we managed to get a couple of tickets for the original date via the Dice waiting list within a week or so of the event. A Tuesday night gig is not usually my favourite but I was excited for this one and, boy, it did not disappoint!


Opening the show and fresh off of the previous couple of Days N Daze gigs were Bristol’s favourite scrappy acoustic ska-folk punk band, Boom Boom Racoon. I’ve always really enjoyed seeing this trio live as their songs are a lot of fun and they always connect with the crowd so well – everyone feels part of the Boom Boom Racoon family. However, I must say that since the pandemic they really seem to have upped their game. We had a the pleasure of seeing them perform at Fishstock earlier this year and thought it was the best we’ve ever seen them. Well, at NXI on a Tuesday they managed to excel again. Classic tunes such as NHS (National Health Simpsons) and their cover of Boom Boom Boom go down a treat as always but it’s their newer songs like Fuck You Ashley that really shine. It was nice to see so many folks down early for the opening band and the Racoons certainly did a great job of getting everyone smiling and bopping away.


Next up was a band that I didn’t know much about but Colin had recently caught at MPF – The Infested. I know they had some guitar-based technical difficulties at the festival so he was looking forward to hearing how they’re supposed to sound. As it turns out, they sound very good! I don’t know why but I definitely thought that The Infested were more of a ska band – a ska band without horns, but still a ska band. There were hints of ska in there but it turned out they actually played more of a straight-up raw and heavier punk rock style. Obviously I don’t dislike ska, but it was a pleasant surprise to have imagined one thing and end up with something a little different. Not being familiar with the band, I can’t tell you what songs they played but it was all great. The Infested are sadly calling it a day soon (their last show was supposed to be a few days after this one but sadly the dreaded covid hit), which is a shame as they put on a great performance and I’d certainly go see them again.


And just like that it was time for the main event. Spirits – both the alcoholic and mood kind – were high and I for one was eagerly waiting for the band to finish sound-checking and commence with the show proper. As soon as Days N Daze burst into their set (with Fuck It!, I think… maybe), you could see just how happy they were to be there and that happiness carried into the crowd with people dancing, singing and, in the case of a select few, crowdsurfing almost immediately. Whitney wasted no time in voicing those feelings, stating how long they’d been waiting to be able to tour again and just how over the moon they were to finally be back in the UK, and London in particular, as well. It never goes unappreciated seeing how stoked a band are to be playing shows, particularly one from over seas – it definitely makes for a friendly and more down-to-earth, community vibe. Some might describe Days N Daze as scrappy or raw-sounding but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a hugely talented bunch of musicians and songwriters. I actually felt a bit ashamed that I hadn’t really brushed up on my lyrical knowledge before the show as everyone around me was singing their hearts out to every single word and I only managed the choruses of most. It did not hamper my enjoyment however – honestly, it was just super lovely to see everyone else connecting with the band so much. Whether it was older tracks such as Post Party Depression, Misanthropic Drunken Loser – complete with fun covers of Creep and Linoleum sandwiched into the middle – or songs from Show Me The Blueprints – Saboteurs being a particular highlight for me, it all went down a storm. The absolute highlight however had to be the final song, Self-Destructive Anthem. Now, if you’ve seen Days N Daze live before – or have watched them on YouTube – then you would have known what was going to happen with this last song but, alas, I did not know. For those unaware, the song has a bridge – ‘Why do I do this? Why?! Why do I do this to myself?’ – that is repeated many times throughout and when played live, various friends of the band and/or audience members make their way to the stage, or just in front of it, to sing that line with the band. DIY punk rock shows always have such a wonderful community feel and I can’t think of a more perfect way to represent this than with how Days N Daze ended their set. 


We left the New Cross Inn with big smiles on our faces and I didn’t even care about the late night / work early in the morning combo – this is one of those special gigs that was without a doubt worth it. Wholesome is probably not what comes to mind when you picture a ‘crust’ punk band but that is the vibe I got from my first DND show – and I loved it.

ps. Paul, please get them back soon.

This review was written by Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma.