Friday, 21 February 2020

Gig Review: The Menzingers at The Forum, London 15/2/20 (by Emma Prew)

Whenever The Menzingers – one of my all-time favourite bands – are in town, you can bet that I’ll be keen to go. I admit that I preferred when they were playing smaller venues than The Forum in Kentish Town and I begrudge giving my money to a) Ticketmaster and b) an O2 venue but they’re a great band and, unfortunately for me, more people have realised this over the years. Grumbles about venue size aside, I was also extra excited to attend this show when they announced that Spanish Love Songs would be touring with the Philly foursome. If The Menzingers are one of my all-time favourite bands then Spanish Love Songs are one of my most favourites of the past two or three years – so, basically, soon to be all-time favourites. Add to the tour Mannequin Pussy, a band that I hadn’t listened to before but, after checking them out briefly, was keen to see live. This was bound to be a brilliant gig.

As Colin had taken the day off work in order to join me at the gig (Saturday night gigs are generally not good for us), we headed in to London earlier than usual to make the most of the day – and also because we didn’t know what impact the dreaded Storm Dennis was going to have on the trains. Surprisingly, no problems whatsoever was the answer! We went to the London Calling exhibition at the Museum Of London in Barbican which was a small collection of artefacts and information about The Clash’s classic album. As it was a miserably rainy day in London, the museum was very busy so, if you can, I’d recommend going on a week day and not a Saturday to have space to take it all in – the exhibition is on until 19th April. After that we headed to Temple Of Seitan with our pals Paul and Taj, to fill our tummies before the big punk rock show. I’m fairly certain there were several other people at Temple Of Seitan who were also going to see The Menzingers. What can I say, us punks like vegan junk food. Stomachs satisfied, it was time to head to The Forum…

Mannequin Pussy are a four piece from Philadelphia who released their third album, Patience, on Epitaph Records last year and they were first on. I always love how The Menzingers tend to bring a band from their hometown on their European tours with them. It’s often bands that we perhaps won’t know so well over here so the fans get to discover a potential new favourite band and the band get to play to big new audiences – everyone’s happy! As I mentioned earlier, I listened to Mannequin Pussy a little ahead of the gig to get a vague idea of what they were like. I must admit that I was a little put off by their band name at first but their songs more than made up for it, with a sound ranging from indie-style pop punk to ferocious feminist hardcore. It was that ferocity that really stood out to me when watching the band perform live with lead vocalist and guitarist Marisa’s voice ranging from angelic softness to intense mosh-pit inducing screams. I would say I enjoyed the louder and livelier songs the most, particularly Drunk II. Mannequin Pussy are a great band and I’d happily watch them live again.

Spanish Love Songs just keep getting better and better, both in terms of live performances and in terms of new music. Their third album, Brave Faces Everyone, was released during this tour with The Menzingers (on the 7th February) and so this has been as much an album release tour as a killer support slot for them. In the 15 or so months since Spanish Love Songs made their debut appearance in the UK, I have seen them live six times – with their set at The Forum being my seventh. To say that I love Spanish Love Songs would be an understatement. I’d spent the week running up to this gig listening to Brave Faces Everyone (it’s great – I will get around to writing a full review at some point) and learning the words. Of course, when the band took to the stage, I wasted no time in losing my voice singing along to some of my favourite songs – with those around me doing the same. From opening hit single Losers through to Schmaltz classics such as Buffalo Buffalo, The Boy Considers His Haircut and set closer Beer & Nyquil with newer tunes Routine Pain, Kick and Losers, Pt. 2 thrown in between, I adored every second of Spanish Love Songs’ performance. The new songs sound better than ever live and fit in nicely alongside songs from Schmaltz. It’s a little sad that I don’t think we’ll be hearing songs from their first album, Giant Sings The Blues, again any time soon but, when the new songs are this good, I guess I can live with that. What a performance from a ‘support’ band. It won’t be long before Spanish Love Songs are headlining venues of this size themselves!

It had been over a year since I last saw The Menzingers headline their own show, having only seen them once last year at Slam Dunk Festival (not a prime example of a Menzingers gig, to be honest) so I was rather looking forward to their set. Of course, since I last saw them, The Menzingers have released their sixth album. I must admit to not being a huge fan of Hello Exile as a whole – I did review the album if you want to know more of my thoughts. Basically, I like the singles and a couple of other songs but it just didn’t meet the high standard set by 2017’s After The Party for me. However, I was hoping that by hearing the new songs live, I might see something in them that I was otherwise missing. Opening their set with Anna, the lead single from Hello Exile, seemed to go down a treat with the crowd and we certainly had no problem singing along to it as if it was an old favourite. The song has a big anthem-like feel and so it didn’t sound at all out of place being played to 2000 people. But what’s better than that many people singing along to ‘I have so much to yell you, Please come back to Philadelphia’? That many people yelling ‘I will fuck this up, I fucking know it’! To follow a newer song with The Obituaries, from the iconic album On The Impossible Past, was pretty perfect if you ask me. I certainly had a nice time screaming along to one of my favourite songs. From then on, it was a combination of songs from the last four albums including Rodent, Portland, Good Things, Burn After Writing, Tellin’ Lies and Strangers Forever. Tom was his typical bouncy self, truly having the best time on stage – not that the rest of the band weren’t, he’s just such a joy to watch. There was certainly no tiredness on show from the band due to this being this being the last night of the tour. Whether The Menzingers were playing songs from OTIP or Hello Exile, those around me were singing along to every single word with plenty of fists thrown in the air for the rowdier tunes. Clearly much of The Menzingers’ fan-base, or at least those that had come out to see them on this tour, didn’t have such doubts about the band’s latest album. I’m not sure hearing the songs live has changed my opinion all that much but there’s no denying that I still have the best time whenever I’m at a Menzingers show. They are still one of my favourite bands of all time.

Unfortunately, due to the questionable nature of Storm Dennis and the fact that our last train that didn’t involve a rail replacement bus service was at 10:35pm we had to leave the gig quite early. I was hoping to hear After The Party before we had to leave, as that’s always such a joy to scream along to, but I later found out that it was the very last song of the encore – understandable really as it’s such an awesome song! We missed about five or six songs, including a cover of Death Of Glory by The Clash which I’m sure would have been brilliant, but we did manage to get home without any hiccups. And, besides, I’m seeing The Menzingers (and Spanish Love Songs) again later this year anyway, when they play Booze Cruise Festival in Hamburg which is going to be ridiculously good! The whole line-up is incredible and having been to the DIY fest last year, I’d highly recommend it.

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

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Reasons To Go To Bristol Booze Cruise

Last year, Hamburg punk rock festival Booze Cruise branched out and started a sister festival in Bristol. Running during the second May bank holiday weekend, at one of the best DIY venues in the UK – The Exchange – it features a whole host of the best new bands from the UK, Europe and the Unites States. Unfortunately, the weekend clashes with long running alternative music festival Slam Dunk, providing a difficult decision for people about which to go to. Here's my top ten reasons to go to Bristol Booze Cruise.

1. Support DIY Festivals

It's important to support smaller festivals to help them grow and continue to exist. The more festivals there are, the more choice people have with what they want to do and the more chances there are for bands to get on bills and potentially play to a new audience. For me personally, supporting a DIY festival is more rewarding than attending a big, corporate sponsored festival. I know I'll have fun at both but I'll feel more a part of something exciting at Booze Cruise.

2. Support Small Bands

I touched on this on point one, but at Booze Cruise you will have the opportunity to see some bands you probably haven't before and no doubt you'll become a fan of those bands. Something that's put me off of Slam Dunk over the past few years is the use of the same collection of bands. A lot of time, it's also bands from twenty years ago and not many who are current. Admittedly, we all like to get a bit nostalgic now and again but we need to support the up and coming bands. If we don't, the scene won't be able to survive and exist like it does today.

3. Non Cis/Females On Stage

A big complaint many people have about festivals is the lack of representation of non-male people. It's nice to see Booze Cruise (along with other DIY festivals like MPF) tackle this. On the line-up this year, they have seventeen out of the forty-three bands that feature non cis/female members which is just fantastic. On the Sunday, the weekend finishes with three of those bands – Ramona, Worriers and Petrol Girls. To me, that's a great statement of intent from the Booze Cruise organisers that they want it to be a festival of diversity and inclusion. I love to see it.

4. International Bands In The UK For The First Time

Booze Cruise offers newer bands from abroad a chance to come to the UK for the very first time. I love seeing bands such as these come over for the first time and gaining more fans each time they come back. Among the bands coming over to the UK for the first time this year are Ramona, Captain Asshole, Moonraker, Typesetter, Disaster Jacks, Higley, Hit Like A Girl, Alright, Late Bloomer and Jabber. So, come see them before they start playing bigger venues!

5. The Exchange

As I said in the introduction, Booze Cruise will be taking place at The Exchange in Bristol. The Exchange is one of the UK's premier DIY venues and has become a regular stop on tours for many DIY bands. The great thing about The Exchange is that it's not just a venue. It's also a vegan café and the headquarters of Specialist Subject Records. If you have time between bands, you can go and enjoy some fantastic cake or buy some records from the shop. It's got everything you could possibly need all in one place!

6. A Friendly Community

From my experience of Hamburg Booze Cruise last year and DIY festivals in general, there's always such a friendly atmosphere at these events. I expect Bristol Booze Cruise to be no different. The crowd of people who attend, whether you know them or you don't, can usually make a good festival a great festival. This is the sort of festival you can expect to come away from having a lot of new friends to meet at other festivals throughout the year.


One of the biggest headaches from all festivals is the potential for clashes. Something wonderful about Bristol Booze Cruise is that there are no clashes at all. The only thing stopping you from seeing all forty-three bands is the need to eat occasionally. But, with the Exchange café, you won't need to go far for some grub before getting back to the punk rock fun times.

8. Bristol

This isn't really a festival related reason as such. Rather, just a letter of love to the city of Bristol. It's such a beautiful and vibrant place with plenty of things to offer if you've got time either side of the festival. In my experience, it's definitely one of the friendliest cities in the UK and I always look forward to going back there whenever I get the opportunity.

9. Value For Money

All three days of the festivals is just £55. That's a cracking bit of value when you consider it is possible to also see every single band. That's less than £1.30 a band! Compare that to the £75 that it costs to go to Slam Dunk where you'll do well to see ten different bands, you know which one financially makes the most amount of sense.

10. Get Out Of A Rut And Start A New Tradition

A lot of people I speak to continue to go to Slam Dunk every year just because it's what they do. Even if they don't enjoy it as much as they once did, they continue to go out of habit. Bristol Booze Cruise offers such a fantastic chance to do something different, perhaps start a new yearly tradition or even a new bi-yearly one where you alternate between festivals. Booze Cruise offers a fantastic choice that we haven't really had before.

You can buy tickets for Bristol Booze Cruise here.

Check out the Facebook event here.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Album Review: Capture Phase by Capture Phase (by Marcus Pond)

Capture Phase is a four piece group out of the great city of Austin, Texas.

Their three-song self-titled EP was released in December of 2019, but didn’t drift onto my radar until the second week of January, when I was combing through the show listings of some of my favorite Austin venues. Their Bandcamp page has quite a few other genres listed, so much so that I wondered if this would be an enjoyable entry for CPRW readers/listeners. However, in addition to having the labels “experimental”, “progressive”, and “noise rock”, they also had “punk” listed twice, so I’ll allow it.

If I had to file them into one of punk’s many sub-genres, I’d probably go with “post-hardcore”, since “Minute Man” scratches the itch in the part of my brain that really likes Hot Snakes and Fugazi. It opens up the EP with a burst of frenetic drumming and angular guitars screeching, before a humming bass line leads to some Ian MacKaye-esque vocals. I can hardly make out the lyrics, but themes of corruption and the repeated line “Screaming / At the ceiling” tell you what you need to know about this track.

My favorite tune is the closer, “Bone Consulate”, which was featured on the January CPRW playlist. Here, Capture Phase utilized some time signature changes and jazzy drumming to worm the line “Inside the Bone Consulate” into my brain. I don’t know what (or where?) the Bone Consulate is, but it’s sung with such a swagger that I’m pretty sure it’s cool and maybe a little dangerous but has good music playing on the PA. I sort of want to go there.

On display in this EP is Capture Phase’s ability to create a swirling ocean of sound in each verse, and pull the listener out of the water for a few moments during the chorus, catching their breath before getting pulled back in. On repeat listens, I was able to better appreciate what I had already seen live, especially the top-notch drum work and alternating vocals.

The unofficial/official motto of Austin is “Keep Austin Weird”, so it makes sense that Capture Phase don’t fit perfectly into a niche. The Texas capital is a musical melting pot, and it wouldn’t surprise me if each of the band members’ previous groups were from totally different genres.

While they may not sound like your typical fist-in-the-air, mosh-pit punkers, Capture Phase still have a punk streak that’s evident in their delivery and attitude. I don’t personally have a ton of other bands in my music library that I’d compare them to, but in this case, it’s the variety that’s the spice of life.

RIYL: Fugazi, Hot Snakes, Jawbox, breakfast tacos and kolaches.

Stream and download Capture Phase here.

Like Capture Phase here.

This review was written by Marcus Pond.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Album Review: Saving The Genre, And You Know It… Split by Jagger Holly & The Windowsill

If I had a pound for every time I spoke of my love of splits then I would probably have an even bigger collection of vinyl and band t-shirts. Splits are such a great way to discover new bands. In December, Ramonescore bands Jagger Holly and The Windowsill released Saving The Genre, And You Know It... on Shield Recordings. Featuring four songs from each band, it promised to be a lot of fun.

The first half of the split features Jagger Holly. Featuring members of Johnie 3, Dee Cracks and On My Arms, Jagger Holly play melodic and catchy pop punk. This is something you would expect from a band who have previously released music on Monster Zero and Out Loud Records. Their first song on the split is titled Nobody Wants You. This is pop punk at its finest – no thrills, catchy, melodic and fun. Jagger Holly will have you singing along in no time with this song about wanting somebody more than anyone else does. Out Of Luck continues down the same musical path but picks up some more delightful harmonies along the way. Something I really enjoy about the sound of the track is how much it reminds me of one of my favourite bands ever – The McRackins. A lot of bands have combined pop punk and summer beach vibes over the years and Jagger Holly do a smashing job of it here.

Better Off (Without You) is a slightly slower almost ballad-like song. It's about trying to convince yourself that you're doing well by yourself after a break-up. The song has a slow build throughout that leads wonderfully to the final chorus which quickly takes up residence in your head and will have you singing along extra passionately. What I love about the song is the simplicity of it all. I feels like a conversation with the band’s singer being backed subtlety by the band and it works brilliantly. The final Jagger Holly track is named All The Boys. This song actually has a bit of an intro that allows you to get excited for what the song is about to go into. All The Boys is perhaps my favourite of the four Jagger Holly tracks on the split. It bridges the gap between pop punk and melodic gruff punk wonderfully. It's got a great fist-in-the-air chorus with some great harmonies and gang vocals. The song is about competing with other people for someone’s affections

The first song from The Windowsill is titled Cigarettes Kill. The Dutch punk rockers play a much more traditional Ramonescore style. Which isn't surprising given that three members of The Windowsill used to play in The Apers and the fourth is a member of Accelerators. The Windowsill certainly have some pedigree. I say Ramonescore and I assume you know what to expect – buzzing guitars, a pounding drumbeat and an urgent sounding vocal with plenty of harmonies. It's a simple formula and The Windowsill do it really well. Cigarettes Kill has a great amount of energy around it and will have you bopping along in no time at all. Don't Worry Baby is another great example of simple brilliance. There's a no thrills feel that makes the track really accessible but there's enough about the way in which everything is delivered to keep the song feeling fresh. This is very impressive songwriting. Don't Worry Baby is about being there for the person you care about when they're going through the tough times.

Lead Back To You has the best harmonies of the entire record on them. They happen in the last act of the song and has me itching to see it live. This is a break-up song, as lead singer Marien Nicotine looks back over a past relationship about how and why things fell apart. There's a sadness about the song that you don't often feel in this style of music and, do you know what, I like it. The harmonies at the song’s ending make it feel as if this should be the last song but there's still one to go – Last September. Wow, I loved how Last September starts. It's surprising and a bit startling but will welcome everyone into the song brilliantly. It's a punchy yet somehow melodic opening that will get you singing along from the outset. The chorus continues in that fashion but picks the pace up somewhat, adding some fantastic urgency to this final song.

This is a fantastic split by two brilliant pop punk bands. I was very impressed with both band’s sides of the split and both have me wanting to check out more from Jagger Holly and The Windowsill. I guess this was the idea of the split and it was quite the success.

Stream and download Saving The Genre, And You Know It… here.

Like Jagger Holly here and like The Windowsill here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Album Review: Glad For A Moment by Kick Back

Kick Back are a three piece skate punk band. They formed in Munich in 2017. After releasing a demo in August of 2018, in December of 2019 they released their first EP named Glad For A Moment. Playing a blend of skate and pop punk, I had a feeling that this was going to be something I was really going to enjoy.

The opening song on Glad For A Moment is titled Try. It starts out with a ferocious drum beat and a guitar riff that's urgent and will get you bouncing around, you know that standard skate/pop punk sound. It's when the vocals came in that I really began to get excited. MULTIPLE VOCALISTS! You know I'm in for that. Kick Back's two singers do a fantastic job bouncing off one another as well as combining for the chorus. I always mention how having gang vocals on a chorus can make it sound absolutely massive. Try is a great way to begin the EP and introduce people to Kick Back. The second song on the EP is Prostitute. Prostitute sees Kick Back step away from the poppier side of their sound and produce a full on punk rock song. I enjoyed this switch of styles, it shows a nice variation of their sound as well as their influences. The bass playing on the song is a big stand out, really driving the song forward. The song itself is about being a stripper and thinking about taking things further and becoming a prostitute and the mental anguish such a decision might cause. The final track is named Have Hope and sees Kick Back revert back to the sound of the opening track. Personally I think that this is where Kick Back really excel, it's a lot of fun and is full of energy. Vocals come from everywhere and quickly have you wanting to sing along. It's a positive song about calling your friends when you're not feeling great and they will look after you. That's what friends do.

A big trend of 2019 was discovering incredible German bands. This trend looks to continue in 2020. Kick Back are awesome. Looking forward to what is to come from the band.

Stream and download Glad For A Moment here.

Like Kick Back here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Gig Review: Pkew Pkew Pkew at Boston Music Room, London 8/2/20

Less than a year after their last London appearance, everyone's favourite Canadian boys Pkew Pkew Pkew were back! Making their first appearance at Boston Music Room in Tufnell Park, as always the evening promised to big a night of big sing-alongs and even bigger smiles.

Curiously the promoters had only added one support act to the show (which to me felt like a waste) which was a band I'd never heard of before named Gloo. It turns out they are a three piece band from Littlehampton in West Sussex. The band play a brand of noisy garage rock similar to bands such as The Hives and The Vines. They had plenty of punk rock swagger about them during their set and were pretty engaging, even if they weren't really my kind of thing. Clearly a band that are extremely tight, they blew through their set in no time at all. I particularly enjoyed mention of their "Gloo-tique" which was a bunch of shirts bought from charity shops that they've then screen printed themselves, I thought this was a fantastic idea. If you're into the noisier side of punk and rock 'n' roll, I'd recommend checking out Gloo.

Boston Music Room was getting pretty full by the time Toronto's Pkew Pkew Pkew took to the stage. The band's popularity has been quickly increasing in the UK over the past couple of years due to their catchy and energetic style of pop punk where the band tackles subjects that are hugely relatable for people approaching their thirties. Something I've always enjoyed whenever I've seen Pkew live is how, whatever the show is, they always put 100% into their performance – they love what they do and their fans love them for it. Opening the set with Passed Out before jumping into Stop Calling Us Chief got the crowd going pretty quickly and from then onwards the set was full of big sing-alongs and plenty of fists in the air. Everyone was having a fun-filled Saturday night and the band were too. It's crazy just how many big songs Pkew have despite only having released two albums at this point. Now that album number two, Optimal Lifestyles, has been out for a little while it has settled into the setlist nicely and both albums seem to blend perfectly together. The band also seem slicker than ever, with all three guitar and bass players seemingly knowing exactly the right moments to tune without having to spend ages between songs doing it. This is great because it really helped to keep the flow of the set going without breaking it up too much. The set absolutely flew by, far quicker than anyone wanted it to and before we knew it they were smashing out their biggest hit Mid 20s Skateboarder to the adoring crowd. That wasn't enough for the crowd though and pretty quickly Pkew returned to the stage for a three song encore which included The Prime Minister Of The Defence and Blood Clot. My mind is a bit fuzzy on the third song.

This was a fun night in a room full of lovely people all having a great time. What more could you possibly want?

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

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Top Tens: Colin's Top Ten Punk Rock Love Songs

Commercialised love day is tomorrow. Whilst we're not really into the day itself, we do appreciate a great love song. I'm also really struggling to come up with ideas for top ten so it all fits. Following on from Robyn's top ten punk rock love songs from a couple of years ago, Colin has decided to share his own.

Aerial Salad – Romance?
Aerial Salad's brand new single from their upcoming new album, Dirt Mall, asks the question ‘do you want romance?’. It's about wanting to offer a girl something different from the usual way that "lads" would attempt to attract a girl – old school romance and a heavy dose of respect. It's a sweet song with a great message, trying to prove that not all men are dicks.

The Apers – Moonlight Kisses
Dutch punks The Apers wrote the loveliest of love songs on their final album Confetti On The Floor. On the track, Kevin Aper sings about being blown away by the kisses from his loved one. How they make him feel better and how he couldn't do without them. In the world of pop punk, every song seems like it's about getting dumped so this happy and positive song proves to be a breath of fresh air.

Big D & The Kids Table – We Can Live Anywhere
I think that this is one of Big D & The Kids Table's best songs and it makes me sad that I've never seen them play it live. It shows the softer side of the Boston ska punk legends. It opens with a sexy sax riff, before David McWane begins to croon his way through a song about home being anywhere you want it to be as long as you're together. It's so lovely that it's almost sickening but also always puts a massive smile on my face. As someone who has moved towns to live with the person they love, I relate to the song hard.

The Bouncing Souls – Favorite Everything
New Jersey's Bouncing Souls have never shied away from the soppy love song during their long and illustrious career. In 2019 they topped the soppy league table with the song Favorite Everything. On the song, Greg Attonito sings about how his partner is the best and lists plenty of reasons why. I can remember seeing them live last year and singing along with this song and directing it at Emma. Given that we were with our friends and public displays of affection are gross, she wasn't keen on this. She's such a punk.

Descendents – Nothing With You
I think it's every punk rock geek’s dream to hang out with the girl or guy they like and do literally nothing but have the best time. Those times doing nothing are the best times you can have with people. Milo brilliantly describes what we were all yearning for when we were growing up and now it happens I treasure the moment even more.

MakeWar - Tiger Lili
You might not have expected a band with the name MakeWar to write a love song, but they did – and it's bloody good. On Tiger Lili, Jose Prieto has written a love letter to his partner thanking them for helping him through the tough times and just making life better whenever you spend time together. This is a song straight from the ‘Colin & Emma’ playlist. Before I met Emma, I was going through one of the hardest times in my life and Emma came along and things all seemed to get better and fall into place. When I first heard this song, I got a lump in my throat at just how hard I related.

Masked Intruder – Heart Shaped Guitar
The first song on this list that's a duet. Technically it's only half a love song as Intruder Blue sings of his love for Maura Weaver (Mixtapes/Ogikubo Station) while she sings about her repulsion for him. This repulsion really serves as a way to make Blue's lyrics even more sweet and make you almost feel sorry for him and his unrequited love. We've all been there, except without the balaclavas.

New Town Kings – Grabbed My Hand
Colchester ska heroes the New Town Kings wrote this beautiful song back in 2014 about how life really gets started when you meet somebody you love. It shows the band venturing off into a newer style that came after Dabs Bonner joined the band. Another song that's oozing with positivity, I have to imagine it's been a few people’s first dances at their weddings.

The Skints – Lay You Down
Let's be frank, this song is about the s-e-x. The Skints are at their poppy ska finest on this bouncy number where Josh sings a song about wanting to get a girl into bed. It's forward, there's no denying it, but Josh has a cheeky charm that allows him to get away with it. It's also a catchy track that you can't help but sing along with and grin like a fool.

Teenage Bottlerocket – I Found The One
With lyrics such as "the star of all my wet dreams" and "I'm so horny that I don't know what to do, and now my balls are turning blue" Teenage Bottlerocket give a crude and humorous take on what it's like to fall for someone and wanting to ask them out. Despite the rude lyrics (sorry if you're reading this, Mumma C), Teenage Bottlerocket manage to come across as being pretty endearing and sweet on this song. They probably shouldn't, but they do.

This top ten was written by Colin Clark.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

Gig Review: The Interrupters at Kentish Town Forum, London 7/2/20 (by Chris Bishton)

It's Friday night and it's my second gig of the week. I'm heading back north of the river, this time to see The Interrupters at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town.

It's sold out. It kinda blows my mind. Only 14 months ago, I'd seen them down the road at the smaller Electric Ballroom. The time before that, they'd been at the even smaller Tufnell Park Dome. Now, they're at the O2 Forum… a venue I've attended most recently to see legends like Descendents, Bad Religion and Jawbreaker! And this is the first of two nights they're playing here.

So, now I'm racing to get there in time for the first band, Buster Shuffle. My friend and I have been talking for ages about wanting to see them, but I'm really conscious I'm running late and they're first on. I get to pub, but there's no time for a drink or a catch up. Instead, we head straight in and take up a spot just before they come on. We're not disappointed. Playing a home town gig, they've soon got the crowd going even though the doors have only been open half an hour and it's still filling up. As Jet – lead singer and piano player – notes, they need to play more London shows.

Next are The Skints. They slow things down a little following Buster Shuffle. Mellower and with more of a reggae sound mixed with their laid back ska, they have 42 minutes on stage. However, I miss a good chunk of their set due to queuing at the bar. For a venue that holds 2000+, one small bar on either side and one tiny cash only kiosk at the back is not good. My local pub has almost as much bar space and just as many bar staff! Please take note O2 Forum.

As usual, The Specials's Ghost Town is the tune that The Interrupters choose to take to the stage to. As the lights drop and those familiar bars start, the crowd are buzzing. It seems everyone can sense this is going to be a good one.

Jesse is first on stage, taking up his place behind the drum kit. He's swiftly followed by Justin, Kevin and Aimee Interrupter. The first song is A Friend Like Me. A brilliant start and one that seems chosen to reference the mutual love in the room.

What follows is a fabulous set of, what are now, greatest hits. Songs from all three albums get played including White Noise, By My Side, Got Each Other, Not Personal, She Got Arrested and On A Turntable.

The band and the audience are frenetic. Justin is backwards and forwards from one side of the stage to the other the whole time. Aimee doesn't stop either. Not hindered by an instrument, she's left to right and back again, before disappearing from sight as she jumps off stage to get close to the front row. She then reappears, arms pumping and all the time doesn't miss a note.

Breathers are taken at various points as Kevin talks to the crowd and introduces both the songs and the band. There's no covers this time, although The Specials's Message To You Rudy is started, it's only the first three bars and they don't finish it.

Take Back The Power, a particular crowd favourite, is a protest song but also a song about unity and how we can come together and is met with a roar. Title Holder, a song about fighting but not fighting each other, rather addiction, anxiety and oppression, is also especially well received.

Kevin then splits the audience in half before asking the two sides to run in to meet each other as Aimee counts down from four to signal the start of Gave You Everything and the crowd going wild.

The time fizzes by (did they really play 20+ songs!?). In what seems like just a few minutes after they came on stage, Kevin tells us they one have one more song. But, as the lights go out and the crowd chant for more, the band don't actually leave the stage. Kevin self-deprecatingly remarks that they aren't a big enough band to be able to leave the stage in case no one calls for them to come back, before they finish with Family and She's Kerosene.

The gig is the penultimate date on the Fight the Good Fight Tour. I haven't looked up when exactly the tour started, but the album with the aforementioned title was released way back in mid-2018.

The band must be exhausted both mentally and physically, both from the gig and the tour, but no one would ever guess. There are no signs of fatigue. The four of them have huge smiles on their faces the whole time they're on stage. They clearly love what they're doing and at times can't quite believe they're now playing these sort of venues.

However, the crowd can believe it. The band are brilliant both on record and on a stage. I'm sure there'll be many more nights like this, but they'll increasingly have to manage the increasing demand for them to play more and more places. My hope now is I don't have to wait years before they're back here again.

This gig review was written Chris Bishton.

Album Review: L’ennui by Guerilla Poubelle (by Emma Prew)

I’m about to attempt to do something that I’ve never done before: review an album where I don’t understand any of the words, unless I use Google Translate, because I don’t speak any French beyond ‘bonjour’, ‘je m’appel Emma’, ‘merci’ and ‘au revior’. This is not something that I would dream of attempting, did I not already really like the band in question. I listened to said album on the day of its release and then immediately put it on again because I enjoyed it so much – all despite the language barrier. It also felt pretty appropriate to be listening to a French band on the day the UK left the EU. Fuck Brexit.

Guerilla Poubelle are a punk rock trio from Paris who have toured the world, including playing shows at The Fest, Pouzza Fest, Booze Cruise Festival and Manchester Punk Festival as well as France’s own This Is My Fest (which, I think I’m correct in saying, they have a hand in putting together each year). They are a super hard working band with strong DIY ethics – they even have their own label, Guerilla Asso. Their new album, L’ennui (which translates as ‘Boredom’ by the way, if you also do not speak French but were wondering), was released on the 31st January on said label. Oh, and the legends that are Red Scare Industries are putting it out too!

The fact that the album has 13 tracks in a 30 minute run time is a sign that this going to be relentlessly fast-paced. And this theory is proved correct with opening track Les frontières du présent which is loud and fast from the outset. Here Guerilla Poubelle deliver a rousing protest against the world’s borders. The vocals are distinctly gruff and the chorus is a wonderful gang affair – even if I can’t quite sing along myself, yet. Second song, La chute, slows things down a little with chugging guitar and bass parts to open the song. The chorus is a catchy one which works well with the bouncy melody. The pace returns for Qui perd perd which is not far off being a full-on hardcore anthem. I wouldn’t want to be near the pit for this song – because I’m small and would probably get crushed. It’s easy to feel the rage that the band express here through the intensity of their playing and the almost screamed vocals. Unsurprisingly, the song finishes in just over a minute.

Fourth track, Apocalypse 6:12, is probably the song that stood out to me the most on my first listen through, not least because of its dark title. It’s definitely not as ‘hardcore’ as the previous track, instead taking a more mid-tempo path. I really enjoyed the exchanging of vocals between different members of the band for the chorus, something that is mirrored between the bass and guitar melodies as well. The next track, La bataille de Paris, switches in pace throughout. This helps to keep the listener’s attention and keeps you guessing what will happen next. Entre Booba et Balkany is the longest song on L’ennui, at well over 3 minutes long, and it sees Guerilla Poubelle deliver something quite different to everything we’ve heard so far. The song has a slow and extended musical introduction which builds with intensity for half of its duration before bursting to life. The whole song showcases what brilliant musicians Guerilla Poubelle are.

The seventh and eighth tracks on the album, La casse du siècle and L'aigle et la foudre respectively, are both super melodic, mid-tempo tunes. There’s plenty more shout-along-able gang vocal moments, catchy riffs and even some whoa-ohs. I should note that I have used Google Translate and read all of the lyrics for this album, it’s pretty dark stuff but inspirational at the same time, it’s good that Guerilla Poubelle are able to write songs about such important political topics. The volume is amped up once more for Passer l'arme à droite and we have one of the catchiest choruses of the album – ‘Est-ce qu’on passera l’arme à droite ?’ / ‘Will we pass the weapon to the right?’. Catchy but hard-hitting, much like the music itself. Vampire is the name of the tenth song. Opening with a beefy bass line, shortly followed by a steady drumbeat and those gravelly vocals, it’s unusual that the guitar doesn’t come in until just before the chorus. When it does come in however, it sure packs a punch. 

La guerre des pauvres is another upbeat ambush of angry punk rock. The track hurtles along at a breakneck pace but towards the end of the song there’s a short breakdown section that allows the listener to take a breath as they nod along to the riffs on offer. At least until the the pace picks up again for the last leg. The penultimate song is titled L'argile. Opening with a heavily distorted bass line and pounding drums, L'argile is probably the slowest song on the album but what it lacks in speed it makes up for with fraught emotion. In less than 2 minutes, however, it’s all over and Guerilla Poubelle ramp things up for their final song, Mare Nostrum. Bringing the album full circle, Mare Nostrum takes on the subject of refugees and freedom of movement. Understandably, it’s another hard-hitting song both musically and lyrically – the chorus being ‘Victimes de survie et d’espoir, Au fond du plus grand cimetière d'Europe’ / ‘Victims of survival and hope, At the bottom of the largest cemetery in Europe’. With plenty of atmospheric building throughout the song, it certainly feels like a huge and poignant way to end the album. 

Even before I’d copy and pasted the lyrics from the band’s Bandcamp page into Google Translate, I knew that this was an angry, anti-fascist, pro-equality, political protest album. I’ve seen Guerilla Poubelle live and I know that’s what they’re about. I also don’t have to understand every single lyric to feel the passion and raw energy they put into their music. So, if you too do not speak French, please do not let that stop you from checking out L’ennui and Guerilla Poubelle because I think it’s brilliant.

You can stream and download L’ennui on Bandcamp here and like Guerilla Poubelle on Facebook here.

This review was written by Emma Prew.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Album Review: Algorithm & Blues by The Good The Bad And The Zugly (by Lee Morton)

Norwegian punks The Good the Bad and the Zugly have made an early claim for album of the year, and we’re not even through January (at the time of writing this). Their fourth album, “Algorithm & Blues”, doesn’t let up for one second, packed with so many stone-cold bangers that it’s nearly impossible to pick a favourite.

With their last album, “Misanthropical House”, winning a Norwegian Grammy it’s fair to say that the bar has been set high for its follow up but GBZ are not known for running away from a bar, in fact the only thing they are better at than raising the bar would be drinking one dry.

Before I dive in to the review, let’s get the lazy comparison out of the way first. Whilst GBZ share a lead singer Ivar Nikolaisen with metallers Kvelertak, they are no clone. Although I can hear some cross-over between them but, if you think of them like Norse gods striding the Norwegian music scene, Kvelertak would be the strong, heroic Thor and GBZ would be the cunning, mischievous Loki and I know who you would have more fun with.

And it’s fun all the way, as an extended classic rock style riff opens first track “Welcome To The Great Outdoors”. With a hint of Pinball Wizard in the intro, the song quickly mutates into a scuzzy, garage punk romp. It’s GBZ firing on all cylinders and the perfect re-introduction to the band as it stomps along casually throwing melodies at your ears and catchy singalongs.

Featuring a more hardcore vocal style, “Fake Noose” follows and despite its heaviness it still retains infectious melodies, riffs galore and gang vocals to shout yourself hoarse to. But it’s track three where they really take off as a twinkling bittersweet intro, reminiscent of Billy Talent to my ears at least, really showcases everything the band are about. Possibly one of their most accessible songs, “Staying With The Trouble” is almost epic at points with guitar licks that would make Slash proud and the greasy rock sound nicely offset against a beautiful choir. At the time of writing this, it’s my favourite song on the album although that will have changed again by the time I finish.

After the brief spoken word interlude of “Follow Your Dreams”, things get fast and nasty with the one-minute blitzkrieg of “Kings Of Inconvenience” that has all the subtlety of a brick through a window and causes just as much damage.

If you’ve ever listened to GBZ before you’ll know that they don’t take themselves too seriously and that comes across over the next couple of tracks. Take “The Man Behind The (Oxygen) Mask” for example, a song about sleep apnoea of all things. Tongue wedged firmly in cheek, this breakneck track details the struggle of middle-aged men with another massive chorus line of gang vocals screaming the line “breathe in, breathe out, easy for you to say, I need a fucking machine to get me through the day”.

“Fuck Life…But How To Live It?” follows and is all about the struggle of balancing real-life jobs with playing in a band, working hard during the week and raising hell at weekends. Guitars chug away until a mid-point change in tempo and the call and response refrain of “Friday night, 50 euros in my pocket”, which will sound massive in the live environment.

Another track about band life but this time pointing the finger at other bands is up next in “Corporate Rock”. Guitars buzz away as singer Ivar takes potshots at bands with big marketing machines behind them, while they stay resolutely DIY. It hits the mark brilliantly.

Things take a turn to the political on the self-explanatory “The Kids Are Alt-Right”, which takes aim at the worrying rise of white supremacy. More great guitar work powers this along but it’s the haunting sad realism to the line “I’ve seen the truth, there is a darkness spreading in the heart of our youth” that really sticks with you.

Continuing the righteous anger whilst doffing their cap to NWA, “Fuck The Police” is a storm of riffs whilst the constant chanting of “fuck the police” ups the menace and is sure to incite mass shout backs when played live.

“Kisteglad” provides an interlude before the final track “Requiem”, a scuzzy, punk banger that pours yet more riffs into the melting pot before fading out as ominous church bells chime in the background, providing a gloriously fitting finale to the album.

If it’s not already evident after reading this, I loved this album. I had high hopes based on previous releases and this doesn’t disappoint, in fact I’d have to say that it’s their most coherent and comprehensive album yet. Now, if they could just drag their arses to the UK so I can hear it live.

Stream and download Algorithm & Blues here.

Like The Good The Bad And The Zugly here.

This review was written by Lee Morton.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Gig Review: Anti-Flag at Islington Academy, London 4/2/20 (by Chris Bishton)

Sometimes when bands announce gigs, much as I want to see them, I pause and think "when this comes around, am I really going to fancy it?". On paper, a Tuesday night, in the first week of February, at a venue that's north of the river was one of these gigs that might make me think twice. But when that band is Anti-Flag, no way was that ever going to cross my mind with this gig.

I get to the venue when Maid of Ace are already on stage. A four piece from Hastings and my first thought is that they're very tight, as you might expect from a band that's made up of four siblings, but by the time I've properly got into the venue, got to the bar and then got my spot in the audience sorted, their set is pretty much over. However, they've made enough of an impression for me to make a mental note to check them out online in the next few days.

Next are Canada's The Creepshow. I'll be honest, even though they've been a band for around 15 years, I'm not familiar with them. They're a charismatic blend of psychobilly and horror punk. Not normally my thing, but I love their set. Anyone with that amount on energy that's able to play a double bass above their head is a winner for me. The crowd seem to think so as well – in the end the perfect warm up for Anti-Flag.

Staring down as the backdrop to the stage is the banner of Trump and the cover of the recently released new Anti-Flag album. It's pretty well documented the band have never called out specific politicians in the past, despite their fabulous political, economic and social commentary they've never wanted to define their music in that way. But now they've made an exception. Identifying Trump as such a odious individual and dangerous threat to both the US and the rest of the world that his image forms the artwork on the new album and he's sampled on its opening track. And with the gig falling on the same day as his State of the Union address and his impeachment trial on the verge of collapse, it suddenly seems so much more important and appropriate for Anti-Flag to take this new approach.

And so, we're now ready. Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones kicks in and the crowd know the band are about to take the stage. They enter one at at time, all of them dressed as usual in black. All looking so cool.

Whenever a band tour on the back of a new record, I'm always slightly nervous that the new stuff will take too much prominence when really everyone is there to hear them play the classics. But, I've got no such fears following the release of 20/20 Vision a couple of weeks earlier. It's a brilliant album that's been on constant rotation. If they played it from start to finish I wouldn't be unhappy. So perhaps the band know this, as they kick off their set with Christian Nationalist and the crowd love it. It's the latest socio-politically charged anthem and another defining Anti-Flag song. It's only been out a couple of weeks, but the crowd already know it inside as they scream "you're no better than the rest, white neo-christian nationalist!".

What follows is a blistering set. They've released so many albums it must be hard to decide on what to include and what to leave out, but we get loads of classics including The Press Corpse, Turncoat, Trouble Follows Me, 1 Trillion Dollar$ and Fuck Police Brutality as well as the new ones Hate Conquers All and 20/20 Vision.

Justin and Chris#2 swap lead vocal duties throughout and, as you'd expect, the band frequently deliver their politically inspired messages in between songs raging against hatred, bigotry, corporate greed and police brutality. At various points we're asked to raise our middle fingers in the air, shake hands with strangers next to us and create a circle pit in what is actually a relatively small venue.

The whole set and performance is obviously well rehearsed. Chris#2 is up on, and then leaping off, speakers before throwing the microphone stand complete with loudhailer still attached over his shoulder without looking, safe in the knowledge he's done it so many times someone will be behind him to catch it.

With the band off stage, the crowd start calling for the encore, not with the traditional "more, more, more" but with a chant of "you've gotta die, gotta die, gotta die, for your government, die for your government, that's shit!" whilst stamping on the floor and banging the bar to the beat of one of the band's classics.

As expected, they reappear and dutifully give us what we want, blasting out four more songs complete with a mini stage invasion with The Homeless Gospel Choir (why weren't they publicised as playing beforehand?) and the familiar finish of Pat's drum kit being dragged into the audience before Chris#2 also ends up on the floor with us.

The end of the night is signalled by the band urging us and the world to generally fight for all that is good before Whitney Houston's I Will Always Love You blasts out over the PA and we step out into the cold night. Well worth a trip north of the river!

This gig review was written Chris Bishton.

Album Review: Here Lies Ordinary by Laughing In The Face Of (by Omar Ramlugon)

Birmingham’s Laughing In The Face Of have been hacking away in the punk game since 2002, with prior LPs Technically, It’s Not Our Fault and The Lubrication Of Social Anxiety being released in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Aside from a natty line in Zappa-esque song titles, the foursome also know their way around pin-sharp shred-tinged punk in the vein of A Wilhelm Scream and it’s very much the order of the day on their most recent release Here Lies Ordinary.

Opener ‘The Regression Session’ followed by ‘Projectile Dysfunction’ are best viewed as two parts of a whole, as they seem to blend directly into one another with little breath in between. Not that it’s a bad thing, as the former gently fades into view before piling in with hyperactive riffs, while the second track even throws in a Tool-esque stomp in between the speed-of-light thrashing.

Lyrically, the band zeroes in on the pain of the human condition and the struggle inherent in finding one’s purpose in life, set at odds with the often unappealing nature of corporate work. ‘Bullshit With A Smile’ is particularly cutting in this regard, which lends the hooky, melodic guitars even more power and focus. While ‘Running With Coffee’, for its part, incorporates some killer hammer-on/pull-off sections in amongst the snarky tone of the song.

There’s a sense of irrepressible energy throughout the LP and, while the songs largely have a fairly similar sound, it gives the album a distinct sonic landscape. Furthermore, in amongst the often mournful lyrics are flashes of humour; the It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia sample at the end of ‘Modus Operandi’ is particularly well placed. The musicianship displayed is consistently excellent, with an absolutely watertight and dazzling rhythm section that is more than a match for the fretboard pyrotechnics on display, as well as an ear for harmony and an often disarmingly sweet vocal delivery in amongst the gang shouts. At times the riffing rivals heavy metal in its low end muscle, but without any of that genre’s at times portentous and po-faced tendencies.

This is a rager of an album with good hearted sentiments at the core of it all, perhaps best exemplified by the line in ‘From The Ground Up’ – “(Be real and) try not to fuck eachother up / That’s it, goodbye!” If you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned in this review, like anything resembling punk or, perhaps just fancy being made to realise you’re actually rubbish at guitar as in my case, then pick this up. More please.

Stream and download Here Lies Ordinary here.

Like Laughing In The Face Of here.

This review was written by Omar Ramlugon.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Do It Together Diary: Part Two

Saturday 25th January: Day Two of Do It Together Fest 2020

I felt absolutely horrific when was I woken up by the back garden train. So much so I wondered if I would even be able to get through the day. However, Emma and I gradually dragged ourselves out of bed and got ready for the day. First job was to have a shower. Then we went and found somewhere to have breakfast. Knowing that I wouldn't have much chance to eat properly throughout the day, I had the biggest breakfast possible in the hope that it help keep me going. Massive breakfast devoured, we then made our way to the local Sainsbury’s to stock up on painkillers, blister plasters (Emma had a massive blister on her heel) and some snacks. We then made our way to New Cross to meet with Sarah and Paul.

When we arrived, Sarah was already there and getting the tombola ready. Her parents, who were attending all weekend, were also there and it was lovely to be able to meet them. Very nice people! I'd made myself a promise to try and be more helpful with things today as I had a nagging guilt that I really hadn't done enough the day before and was determined to try and pull my weight. This meant learning how a tombola works. Basically it's a raffle but instead of waiting to see what you've won, you draw a ticket and see if the number matches to any of the prizes. Pretty simple stuff.

The next job was to organise where the eleven acts playing would have their merch and where the record fair would be set up. Part of this involved waiting for Paul to arrive as he knows how to set up the venue better than we do. When he FINALLY arrived it was decided to let the bands sell their merch upstairs and that the record fair would go downstairs. After hastily moving some tables around, we were ready! Day two of Do It Together was about to start and we were happy to see lots of people had arrived in plenty of time for the first band – NXI favourites Our Lives In Cinema.

Our Lives In Cinema haven't been playing that many shows lately whilst they work on their first full length album but, when putting the line-up together, we all agreed they were a must for Do It Together. Lead singer Mark is one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated people we know in the DIY scene, always passionate about helping bands and spreading the punk related news. He's also an absolute sweetheart. OLIC are such a fun band to watch live and continue to go from strength to strength whenever I see them. I have to assume that the folk who hadn't seen them before came away really impressed.

Continuing with my promise to myself to try and help out more today I headed to the tombola stand so Sarah and Freddy could have a break and go and enjoy Fabled Mind. I have to admit I actually enjoyed doing the tombola much more than I thought that I would. I got to talk to people as well as welcome friends and bands as they arrived at NXI. I also got a pretty decent view of the crowd and the band that was playing – Fabled Mind in this case. The Danish quartet are a fairly new band and this was their first time in London. I think we were all pleasantly surprised by the size of the crowd that they got to play to at 3 in the afternoon. I know a lot of people really enjoyed their set and are looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Up next were one of the bands I was most excited to see and one I was even allowed, personally, to book – Bristol's Toodles & The Hectic Pity. We basically decided to book them because Sarah and I both loved their first EP Call In Sick but neither of us had ever seen them live. Our own festival seemed like the perfect opportunity. In a beautiful coincidence, Do It Together coincided with the release of their phenomenal new EP Ghosts, Guilts & Grandparents. They then decided to book a little tour with their friends in Triple Sundae around Do It Together to help promote the EP even further. Before they even started their set, Sarah and I had claimed places at the front of the crowd and there was a great sense of anticipation for the upcoming set. What came next was a highlight of the whole day for me and quite a few people I spoke to afterwards. It's always lovely to see a relatively new band make their first appearance, at a venue that is so important to the scene that it houses, and play a truly magical set. Toodles & The Hectic Pity are going places, be sure to get on the bandwagon immediately.

Following Toodles were another band that I was in charge of booking. The one and only Katie MF. If you've been a regular reader of CPRW then you will know how much Emma and myself have been really championing the three piece and it was only right that they played this show. Talking to Katie earlier in the day, she remarked how this would probably be the biggest crowd they have played to at the New Cross Inn and I think it's really well deserved. They are one of the best bands in London at the moment and deserve to be heard by more people. It had actually been about six months since I last saw Katie MF perform – far too long, –so it was nice to be blown away by how good they are once again. Clearly not a band that rest on their laurels either, as they had three new songs in their set list. They all were superb and I can't wait until they get them recorded and released!

After Katie MF had finished their set I went in search of a job. Paul sent me off to pay Katie, whilst doing so I congratulated them on a smashing set and met bass player Ben for the first time. Lovely guy, great hair, really fast fingers.

Dundee's Uniforms took to the stage next. It's not often Uniforms make the long trip down to London, so any chance to see them is always exciting. Uniforms lead singer Deeker is also a member of the Make-That-A-Take Records collective, one of the most respected groups in the UK's DIY scene, so having them at Do It Together only felt right. Of course, they played a storming set – they always do! Uniforms have this unique quality to really get me amped up. I think this is due to the raw, no thrills approach they take to their music. I don't think there are many better punk bands in the UK than Uniforms and it was an absolute pleasure to see them as always.

After Uniforms, I headed towards the tombola stand again to do another shift there. I decided it was okay to be at the back of the room for Triple Sundae as I'm lucky enough to see them what feels like every other week and I knew that Sarah was super excited to see them herself. I actually really enjoyed being at the back of the room and seeing them playing to such a big and loving crowd. I also took the time to get some food down me as I was beginning to flag slightly. I again enjoyed my stint at the tombola, having the opportunity to talk to folk who were in attendance, meeting plenty of folk and being asked a few times "are you THE Colin?" I always get pretty awkward being recognised for doing CPRW but it's lovely when people come say hi.

At this point, I took the opportunity to go and stand outside as it was getting pretty stuffy inside. Outside I got chatting with the legend that is Chris Fishlock and the guys from Toodles who I'd met earlier in the day. It's always lovely to see Fishlock. We spoke about the day as well as Toodles’ tour and new EP (out today!) and it was an extremely pleasant time. It made me want to visit Bristol more. If all the Bristol punks are a nice as these gentlemen, then it must be a pretty wonderful scene.

Goodbye Blue Monday have become big favourites at NXI over the past couple of years and had driven down from Scotland very early in the morning to get to New Cross in plenty of time for their set. I'm pretty sure that every time I've seen Goodbye Blue Monday play they've managed to get all their gear set up and soundchecked before they are due to start – the ultimate professionals. This lead to five minutes of awkwardly standing around and making jokes between one another before launching into Love Is A Noose For Two. Talking of being ready – pretty much every band managed to start and finish their sets at the right time throughout the day, this meant very little stage managing had to be done by Paul, Sarah or myself. Huge credit has to go to all the bands for this. Goodbye Blue Monday were in full on party mood for their set. Playing favourites such as the aforementioned Love Is A Noose For Two, The Sickness The Shame, Take Your Pills and Misery-Punk Ruined My Life (which included a small stage invasion from Uniforms and Forever Unclean), they also took the time to play a new song from their upcoming full length as well as playing three covers of songs by their favourite Scottish act, The Garry Biscuits Band. It was all a bit lost on me and I imagine a lot of the crowd but it was an awful lot of fun.

Completing a run of sing-along punk rock were the Burnt Tapes. The collective love in the room for these four guys was like nothing else. As soon as their set started, the majority of the room launched into a big sing-along. The best moment for Paul and I was when they went old school and played Go Drunk for us. It's both of our favourite Tapes song and it's probably one of my favourite songs ever. The moment where Tone shouts "IS THIS GROWING UP?!" felt so incredibly apt at this moment. I often question what I'm doing with my life and see so many of my friends settled down with families and proper grown up responsibilities and I wonder should I be doing the same? Then I go to the New Cross Inn, am surrounded by many people I love and respect and decide this is exactly how I want to be living my life at this moment. If this is growing up then I'm having a bloody good time doing it. I sung myself so hoarse during this set I wondered if my voice would make to the end of the day.

By this point of the day, I was absolutely starving so popped a couple of doors down to grab a snack. I surprised myself by not just grabbing a chocolate bar but also a banana. This isn't my usual behaviour, I guess this is growing up? It was a slightly chilled and a really tasty banana and I was pleased I broke my usual dietary habits to buy it.

It was soon time for the first ska band of the day. One of the things I was most proud of about the Do It Together line-up was how we managed to put together a varied mix a lot of our favourite bands from different punk genres and it all seemed to work. It was nice for the punk fans and the ska fans and the pop fans and the folk fans to all have the opportunity to gather together and appreciate each other's different favourites. You can't have a New Cross party without Call Me Malcolm, it's basically the rules. It wasn't long before Malcolm had the crowd down the front in full swing, plenty of dancing, plenty of singing along to many favourites from I Was Broken When You Got Here. As the set progressed the amount of dancing in the crowd began to increase and it wasn't long before most of the room were skanking. During the song Jacob, Lucias asked the crowd to lock arms with the person next to them. Not expecting the next request to be create as many mini circle pits as possible, myself, Emma, Mark from OLIC, Dan #2, Paul and Taj joined together and made one long line. Needless to say, our attempt at a circle pit failed quite miserably but I did find it pretty funny. Obviously they finished with All My Nameless Friends. On this day it didn't feel as if the room was full of nameless friends though, it felt like I knew everyone in it and it was lovely.

Danish indie skatey poppy punks Forever Unclean were on next and I have to admit I was a bit worried for them. It's not easy to follow Call Me Malcolm. Particularly coming towards the end of a long day and when you sound nothing like them. If it did phase the Danish trio however then it didn't show. They started out with some new songs, which I thought was pretty ballsy, before playing the old favourites. This is when the crowd began to get pretty rowdy, but in the best way possible. Possibly encouraged by three members of Goodbye Blue Monday taking the opportunity to jump into the crowd, the rest of the set became an abundance of stage dives and crowd surfs whilst singing along to Forever Unclean. A couple of days after Do It Together, I had a memory of Sean from GBM giving me a kiss after I caught him coming down from a crowd surf. The three guys in Forever Unclean must have been blown away by the reception they got and how they can come so far from Denmark and still feel like they're at home. They finished their set by taking it in turns to crowd surf, despite the fact there was no music playing – it was a fun way to finish their set for sure.

After taking another little break outside, I came in and I was feeling so pumped to see Lightyear. I think I may have excitedly mentioned it to a few people on my way to getting a decent spot at the front of the crowd. I'd taken up many spots at the front throughout the weekend, claiming it was for the purpose of "stage management". This, however ,was full on fanboying because I love Lightyear. This was a pretty special Lightyear set for a couple of reasons. Firstly because we were lucky enough to have a pretty much proper Lightyear band. On the last tour they did in November the band were filled with mostly stand ins along with Chas, Neil and Jim. The only stand in for Lightyear tonight was drummer Bob Barrett. Who also played with JB Conspiracy the night before, so he headlined both nights which is cool. The other thing that made it special was that they announced that this would probably by the last ever Lightyear show. I would assume it probably won't be but, if it was, they made sure they went out in the only way that Lightyear know how. In the silliest way possible. I think it's pretty hard to really put into words and it make any actual sense of what went on during this set but it was exactly what you would expect from Lightyear. All around me there were people singing, dancing and smiling away. Whether you were a long time fan or you'd never seen them before, you went away knowing you had seen quite the spectacle.

The night wasn’t ending there though. For the hardcore souls who remained at NXI, we had another after party to enjoy. This time brought to us by our good pals the Burnt Tapes who would be performing their brilliant Menzingers cover set. I'd joked with guitarist Pan that I assumed that they would be playing The Menzingers’ newest album Hello Exile in full. To my complete surprise, they opened with the song Anna from that album before working their way through a handful of older Menzingers favourites. This was the perfect way to finish the weekend. Being surrounded by lots of friends, old and new singing many modern punk rock classics at the top of our lungs. Massive thanks to the Burntzingers for sticking around so late and entertaining us in this wonderful way.

I spent the rest of the night wandering around the room, hugging and thanking everyone I knew. It was during this time when Burnt Tone said "I just enjoy seeing everyone having a good time." I think this was the quote of the entire weekend and it summed it all up beautifully. That's all we wanted from the weekend, our pals to have a good time. We definitely achieved that.

I felt so unbelievably blessed and lucky to be surrounded by so many of the best people you could ever wish to meet and to be so involved in such a special event is something I'll be proud of for a long time. I can't thank the people who came, the bands, and especially Paul and Sarah for inviting me to be a part of this event, enough. It couldn't have been more perfect.

Monday 27th January

Back to work and going over the weekend again in my head. A lot of lovely things were said about Do It Together and people seem to be hoping for a Do It Togther Fest 2021. Will it happen and will I be involved with it? I have no idea. Originally, the idea was for it to be a one and done thing and I spent the whole weekend telling people that I will be retiring from the promoting game after this because I certainly won't be able to top it. But Do It Together was a bigger success than any of us could have possibly imagined so who knows. I kind of think we won't be able to recreate the magic of the 2020 edition and we should leave it there. That's also my thoughts on The Matrix trilogy, they should have stopped after one and not gotten greedy! That being said, it was nice to be able to do this amazing thing with two of my best friends and try something new. Either way, I think the weekend proved Doing It Together is much better than Doing It Yourself.

DIT or die!

This Do It Together Diary was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Do It Together Diary: Part One

Do it Together Fest has now come and gone. Normally I would sit down and write a review of the weekend but that seems like something you shouldn't do if it's a gig you helped to put on. I did really want to write something about it though, as it's something I've been involved with that I'm super proud of. So I decided to recount the weekend as a kind of diary entry type post so you can perhaps get an idea of what it was like for me as a first time promoter helping to run my first gig.


This whole thing started for me in September of last year when I was put in a group message with my good friends Paul from Be Sharp Promotions and Sarah from Shout Louder/Lockjaw Records. They asked if I wanted to be involved in a super secret gig to celebrate our birthdays and the idea soon evolved into doing something to also celebrate the DIY community that's so important to us all.


Over the next month, we put together a line-up featuring our collective favourite bands and many of our good friends. It was looking like a weekend to remember before we even got around to booking the headliners. To my surprise, Paul and Sarah even let me book a couple of the bands which was very exciting. I did my very best professional sounding typing (it's like a phone voice but using a keyboard) and sent emails to Katie MF and Toodles & The Hectic Pity. There's every chance I actually just sent Katie a Facebook message as we're pals and I'm rubbish at being "professional." With only one slight snafu regarding a little miscommunication between one of the bands and the promoters we had a line-up featuring Call Me Malcolm, Forever Unclean, Burnt Tapes, Triple Sundae, Eat Defeat, Goodbye Blue Monday, Uniforms, Just Say Nay, Fabled Mind, Katie MF, Toodles & The Hectic Pity, Our Lives In Cinema and Midwich Cuckoos. This was going to be fun and we hadn't even gotten round to the headliners yet!

When suggesting bands to headline Do It Together, I jokingly suggested Lightyear. It's one of our collective favourite bands ever and would guarantee a big crowd. I didn't actually expect us to book them. But, I forget, this is Paul. Paul managed to do Paul things and get them booked. I forget this is the Paul who managed to do Paul things and get Goldfinger to play NXI. Paul can do anything. When I heard the news of the latest instalment of incredible Paul things with Lightyear, I was at work – I checked my phone and saw that my favourite band ever would be headlining the first event I was ever helping with. I basically did a football celebration around my car park and probably looked like a right weirdo. Especially as I wasn't allowed to tell anyone yet. That night it was actually the album launch party for Just Say Nay's incredible debut full length Maximum Effort. Imagine how hard it is being in a room full of ska punk fans as well as many, many friends and having to keep this massive secret. It was rubbish!


November was largely spent promoting Do It Together. A big part of this for me and Paul was flyering. There was a particular busy weekend in London where Hot Water Music and Reel Big Fish were in London for separate shows. As luck would have it, Paul and I were going to these shows, I was at HWM in Camden and Paul was at RBF in Islington (with Lightyear supporting!). We both handed out hundreds of flyers to folk as they were leaving the gigs (yup, we were those people) and a good amount of people seemed vaguely interested. Paul and I both attended a second date of the RBF/Lightyear tour and again did some flyering at the end. I took it as a competition to try and get rid of my flyers quicker than he did. I succeeded and I'm pretty sure I earned the man’s respect. We also finally confirmed our other headliner – the one and only JB Conspiracy. What an incredibe line-up we had!


For me, I didn't do much for Do It Together in December. I busied myself sorting out end of year lists for Colin's Punk Rock World and working on our new endeavour CPRW Records. Some might say it's not the best idea to be promoting your first event and starting a record label and I would agree with them. However, I don't know any of these people and I have a bunch of friends who encourage me to make these stupid decisions without really thinking about how busy I already am.

Where I wasn't doing much in the way of Do It Together Fest in December, Sarah was working extremely hard on a zine that would become an actual book for the big gig. Titled Papercuts, the book contains pieces of writing from folk from all over the punk rock community (including myself, Robyn and Dan of CPRW) telling stories of being involved in the punk community and how it's helped them in some way. The finished article is an incredible piece of work and I seriously recommend picking up your own copy here. I have so much love and respect for Sarah, for the job she did on Papercuts – it's amazing.


January was mostly spent doing some final promotional work for Do It Together. I posted some interviews on CPRW and Sarah wrote a fact file on all of the bands for Shout Louder. Our good friend Makky also wrote a lovely preview for Broken Arrow Magazine. In fact, the whole build up for the festival seemed to involve the bands playing saying the loveliest things about Paul, Sarah and myself and the work we've done in the DIY scene. There were a couple of things written that genuinely brought a tear to my eye. It's nice to feel appreciated.

The final big job leading up to the weekend was sorting out the fundraising elements of the weekend. We wanted to raise some money for the mental health charity Mind. Sarah, the working machine that she is, did a brilliant job with getting donations from the fine folk at Lockjaw Records and TNSRecords as well as pretty much organising the entire tombola. Earlier in our development of the weekend, Katie (MF) had said she may be able to get a donation of vegan cakes from Ogg's Bakery so I helped to co-ordinate that. I also donated 100 download codes for our Fifth Birthday Compilation for anyone who played the tombola to receive – win or lose. Have you ever had to cut out 100 download codes? It takes ages!

Friday 24th January: Day One of Do It Together Fest 2020

I was up early to release the new CPRW Records comp CPRW Records Presents We Love This Community (available here). In hindsight, deciding to release the comp on the same day as Do It Together probably wasn't my finest idea. An early start on a day, when I knew full well that I would be having a much later night that I'm used to, was not smart. It's classic Colin though.

The rest of the morning was spent at home, packing for the weekend in South London, doing odd chores and having some lunch before heading to the station with Emma for the train. Given the struggles I've had with anxiety in the past, I was surprised that I wasn't more stressed and worried about what was about to come but, for some reason, I was just excited for a fun weekend of great bands and lovely friends. There was nothing to worry about. Paul and Sarah knew exactly what they were doing so I had no need to be concerned about anything.

At about 5pm, Emma and I arrived in New Cross and quickly headed to the New Cross House where we had arranged to meet Sarah and Paul for some before-the-madness-begins dinner. New Cross House was full so we organised to meet up at NXI and make a new plan. Sarah arrived first as she was staying upstairs in the hostel. As Emma and I entered our home from home we were greeted by big hugs from Sarah. We hadn't actually seen Sarah since MPF in April 2019 – which is far too long! Sarah then set about introducing us to her friend Freddy who was down from Manchester to help us out and was, in all honesty, the unsung hero of the entire weekend, as well as Lesley from Midwich Cuckoos and Lockjaw Records. Our old pal Steve, drummer of Eat Defeat, had also arrived early for the set and we had a quick catch up about Eat Defeat's time in America last October. Paul eventually arrived and we decided to pop to our regular New Cross fast food place Chicago's for some delicious vegan shawarma wraps.

Heading back to the pub, we decided to hide in the booths around the corner, eat our dinner and catch up some more as well as discussing the weekend ahead. I sat around there talking until just after doors and was pleasantly surprised to see the venue already had plenty of people who had come down early, when we went back. This was great to see. The thing I loved most about Do It Together was the amount of people who had travelled from different parts of the country and indeed Europe to attend. It really blew my mind and I was very excited to spend some time with friends who I rarely get to see.

Before the bands got going, I got to have a quick catch up with Leo from Forever Unclean and finally got to meet band members Lasse and Troels as well. for the first time after years of following the band. Forever Unclean weren't due to play until the following evening but had come early to enjoy the entire weekend. These gentlemen are heroes.

The first band on were Midwich Cuckoos. I didn't really know a lot about them before the set but was quickly impressed by how tight they were as a band. They have a very commanding presence that makes them pretty hard to ignore. I think they were a great choice to open the weekend and really got us off to a flying start.

After they finished, I looked towards the door to see people queuing up to get in. We really were not expecting this – it made us very happy. I genuinely can't remember a time where I've been to New Cross Inn and seen a queue! Just Say Nay were next to take to the stage. Playing their first NXI show since their excellent album launch in October, lead singer Jak Coleman took to the stage and announced it was good to be home. A lot of bands on the line-up would probably see NXI as a home venue and it was so nice to have them all together at one time. While Midwich Cuckoos were a powerful opener, I felt like Just Say Nay was when the party really got started. It didn't take long for the band to get the crowd moving. Something that I thought was really good for a lot of the bands playing was that they got to play to people they wouldn't usually as we had purposely organised a mixture of genres for the weekend. I'm pretty confident JSN gained some more fans with this performance. Big shout out to Mikey T of JSN for the best stage dive of the entire weekend, the man threw himself off the stage and I was surprised he was actually caught by the small crowd of people directly in front of him.

The penultimate act of the night (not including the after party) were Eat Defeat. They were an absolute no brainer to have play Do It Together as Paul, Sarah and myself all have long histories with the band. Despite being based in Leeds, Eat Defeat always feel like a "New Cross band" to me and you can't have a party without them. As always, they were very well received and, of course, managed to get a massive sing-along to their final song Not Today, Old Friend. It was nice at the end of their set to see a lot of people head over to their merch table to buy things from them. After the crowd cleared, Emma and I went to see Summers – he's one of the best people in the UK DIY scene and it's always lovely to see him.

Ska punk legends The JB Conspiracy were the band tasked with headlining the first night of Do It Together. As soon as they were mentioned, I couldn't think of a better band for the job so was over the moon when they agreed to do it. JBC don't play anywhere near enough gigs these days so it always feels like quite the event when they do get together. I kind of feel like JBC are a band that really epitomise the idea of Do It Together. I'm quite sure that almost every time I've seen them over the years they've had at least one member who didn't play the gig I'd seen them at before. Obviously, life can often prevent having the full band available all of the time but the band have so many people always willing to step in and help out if they're needed. Of course, JBC played a fantastic set – they always do. They played a host of songs from This Machine and The Storm, as well as some newer songs yet to be released that sound incredible. It was nice to see everyone around us having such a good time watching the band, even the folk who aren't really ska punk fans seemed to really dig what was going on.

After the set, I went and found Paul as I had a nagging feeling that I should be doing something. He's a rubbish taskmaster so I found Sarah next. We decided that it would be a good idea to close down the tombola for the night during the after party. The after party was provided by NXI's favourite punk rock classics cover band The Aversions who feature my new friend Max from Youths. Lovely man and a great band – check them out. We were surprised by the amount of people who stayed for the duration and really got into their set. I guess, when a band mostly plays covers from the Tony Hawk’s games they're going to get a great reception. Also, clearly knowing their audience they borrowed Katy and Charlotte from Just Say Nay to play brass for their covers of All Outta Angst, Superman and The Impression That I Get. This was such a fun way to finish a brilliant first day of Do It Together.

Emma and I made our way back to our AirBnB at about 1am in the morning. We entered the flat and it was absolutely freezing. We'd forgotten to turn the heating on. This lead to a night of shivering and fidgeting and eventually about three hours sleep, before getting woken up by the trains on the train line at the back of the building which I had absolutely no idea about. Perfect preparation for what was going to be a pretty hectic day. I was exhausted and excited for another brilliant day.

This Do It Together Diary was written by Colin Clark. Photos by Emma Prew.