Monday, 29 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Like The Muslims on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

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

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

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

Queen (with Freddie Mercury)

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


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

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

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

Crush 40

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

Ten Foot Pole

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

The Weakerthans

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

Farewell Continental

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

Dance Hall Crashers

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


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

Atom And His Package

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

Minor Threat

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

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

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

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

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

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

Stream and download Perfect on Bandcamp here.

Like Mannequin Pussy on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Monday, 22 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 18 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stream and download Empty Plinths on Bandcamp here.

Like Grand Collapse on Facebook here.

This review was written by Lara Roberts.

Friday, 12 November 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Thursday, 11 November 2021

Top Tens: Luke Seymoup's Top Ten Influences

I’m absolutely thrilled to be here on Colin’s Punk Rock World today! And, I’m equally thrilled to have the chance to nerd out about all the influences that have helped make the Seymoup Expanded Universe what it is today! As a musician, I’ve always been a bit of a misfit in terms of genre. I’ve always considered myself a punk musician but others haven’t always been so kind (haha). Punk music is my first and longest passion, but there were definitely a lot of different artists and styles along the way that have contributed to the way my music sounds. I’m glad to have the chance to put on paper (or screen, as it were) all the inspirations that have made me the musician I am. Narrowing down to a list of ten is always hard (there are so many artists that only just missed the cut) but, right now, these seemed like the most important to include. I just hope Brian Fallon, Mike Skinner and Kacey Musgraves can forgive me for the snub!

Alkaline Trio
Anyone who has spoken to me for any length of time since I was about 15 years old probably knows how obsessed I am with this band. Alkaline Trio is the shining example of a band that knows what they do well and sticking to it. They’ve introduced some different elements over the years (like going a bit New Wave on “Agony & Irony”) but the core mix of sweet vocal melodies with dark lyrics is always there. There are so many Alkaline Trio songs that I wish I could have written. Having played in bands with only one guitarist for decades, Skiba’s style certainly influenced how I write and play lead parts (my song ‘MulderScully’ is proof of that). I get a kick out of seeing local bands play live and finding that Skiba influence in the guitar parts. You can always tell.

The Lemonheads
I first heard The Lemonheads on a compilation I bought in high school called “All That Punk.” They’ve always had an affiliation with the punk scene but calling them a punk band is a bit of a stretch. Regardless of genre, the song on there (“Confetti”) had me instantly hooked. Evan Dando’s deep, smooth vocals over loud ringing open chords was addictive and it made me dig into whatever else I could find from them. If Skiba influenced my lead guitar playing, Evan Dando made me love layers and layers of big rhythm guitars that leave your ears ringing. Such an incredible songwriter who knows when to be funny and when to be serious and you never, ever question his sincerity.

Bruce Springsteen
I have memories of listening to the oldies station in the car when I was a kid and having my mum change channels when Bruce came on because she didn’t like his voice. Maybe falling in love with his music was a bit of rebellion for me? Bruce Springsteen was definitely an odd musician for me to become obsessed with at the peak of the emo-pop era. I was a saxophone player as well and the shrieking solos that Clarence Clemons delivered across Bruce’s discography get my blood pumping to this day. What can I possibly add about Bruce’s lyrics that everyone doesn’t already know? His songs have been so important to me for so long and, when I was first forming my band, I was pitching the idea of it to potential members as a “Punk Rock version of the E Street Band.” I think we still live up to that concept in some way.

The Distillers
I’m sure I’ve told the story in an interview before, but I discovered The Distillers by finding a printed lyric sheet for ‘Dismantle Me’ someone left behind in a classroom in high school. I was hooked on the imagery in the lyrics immediately: vultures pounding their wings; wanting to bury someone; the humidity of Swanston Street on a hot day. I had to hear the song as soon as I could. What I discovered was a howling voice from Brody Dalle and wild energy to the band that I would strive to replicate in my own music for years. Maybe Brody’s voice was my inspiration for the volume I usually sing (and speak) at.

Glenn Danzig is a person who feels like he was conceived as a character in some kind of abstract gothic novel yet, somehow, he’s a real person who exists. I love that he has a vision and aesthetic for exactly what kind of music/comics/movies/whatever he wants to make and he’s stuck to it for nearly half a century. I’m not a metalhead by any stretch of the imagination, but those first three Danzig solo albums feel like some of the heaviest music ever made. Danzig doesn’t need screaming or down-tuned guitars to make his music heavy. Blues riffs in standard tuning and his demonic Elvis impression get the job done. Any record he appears on is something I need to own (yes, even Danzig Sings Elvis). His discography has classics upon classics upon classics and, if you haven’t already, you need to spend a little bit of time appreciated every era of Danzig’s career (especially Samhain who rarely get talked about).

Wu-Tang Clan
When I got my driver’s licence, I think “Enter The Wu-Tang” was the only album in my car for about 6 months straight. Consequently, I think I’ve heard that album more times in my life than I’ve heard any other. Still, even now, listening to it feels as fresh to me as when I first heard it and I constantly discover new samples, lyrics and ideas in it that I’ve never noticed before. It’s a gift that keeps on giving. The Wu-Tang Clan appeals to me because each member has their own distinct personality with their own vocal style, lyrical idiosyncrasies, and personality. They’re a cohesive unit where each member operates at the top of their game to create something that’s truly special and truly unique. The songs introduce all different kinds of concepts in their song structures and composition. No two tracks are alike on Enter The Wu-Tang or any other album. There are so many different styles across their group and solo discographies that, even if you don’t think you’ll like them all, there’s certainly something that will appeal to you. Wu-Tang Forever.

Against Me!
I have a vivid memory of playing a basement show in 2007 and having my band absolutely butcher a cover of “Baby, I’m An Anarchist.” I’m glad it happened in an age before smart phones because I wouldn’t want to let Laura down like that now. I’m a sucker for a huge chorus and Laura Jane Grace writes them like no one else can. Every Against Me! record is different from the last and they’re all classics in their own way (I won’t rest until White Crosses gets the recognition it deserves!). The one thing that ties them all together is the huge choruses that make you want to scream every word like it’s the last thing you’ll ever do. When I’m stuck for a chorus, I often find myself asking “what would Laura do?” This band is also responsible for my obsession with exclamation marks and made me insist my old band Miyazaki! never have our name spelled without one.

My Chemical Romance
I love fiction and storytelling (especially comics, more on that later). My Chemical Romance always had a vision for their music that allowed them to talk about their personal struggles through the lens of a high-concept narrative, rather than in a literal way. What kind of punk band writes a whole album about someone trying to earn their way out of hell by collecting the souls of evil men? It’s unheard of outside this band, I’m sure! Oft imitated and never equalled. And yes! I’m saying punk band despite their genre-affiliations over the years. You can’t listen to Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and tell me that’s not pure punk rock! It’s 2021, get past their look! This band is solely responsible for any time I’ve written a song or album that told a long, in-depth narrative. I’m not sorry about it and I’m sure they’re not either.

Ramones (specifically 80s & 90s Ramones)
Look, I love those first four 70s Ramones albums as much as anyone, but there’s something truly special about the way they grew and changed through the 1980s. It’s only when you listen to their whole discography that you start to realise how much they experimented with different sounds through their career. You want straight-up punk? “Too Tough To Die” has you covered. 50s/60s pop? Check out “End Of The Century.” Want them to play with synths? They did it a whole bunch of times! There are some true musical and lyrical gems that people aren’t aware of because they insist on only spinning the first disc of that 1999 Ramones anthology compilation. That signature simplicity in the chord progressions, melodies and lyrics is still there, but they have plenty of songs on those later albums that are deep and emotionally moving. Listen to “Poison Heart” or “She Talks To Rainbows” and try not to feel something. I DARE YOU! I’ve read every book there is to read about the Ramones so, if I ever get invited onto a music quiz show, they’re going to be my specialty category.

Chris Claremont's X-Men
Finally, I’m going to end with something non-musical. My two great obsessions in life are songwriting and comic books, with the X-Men being my comic of choice. I spent most of my university years (when I should have been studying) memorising every facet of X-Men continuity from the preceding 50 years. Enter Chris Claremont. Chris Claremont wrote Uncanny X-Men for 16 years, from 1975 to 1991. Not to mention countless spin-offs through the 1980s and returns to various titles after that. Anything that you probably know or like about the X-Men is his doing. In some ways, I feel like Chris Claremont partially raised me, as a result of the literal years of my life spent with his work. Claremont was always the master of creating his own universe-within-a-universe where concepts would cross from one of his titles to another, or a small seed of story planted in the 1970s would pay off in a huge way some time in the late 80s. Building a world of continuity is what I want to do with my music. I want to be as prolific as Chris Claremont and have everything I put out matter to my discography overall. There are no throwaway songs or albums. EVERY. SINGLE. THING. is important! Welcome to the Seymoup Expanded Universe. You’re living in it.

Luke Seymoup has a brand new single out on Monday 15th November, titled Serengeti, and you can pre-save the track now.

Luke says ‘It's a ballad dedicated to all the dearly departed music venues that we've lost in Melbourne over the last few years (thanks to Covid, real estate nonsense and those awful people who move in next to a venue and complain about the noise).’

Check out Luke Seymoup’s discography on Bandcamp and like them on Facebook.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Album Review: Make Arcade Great Again by Krang (by Theo Martin-Herbert)

20 minutes of catchy, political pop-punk greets you on this fantastic release by Krang, Make Arcade Great Again. It never slows down and keeps you hooked track after track.

The opening track 'Time Is Ticking' introduces the incredibly able mix of fast punk and anthemic touches that permeate the entire release. Lyrics stay in your head days after and help the band get their ideals across. Tracks like 'Melt All The Guns' hit particularly hard and stick around thanks to the sweetness of the melodies they use, never outstaying their welcome.

The production matches the proficiency in the songwriting, super crisp and punchy with some excellent full guitar tones that never lose their clarity. It's an absolute delight to take in along with the vocals that sit so well in the mix. As a bit of a tone nerd, I definitely took down some notes from this one and helped turn this into a frequent listen for me. If you're a fan of a great modern pop-punk sound with more to offer idealistically, check this one out as soon as possible. It's short, sweet and intelligent – all things worth your time.

Stream and download Make Arcade Great Again on Bandcamp here.

Like Krang on Facebook here.

This review was written by Theo Martin-Herbert.

Monday, 8 November 2021

Album Review: Back To Basics by HEY-SMITH

HEY-SMITH are a long running ska punk band from Osaka, Japan. I first became aware of them due to Asian Man Records releasing their 2020 album Life In The Sun. I absolutely loved the energy of the album. It was an album that was relentlessly fun from start to finish and had me itching to see them live. This year, HEY-SMITH have followed Life In The Sun up with a new EP named Back To Basics. It was only three tracks long but as soon as I listened to it I knew I had to review it.

The first track is titled Proud And Loud. It’s a mostly instrumental track, aside from some gang shouts of “Proud And Loud”, that’s just under ninety seconds long. It’s a song that is about being unashamedly a big fan of ska punk. The brass section carries you through the majority of the song but when the gang vocals do come in, the track gets a bit crunchier with the guitars and drums coming to the forefront. A very solid start to the EP.

Up next is Be The One. After the upbeat vibes of the opener, Be The One showcases the heavier side of HEY-SMITH’s sound. The track begins with some building guitars before some horns come in signalling the song is ready to go. The opening vocals swap between lead singer Shuhei Igari and gang vocals, this gives the song so much energy. The vocals soar like you would find on a modern skate punk song making me think HEY-SMITH would be equally at home on a skate punk line up just as much as on a ska punk one.

The third and final song is named Fellowship Anthem. In true third wave ska tradition, this is a song about unity and friendship. About people coming together no matter what their differences might be and doing something good. Starting out with a horn riff that will get your knees up from the outset, Fellowship Anthem has arguably the most catchy chorus on the EP. This makes a lot of sense given the song’s theme. There’s such a sound of pure joy on the song that put such a smile on my face as I listened to it. The song is a hell of a lot of fun but it also feels important given everything still going on in the world today. I think this is when ska punk is at its best, it’s sharing an important message but is also a lot of fun.

The Japanese ska punk scene has always been jam packed with phenomenal bands and HEY-SMITH are among the best. Back To Basics feels like a great introduction for people before they jump into their extensive and brilliant back catalogue.

You can stream Back To Basics on Spotify and Apple Music and like HEY-SMITH on Facebook here.

This review was written by Colin Clark.

Friday, 5 November 2021

Gig Review: [Spunge] "Room For Abuse 20+1 Years Anniversary Tour" at New Cross Inn, London 11/10/21

After three fun and fantastic (but long) days in New Cross for Till The Fest, Emma and I decided to hang out in South London for one more day. This was for what was kind of an unofficial after party for the weekend at the New Cross Inn. Following on the previous nights seeing The Filaments, Sonic Boom Six and Lightyear, it was now time to see another legendary UK ska punk band in the form of [Spunge]. The band had been on a country wide tour celebrating the twentieth plus one year anniversary of their second album, Room For Abuse. As [Spunge] are one of my all time favourite bands I had to suck it up and go for a fourth gig in four days to see it.

New Cross Inn favourites Codename Colin were the band chosen to open the gig. We arrived at the venue about fifteen minutes before the band were due to start and were pleasantly surprised by how many people were already at the venue. It did look as if it was mostly people who weren’t at the festival all weekend so there was plenty of people who didn’t feel like they were about to collapse. If there was ever a band to inject some energy into a crowd early it’s Codename Colin. It didn’t take long for the band to get the crowd invested into the set. The band’s high energy poppy ska punk never fails to put a smile on my face. The band know full well that their job is to get the crowd warmed up for the main event later in the evening and they excel at this. Favourites such as Losing Touch, Kelly’s Missing, Escape From Everything, Little Things and Friday The 19th all get run outs and by the end of the set they’ve managed to coerce a sizeable crowd down the front for a dance. Class as always from Codename Colin.

Next up were tour support Slagerij. Slagerij are a three piece who have been going for ages now. They don’t get to London very often so this was a rare chance to see them live. Slagerij, much like [Spunge], are a ska punk band that doesn’t feature horns, instead relying on bouncy, upbeat rhythms to encourage the crowd to get their knees up. I always enjoy a band that has more than one lead singer, something that Slagerij possess. The vocals contrast each other nicely allowing for some great variety in the set. The majority of the set is full of high energy songs which have the guitarist and bassist hopping around the stage, I’m sure the drummer would too if they didn’t need to be behind the kit throughout the set. On the times they did slow things down they did so with plenty of charm and wit. It’s quite clear that Slagerij are all about having as much fun as possible and the band do an excellent job portraying that. I had fun watching them too though I was a little disappointed that they didn’t play Can’t Stop A Nation – such a good song. They will be back at NXI in April next year in support of another ska punk legend – Whitmore. I look forward to seeing them again.

Next it was time for [Spunge]. By the time they took to the stage our legs were really struggling after such a long weekend, how did we used to do this? Of the band’s first three albums, Room For Abuse is probably the one I listened to the least growing up and I feel like it’s one they don’t play as many songs from live. This album show was a chance to see some songs for the first and potentially the last time ever live. Songs like Second Rate (where Al did the male and female vocal parts) and Rockabilly never get played live and it was awesome to see it. The problem with album shows is that they don’t leave much room for surprises – if you know the album, which I assume the majority of the people in the room did, then you know what’s coming next. This didn’t stop the crowd from having the most wonderful time though. There were so many people down the front skanking and moshing, having a delightful time. As ever, the between song banter between Jarv and Al entertained me, talking to each other in a way that only people who have been in a band for twenty plus years can. I believe the band had been hard at work rehearsing the set four times a week for a few months before the tour and it really paid off as they were super tight. Lesser bands would have just been a bit sloppy on some of the deep cuts but [Spunge] really put the effort in to put together a brilliant set, proving to me what a great band they are. Despite my exhaustion, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and we were even treated to a two song encore of Kicking Pigeons (where they were belatedly joined on stage by a trumpet wielding Snowy from Codename Colin) and Skanking Song, which they apparently played as I mentioned to Paul Be Sharp that I was initially glad they wouldn’t be playing it as my legs couldn’t take it.

[Spunge] are a super special band to me and it was quite a moment to see Room For Abuse in full. The Story So Far turns twenty years old next year and I assume they’ll be out on tour to play that in full next. I’ll see you back at NXI.

This review was written by Colin Clark. Photos also by Colin.

Thursday, 4 November 2021

Gig Review: Till The Fest Day Three 10/10/21

I think it’s fair to say that after two days of Till The Fest we were beginning to get tired but there was also much excitement running through my body as today was Lightyear day! One of my favourite bands ever, returning to my favourite venue, surrounded by loads of friends from all around the UK. It was going to be a special day.

We started our day by meeting our good friends Matt and Charlotte from Ear Nutrition and Mark from INiiT Records and Our Lives In Cinema at the New Cross House for a Sunday roast. It was lovely to catch up with some wonderful people. With a bit of time to kill before the first band of the day, after we ate we ventured upstairs of the New Cross House to check out the record fair. Up there we hung out with Mark, who was selling CDs from his INiit Records distro, and we got to see John Allen from Disconnect Disconnect Records and picked up a couple of records from him.

Records bought, we headed to Amersham Arms for the first band of the day, BaldHead And The Dreads. I couldn’t think of a better way to start the third day of Till The Fest. The fun loving foursome always put a massive smile on my face whenever I see them play and in all honesty this might have been my favourite time seeing them live. Obviously BHATD are a band that don’t take themselves too seriously, they do this because it’s fun and it really comes across on stage. That’s something I really appreciate whenever I see them. There are plenty of songs about drugs and dogs, the band’s two favourite things, but on their most recent EP they also step into the world of politics on the song First Class War (probably my favourite of their songs). Whatever they’re singing about, the band’s excellent musicianship and knack of a witty lyric always shines through. If we were the sort of website that gives out ratings, we’d give a 10/10 for fun ways to start a day.

Our original plan was to see Bottlekids next but unfortunately they had to pull out of the festival so we decided to hang out at Amersham to check out Norwich five piece Southpaw. Southpaw are a band that I’ve been aware of for years but never managed to check out. I assume they don’t play many shows anymore and when they do they are around the Norfolk area. I didn’t really know what to expect from the band but I think the best way to describe them is as an alternative punk rock band. Their songs ooze melody and the band’s lead singer had some great pipes on him. My highlight was watching their guitarist bounce around the stage, pulling silly faces and generally just messing around. Very entertaining. He reminded me of Warren Fitzgerald of The Vandals in many ways.

Next were On A Hiding To Nothing. I used to see these guys quite regularly in London before members began to move around the country. During lockdown the band managed to record and release a brand new album named We’ll Probably Be Fine, which is due to be physically released by Cat’s Claw Records and Bearded Punk Records – keep an eye out for that. Their set was comprised almost entirely of songs from the album. I don’t think I’ve given it nearly enough time and after hearing it live I look forward to giving it plenty more spins. On A Hiding To Nothing play super fast, super melodic skate punk. Whenever I watch them I’m blown away by just how quickly the band play their songs. What’s even more impressive is how bass player Jack manages to bounce around the stage with such force whilst still playing his instrument. I always get a bit worried watching Jack bounce around on stage as I can still remember the time he ruined his knee on stage a few years ago. With every stamp I wince just a little bit. It’s good to see that he seems to have made a full recovery though. This was another exhilarating set from On A Hiding To Nothing.

After On A Hiding To Nothing we made our way to New Cross Inn, where we had planned on spending the rest of our day. We arrived as The Social Club were already way into their set. We bumped into some friends who informed us that the ladies toilets had basically exploded and had given the venue a particularly shitty scent. I, for some reason, couldn’t smell it so that was a bonus for me! Something that was not at all shitty was The Social Club. I only got to see four or five songs but I was very impressed. Fronted by former Captain Everything member Lewis, the band played more of a melody driven, indie rock style that’s a lot of fun. Despite the apparent scent, the venue was still very busy and a lot of people squeezed down to the front for a sing and dance to the band. I was amused by the pledge that the band got the crowd to say, joining ‘The Social Club’, it reminded me of Dave Gorman’s commandments from Are You Dave Gorman? That’s a twenty year old reference. Hopefully you get it.

At the conclusion of The Social Club’s set we popped a couple of doors down to Beirut for some dinner to set us up for the rest of the night. Have you tried their falafel wrap yet? I seriously suggest you do. After another delicious dinner and making use of a non-exploded toilet we returned to NXI for Nervus. Nervus are a band I always enjoy immensely whenever I see them live but never seem to listen to them when I’m at home. That’s something I seriously need to amend because what a fantastic group of songwriters the band are. With each song they get better and better and certainly seem like a well oiled machine. I’m not sure whether or not that this was Nervus’ first show back since lockdown but, if it was, I’m even more impressed by how good they were. Front person Em has one of the best voice in punk rock. They have this wonderful ability to grab the entire room’s attention and have them baying on their every word. Songs such as Sick Sad World and It Follows go down extremely well with the crowd, as does They Don’t, which felt especially poignant given everything that’s come to light about the Met Police in recent weeks. Nervus have built up a reputation as one of the UK’s best bands in recent years and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t true.

Next up were UK punk rock legends Crazy Arm. The Devonshire punks have been a big part of the DIY scene for as long as I can remember now and earlier this year they finally released their long-awaited new album, Dark Hands, Thunderbolts, which they spent the week leading up to Till The Fest touring. I took up a spot on the side of the New Cross stage ready to just stare in awe at one of the best bands in the country. Crazy Arm decided to start their set five minutes earlier than scheduled to allow them to play an extra song – which was fine by us. The set had a perfect blend of tracks from the new album along with so many old favourites. The band got the crowd moving from the very start of their set and I had a great time from my view point watching friends at the front of crowd loose their minds dancing and singing along to the band. For their latest album and recent live shows Crazy Arm have added another vocalist, Tia Kalmaru, to their ensemble who really gave an extra layer to their live show. Not only did they provide some excellent harmonies but did a fantastic job in keeping the crowd’s energy up throughout the set. At one point they even spent some time down in the front of the crowd having a dance which was a great touch. After a blisteringly good thirty five or so minutes the band finished on Tribes and gave the crowd one last big sing-along.

Our penultimate band of the weekend was Apologies, I Have None. Even ignoring the pandemic and lockdown, it felt like forever since I last saw Apologies, I Have None. They are a band that I seemingly used to see every other month and were a big part of my introduction into the DIY scene so it definitely felt fitting for their big comeback to be at Till The Fest. NXI was packed with people expecting an emotional experience and that’s exactly what they received. Over the years, the band have become masters of creating a mesmerising atmosphere wherever they play. The whole room seems completely transfixed on the stage during the entirety of the set and explode into life for some of the biggest sing-alongs of the weekend. The last few times I’ve seen the band, lead singer and guitarist Josh has provided plenty of humorous banter between songs but on this occasion it was all business, with the band seamlessly moving from one song to the next. Each song was shouted passionately back at the band, each time they started a new track it felt like this was the crowd’s collective favourite ever. It’s always great to hear Concrete Feet live, the band showed off their fun side by setting off a confetti cannon during The 26 (I think it was The 26, feel free to correct me) and the sing-along during Sat In Vicky Park was one of those you had to be there to really understand just how special it was moments. This was unsurprisingly very close to being my favourite set of the entire weekend. Welcome back Apologies, I Have None.

It’s no secret for long time readers of CPRW that Lightyear are my favourite band. When they got announced for Till The Fest I could not have been happier. For me, the whole weekend really lead up to this moment – Lightyear taking to the New Cross Inn stage for what could be the last ever time. Unfortunately trumpet player Neil couldn’t make the show but the wonderful Pook would be deputising on trombone. I love watching Pook dance around on stage so this was a lovely bonus. The venue must’ve been at capacity at this point for a band that are one of the most important bands in the history of UK DIY punk. What’s always great about watching Lightyear is that you never know what to expect. I don’t think Lightyear really know themselves what’s going to happen when they take to the stage. It’s a whacky ride that everyone in the building ends up on. As soon as the band began their set you know it’s going to be a chaotic and messy hour and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Frontman Chas Palmer-Williams, the finest lyricist of his generation, is a whirlwind on stage.  There’s a whole load of messing around going on whilst singing some of the most meaningful words ever recorded. At one point Chas comes to the side of stage, picks up a roll of blue paper towels and for no reason whatsoever – other than Lightyear – launches it into the crowd. At another point he unplugs his microphone for the crowd to sing into and then tries singing into the aux cable – because Lightyear. During Blindside the band is joined on the already cramped stage by people dressed as a horse and a jockey. They came on a little too early which added to the chaos that was happening before us. If you’ve witnessed the nonsense that is Lightyear before, you’ll know that very often after the band provide us with their Morris dancing breakdown the ‘horse’ comes on stage. Speaking of Morris dancing, the band seemed to improvise, instead of using proper sticks they had tooth picks which we thought was hilarious. If you hadn’t seen the band before you probably had no idea what was happening, but you will next time. Naturally they finished the set with A Pack Of Dogs, which again turned into chaos with the harmonies on the breakdown getting everyone on stage and in the crowd confused. I think it’s impossible to see Lightyear live and come away with anything other than a massive smile on your face. Even Matt Ear Nutrition had a big smile on his face at the end of the set and he is not a fan of all this trumpety nonsense. Lightyear are the best, I can’t wait for their next last ever show.

Now’s the time where I write a summation of the entire weekend. I think it’s quite a hard thing to really summarise well as it was such a special weekend for so many different reasons. The last eighteen months has been very difficult for all the obvious reasons and, for me, Till The Fest felt like someone had finally hit play again after life was paused for so long. For many people this would have been their first shows back, or their first time back in London, or even their first time being amongst so many friends again. I personally got to spend some quality time with so many brilliant people, people I’ve known for years, people I’ve met recently or even people I met for the first time at the festival and it really lifted me. I probably didn’t see as many bands as I normally would at a festival but I did get to experience being in that special punk festival environment that I had missed so much. As you will know after reading this three part review, every band I did see absolutely killed it and from what I understand all the bands I didn’t get to see did too.

So much love needs to go to Ollie and his team of volunteers for not just organising the weekend but ensuring it ran so smoothly. As I said in part one of this review, I was a little sceptical on Till The Fest actually happening but I am so grateful for Ollie for persisting and getting Till The Fest done. It was a real life affirming weekend for me and I’m sure many more people in attendance. I’m already excited to see what Till The Wheel gets organised for next year’s festival. I’ve already got my ticket, have you got yours? One more time, thank you Ollie for everything!

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

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Gig Review: Till The Fest Day Two 9/10/21

Day two of Till The Fest (read day one here) started with a 5-a-side football tournament organised by Giles Bidder. I won’t talk too much about the highs and lows of the tournament but I will say my team, Atheltico Shit Show, battled bravely to a third place finish with Be Sharp’s Paul Smith finishing as our top scorer and Harsh Buzz’s Adam “sixpence” Dray as the assist machine.

After the football tournament finished we hurried up to The Amersham Arms to catch Our Lives In Cinema. Because of the timing of the football I was unsure whether or not I’d have time to catch OLIC, this made me sad as they’re a great band and their lead singer Mark Bartlett is the biggest sweetheart in punk rock. I haven’t seen Our Lives In Cinema since they kindly opened Do It Together Fest in January 2020 (that was potentially the last time they played?) and I was keen to have another sing song with them. This was also their first show with Mike from Müg on drums, a fantastic addition to the band. The band opened their set with the amazing It’s Always Sunny In Patterson Park and I was immediately loving the set. The set was made up of tracks from their two exceptional EPs. They may have also played a brand new song but I could have potentially made that up? It was a joyful start and set up what was going to be a lovely day brilliantly.

After OLIC finished their set, I rushed back to the Air BnB to get showered properly after football. There was no way I wanted to spend another eight or so hours in my sticky football gear so off I went. Definitely the first time I’ve showered between sets at a festival!

I made it back to Amersham with plenty of time to spare for what was one of my most anticipated sets of the entire weekend – the return of Triple Sundae. I was actually back in plenty of time as the band were only just getting ready to set up when I got back to Amersham. It was nice to have more time to catch up with folk we’ve not seen for ages! Soon enough, after drummer Zandro had sorted out some drum stool issues, the band were ready to go. The band had only had one practice prior to the gig and had a stand in bass player in the form of Connor from SKIV so you could forgive the band if they were a bit rusty. Instead they played what was potentially the best Triple Sundae set I’ve ever seen. From the opening of Fabricated to the end of Indecisive it was all big, passionate and emotional sing-alongs. They took us back to 2014 with a rare play of Unseen from The Brainfreeze EP which included New Cross regular Theo jumping on stage to sing with the band. Other highlights included the huge singalongs for Everything’s Cool and Dazed and just seeing the smiles on the band members’ faces throughout. You could see there was a feeling of “this is why we do this” whilst the band played their set. Triple Sundae were due to have a massive year in 2020 only for the pandemic to cruelly ruin all of their plans but on this evidence they seem to have a new wind in their sails, ready to go bigger than ever before. It’s something they really deserve; the folk of London have known for years just what an amazing band they are and it’s time for the rest of the UK and beyond to find this out as well. I can’t wait to see them get back on stage again with their friends in Burnt Tapes on November 13th at the Old Blue Last. See you all there.

When I originally worked out my schedule for Till The Fest I had planned to see Transit Plan next but unfortunately they had to pull out of the festival. Instead of seeing another band we decided to take the opportunity to grab some dinner at Radio Delicious which is a pizza place just across the road from New Cross Inn. The pizza was delicious and gave us a great opportunity to hang out with some friends in a quieter location. Great pizza, great friends, great times.

After our pizzas, we made our way down to Matchstick Piehouse for the first time today to see Party Boss. Party Boss are a three piece from London who had spent the week on tour with Dutch punks Sweet Empire. We arrived at the venue a little while after the band had started playing and it was great to see an enthusiastic crowd had gathered for them. Kyle of Resuscitators was having a particularly good time dancing around in front of the band. The set up in the Piehouse had the band on the floor, which gave the venue a fantastic DIY punk feeling that worked so well for Till The Fest. I imagine Ollie has promoted many floor shows over the years so it seemed very fitting. Despite only being a three piece I was very impressed with the band’s stage presence, they had me captivated throughout. I think the only time I looked away from the band was to tell John Allen of Disconnect Disconnect Records (who released the Party Boss single) how good I thought they were. So far Party Boss have only released two songs, both are melodic punk bangers that are crying out to be shouted along too. This was the theme of the entire set and they got me so excited to hear more from the band.

After Party Boss finished their set, we left the Piehouse to make our way to the New Cross Inn to see Redeemon. On our way there I had a message from the beautiful Matt Speer of Ear Nutrition fame telling me that unfortunately they were stuck in traffic and wouldn’t be able to make the show. Disappointing news but it did mean we would be able to see all of Sweet Empire who were the next band at Piehouse. It was great to see Sweet Empire back in the UK. There’s an amazing amount of great bands in Europe and since the morons of the UK decided to vote to leave the EU, there’s been a real concern on whether they could come over here for shows. Sweet Empire found a way though and played a brilliant set. The Dutch four piece play a unique brand of melodic skate punk and always impress when I’ve seen them live. A big crowd squeezed into the Piehouse to see them. It seems that Sweet Empire have made a lot of great friends in the UK who were all very pleased to be able to see them live again. One of my highlights of the weekend for sure.

Next for us was Drones at the NXI. I have to be honest and say that Drones aren’t a band I often listen to at home but whenever I see them live I’m always extremely impressed. The band were in the middle of a UK tour so they were really on form. A decent sized crowd had gathered at the New Cross Inn for Drones who were already tearing the roof of the venue. Drones are one of those bands that always seem to kill it live, playing with so much passion and energy. Each member of the band is extremely watchable on stage, it doesn’t seem to be one person doing the bulk of the performance work (if that makes sense?). During the last year the band released their latest album, Our Hell Is Right Here, on Lockjaw Records and it was great to hear some of these songs live. During the set I popped down to the downstairs bar, when I returned I noticed the crowd had split down the middle and singer Lois was perched on top of the bar singing Rorschach from the Exiled album. Drones have earned themselves a reputation for being one of the best live punk bands in the UK at the moment and it’s clear to see why on this evidence.

Soon it was time for Call Me Malcolm to once again take to the NXI stage. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend the band’s album launch show a few weeks earlier but were just as keen to see the band again. This was also a great chance for a lot of the people from out of town to see Malcolm play at their home venue. If you’re a regular reader of CPRW you will know that Malcolm did not disappoint. As you might expect, the set was packed with songs from their newest album, Me, Myself & Something Else, as well as some favourites from I Was Broken When I Got Here. As soon as the band kicked off the capacity New Cross Inn crowd really lost it. I don’t think there was a stationary body in the room. Lucias and Mark’s dual vocals were on top, top form and every word was lovingly sung straight back at the band. When I reviewed Me, Myself & Something Else last year I commented on how Mark seems to have taken extra vocal responsibility, and this has enhanced the Call Me Malcolm live experience even more. It was already a pretty special thing but now, wowzas! The way the crowd reacted and the way the band played, you could’ve been forgiven for thinking this was a headline slot but there was in-fact another band to go. Call Me Malcolm are gigging all over the place for the rest of the year, make sure you go and see them ASAP.

I think you have to be one hell of a live band to follow Call Me Malcolm and still keep the energy in the room high. That was the task for UK ska punk legends Sonic Boom Six. Amazingly the band were making their very first appearance at the New Cross Inn. This was also the band’s first live appearance in two years. Any worry I might have had about the band keeping the energy up after Malcolm was soon forgotten as soon as the band started Bigger Than Punk Rock and the crowd, especially some die hard Boom fans down the front, began to move. I did feel like Laila’s vocals were a bit quiet but that was most probably down to where we were stood at the side of the stage. SB6 were showing exactly why they’re so highly thought of in the UK scene, bringing out big tune after big tune. It’s easy to forget just how many great songs the band have written throughout their career. From old favourites such as Sound Of A Revolution and All In to newer tracks like No Man, No Right and My Philosophy to everything in between. It was nice for the band to bust out Sunny Side Of The Street, I joked with a friend that it was because they hadn’t played a show for two years and needed a breather. It was awesome to hear that track live again. Another highlight was For The Kids Of The Multi-culture, a song that is still so relevant despite being released nearly a decade ago. Barney Boom added an extra, updated verse to the song which was a nice touch. The band then finished with Piggy In The Middle followed by a special surprise cover of Operation Ivy’s Sound System. A great way to finish the day…or was it the end?

Triple Sundae’s Hassan would be performing a special after party set as Lounar down in the NXI basement. A small and hardy crowd gathered to watch Lounar perform their hip hop songs, assisted by Till The Wheels Ollie on the decks/laptop. I know that earlier in the day Hassan wasn’t really feeling doing the set so late as he was tired but was convinced to do it anyway and I’m glad he did. This was such a nice, chilled way to finish what was an exhausting day surrounded by friends watching one of the most talented people I know perform his second set of the day. If you haven’t yet, check out Lounar’s debut EP, Daye3, here. All proceeds go to Medical Aid for Palestinians.

This was another brilliant day at Till The Fest, I was starting to feel broken but was also really excited for the third and final day. Also known as Lightyear day!

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