Friday, 28 June 2019

Gig Review: Red City Radio at New Cross Inn, London 21/6/19

Last summer, Red City Radio made their first appearance at South London's New Cross Inn and it was one of the gigs of the year. Last week, thanks to the fine folk of Be Sharp Promotions the Oklahoman four piece were back as part of their European and UK tour. Joining Red City Radio were tour supports Jake & The Jellyfish, local heroes Burnt Tapes and new band Youths. This was going to be a fun Friday night.

Youths are a four piece from Redhill who describe themselves as pop punk/rock band on the wrong side of thirty. Personally I'd say they are on the better side of thirty, but I'm old as well. This was only the band’s second gig and arguably their first ‘proper’ one. You could tell from their performance though that they had plenty of experience playing on stage and they delivered a slick performance. It was nice to see that a decent sized crowd had gathered at the New Cross Inn and Youths clearly impressed the room. I was particularly impressed with guitarist and lead singer Max's vocals, brilliantly jumping between clean and raspy vocals as well as the occasional scream. A top new band who I'm sure I will see much more of in the coming months and years.

Jake & The Jellyfish were next to take to the New Cross stage. The Leeds quartet have evolved a lot over the years, going from a folky punk band to a rawer sounding punk style. With this new raw sound there seems to be an added intensity to their live performances which I really enjoyed. On this occasion playing a set mostly comprised of songs from last year’s Long In Winters as well as a brand new one, the band always deliver live. Something that's even more impressive is that they seem to have had a slightly different line up every time I've seen them. Jake & The Jellyfish are among a number of UK bands who are really starting to hit their peak and have some very exciting things ahead of them. Finishing with 23 from 2015 album Dead Weight, it's always great to see Jake & The Jellyfish. Jake also has a fantastic new podcast named Desert Island Punks which you should go and check out here.

The first time I saw the Burnt Tapes it was as a last minute support act for Red City Radio at The Windmill in Brixton in 2015. I remember falling in love with them that night and saw so much potential in these guys. Four years later, Burnt Tapes were back supporting Red City Radio but under different circumstances. They have grown into what I think is the best punk band in the country, quickly gaining new fans with each release and every show they play. Now they were supporting RCR as a band that are very close to being a bona-fide headliner themselves. I'm pretty sure a decent amount of people were at the New Cross Inn particularly to see them and RCR was a nice added bonus. As soon the band started we were treated to another superb Burnt Tapes set. Of course it was great, I can't remember a time when they haven't been great. At this point it is getting hard for me to review them and not just sound the same but their songs are brilliant and they always get such a positive reaction from the crowd. It's fun watching the band all interact with each other on stage, they're so in sync with each other and this really adds to the band’s presence on stage. For me, Burnt Tapes have hit the early potential and far and away exceeded all expectations. It's surely not long now until they're headlining venues like NXI themselves and selling a lot of tickets.

The Inn was now a bit of a sweat box so we went outside for some cool air before Red City Radio. When we went back in, the room was packed so we made do with standing at the back of the room and having a sing and a dance rather than being right down the front of the stage. The front is where the real hardcore folk were however, who went completely nuts throughout the set. I can only imagine that there was a lake of sweat by the stage, come the end of the night – it was a warm one. Red City Radio are one of the most effortlessly cool bands on stage in the world at the moment, lead singer Garrett Dale in particular oozes with charisma and adds so much more to a song when it's played live. Starting out with Two Notes Shy Of An Octave, Two Out Of Three Ain't Rad and Two For Flinching (yup, all the twos), it didn't take long at all for the band to have the crowd in the palm of their hand. They continued to completely slay the crowd for what was almost an hour and a half as they played banger after banger. Other highlights were Pretend Kings, Electricity, a fantastic cover of Welcome To Paradise by Green Day and – what will probably forever be my highlight of an RCR set – Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You, it's such a powerful and uplifting song. Red City Radio are one of my favourite live bands and it's always exciting when they come over. I'm already looking forward to the next time (which will be with Hot Water Music and Spanish Love Songs at the Underworld in November!). What a fun night we had.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

CPRW Playlist: June 2019

CPRW Playlist: Here's what Brett, Dan, Emma, Lee, Omar, Richard, Robyn and myself have been listening to this June.

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Gig Review: Fever 333 at the Electric Ballroom, Camden 18/6/19 (by Lee Morton)

Tuesday 18th June 2019 – mark the date because it’s when Fever 333 truly exploded. Yes, I know that they’ve been recording/touring since 2017. During the last tour they just had their debut EP and a few unreleased tracks but now, with the incredible debut full length under their belts as well, the setlist has been bolstered and bulges at the seams with righteous power and a sure fire attitude that is converting fans in vast numbers.

With no support bands, the anticipation had been building from the opening doors with regular chants of “333” being yelled out by an expectant crowd. Arriving like an air raid warning of the bombardment to follow, the intro tape announcing the band’s arrival to stage saw an increase in the volume which only magnified once the band dived head first into the nu-metal explosion of “Burn It”, one of just many stunning tracks off of the “Strength In Numb333rs” album. The band, Jason Aalon Butler (vocalist), Stephen Harrison (guitar) and Aric Improta (drums), are like mini hadron colliders careering around the stage, exploding frequently and raising the energy in the room.

The Beastie Boys-esque hardcore of “Only One” demands more from the crowd which is returned ten-fold before one of the loudest cheers of the night for impassioned anthem “Made An America”, whipping the crowd into a frenzy of crowd surfers and mosh pits. Fan favourite “Animal” follows and you can barely hear Jason as the crowd are singing along so loud, creating a spectacular display of unity between the band and audience.

The singalong intro of “One of Us” is equally loud before the pulsing, staccato beats and angry laced delivery absolutely crush the room. During one-point Jason encourages the crowd to crouch down, before jumping up again, and I know this has been done a million times by millions of bands but in the right hands it’s still an epic sight.

A slightly indulgent drum off between the band members gives everyone a moment to catch breath before a heartfelt, emotional heavy “Inglewood” shows that Fever 333 can be just us powerful when displaying their fragile side. This they continue with the equally passionate “Am I Here”, culminating with Jason’s air piercing screams.

“Prey for Me” raises the energy levels back up, turning their ire on police brutality and corruption in waves of hardcore breakdowns before side-stepping into rapped verses and electronica but, despite the abundance of styles and influences, the unifying call to arms of the lyric “you’re not the only one that feels like the only one” holds everything together.

After an aptly named “Out of Control”, they close the set with the politically charged “The Innocent” – tackling the issue of US police shootings. The crowd take on the role of choir, singing in unison, as Jason takes on the role of fiery pulpit preacher converting the amassed congregation.

There’s a short interlude, during which constant cries of “we want more” and “333” echo around the room before a maelstrom of white noise and static greets the band’s return for an encore, running through the hard-hitting “We’re Coming In” which once again takes aim at police brutality. Stripped of subtlety, it’s a direct punch to the face that will leave you staggering against the ropes before they deliver the knock-out of final song, “Hunting Season”. It may be lacking Travis Barker (who features on the debut EP) but the simple drum beat and synths along with Jason alternating between rapped vocals and raw screams make it a fitting climax.

With another UK tour booked for November this year, take this last chance to see this incendiary band in a relatively small room because this fever is catching.

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Top Tens: Top Ten Bands To See At Polite Riot Festival 2019

It's the second edition of South London punk rock festival Polite Riot this weekend. Put together by the fine gentlemen from Be Sharp Promotions and Umlaut Records and taking place at the New Cross Inn, the festival brings together some of the very best new bands in UK punk rock along with some established favourites and some big names from overseas. As is tradition for these sort of events I've put together a top ten list of bands to see at Polite Riot. To be honest, every band is killer so doing this list was difficult – you should really go and see them all if you can as the line up is superb!

Long running skate punk band Chaser headline the first night of Polite Riot. Mixing together fast punk rock with powerful vocals and soaring harmonies, Chaser are every skate punk fan’s dream. I would imagine that the set will be filled with tracks from 2018's fantastic Sound The Sirens album along with favourites from their back catalogue. Chaser are headlining the Friday night of Polite Riot and will certainly take some beating for the most impressive band of the weekend.

City Mouse
These soulful pop punks are making a return to the UK in 2019, a year after their tour with The Murderburgers. This time the band will be touring with South London pop punk band Werecats and look to wow crowds wherever they go. This will be my first time seeing City Mouse and I'm quite excited. Expect passionate and catchy punk rock that will have you bouncing around with a big smile on your face.

If you've not seen Fastfade yet, what on earth have you been doing? Probably the most exciting new band in UK skate punk, these youthful scallywags are also one of the most fun bands around. Playing far too fast, running around the stage and often trying to dropkick each other, you should never take your eyes off the stage at a Fastfade show. The banter between the band members is the some of the most entertaining around – I'm certain Ryan's nan will get mentioned at some point. Also their songs are quite good too.

For I Am
Fresh from a Japanese tour earlier in the year, Belgium's For I Am make the journey over from Belgium for Polite Riot Festival. For I Am guitarist and Bearded Punk Records guy Bjorn made the trip over to attend the festival last year so it's great to see he gets to play this year. The five piece, fronted by the brilliant vocals of Hanne Terweduwe, will no doubt impress all who see them. Make sure that you are one of those people.

I absolutely love Müg. They are one of the most underrated bands in the UK and are a hugely important part of the South London DIY punk scene, they've been around for ages now and are as good as ever. Sadly they don't play as much as I'd like them to anymore so it's important to see them whenever the opportunity does arise. Müg have been working on some new material so hopefully we will be treated to some of that along with some old favourites. It will also be good to see Mark Bell back in New Cross Inn, on hand to fix things if and when they break.

Officer Down
Officer Down offer something a little bit different to Polite Riot Festival. The recently reunited four piece mix melodic punk with hardcore and add a bit of crust. It's ferocious but is full of moments that will get you moving. This is likely to be one of the most intense sets of the weekend and will blow you away.

Our Lives In Cinema
Our Lives In Cinema have become a bit of a staple in the London punk scene over the past couple of years. Known for their superb theatrical pop punk as well as their energetic performances, Our Lives In Cinema kill it every time. This will be their last performance before they go away for a bit to work on a new album. Make the most of them while you can.

I've got to be honest, there's a little bit of CPRW favouritism here as RxR frontman Dan Peters is a long time member of the CPRW family. Playing skate punk with an acoustic guitar, RxR offer something very different to the rest of the Polite Riot line up. RxR don't get out much anymore, as they have those boring grown up responsibilities, so you probably should take advantage of this opportunity to see them. Dan is also a huge Satanic Surfers fan so seeing him fanboy all day will also be entertaining.

Tape It Shut
Tape It Shut are new friends of CPRW and we're looking forward to checking them out for the first time. The Reading based foursome are one of the most unique bands I've heard this year, mixing punk rock with drum and bass while singing about many political and social situations. I'm expecting a set bursting with energy.

There aren't many more positive and uplifting (and probably spiritual) bands in London than WACO. Whenever I've seen WACO in the past there's always such a wonderful feeling of joy in the room and I expect that to be the case at Polite Riot. Lead singer Jak is one of the most captivating frontmen in the scene, both during the songs or when he's spreading a message of peace, love and harmony between them.

If you'd like some cheap tickets for Polite Riot Festival then email Valid until 5pm on Friday.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

News: Duncan Ewart Releases Brand New EP

On Tuesday 2nd of July Duncan Ewart, who also plays bass and sings for London pop punks Fintan Stack releases a brand new EP named Hurt Yourself And Entertain Me. It features four brand new tracks including Modern Loneliness which features fellow Fintan Stack member Adam Harraway. Check out the EPs title track here.

Album Review: Ambivalence by The Prozacs

The Prozacs are a pop punk band from Westfield, Massachusetts. Having formed in 2001, the band have consistently released new material since then. On June 11th, The Prozacs released their fifth full length album on Outloud! Records. Titled Ambivalence, here we have 11 songs of Ramonescore pop punk goodness.

Ambivalence begins with Rocking Out. Wasting no time in getting started, the song certainly has you "rocking out" immediately. (I hate myself for making that joke more than you hate me for making that joke). The rolling drumbeat along with lead singer Jay Prozacs’ vocals had me singing along quickly. Interestingly, the music is played at a fast pace but Jay's vocals ensure that the song never loses control. Rocking Out is a track about friendship and how you eventually end up back with the pals that you started out with. Outta My Face sees a much angrier side of The Prozacs as they blast through a song about being fed up of people trying to drag you down. It's a big middle finger salute to those folk in your life that make it so much harder. As the track goes on, the intensity and anger seems to grow and grow. This then made me quite riled up and wanting to get angry with The Prozacs. The third track is named Party's Over and shows more of a traditional 90s Lookout Records pop punk style. The easy comparison is The Queers, with Jay's vocal seemingly at a higher pitch and a bit of a surf rock vibe coming in at times. On my first listen of the song, I assumed that the meaning behind the song is as simple as going to a party and then wanting to go home but, the more I thought about it, I think it's about feeling like you've outgrown something as you've aged and matured.

The Ripper is up next. This is a fast song about the notorious East London serial killer Jack The Ripper. Interesting that a band from Massachusetts would pick such a subject for a song but it is a fascinating case. The way The Prozacs play the song does add a bit of humour to the topic but it also serves as a bit of a history lesson, something I didn't expect to be saying when I started reviewing Ambivalence. The fifth track on the album is titled Out Of Time. It's a short plodder of a song that kind of feels like it could be a theme tune for a comedy sci-fi show. It's pretty simple lyrically and you'll be singing along in no time. It's the guitar work that really stands out throughout. Wishing & Waiting's intro quickly gives you the sense that the song is more grown up and mature. These might be very obscure references but the song has me thinking of a mix of Darlington and The McRackins and I love that. Wishing & Waiting is a big highlight on the album. It's about wanting to make the most of your time with somebody you love and not being ground down by real life responsibilities. The longer than normal length of the track allows The Prozacs to play around with tempo and melody changes that help the song hit some highs and lows as well as a great build section in the middle. Come Out Swinging sounds exactly how you would expect a song with that title to sound. It's a bit brash, it's in your face and it's impactful. The drums are really the driving force throughout the song, much like they are throughout the entire album. This is drummer Jimmy Craig's first album with The Prozacs and he has done a tremendous job.

On my first listen of Ambivalence track eight, Listen, Learn & Dance, was the song that really stood out. So much so that I asked Jay if we could use it on our fifth birthday charity compilation album. He kindly agreed and you can buy that comp here. Starting out with a simple singing section of "you gotta dance for the moment, dance for the love, in a world that needs help, in a world that was better with you, we miss you" really invites you to get involved. Soon enough, the tempo is upped and The Prozacs really get you shaking what your mother gave you. The song is a tribute to a fallen friend that encourages you to have as much as possible fun in their memory. Feeling So is a song about feeling alone and the way that affects your mental health. I really enjoyed how the first half of the song is a big chugga chugga (technical music journalist term) but during the second half the track expands and the band get a bit looser. The penultimate track is named Live Like It's New. This is more of an uplifting song about trying to experience everything you can, even if it seems impossible. The simple chorus of "live like it's new" repeating will do a great job to inspire even the most negative of people. This is a powerful and cathartic song that really put a smile on my face. Positivity rules! Last up is Lost In The Waves. Beginning with some superb rolling drums and some guitar work that helps make the song feel massive, the first taste of vocals we get are some lovely whoa-oh harmonies between Jay and Samantha Dalbec (who does a great job with back-ups throughout Ambivalence). The actual words for the song don't actually come in until way into the second half of the song and it's only the lyrics "I don't want to be lost in these waves, without you" repeating over and over to end the song. I thought this was absolutely incredible and the entire song is another highlight of the album. It's so simple it's genius. What a fantastic way to finish things.

I'm a huge lover of this style of pop punk and I love that there are still bands out there like The Prozacs keeping the genre alive. These songs offer a bit of everything topic-wise and the overall sound of the album does a very good job of showing some variety without straying far from the Ramonescore sound. Well done The Prozacs, perhaps your best album to date.

Stream and download Ambivalence here:

Like The Prozacs here:

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Album Review: Never Gonna Die by Aree And The Pure Heart (by Emma Prew)

Aree And The Pure Heart are a band from Atlanta, Georgia who combine rock ’n’ roll spirit and heartland-style Americana with punk rock energy to create something that simply sounds huge. At the end of March the band released a new album called Never Gonna Die on Wiretap Records (USA) and Homebound Records (EU). Here’s what I thought of it.

Fifty Dollar Bottle Of Wine is the album’s opening track and it kicks things off in a big way with the rebellious line ‘I smashed a fifty dollar bottle of wine.’. This is a feel-good song about not being afraid to fail or make mistakes. The first couple of verses are fairly mid-tempo but things really get good when the pace picks up for super catchy chorus – ‘And I’d do it again, do it again, do it again, do it again, do it until I find what I’m looking for.’ The track also features a saxophone solo part way through which is very nicely reminiscent of the E-Street Band. Next up we have Crash Into The Sun. Starting out with the band’s rhythm section, when Aree’s vocals come in they feel more strained than on the previous track. They are packed with emotion and have a real soulful vibe which I really loved. Speaking of love, this is a love song about that special person that you’re willing to do anything for – ‘You’re the only one.’ Things get switched up a bit for the third track, Tiger Champagne. This is hugely romantic piano-heavy ballad. As you would expect from a ballad, this is a slower song compared to the previous two but, if anything, it somehow manages to have an even bigger sound despite this. The focus is very much on Aree’s vocals here – and what an incredible voice he has! Alongside the romantic feelings, there’s themes of fondly reminiscing throughout track. ‘Up all night drinking tiger champagne, Falling in love and forgetting our names.’

If ballads aren’t your thing then you’ll be pleased to know that the pace picks up again for the next song, Under A Streetlight. This is a simply joyous Americana punk tune that could easily rival the likes of Dave Hause or Brian Fallon. There’s more nostalgic tones in Under A Streetlight as well as a nod towards the band members’ roots in punk rock – ‘Under a streetlight, Alive, in love.’ and ‘Singing punk rock songs.’ Finishing up with some triumphant whoa-oh-ohs is just perfect. If, like me, you enjoyed the inclusion of the saxophone on the first track then you’ll be pleased to know it returns for fifth song, Gasoline Heart, along with a pretty groovy bass line. You can’t fail to make the Springsteen comparison here as this is another heartland rock anthem – and there’s nothing wrong with that. Gasoline Heart is about how you’ve ‘been running through hell’ but still feel like you’ve come out on top and are in high spirits. It’s basically a combination of everything great about Aree And The Pure Heart – there’s whoa-ohs a plenty and it’s incredibly feel-good. Black Cats opens with an earworm of a bluesy guitar solo and immediately grabs your attention. When the vocals come in, accompanied by a steady bass line, they have a bit of a snarl to them and are delivered almost as a whisper. There’s still elements of Springsteen or Fallon here but there’s also a great deal more to make the song stand out. It stays fairly slow and soulful throughout but doesn’t ever feel boring.

The seventh song on Never Gonna Die is called The Feeling I Get and it is perhaps the slowest and most emotional song on the album. It’s a piano-led ballad and feels almost sad – there’s just that much emotion packed into these four minutes. If there was one track on the album that offered a truly ‘wow’ moment, this is it. I imagine this song would be so incredible to watch live, in fact it almost sounds live on recording. It’s so pure. ‘There’s something to be said about the feeling I get when you’re around me.’ The guitars return in a big way for the album’s penultimate track, Work For Your Love. A distinct, slow but firm, blues-style riff ensures that your head stays nodding throughout the track’s duration and you might even be encouraged to sway your hips a little as well. The inclusion of keyboards adds another layer that I’m not sure we’ve heard much of before. The verses are fairly mid-tempo on Work For Your Love but it builds wonderfully towards a huge sounding soulful chorus – complete with some more killer sax. The album closes in style, with its title track – Never Gonna Die. It almost sounds like Born To Run at the beginning with yet more amazing saxophone playing alongside rumbling drums and hugely passionate guitar work. This is the title track for a reason as it kicks some serious butt. Never Gonna Die is soulful and heartfelt rock ’n’ roll but, most of all, there’s a bit of punk rock spirit in there – and that goes for this track specifically and the album as a whole.

You can buy/stream/download Never Gonna Die on Bandcamp and like Aree And The Pure Heart on Facebook.

This album review was written by Emma Prew.

Gig Review: Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg, Day Four 10/6/19

(Note: Colin's parts are in regular text and Emma's parts are in italic.)

It was time for our fourth and final day of Booze Cruise 2019. After a leisurely stroll around the area in search of breakfast and finding lots more things close in Germany on Bank Holidays than they do in the UK, we headed to Molotow where the majority of the day’s fun would be taking place.

First up on the Molotow stage were Arterials. After yesterday’s great set on the boat I was very excited to see what they can do on dry land. It was, of course, no surprise that they were again brilliant. The great raspy vocals along with that excellent mix of indie punk and hardcore but at Molotow it all sounded crisp and cleaner. With a bigger stage to work with, Arterials put on a big show for the folk that had gathered early. Arguably it wasn't as intense as the day before had been but it was still a hugely impressive set from this fantastic band. Arterials are a band I will definitely be telling anyone who will listen about. I enjoyed the set so much that as soon as they left the stage I made my way to the merch area in the beer garden and bought their debut LP, Constructive Summer, and a t-shirt.

Having popped outside to buy some Arterials merch and for some fresh air, we weren’t 100% sure if the next band, Offmountains, had properly started their set when we came back inside. Even in soundcheck they sounded impressive, particularly vocalist Andre – what a voice he has! Offmountains are a four-piece band from Hamburg who don’t strictly adhere to a typical punk rock sound. There’s definitely something about them that would appeal to a wider audience of alternative rock. At one point someone must have flicked a switch on the smoke machine because the band soon became silhouettes on the stage which, rather than detracting from the performance, actually made it all the more atmospheric. Another great band that we’d never heard of before – it’s always worth taking a punt on an unknown name.

Chris Cresswell of Canadian band The Flatliners was next to grace the Molotow stage. Although I know The Flatliners, and have seen them live a few times, I wasn’t familiar with any of Chris Cresswell’s solo material – and we weren’t actually sure whether he’d be playing acoustic Flatliners songs. We soon found out, but not before Chris apologised for being late – we hadn’t noticed. There was one Flatliners song, Birds Of England, in his set but the rest consisted of solo material that was very alt-country in sound, perhaps partly due to Chris’ distinct vocals I think. The audience was very patient and attentive, both between songs when Chris was offering up anecdotes and during, which was something that was not overlooked by Mr Cresswell – he was very appreciative. It was just really lovely all around.

Next up at Molotow were another band that neither of us had heard of before Booze Cruise. Laureate weren’t from Germany however, they were from a little further afield – Montreal, Canada. Playing a brand of emo influenced pop punk not too dissimilar to 90s bands such as Saves The Day, it took me a couple of songs to get into them but once I did it was a very enjoyable set. I really enjoyed the contrast between the two vocalists, with Erin’s softer and sweeter tones set against Giancarlo’s huskier voice – which incidentally reminded me a lot Jon Loudon from Restorations. It’s also always nice to see a band so happy to be playing together and just generally stoked to be on tour. I’ll definitely be making a point of checking this foursome out again.

I've been a fan of Western Settings since seeing them live at Fest 16 in Gainesville. Since then I've been patiently awaiting their return to Europe, as well as their first visit to the UK. This was able to happen because of Booze Cruise. At the beginning of their tour, I got the opportunity to see them at the New Cross Inn thanks to Gold Soul Theory Promotions and then, when the Booze Cruise schedules were released, I saw I got the opportunity to see the San Diego four piece twice at the festival. The first was on Sunday night in the tiny Gun Club and the second was at Molotow. As the tour has gone on, Western Settings have gotten better and better and it seemed to me that they were at their peak in Molotow. Even little guitar issues didn't prevent an absolutely stellar set from the band in front of what was a very friendly crowd. Playing a host of tracks from previous releases Yes It Is and Old Pain as well as brand new EP Agnus, Western Settings are a captivating band to watch – frontperson Ricky Schmidt has such an intense expression that it's hard to look away from. Sadly we had to leave the set a little bit before the end so we had enough time to get some much needed food before the next group of bands at Überquell but getting to see Western Settings three times on this tour was an absolute pleasure.

Getting ourselves some chips en route, we headed over to Überquell where we would be finishing our 2019 Booze Cruise Festival. There were a fair few folk already there, hanging about in the beer garden in the, sort of, sunshine (it did try to rain shortly after) while The Run Up were sound checking inside. Before The Run Up were due on stage however, we were treated to an acoustic set outside courtesy of Henri Parker And The Lowered Lids. The festival was definitely missing some banjo thus far and I do love me a bit of banjo! The Hamburg-based folk band often play as a four piece with cello and percussion but for their Überquell performance the band simply consisted of Henri on acoustic guitar and Kris on banjo, with both of them singing. We pulled up a chair and proceeded to soak up their upbeat folk tunes. Truly wonderful stuff.

Heading inside Überquell, spirits were as high as ever as we awaited the penultimate set of the festival. Who better to put the cherry on top of a marvellous weekend than The Run Up and Bong Mountain who had already played twice each. I imagine there weren’t many people in the room who hadn’t seen The Run Up live before by this point but they’re just that good that we keep coming back for more! Giving it every bit of energy they had left, and then some, The Run Up stormed through a triumphant set of everyone’s favourite songs, including WKND, The Upside Of Being Down and Learning Loss. There was singing, dancing and so many smiling faces, many of which belonged to pals of the band – although, let’s face it, everyone is or should be pals with The Run Up. They’re just such nice guys. So nice in fact that singer Larry kindly dedicated the song Shark to Colin and myself. The track features on the CPRW 5th Birthday Comp (which is available now for £7, with the funds going to Mind) and is about making friends through music. A perfect song for our comp but also the perfect song for a festival like Booze Cruise. The Run Up are brilliant. 

The final band of the entirety of Booze Cruise 2019 was Bong Mountain. This would be my third time seeing them at the festival and fourth of the tour and was as excited for the fourth as I was at the first back in London. This set was a bit more relaxed than the previous times as it was their last night of tour before heading back to Michigan. It felt more like a time to kick back, have some fun and play some songs rather than a proper punk gig and I really appreciated that. It had a been an exhausting four days and I was really keen for a nice relaxed finish. The band spent time joking between themselves, as well as with their new best friends in The Run Up, throughout the set and it felt as if we were all a part of this gang. Bong Mountain are a band that are so watchable when on stage, they have an undeniable charisma matched by few bands. There was a nice moment where lead singer Chris took time to thank The Run Up for everything they've given them throughout their two week tour together. It was a bit of an emotional time and it's so clear that a massive bond of friendship has been made between the two bands. It was such a lovely time having one last sing and dance to Bong Mountain and this was the perfect way to finish Booze Cruise Festival 2019.

Booze Cruise Festival was an amazing experience for myself and Emma. From start to finish, the event ran so smoothly and there was this fantastic chilled out vibe throughout. It was an absolute honour and privilege to travel to another country and witness another scene and to quickly feel at home. Everyone was so amazingly friendly and so passionate about every band that played which was so inspiring to see. I was having a conversation with a friend about how sometimes a UK crowd is perhaps a bit too reserved and cool to really get into a gig but that was certainly not the case at Booze Cruise. Everyone wants to have the best possible time for every band. I loved the idea of there not really being any headliners, this really got people going to see all the bands throughout the day and not just turning up when the ‘main event‘ was starting. On a more personal note for me, I was a little nervous about going to a festival named Booze Cruise given that I am tee-total and at times I do get a bit anxious about being in an environment where heavy drinking will be occurring. Thankfully within minutes of arriving at the festival any anxiety I had about this vanished and I had the very best of times. Sure the fine folk of Booze Cruise were enjoying their booze but the festival was more about having fun with your friends rather than getting a bit merry. This is what makes all festivals great – it's about the music and the friends you make. If I had to describe Booze Cruise in two words I'd definitely pick ‘music’ and ‘pals’. We're already looking into going to Booze Cruise 2020 and we're looking to bring plenty more pals with us. Thanks to everyone involved in Booze Cruise 2019. See you next year!

This review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma, although much better photos (that weren’t taken on a phone) can be viewed here.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Album Review: Age Of Unreason by Bad Religion (by Dan Peters)

Age Of Unreason is something I was looking forward to immensely for what seems like forever. Bad Religion have been one of the biggest influences on my life and the music I’ve written. Getting brand new tunes feels a little like early Christmas. As always, I wonder if my blatant favouritism of the bands I review will make me write another gushing love letter or will my incredibly high hopes for what’s to come make the effort fall flat. Let’s find out, see you in a few hours.

It’s a very rare occasion that I’m not entirely sold on an album that’s been created by a band I love but Age Of Unreason has had me reaching for that skip button a few times which I never thought I’d be doing on a Bad Religion album. The real shame is that I really, really do love large chunks of everything here. Songs like blisteringly fast opener Chaos From Within are pretty much faultless as something brand new from the band whilst holding everything I love dear about them in a concise sub two minute package. In fact, there’s a good majority of the album that’s top draw. The Approach, title track Age Of Unreason and Old Regime are all examples of songs as good as anything Bad Religion have ever created and hold up the album as something well above average for any band but Bad Religion are just above average. Maybe I’m too fixated on them keeping their older style but songs like My Sanity, Lose Your Head and Downfall all feel like generic, middle of the road filler compared to the ones I mentioned before.

Because of the huge differences in track quality, I find myself not wanting to consume this media as a whole which is a shame. I’m old school in that regards, mostly. I like to listen to an album cover to cover instead of picking out pieces to form playlists but this is definitely a case of only some killer. Recording quality wise this is a stunning sounding album. Everything is crisp and clean and for a band as in love with layering sounds as Bad Religion, I never feel anything is overshadowed or too in the spotlight.

In conclusion, there’s some real treasure to be found in Age Of Unreason but unfortunately you’re gonna have to dig through some dirt to find it. Bad Religion are an exceptional band on the worst of days but, as a lifelong fan, I can’t help but hold them to the highest of standards and found them just missing the mark this time around.

Like Bad Religion here:

This review was written by Dan Peters.

Gig Review: Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg, Day Three 9/6/19

(Note: Colin's parts are in regular text and Emma's parts are in italic.)

We decided to start our Sunday of Booze Cruise Festival a little differently to the previous two days – we went to board a boat! It wouldn’t be a proper ‘booze cruise’ without doing some actual cruising after all and this festival had two boat shows. There was a closing boat show on the Monday afternoon, that we didn’t go to, as well as five bands playing during the afternoon/early evening on Sunday. The novelty of seeing our first ever gig on a boat was all too appealing to consider missing. That and the fact that Überyou, The Run Up and Bong Mountain would be playing on this boat. It was possible to board (and disembark) the boat in between band’s sets but we decided to go all in and climb aboard for the whole thing.

Heading down to the harbour, we were a little bit concerned when we saw the amount of people that were gathered ready to board the MS Tonne. The sun was shining, everybody had shades on and spirits were high. I’m not sure what the ‘capacity’ of the boat was but it was all okay in the end as we got on without any problems. Going up to the deck where a stage was set up – by stage I mean area of the deck with a drum kit and amps (ie. it wasn’t raised up at all) – we claimed a spot by the edge so we’d have something to hold onto or lean on if things got choppy!

Before too long, the boat had set sail for its tour around the harbour and the first band was ready to go. The Muttnicks are a band that neither Colin or myself had listened to prior to seeing them live and so this was the perfect opportunity to check them out. We soon discovered that this was a local band from Hamburg itself that were keen to get this boat party started. Playing a straight-up, everyman style of punk rock, I soon grew to like The Muttnicks. I thought they reminded me a bit of The Bouncing Souls, particularly with vocalist Phil moving about non-stop not unlike Greg Attonito. A great start to the day.

I'd heard good things the day before about Arterials from The Run Up's Larry so was looking forward to checking them out. When you think about it, it's a bit of a strange thing watching a band, that you don't really know, for the first time on a boat but here I was. Arterials are a four piece band from Hamburg so there was understandably a lot of enthusiasm for their performance. As soon as they began their set, I knew this was a band that I was going to absolutely love. Playing a style of indie/hardcore punk rock with raspy vocals I immediately began thinking of Wank For Peace. The energy from the band was infectious and the crowd on the MS Tonne responded to the band with some big sing-alongs. For me, this felt like a great warm up for their set at Molotow the following day – which I was now very excited for.

Following on from Arterials were Überyou, playing their second set of the weekend. This was truly something else. The MS Tonne must have been at full capacity for the five piece, knowing what a phenomenal live band they are. Things really got wild here as the band blasted through their set which mostly consisted of tracks from this year’s brilliant Night Shift album. It was great to hear our favourites Survivors and Taking Chances played live again (on a boat!). Überyou connect with a crowd like no band I've seen before. Having three lead vocalists gives the band a great feeling of inclusiveness with the vocalist who doesn't play a guitar (Ian) spending a great deal of time wandering into the audience to sing. As their set went on, the crowd got more and more rambunctious with plenty of people getting hoisted up to do some crowd surfing. This had me a bit worried about somebody ending up going overboard (worries you don't have when you're not on a boat). This was one of those sets where my words don't really do justice of what an experience it was. Perhaps the biggest surprise and highlight of the set was when they broke out covers of Against Me!'s Sink Florida Sink and, what was perhaps the biggest surprise of the entire festival, Journey's Don't Stop Believing. What a set – if Überyou are playing a gig near you make sure you go and see them!

Having missed what I’d heard was possibly the best set they’d ever played the night before (due to seeing Überyou, Personal Best and Chamberlain at Hafenklang), I was very excited to see Bristol’s best punk exports The Run Up – and on a boat no less! We’ve been big fans of the band here at CPRW since seeing them play The Unicorn in north London in 2017 and they’ve come on a long way since then. It also turns out they are hugely popular in Germany and so I wasn’t the only the only one keen to see them on the MS Tonne. The deck had cleared a little after the intensity of Überyou’s set – which was going to be tricky to follow – but there were still plenty of people ready to sing along with The Run Up and sing along we did. This band just gets better and better every time I see them, whether they’re playing songs from their 2017 debut album such as Learning Loss (Colin’s favourite, you can guarantee his fist will be in the air) and Shark (dedicated to tour mates Bong Mountain) or something from last year’s EP like Captain (appropriate for when playing on a boat) or The Upside Of Being Down (what a hit!). These five chaps simply put everything they’ve got into each and every show they play, whilst clearly having a lot of fun, and it’s just a pleasure to watch. Extra kudos to bassist Dan for overcoming his seasickness to play on a boat – you smashed it!

The final, and I suppose headline, act of the MS Tonne show were Bong Mountain. The crowd on the boat felt like it was now beginning to thin out a little bit as more as more things were happening elsewhere around Hamburg. This, of course, didn't stop Bong Mountain playing another fantastic set. Sporting some very fetching sailor hats, Bong Mountain certainly looked the part as they worked through their set of some fantastic indie pop punk which is made for some big sing-alongs. The fine folk still remaining on board were still super enthusiastic for the band. Much like for Überyou and The Run Up, there were plenty of crowd surfs and people singing into the band’s microphones. At one point, a gentleman got right into lead singer Chris Lidstone's face to sing a part in the song that I assume really meant a lot to him. It was a pretty emotional moment and something that has since had me thinking about how special a festival like this is – where the bands and the crowd are all interacting together and there is no separation. All weekend I would see members of other bands in the crowd, hanging out and supporting whoever is on stage. It's always so nice to see.

Unfortunately we missed 7 Years Bad Luck's set at the Gun Club because getting some dinner took much longer than planned but we made it to Menschenzoo in time to see The Sewer Rats. Whilst checking out bands I'd never listened to before Booze Cruise, The Sewer Rats were definitely stand outs. The four piece from Cologne playing 90s style pop punk and were really up my street. They are clearly a band that are extremely popular as the venue quickly filled up with other people excited to see them. Playing with a harder rock 'n' roll edge that I'd heard online added a lot more attitude to the songs which worked so well live. It wasn't long before the crowd, which included member of The Sewer Rats’ good friends The Jukebox Romantics, was getting quite rowdy. At one point a mini circle pit was opened up, which looked kind of silly in a venue the size of Menschenzoo. The Sewer Rats are clearly a band that are very good at getting a crowd in the palm of their hands. Playing songs such as I Don't Like You (When Your Girl Is Around), Danny Has A Date and Too Punk For You as well, as some fantastic covers of Bonzo Goes To Bitburg, Knowledge and Time Bomb, this set was fantastic fun and I can't wait to see them again. Hopefully they'll be in England some time soon.

After the sweatbox of Menschenzoo it was good to step outside for some air. We weren’t outside for long however as San Diego’s Western Settings were playing at Gun Club which is conveniently located next to Menschenzoo. Walking inside, we found three members of the band (drums and guitar x2) and all of their gear squeezed onto the tiny stage while vocalist and bassist Ricky was set up on the floor in front of the stage. My initial thought was that this venue was far too small for this band but if the band were bothered by it they didn’t let it show. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Western Settings live before then I will describe their live show for you in one word – intense. Guitarist Dylan is particularly captivating to watch as he throws his body and guitar around all over the place during the band’s set. Although he didn’t have quite so much room to do so at Gun Club, he still gave it a good go. I’m not overly familiar with Western Settings’ songs but everything sounded great to me, including That’s Pretty Good from their new EP Agnus. The set flew by and I was left wanting more. Which was good because we were planning on seeing them again the next day!

When Western Settings finished, it was back next door to Menschenzoo for Primetime Failure. Much like it had been for so many of the German acts, the place was rammed. We arrived just as they were getting started and there was no way we would be able to get any sort of view of the band. We decided to hang around for a little while though and did get to hear such crackers as Stuck In The 90s, and from latest album, Memory Lane – Apologies, I Have Some. They sounded superb even though we couldn't see them and I urge anyone who is a fan of old school Fat Wreck bands to check them out. You'll love them.

After leaving Menschenzoo we headed to Überquell to round off the night with some cover sets. When we arrived, Arterials were well into their Kid Dynamite set and sounded very good. Towards the end of their set, Zock from Petrol Girls and Astpai joined the band on stage to sing a song which was a nice moment.

When the covers sets were announced for Booze Cruise Festival 2019 it was The Sewer Rats as Rancid that immediately piqued our interest. Before that on the Sunday night however was a set by Hell & Back, from Stuttgart, that they were calling ‘Free College Radio Gainesville’. We weren’t exactly sure what this cover set would consist of. Would it be Gainesville-based bands? Would there be some relation to Gainesville’s The Fest? Well, it wasn’t exactly either of those things but it was a variety of songs by different bands. Kicking things off with My Name Is Jonas by Weezer in tribute to Booze Cruise Festival’s Stephan Jonas immediately got the crowd excited. When things turned more punk rock with songs such as Linoleum by NoFX and Simple Song by Avail, the singalongs got serious. It was all a lot of fun but, in my opinion, they definitely made the right choice with regards to what song to finish with – True Believers by Bouncing Souls. The perfect DIY punk anthem.

Completing the night were The Sewer Rats, playing their second set of the day – this time as Rancid. It was clear from the opening song, Nihilism, that this set was going to be carnage but that wonderful punk rock carnage we all love so much. Like all good Rancid cover sets should do, the songs picked by the band were mainly from ...And Out Come The Wolves (Wars End, Time Bomb and Roots Radical among others) but there were also some favourites in Fall Back Down and the final song of the night, Radio. Radio was a perfect choice to finish the set and day three of Booze Cruise. The lyrics "When I've got the music, I've got a place to go" couldn't have been more fitting. Performance wise, the set was a complete shambles but my goodness it was a lot of fun. It was exactly what I would expect from a Rancid cover set. Well done The Sewer Rats.

This review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma, although much better photos (that weren’t taken on a phone) can be viewed here.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Gig Review: Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg Day Two 8/6/19

(Note: Colin's parts are in regular text and Emma's parts are in italic.)

Day one of Booze Cruise had set the bar high but day two was even more jam-packed with bands we were excited to see for the first time, as well as some of our existing favourites.

We started our Saturday of Booze Cruise Festival at Molotow to see Regensburg trio Irish Handcuffs. If you read my ‘top ten bands to see at Booze Cruise Festival 2019’ then you’ll know that this was a band I was looking forward to seeing. I clearly wasn’t the only one as the room instantly packed out, with folk emerging from the beer garden, as soon as Irish Handcuffs stepped on stage. It was immediately clear that this is a much loved band in the German DIY punk scene – they’ve played every Booze Cruise to date, in fact. Their set consisted of tracks from last year’s brilliant EP Comfort In Distraction as well as some older fan favourites, which all sounded excellent. The highlight however was when they threw in a great cover of The Loved Ones’ 100K. What a great start to the day.

All Aboard! were a band I'd kind of seen previously when they played Manchester Punk Festival a couple of years ago. Unfortunately I only caught the last song and couldn't see the stage at all so Booze Cruise presented me with a chance to see them properly, upstairs in Molotow. Playing some superb gruff punk that I was dying to sing-along to – if only I had tried to learn the songs before the festival! Sadly, during their set the microphones cut out. This led to an impromptu unmiced cover of Against Me!'s Sink Florida Sink. Soon enough, the sound person got the microphones working again and the band finished their set with as much gusto as they started with. Later that night All Aboard! were playing an Against Me! cover set, so to give the crowd further teaser of what to expect they also played Black Me Out – to a great reaction. Despite the technical difficulties, I was very impressed with All Aboard! and hope to see them again soon.

Heading back downstairs to the ‘main stage’ at Molotow, it was time to watch Irish Handcuffs’ tour mates – Dan Webb And The Spiders. Hailing from Boston, the four piece were another band that I was looking forward to seeing live for the first time this weekend after enjoying their recorded material. If I was to sum up Dan Webb And The Spiders’ performance in one word it would be slick. They are clearly great musicians and I really enjoyed their two-part harmonies, although they were not as frequent as I perhaps would have liked. However it didn’t really feel like the band connected with the audience at all, barely saying a word between songs – particularly now that I reflect on the whole weekend and all the other bands we saw – which was a shame.

After Dan Webb And The Spiders, we made our way up the one million flights of stairs back to Molotow Skybar for Manchester's Aerial Salad. As we entered the room, Aerial Salad's lead singer and guitarist, Jamie, was seemingly welcoming everyone into the room and thanking them for coming to see them which I thought was the sweetest thing ever. The room filled very quickly for the three piece for what I think was their first time performing in Germany. This was somehow only my second ever time seeing Aerial Salad live and I was keen to see how they've progressed in the year or so that's it's been since the first time. Wow, these guys have come a long way in a short amount of time! Particularly bassist Mike who has really exploded out of his shell, now bouncing around the stage and providing a great second vocal. Jamie has also added a bit more intensity to his performance as well as some super sexy dancing. From now on he shall forever be known as Sexy Jamie Munro. The set was comprised of mostly new material, with only two songs from Roach appearing in the performance. Those new songs sounded fantastic though and I can't wait for them to be released. Aerial Salad definitely gained some new fans with this superb performance, they are one of the best up and coming bands in the UK.

After Aerial Salad we hurried off to Goldener Salon to catch Resolutions. Resolutions, a five piece from Hannover, have been on my radar for a while now so I was looking forward to having the chance to see them live. When we arrived at the venue, the room was already packed so we had to make do with standing at the back of the room trying to peer through the mass of humanity in front of us. Something that we noticed throughout Booze Cruise was how loyal the German folk are in supporting their fellow countrymen. I'm not sure this is really a thing that happens quite so much in the UK so this was nice to see. Resolutions’ gruff pop punk certainly gained much favour from the crowd who seemed very into it and there were plenty of fists in the air and sing-alongs. Unfortunately, I think due to my spot right at the back of the room, I found it a bit difficult to really get into it, it kind of felt like I was listening to a live performance on the radio rather than being there in the flesh. That's not the fault of the band – who sounded fantastic – it's just we were late arrivals and then short people problems too. Next time I get the opportunity to see Resolutions, I'll make sure to get there early and be right down the front.

California’s Neighborhood Brats were preparing to start their set when we headed downstairs and an eager crowd had gathered. This was a band I wanted to check out, having listened to them a bit prior to the festival, but they were by no means top of my list. Well, maybe they should have been! From the first note through to the last, I was simply blown away by the energy these four musicians generated. Singer Jenny in particular was captivating to watch as she bounced up and down and ran around the stage, at times looking almost possessed – but in a good way! It wasn’t all about Jenny though as the whole band looked to be having a lot of fun and were clearly putting everything they had into their performance. It was tiring to watch, let alone perform, but all very enjoyable. After the band’s set I described them to Colin (who was also really impressed by their live show) as ‘pop hardcore’ – pop punk melodies and speed but pure hardcore energy.

We popped up to Goldener Salon to see who was playing before Überyou were due on stage downstairs and found a four piece post-punk band called Marbled Eye playing to a small but attentive audience. The band seemed to be having some sound issues to begin with as the vocals were being drowned out by the guitars but this was soon rectified by the sound engineers. We stayed to watch part of the band’s set, which I’d liken to Restorations, but left early to get a good spot for my most-anticipated band of the whole weekend…

Überyou are a five-piece punk rock band hailing from Zürich in Switzerland but, having seen the way the crowd reacted to their performance at Booze Cruise, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Hamburg was their hometown. As soon as the band stepped on stage, the room was alive with energy – I’m not sure who was more energetic to be honest, the band themselves or the front rows of the crowd. There were some of the first stage divers and crowd surfers I’d seen of the weekend, including Überyou vocalist Ian who was really not content with staying on the stage. I was really impressed by how three different members of the band all felt like lead vocalists at different times, as well as uniting together (and with the audience) for some killer gang vocals. In my opinion, the band was near flawless as they tore through tracks from their most recent album, Night Shifts, including Survivors, More Time For Love and Taking Chances. The new record is one of my top three albums released in 2019 so far and it was amazing to hear those songs live for the first time and to sing along. (I was finally able to buy a copy of the vinyl after this set. Sorry for my awkwardness, Ian.) The set also included a number of older fan favourites, such as These Walls, that were just as well received as the newer tracks. Unsurprisingly, this was my favourite band of the weekend.

I had to leave Überyou a little earlier than I would have liked, as they were being incredible, but I HAD to go see my pals in The Run Up back at Molotow Skybar. I got between venues in what I imagine was near record time and I could hear The Run Up had already started. When I reached the top of the stairs, I found myself having to squeeze into the room as it was jam-packed. This was my first realisation that The Run Up are punk superstars in Germany. At the end of the year when I think about my favourite sets, this one will definitely be very close to the top. It was such a special thing to witness. It was amazing to see a band from the UK get such a big reaction far from home. The majority of bands in the UK don't get this kind of reaction when they play hometown shows, so to see that not only was the room full but the crowd was full of people singing along, dancing, stage diving and crowd surfing. From my position at the side of the stage, I had a big smile on my face watching this beautiful chaos unfold as well as watching The Run Up just be blown away from the reception they received. This was all between me singing my heart out to favourites such as Shark, WKND, Captain and the final one-two punch of Learning Loss (one of my favourite songs EVER) and Good Friends, Bad Luck. This was one of those special moments that will stick with me for a long time. The Run Up are not only one of the best punk bands to come from the UK but they are also among the hardest working and nicest people you are ever likely to meet. I was very proud of my friends after this set. They were the best.

After buying my Überyou record, I dashed upstairs where Personal Best were already in full flow. The room was fairly busy but I managed to squeeze my way into a space near the front and immediately found myself bobbing along to the Southsea foursome. If you don’t know Personal Best, they play honest yet uplifting and empowering poppy indie punk and there was a general air of carefree happiness in the Goldener Salon room throughout their performance. It was a completely different feeling to Überyou’s set downstairs but no less enjoyable. The band themselves were clearly having a lovely time, guitarist El commented how they were happy to be playing Booze Cruise for the first time as a couple of the band had attended the festival before. Their setlist included several tracks from the band’s new album What You At, including singles Baby and Jennifer, which sounded great – definitely check out the album. Personal Best are great. 

For me, no band was going to top The Run Up's set today, not even the mighty As Friends Rust who took to the stage at Molotow next. Of course, the club filled up to see these Gainesville legends’ only (apart from the secret one that took place upstairs later in the night) European show of 2019. I opted for a spot towards the back of the room on a raised bit as I'm not overly familiar with the band but down the front stood a mass of very excited people ready to completely lose their minds And lose their minds the crowd did. Whereas The Run Up's set was chaos in a friendly way this felt far more intense as the fivesome blasted through their set. Melodic hardcore with a social and political conscience is the name of the game for As Friends Rust. It was passionate and it really hit the spot. A theme for the whole weekend for me was watching how these bands connected with the crowd and basically became one. This certainly happened for As Friends Rust as the sing-alongs were huge whether they were shouts up from the floor or folk getting on stage shouting down the microphone and diving back into the crowd. Unfortunately, just as it seemed As Friends Rust were really getting warmed up, the set came to an end as their allotted time was over and it would have been unfair on the bands after them to keep going. As Friends Rust were awesome and even though I'm not an old school fan like many people I was so pleased I had the chance to see them.

If you’d have told me ten years ago that in 2019 I’d be watching post-hardcore turned alt-Americana band Chamberlain play live in Germany, I don’t think I would have believed it. I didn’t quite believe they were actually playing Booze Cruise until right before their headline set when they were about to go on stage. Playing live in Europe for the first time in around twenty years, this Indiana five-piece were an absolute must-see for me. The crowd gathered in Hafenklang wasn’t nearly as large as it was for Überyou which may have been because Chamberlain were actually playing their second Booze Cruise set of the day and/or because Gainesville legends As Friends Rust were playing their own headline set at Molotow at the same time – who are perhaps a more typical ‘Fest’ sounding band. The size of the crowd didn’t phase the band or the audience one bit however and from the outset we were singing our hearts out. The set opened with a stripped back song from classic album The Moon My Saddle, although I’ve forgotten which song specifically, with just guitars and vocals which was a great way to entice us in. I was pleased that the setlist was heavy on tracks from the aforementioned album as it as probably one of my favourites of all time. Singing along to songs such as Try For Thunder and Mountain Of A Heart was just wonderful but it was Crush You that perhaps received the biggest crowd reaction. At one point Chamberlain stopped singing and just let the audience do their bit which felt hugely emotional. I reluctantly left Chamberlain’s set early but had a big smile on my face as I sprinted over to Molotow – please don’t leave it another 20 years to come back to Europe, Chamberlain!

The reason I left Chamberlain’s set early was that Bong Mountain were playing at the Molotow Skybar. We saw the Michigan four-piece less than two weeks before at the New Cross Inn in London and it was off the back of their brilliant performance on that occasion that Colin and I decided that we basically had to see them as many more times as possible (which, as it turns out, was three times over the Booze Cruise weekend). When I got to Molotow, Bong Mountain had already started and the room was jam packed with sweaty but merry people seemingly having the time of their lives. I found Colin and some of the chaps from The Run Up (Bong Mountain’s tour buddies) at the side of the stage and joined them in loving every second of this incredible band’s performance. The amount of passion that Bong Mountain pour into every song is incredible – it is an emotional experience to watch and just generally be a part of. I must admit that I do not know enough of the words to enough of their songs but I was at least able to sing along to bits of 26 Caroline and Why You So Short? towards the end of the band’s set. When members of The Run Up and New Junk City, along with Jamie Aerial Salad and a few other folk, invaded the stage for the final song, I knew we’d made the right decision in seeing Bong Mountain again. It was chaos – beautiful chaos – and a fine end to day two of Booze Cruise Festival.

This review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma, although much better photos (that weren’t taken on a phone) can be viewed here.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Gig Review: Booze Cruise Festival, Hamburg, Day One 7/6/19

As soon as Emma and I discovered Booze Cruise Festival last year we knew it was something we had to get to in 2019. From watching videos online and looking at the stellar line-up it looked like the most amount of fun. It seemed like a fantastic European alternative to The Fest in Gainesville, Florida. This was confirmed after a chat with Bristol's The Run Up when they hit the New Cross Inn with Pkew Pkew Pkew towards the end of their tour last year. The decision was made, we would be making the trip to Hamburg the next year. We bought our tickets as soon as they became available and excitedly awaited each and every announcement. Something I was quite looking forward to was the opportunity to catch some European bands I'd never seen before that I've followed for years or others that were completely new to me. It was also very exciting to go and see what the punk scene would be like somewhere that's not so close to home.

(Note: Colin's parts are in regular text and Emma's parts are in italic.)

We arrived in Hamburg late on the Thursday evening, unfortunately missing the pre-fest show of Decent Criminal and The Sewer Rats. Instead, we headed to our hostel for the weekend which happened to be situated in the Reeperbahn section of Hamburg, this was basically a red light district and presented some interesting sights we're not used to in Bedford (or the rest of the UK really!). The great thing about the hostel though was its close proximity to the venues used for Booze Cruise.

After a day of wandering around Hamburg, we picked up our festival wristbands and filled our bellies with some tasty fresh pizza at Pizza Bande. We then started our Booze Cruise Festival at Überquell, a super cool microbrewery and restaurant in the Fischmarkt area of Hamburg (near the harbour). The venue had a large outdoor space which was perfect for an acoustic set from Canadian two-piece Mobina Galore, not least because the sun was shining brilliantly. Jenna, armed with an unplugged acoustic guitar, and Marcia were in high spirits as they expressed how happy they were to be at Booze Cruise. Jenna stated how most of the band’s songs were written on an acoustic guitar originally so it was nice to revert back to how they originally sounded. They played a variety of songs from their back catalogue including Vancouver, from Feeling Disconnected, and latest single Zoë – stripped back but no less captivating. This was a great way to ease into a festival, even if we were melting a bit by the end of it.

Next, we made our first trip to the Hafenklang/Goldener Salon venue that was being used all weekend for Booze Cruise. The venue had two stages, a big room downstairs (Hafenklang) and a smaller one upstairs (Goldener Salon). Stereokeys were the band given the task of opening the Goldener Salon. I hadn’t listened to the band at all before the festival and we pretty much went to see them because they were the only band on at the time. I was quickly impressed by the four piece however, as they played some top quality indie punk rock with some gruff vocals. It was nice to see that a decent sized crowd gathered early to see what I believe is quite a new band on the German scene. If they continue to play sets as good as this one, I imagine it won't be long before they're playing much later on festival bills to even bigger crowds. Not previously knowing any of the songs and not speaking any German, I can't tell you much about what they played but it was highly enjoyable.

After Stereokeys we headed downstairs to the main room of Hafenklang where we could hear a band, that we were expecting to be Good Friend, had already started. Walking into the room however we soon realised that this wasn’t the Newcastle via Belfast trio, instead there was a last minute set from Cory Call’s new(ish) band Little Teeth – apparently Good Friend were stuck in traffic and weren’t able to make their first of two sets of the day. This was a great unexpected opportunity to watch a new band that we hadn’t checked out before however and I really liked what I heard. Cory Call has an incredible voice that lends itself to Americana-style, soulful punk rock which is right up my street. Little Teeth weren’t able to play a full band set for the whole time slot as bassist Max needed to go soundcheck upstairs for his other band Captain Asshole’s set, but Cory played a couple of solo songs and was also joined by his wife Kirsty at the end too.

We rushed back upstairs for the set I was perhaps most looking forward to of the whole weekend. Munich's Captain Asshole released what is without a doubt my album of the 2019 so far (sorry Burnt Tapes, still love you too) in February with What An Awful Life and this was probably my one chance any time soon to see the songs live. Bass player Max hadn't long been back upstairs himself after playing half of a Little Teeth set just minutes ago so it was all a bit rushed but as soon as they took to the stage the magic begun to happen. It wasn't just me who was looking forward to seeing Captain Asshole as an even bigger crowd gathered before the start of their set. I made sure that we were right at the front to have a good sing-along. Opening with the first single from What An Awful Life, Where The Fuck Is Kyoto?, we were off to a great start. Obviously as they were playing a set full of songs from the album. I had a smile on my face throughout the set. The gang vocals and harmonies that I loved on recording were even better live. There was a nice moment where Cory Call joined the band on stage to sing his part of No More Spanish Love Songs, the song Holiday Inn was a perfect fit for the festival and the sing-along on Home was just special. Captain Asshole did not disappoint. Now I will be spreading the word to everyone in England about what a good band and they are in the hope they can get to London sooner rather than later.

Not wanting to leave the Captain Asshole set early, it was no real surprise that when we got back downstairs for Red City Radio the room was packed – and very hot. The Oklahoma City band were probably one of the most universally popular of the whole Booze Cruise weekend – they were even playing two sets (this being the first one) – and it’s easy to see why when watching them play live. Every song feels like a ‘hit’, from Two Out Of Three Ain’t Rad and Two For Flinching to newer tracks like If You Want Blood (Be My Guest). The room was full of folks with their fists thrown in the air, singing along to every word like their lives depended on it. We ducked out before the very end of their set to get over to Molotow in time for New Junk City, but not before Red City Radio threw in a cover of Green Day’s Welcome To Paradise as well as mine and Colin’s favourite song, Show Me On The Doll Where The Music Touched You – ie. ‘I am a fucking juggernaut!’.

It was a fairly simple walking route, along the harbour and then up a main road, to Molotow but not the shortest of distances, hence why we chose to miss some of Red City Radio in favour of seeing a whole New Junk City set. The band, from Atlanta, Georgia, were one that we were both really looking forward to seeing live for the first time as their 2018 album Same Places has had a lot of airplay at CPRW HQ. We arrived just in time and found Larry from The Run Up excitedly waiting to watch his tour mates once again. We didn’t have to wait long as the band were soon off. I don’t really know what it was specifically about New Junk City but I was immediately hooked from the first note to the last, there was just this incredible energy that they displayed. The band’s bassist was so enthusiastic in fact that he managed to break a string – I’ve seen plenty of guitar strings break on stage but never a bass string so that was something! New Junk City were definitely one of my Booze Cruise highlights and I can’t wait to see them again.

Another band I was super excited to see were Austria's DeeCRACKS. I'd long been an admirer, from afar, of the Ramonescore act but had never had the opportunity to see them live. The crowd at Molotow wasn't quite as big as I had expected it to be but they definitely had some of the most enthusiastic people watching them, singing along and dancing with such joy. In true Ramonescore fashion, DeeCRACKS played song after song barely ever stopping. I'm always seriously impressed with not only how quick these bands play but with how they can go from one song into another so seamlessly. The UK is seriously short on bands playing this style so it was a real pleasure for me to see one as good as DeeCRACKS. A real festival highlight for me. Due to more and more bands of such high quality being on at the same time, as the festival went on into the night, we unfortunately had to leave a little early to see the next band on our schedule – it was a real hardship to pull myself away.

New York's Jukebox Romantics were a must see at Booze Cruise for me, especially as I'd passed up two opportunities to see them on their recent UK tour with Triple Sundae. We arrived at the Menschenzoo venue to discover it was a tiny basement with a small stage and bar it in. Of course the room was completely covered in stickers – this felt like a proper DIY punk venue. The tiny basement soon packed out for The Jukebox Romantics for what was a really wild set. The Booze Cruise crowd adored Jukebox Romantics – singing, dancing and generally losing their minds immediately. The three-piece on stage oozed charisma and are clearly very good at connecting with their crowd. This felt like a classic Fest show from the early days of the Gainesville festival but in a small basement in Hamburg and I loved it. Seeing the bodies pile up on each other in the pit, it was madness and it was beautiful. What a great band The Jukebox Romantics are, I was so happy to finally see them. They finished the set with a fantastic rendition of The Bouncing Souls’ Hopeless Romantics – ‘I’m a jukebox romantic…’ – which put another huge grin on my face. This wouldn't be the last we see of The Jukebox Romantics this evening…

After the sweaty chaos that was Jukebox Romantics, we headed outside and walked just a few doors down to a tiny bar (most likely the smallest Booze Cruise venue) called Gun Club. Scotland’s much loved acoustic guitar wielding Billy Liar has been playing shows for over ten years and so I’m ashamed to admit that Booze Cruise Festival 2019 was my first time seeing him play live (although Colin had seen him before). I soon found out what I’d been missing out on however and was instantly captivated by Billy and his stories – those he told in between songs and the songs themselves. His long awaited debut album, Some Legacy, is coming out on Red Scare on 21st June and so, alongside some older songs, we were treated to a couple of songs from that – it’s an album I now can’t wait to hear, that’s for sure. Billy Liar is great.

After Billy Liar we popped back into Menschenzoo to see Shelleycoat do a Get Up Kids cover set. Now if we're telling the truth, Emma and I don't know any Get Up Kids songs so reviewing this is pretty difficult. The basement was packed though and people seemed to be loving it so I guess Shellycoat did a great job!

Back at Gun Club, it was time for a covers set that was a little bit more on the silly side of things. Cory and Kirsty Call had got changed since we last saw them and were now beach-ready for their Beach Boys cover set – or, as Kirsty put in, they were the Beach Calls. Encouraging the crowd to sing along, partly because they weren’t sure they’d remember all the words themselves, this was a really fun cover set. I’m not overly familiar with Beach Boys song titles but I certainly recognised plenty of those that the Calls played, including Sloop John B, Surfing Safari and, of course, Wouldn’t It Be Nice. Billy Liar and Adam Carroll from Good Friend joined the Calls on stage towards the end and Billy initiated a rendition of, err, Wonderwall which Cory apparently didn’t actually know how to play but it was easy to pick up. All in all, this set was a little erratic but a whole lot of fun and that’s pretty important in punk rock I think.

Returning to Menschenzoo it was time for the final set of the day, The Jukebox Romantics were back on the stage for an Alkaline Trio cover set. This was a really busy set that the fine folk of Booze Cruise enjoyed a huge amount. There were big sing-alongs from the very beginning of the set with the crowd doing as much singing into the microphone as the band were. The packed room was now a sweatbox but this only added to the intensity of the set. Playing what was pretty much a best of set, The Jukebox Romantics performed fantastic versions of We've Had Enough, Private Eye, Armageddon, Radio and Crawl among many more (my memory is a little hazy). To finish the set off, they ditched Trio and opted for some more classic Bouncing Souls, this time it was True Believers. You must already know the reaction this got and it was the perfect way to end such a good opening day to Booze Cruise 2019.

This review was written by Colin Clark and Emma Prew. Photos also by Emma, although much better photos (that weren’t taken on a phone) can be viewed here.