Monday, 29 November 2021

Album Review: Fuck These Fuckin' Fascists by The Muslims (by Theo Martin-Herbert)

In what might be both one of the most important punk releases in a long time and a litmus test for your friends, The Muslims have put out one of the most necessarily divisive and deliciously corrosive punk albums with “Fuck these Fuckin' Fascists”.

This is an absolutely fearless release that remembers the key in making this kind of statement work – don't forget the music. Choruses so catchy you'll find yourself throwing these mantras out in your spare time and loving every minute of it, combined with some fantastic song titles and guitar tones more akin to razor wire you'll happily throw yourself into than anything that's come out for a while. I found myself enjoying this more than I ever hoped I would have based on the single released shortly before this.

You know you're onto a winner when you release something that angers the right people and this is exactly what this release does with the kind of confident and giddy energy people could only dream would accompany this. The conversation surrounding this, from what I've seen, seeks to reclaim punk as something to educate without fear or needing to pander to the whataboutisms and well actuallys that normally seek to dominate and neuter any criticism. A defiant and important release, I can't recommend this enough and I hope you all check it out. Whether it challenges you or you agree, it's a great time and is the kind of venom we need.

Stream and download Fuck These Fuckin' Fascists on Bandcamp here.

Like The Muslims on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Top Tens: Craig "C-Rage" Darran's Top Ten (Eleven) Bands He's Never Seen

If you're reading this, I've finally seen my thousandth band. Little did I know when I started my infamous spreadsheet back in September 2004 that I'd still be using it 17 years later to document hundreds of acts per year. Heck, in 2004 I was so green I don't think I even realised there were more than a thousand bands! It's been a long road, in the last 17 years I've seen some truly bucket list sets and musical greats, I've seen history being made and stages being destroyed. I've seen legendary bands, terrible bands, unexpected reunions, countless album shows, three "last ever" Capdown shows and six or seven different line-ups of Reel Big Fish. I've made life-long friendships, smashed three cameras, been bruised, muddied, scarred and soaked. I have, without a doubt, loved every second of it.

So, what's left to do now, I hear you ask? After 1000, who's left to see that's worth seeing? Well, I guess the short answer is, there's always more bands! But thanks to time, deaths, career changes and break-ups, my spreadsheet will never be as full as I'd like. Below are eleven bands that I really want to see but probably (and, in most cases, definitely) will never get to add to my list.

Queen (with Freddie Mercury)

Let's get the obvious ones out of the way first. Queen. Over the years I've managed to catch a few surprise appearances from Brian May and Roger Taylor but never (and obviously) the full ensemble. When I was first introduced to classic rock music by my parents as a child, I had plenty of acts to choose from – Thin Lizzy, Dire Straits, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, to name a few. In those early days, no car journey was complete without a blast of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, but what really set Queen apart from the other classic rock bands was Freddie's powerful voice, charisma, and the sheer theatrics of his performance. Seeing videos of Freddie perform in front of the Live Aid audience and watching the crowd eat from the palm of his hand was mesmerising – this was what it was like to be in the presence of a true Rock God. I'm not normally a fan of big stadium acts but I'd have loved a chance to have experienced that for myself.


I think everyone of a certain age that listens to alternative music has a soft spot for Nirvana. When I was first discovering modern rock as a teenager my neighbour gave me a bootlegged copy of Nirvana's "best songs" which I listened to obsessively until the CD died. Compared to the classic rock that I'd been used to, Nirvana felt heavier and hit harder whilst also feeling more personal and intimate. The story of Kurt's life as the reluctant rock star and conspiracy theories surrounding his death only added to my intrigue. As a fellow lefty, Kurt was a big influence on my guitar playing with a DVD of MTV Unplugged becoming my go-to training resource when I first started learning – almost 20 years later I'm pretty sure I can still play all of Nevermind. My first ever music festival was Reading which was well known to have been host to the largest (and last) UK performance the band ever played back in 1992. In front of the main stage, I could only imagine what that last gig would have been like. If anyone ever figures out time travel, that'd be my first stop on my way back to the Jurassic Period.

Avril Lavigne (Early 2000s, before they replaced her with Melissa)

When I was at college between 2002–2004, I lived close enough to class to be able to spend my free periods (and sometimes lunches) at home. I used to put on the Freeview music channels like The Hits and TMF and watch what was current whilst eating instant noodles. The channels were mostly filled with terrible pop (like Atomic Kitten's awful cover of ‘The Tide Is High’) so I'd switch between them trying to find rock songs or fun music videos (like Jr Senior's Move Your Feet). It was during this time that I discovered Offspring, Muse, System of A Down, Incubus and a whole bunch of other bands that in the years following I would see at various gigs and festivals. It was also during that time that I discovered ‘Complicated’, ‘Sk8r Boi’ and eventually the album Let Go which I absolutely loved. Unfortunately, I had to keep that love a secret because back in those days it was uncool to admit to liking Avril Lavigne. Thanks to that, I never saw her live when I had the chance, which I now really regret. I haven't really kept up with many of her more recent songs or albums but whenever I hear anything from that first or second album, I'm instantly transported back to those college years.

Crush 40

I imagine this is probably the most obscure band on the list. Crush 40 play high tempo, technical hard rock. After discovering that I'd been listening to Bad Religion and Offspring for years in Crazy Taxi without realising, I decided to revisit other video game soundtracks from my childhood and discovered Crush 40 – the band responsible for all the Sonic Adventure songs. Crush 40 are a musical partnership between Jun Senoue a composer for Sega video games (as far back as Sonic the Hedgehog 3) and Johnny Gioeli, the vocalist of 90s hard rock band Hardline. They originally formed to record the main theme for Sonic Adventure but have subsequently gone on to record most of the music for all following Sonic video games and spin offs. Thanks to Sonic fandom, they've performed live on a number of occasions, and I was lucky enough to see Jun Senoue play a full band show at the Garage in late 2019 (which was amazing but it only covered their instrumental tracks). Hopefully one day I'll get to see them both together.

Ten Foot Pole

Of all the bands on this list, Ten Foot Pole probably feels like the one I'm most likely going to see at some point – I've been begging Paul Smith of BeSharp Promotions to book them for years! Back when I was first discovering punk was my favourite type of music, I spontaneously bought Punk-O-Rama Volume 3 (mostly because of the word "punk") and through it I was introduced to my first batch of Epitaph bands. I really loved the song 'A.D.D' towards the end of the comp and soon afterwards purchased the Ten Foot Pole album, Unleashed. I loved the tempo and the album's themes of loss and alienation but mostly the fact I had a new favourite band that no one else knew about. I soon tracked down more Ten Foot Pole albums but they never really grabbed me like the first, and not long afterwards I discovered the Descendents so that was the end of that. I might not listen much anymore, but they'll always be my gateway to less mainstream music and I'm surprised that after twenty years I've still not seen them.

The Weakerthans

The first Weakerthans song I heard was called ‘A Plea From A Cat Named Virtute’ on the Epitaph comp Punk-O-Rama Volume 9. A song about a person dealing with deep depression told from the perspective of their adoring but confused cat – I'm pretty sure I cried. I instantly bought two albums, Left And Leaving and Reconstruction Site but was left pretty indifferent by them. I put this down to discovering them quite early in my musical taste's evolution, at a time where all I wanted to hear were fast, overdriven guitars – The Weakethans were just a little too peaceful for me. Fast forward to my mid to late 20s, a random conversation with someone lead to me discovering that Virtute had a sequel song called ‘Virtute The Cat Explains Her Departure’ – probably the most depressing song ever told from a cat's perspective. I listened to it and cried again. Now with a more developed taste I was able to listen to Weakerthans again with fresh ears and damn, they're such a great band. ‘Aside’ from Left And leaving is absolutely one of my favourite songs ever and I'm so cross with myself that it took so long to appreciate them properly. As far as I can tell, they haven't toured since 2013 and are on indefinite hiatus. I do hope I'll get to see them one day.

Farewell Continental

To those that know me, it's no secret that Motion City Soundtrack are my favourite band. Imagine how happy I was in 2012 when I discovered that their vocalist, Justin Pierre had a lesser-known side project called Farewell Continental. A far less poppy outfit than Motion City Soundtrack, FC play a style I can only describe as experimental, sonic garage rock. Justin is joined on vocals by the band's keyboardist Kari Gray and the two duet together with lyrics far less personal but more metaphorical than MCS, covering a range of topics from dreaming to war. Farewell Continental don't seem to have performed together since February 2012 and with Justin working on his solo career and a reunion tour with Motion City Soundtrack, I don't see them reforming again soon, if at all. I was lucky enough to catch Justin perform two or three Farewell Continental songs on his solo tour a couple of years ago, but I'd love the opportunity to see them tackled by the full band.

Dance Hall Crashers

I believe the Dance Hall Crashers were one of my last CD purchases before I moved away from solid copies to streaming. I'm not really sure how I discovered them either, maybe it was an early Spotify recommendation? Either way, when I heard the dual harmonies of Karina Denike and Elyse Rogers over high energy, joyous ska punk I was sold. After a little research I also discovered that the band was started at the famous Gilman Street venue in Berkeley California by none other than Operation Ivy and Rancid members Matt Freeman and Tim Armstrong. I have to admit I prefer the horn accompanied songs from their earlier albums to the more punk rock inspired songs of their later releases but as a whole their music is solid, catchy and pretty unique thanks to the aforementioned vocal harmonies. I absolutely love the song ‘Skinhead BBQ’! It makes me wonder why they never took off to the same extent as some of their Gilman contemporaries. DHC haven't performed together since 2008 with no sign of a reunion on the horizon, though you've probably heard Karina sing and play keys on some of the more recent NOFX releases.


I remember back in 2014, Paul Smith was adamant that I listen to his latest musical discovery Masked Intruder, and after seeing them live at Groezrock in 2015 I was completely hooked. One of their songs, Heart Shaped Guitar, incorporates vocals from guest singer Maura Weaver whose voice I instantly loved. After a little YouTube search I discovered their band Mixtapes, and the songs 'Hope Is For People' and 'Bad Parts'. Mixtapes began in Cincinnati, Ohio, as an acoustic musical partnership between Weaver and Ryan Rockwell before expanding to a full pop punk band with acoustic elements. I enjoyed the duets between the two singers and the stream of consciousness, introspective almost conversational lyrics about all manner of subjects. Despite being quite literal, I always read the lyrics as learning to be ok with yourself whilst accepting the rut you've found yourself in, something I heavily related to in my late 20s. Mixtapes went on indefinite hiatus in 2014 (though they've definitely played some reunion shows since) with little hope of there ever being another UK performance. Ryan and Maura have since moved onto other musical projects, one of which, Ogikubo Station, I was lucky enough to catch at the New Cross Inn a few years back. If only I'd discovered Mixtapes a couple years earlier, I could have seen them play Hevy Fest 2012 (which I was at!).

Atom And His Package

During lockdown I moved in with my partner, Kate. Without gigs, or anything social happening, we spent much of our free time building Lego sets, like, a LOT of Lego sets. It was while building Lego that she began to introduce me to lots of old bands she loved. Eventually our main Lego soundtrack would become Hair:Debatable, the live album and final show by synth punk legend (and possibly the godfather of Nerdcore) Atom And His Package. Atom, also known as Adam Goren, has played in a number of punk bands over the years but is best known for his one-man-band, Atom And His Package. As Atom, Goren plays synthesisers and guitar and produces music that sounds a bit like punk played through a SNES or Megadrive. Lyrically he's clearly very intelligent but often chooses humorous subjects, like ‘I'm Downright Amazed At What I Can Destroy With Just A Hammer’ and ‘Lord It's Hard To Be Happy When You're Not Using The Metric System’. He occasionally touches on politics, and regularly highlights the faults and hypocrisies of less self-aware members of the punk and metal communities, with choruses like "Oh, I get it. Anarchy means that you litter". Atom stopped touring in 2003 and has since become a Physics and Chemistry teacher in Pennsylvania. Although he's played a couple of reunion shows at Fest, it's pretty doubtful we'll ever see him play the UK again.

Minor Threat

Thought I'd save a big one until last. Over the years I've been lucky enough to see all manner of bands from the early years of punk, The Damned, Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys to name but a few, but one band I'll never get to add to that list is Minor Threat. Forming in 1980 in Washington DC and only lasting for three years, the band built upon the emerging hardcore style pioneered by Bad Brains and Black Flag by combining the aggression and high energy of the two with an incredibly strong moral code and DIY ethic. The band produced some of the most influential hardcore songs of all time and even spawned the Straight Edge subculture thanks to singer Ian MacKaye's lyrics, in the song of the same name, about his personal abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Eventually, MacKaye's moral code would lead to the break-up of the band, citing the violence at hardcore shows (as well as disagreements in musical direction) as his major reason for disbanding. The members of the band would end up continuing their musical careers in a number of other influential bands, such as Fugazi, Bad Religion and Dag Nasty. I've seen plenty of fuzzy videos of Minor Threat playing live on YouTube, it's probably the closest I'll ever get to being in the pit – it’s probably safer that way.

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Album Review: Perfect by Mannequin Pussy (by Theo Martin-Herbert)

Sometimes it pays to be fearless and put out everything you can be in one release, a gamble that pays off with aplomb on Perfect from Mannequin Pussy.

It's been a long time since I've heard an EP that shows this much range, kept completely consistent and cohesive in quality and execution. Opening with the amazing grunge ballad 'Control', the group deftly work their way through a stunning variety of sounds and emotions, touching on the intense and fuzzed up 'Pigs Is Pigs' to the ambient pop of 'Darling' – hitting all they can in between.

The sheer variety on display lends itself to the sounds as well, with some raucous fuzz driven tones from the guitars showcasing the gritty production on display, something that I think helps keep the slower tracks edge. This strange consistency is definitely one of the most impressive things on display here, something to keep the listener hooked and pumped throughout. I'm so excited to hear what they do next based off of this, so if you need something fuzzed up and angry but with enough introspective moments to keep your head together, this is definitely a release worth checking out. You could say it's perfect.

Stream and download Perfect on Bandcamp here.

Like Mannequin Pussy on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Monday, 22 November 2021

Gig Review: Burnt Tapes at Old Blue Last, London 13/11/21

I was thinking the other day, something nice that has come from the all the bands not being able to play gigs for so long is that they’re all now back doing comeback shows. Every gig has felt like a big reunion with everyone in great spirits. It was now time for London’s Burnt Tapes to make their long awaited return to the stage with the help of Be Sharp Promotions. The whole gig felt like it would be a great big friends fest and that feeling was amplified with the addition of Triple Sundae and Katie MF.

The gig would be taking place at the Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, a venue I hadn’t been to in years. Leaving Liverpool Street Station we were really taken aback by just how many people there were everywhere. You don’t get this many people in New Cross. After getting some food in Spitalfields market, we made our way to the venue and once we were inside there was a nice feeling of familiarity to be surrounded by all the pals from the New Cross scene rather than all those pesky Shoreditch trendy types.

The always absolutely delightful Katie MF would be opening the night. Katie was playing solo acoustic this evening and amazingly, despite seeing her play a lot over the past couple of years, this was my first time seeing her without the band. Something I believe Katie is very good at is tailoring her songs for the type of gig she’s playing. On this occasion, she played more of an upbeat and rowdy set of songs than she would perhaps would at a folkier type of gig. The set mostly consisted of unrecorded songs that are getting me super hyped about her next release, whenever it may be. Something I’ve noticed in her songwriting is that her songs are getting more uplifiting. Her previous release Everything Trouble Meant was an EP full of sad break up songs but the direction she’s going now seems to suggest there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel where everything will be fine. It’s a message I love. She finished a glorious set with a song that Emma thinks is titled Set It Alight which got such a fantastic reaction from the Old Blue Last crowd. The best way to start the night.

Next to take to the stage were Triple Sundae. Before the supports for the gig were even announced I think most people would have assumed that Triple Sundae would be playing. The two bands have been playing together in the same London DIY scene since their beginnings and have become great friends over the years. It was only right that Triple Sundae played this gig. The band themselves had already played their triumphant comeback show a month earlier at Till The Fest but this didn’t dampen anyone’s excitement to see them take to the stage. I said after the Till The Fest show that it was perhaps my favourite time ever seeing them. I take that back. This was my favourite time seeing Triple Sundae. Since coming back, there seems to be a new found enthusiasm within Hassan, Zandro, Mike and Andy and they have really smashed their sets. The smiles on each member of the band’s faces was just lovely to see and they were putting everything they had into the performance. I can’t think of many bands that get the kind of reaction from their fans as Triple Sundae do. It really is a case of everyone in the room is in it together. So many times during the set Hassan just stepped away from the microphone and let the crowd take the lead vocals. It’s something you love to see. Something I always enjoy when I see Triple Sundae play is how they make a point to shout out everyone in the room who has helped and supported them over the years. The love that comes from the crowd is always reciprocated right back by the band. It’s how it should be. Another stunning set by Triple Sundae

It was now time for Burnt Tapes and the room was absolutely buzzing. This was their first London headline show since their album launch show for Never Better back in 2019. After setting up their gear, they then left the stage and some traditional Greek music began to blare over the Old Blue Last speakers. It really gave the set a big-time feeling and really added to the level excitement throughout the room. The band soon returned to the stage and kicked off their set with Getitgotitgood and Drift Champ ’16. From then on, the next forty five minutes was filled with big sing-alongs, crowd surfs and stage dives – and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. The set was full of songs from Never Better and their 2020 release Grower as well as a couple of special covers. With each song the reaction seemed to get better and better. I fully expected them to finish their set with Yuzi but they decided to include it early in the set. I got extra excited when they played Dirt Roads, as I’ve been asking them to play it for months and was it great to finally see them play it again. The two pronged vocal assault from Phil and Pan throughout the set sounded as good as ever and Tone and Jordan’s rhythm section proves once again that they are one of the best in the scene. After Dirt Roads, the band slowed things down with Lost In Transit. Midway through the song Phil decided to put down his guitar and jumped into the crowd to be surfed around the room before getting put safely back down on the stage. The Burnt Tapes have played a few Menzingers cover sets in the past and treated the Old Blue Last to renditions of I Don’t Wanna Be An Asshole Anymore (where Zandro of Triple Sundae sang lead vocals) and After The Party. Both went down an absolute storm. After the covers, the band finished the set off with Things Get Weird where Tone joined the crowd on the floor to start the song and then Don’t Make Me Play Bocelli. What an epic ending to not just an incredible set but a wonderful night.

I think that when I look back at this gig in the weeks, months and years to come, it will be one of my favourites ever. With everything that’s gone on over the past eighteen months this gig seemed to mean so much to so many people. The level of love in the room was something truly special to be a part of. As we left the venue (and walked awkwardly through the weird hip hop clone swaying dance party that was happening downstairs) we were on a massive high, absolutely buzzing with a night of brilliant moments replaying in our minds. I couldn’t help but think about how much the Tapes, as well as Triple Sundae, would’ve smashed The Fest if things had worked out better. These two bands, as well as Katie MF, deserve all the success in the world, not just because of their brilliant music but because they are amazing people.

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

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Top Tens: Damon Workman of Bypolar Records’s Top Ten Influences

These are the ten top influences, not necessarily in order, for Damon Workman – the President/Co-founder Bypolar Records.

My Parents: Not to be lame but my parents taught me more about being punk, without being punks, than anyone or any thing else. They taught me to question authority, think for myself, stand up for those who couldn’t, to be my own person, and – above all that – being kind and caring for the rest of the community was what it’s all about. My entire existence in the world of punk is based on this.

Fight Club: More the movie than the book. I’ve been told it’s a red flag for a lot of folks. For me it’s always been about reinventing oneself through the destruction of ego. Rejecting what’s holding us back in favor of what is truly important.

The art of Vincent Van Gogh: The more I learn about Van Gogh the more impact his art has on me. The colors and textures are simply amazing, and I find something new each time I see one of his paintings. A sad, troubled soul fighting his own depression and inner demons in an effort to bring something beautiful into the world.

Bob Mould: Since my very first listen, his guitar has been the “ideal” in my mind. It is perfect. I listen in awe to everything he’s done, from the poor quality recordings of the SST years up to present. He’s simply amazing

The Minutemen: These guys inspired my love for all things MathRock. In my mind they are responsible for just a ton of bands I came to love later like Jawbox, NoMeansNo, and, even, At The Drive In.

Alkaline Trio: They get a lot of flak from some, but you’d be hard pressed to find better writing of dark themed catchy pop songs.

Bad Religion: The fact that they’re still slugging it out after 40 years I think says a lot. I listened in high school and over the years my love for them grew. I’ve seen them more than any other band, and still keep buying tickets.

Mike Park: He is quite simply the man. I feel like I need to write a long diatribe about all the ways he makes life better but I’m going to leave it at “he’s the man”. Just an exceptional and inspiring human being.

The Replacements:
They and Bob Mould are two of the biggest musical influences on me. Westerberg is one of the best writers of all time, drunk or sober. They always delivered the best damn songs album after album right up until the final track on All Shook Down.

The Las Vegas punk scene: I’m not sure if I should name names here or not because I wouldn’t want to leave anybody out – but the scene in Vegas is like no other. When I first moved there I felt immediately welcomed by the community and like I was a part of it from my very first show. They are fiercely loyal and supportive, and show after show you see the same faces coming to give a boost to whoever is playing. Quality bands, quality people, and the reason I will always consider Vegas my home no matter where I may live. Inspiring enough that I carry the goal of building and creating something similar whatever city I move to next. Cannot say enough positive things about the desert dwellers there, making great music and just being amazing individuals.

Like Bypolar Records on Facebook here and check out their released on Bandcamp here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Album Review: Empty Plinths by Grand Collapse (by Lara Roberts)

This third instalment from Grand Collapse takes its name from the emotive scenes witnessed with the tearing down of the Colston statue in Bristol. Empty Plinths leaves you with hardly any time to catch a breath between songs – this itself reflecting many of the themes explored in the album, including race and class divide, as well as animal and human rights. There is a hint of the melodic guitar from previous albums, though with a more thrashy, metal sound to it, which can clearly be heard on Without Let or Hindrance and Empty Plinths.

With the opening song, Waves, we are taken on an emotional journey of the suffering of the refugee. The sadness and struggle with every twist and turn of a journey to an “elusive haven”, only to be sneered at by “megalomaniacs and jingoists” upon arrival. Waves reads as a short story, with no happy ending.

More intense images are summoned with the horror of Amygdala. A brutal, first-person description of the suffering caused by the impact of a nuclear bomb. “Feel the burning from the fallout, faces melting in the street, out of breath from the chase”. Glenn’s galloping drums serve as a backdrop to the harrowing images generated, with Jon’s thrashy guitar licks creating the impression of a collapsing street. The brutal imagery brought with these lyrics is as intense as the music, forcing us to not only listen, but to also dwell in the pain, sadness and confusion.

The pace of Claret Thirst reflects the subject of the song – an animal running for their life, grass, flowers, trees a blur as they try in vain to escape the advancing gunman on their tail. But this song is also about anger. Anger at those who kill these creatures for fun, anger that these killers use terms like “preservation” and “safety of breeds” to placate the public when questioned about their reasoning behind their actions. They are being called out as the bloodthirsty savages they are. Spare me the bullshit. It’s impossible to not feel the emotion and frustration in the delivery of the song.

Empty Plinths is as unapologetic as it is angry, aggressive and honest, with a fitting tribute to Icons Of Filth as a hidden bonus at the end of the record. Most of this album was written during 2020, with many of the social tensions experienced during that year being projected through the writing. You can feel the anger, you can hear it. And with such honest and descriptive lyrics, you can almost see it.

A brilliant third album from a much loved band who show no interest in slowing down.

Stream and download Empty Plinths on Bandcamp here.

Like Grand Collapse on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lara Roberts.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Gig Review: Andy B And The World "The First One Album Launch" at New Cross Inn, 6/11/21

You all must know about Andy B And The World by now, right? The project started by former Fandangle and New Riot bass player Andy Baker, where he travelled the world meeting up with musicians to put together a huge album featuring over 170 different people? If you don’t know it yet then I highly suggest checking out Andy’s YouTube page and learning all about the project and then reading our review of their 2021 debut album The First One here.

For obvious reasons that I’m bored of explaining, the launch party for the album was delayed until November the 6th, put on by our friends Be Sharp Promotions at the New Cross Inn. The day soon came around and I was excited. Not just to hear some amazing songs but to see how Andy B And The World would work in a live setting. But before that we had four awesome support acts to watch.

First up was Filthy Militia. Before the gig I was trying to remember the last time I saw Filthy Militia live and I worked out it was actually Halloween 2019, so this was well overdue. The five piece took to the stage and started with Little Sister, the final song from their debut EP Innocent Until Proven Filthy. The rest of the set was then comprised of songs from their upcoming new EP, Coping Mechanism, which is due to be released in the early part of 2022 on Pookout Records. I was seriously impressed with these songs and felt that they really showed a great amount of progress from the band. Mixing ska, punk, reggae and even a bit of dub together so seamlessly, it was really great to see. There was a moment in the set where the band’s frontman, guitarist and all around friendly giant announced that this was the cheesy part of the opening band’s set where they encourage the crowd to participate in a sing along. We expected some easy “whoa-ohs” or some “la-las” but no, Frosty taught us an entire chorus to sing along to. Filthy Militia were the perfect start for the night and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at the end of the month, back at NXI for Frosty’s birthday gig.

Next up were NXI favourites Lead Shot Hazard, who were back at the Inn for the first time since September 2019. I would guess that this is the longest they’ve not played the venue since they formed. That was also the last time I saw the band which, again, is too long. Something I’ve noticed a lot with all the bands I’ve seen since gigs have come back is just how happy every band looks to have had the opportunity to play live again. The joy on the bands’ faces is such a lovely thing to see. The six piece had been down in Hastings the evening before supporting Call Me Malcolm and 3dBs Down at The Pig so it was no surprise by how tight they were. I’m always super impressed with how good Lead Shot Hazard’s horn section is whenever I see them. They add so much to the band’s live show whether they are blasting out some killer horn riffs or dancing on the stage or – at times – in the crowd. The band know how to have a lot of fun, this is showcased no more than when they play a cover of New Found Glory’s My Friends Over You. During the song it had me thinking, gosh I’m getting old. The ska bands I grew up with covered 80s songs. These days the current crop of ska bands are covering songs that I loved when they were first released 15–20 years ago. The band finished with my favourite song off of their latest album Fires To Find Our Friends, Between Hell And High Water. The chorus of “we light fires to find our friends” felt even more apt after not being able to see so many of my favourite people for so long.

Following Lead Shot Hazard were Roshambo. Roshambo are a new skacore band with a load of familiar faces in the band. The six piece feature members of The Junk, Faintest Idea, Ducking Punches, The JB Conspiracy, Blag and Where’s Babylon? – this is a skacore super group. With the group of people that was gathered on the stage there’s no surprise that Roshambo were incredibly tight, you would’ve never known that this was only the band’s second ever show. Lead by the incredible dual vocals of Jake and Tom, energy filled the room as soon as they started their set. I love bands that have two lead singers especially when they work as in-sync as these two gentlemen. The two voices come together wonderfully. So far, Roshambo have only released two singles to the world but somehow each song of the set felt like a familiar friend and kept me transfixed to the stage. They had the whole room invested in the performance which is so impressive given the newness of the band. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a new ska band who have caught me like Roshambo did in this set and I’m already desperate to see them some more. Hopefully their commitments with their other bands won’t prevent them from playing a lot more in the future. If you’re not on the Roshambo train yet, it’s time to get on board.

The penultimate band of the evening was Cartoon Violence, a much more established band in the UK ska scene. This was my first time seeing the Welsh two-tone act and I didn’t really know what to expect. What I encountered was a super energetic band that wrote brilliant ska pop songs. It didn’t take long for the band to get New Cross moving and having a great big knees up. The band tore through their set, trying to squeeze as many songs as possible into their time slot. This resulted in a fast and free flowing set that barely gave the audience a chance to stop. The band’s lead singer and keyboard player in particular stood out to me. He was (in the kindest possible way) a maniac behind the keys. I have no idea how he managed to play his keyboard properly whilst singing and dancing frantically. The gentleman is a seriously talented individual. I don’t know much about the band’s music to really talk about what they played but it certainly put a big smile on my face throughout the set and was a wonderful choice to finish warming the crowd up for Andy B And The World.

My questions about how Andy B And The World would work in a live setting were about to be answered. Basically, Andy had put together a band for the night, all of whom I assume took part in the album in some way, and then they also had some special guest singers lined up to sing the songs that they sang on on the album. I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before they started the set, but the band would be playing The First One from start to finish. This meant that they started the set with the awesome Black & Blue. I believe this was also the first song that Andy B released to the world from this project. The gig immediately became a party with so much joyous dancing and singing along immediately. Andy took the lead vocal duties for the first couple of songs as unfortunately the person who was scheduled to sing the songs couldn’t make the gig due to illness. Bass player Sam also took some vocals duties to help Andy out as his voice was sore due to all the practising and talking to so many friends at the gig. Among the guest vocalists who were in attendance were Al from [Spunge], Andy’s former Fandangle and New Riot band mate Tommy, Aaron from Make It Better Later, Dick Narnia and Sash from Cartoon Violence. I did worry if the constant guests joining the stage would ruin the flow of the set but it worked really well. It seemed extremely well thought out. Which is not surprising given that Andy B organised an album with a million people on – he’s a logistics genius! There were some breaks from The First One. First being the band covering Frank Turner’s Recovery just because Andy really likes singing the song and the second being a song from the next Andy B album where they were joined by Jake and Tom of Roshambo for a track that sounds amazing. Something I really enjoyed about The First One is the variety of sounds on the album. I guess that’s what will happen when you have that many different people working on a project. This variety worked so well in a live setting as well. The set had something for everyone and left everyone feeling with such a warm and joyful feeling. I don’t know how often Andy B And The World will be able to play gigs but if you get the chance to see them I seriously suggest that you take it. It’s a big and ambitious project that’s come together amazingly. I can’t wait for The Second One.

This review was written by Colin Clark.