Gig Review :: Rebellion Festival

Clearly burnt out after having too much fun watching "the Fiend"

How much fun can you have with a bunch of 50 year olds who are drunk at 2pm and donned in skin tight jeans that clearly haven’t fit their bloated stomachs for at least 20 years? Apparently, a shit load.

Now to be fair it wasn’t just oldies. There were a lot of teens there sporting some of the gnarliest hair cuts I’ve even seen (do people still say gnarly? I don’t care. It wasn’t the 70’s anymore but that didn’t seem to matter much here.) I’d been in touch with Rebellion about getting a press pass for the event but didn’t hear anything back from them. This really was their loss as I worked my balls off all weekend and shot some great footage. Maybe next year, ya mother fuckers.


I arrived around midday on Thursday and was met by a large queue of punkers waiting anxiously to get in, passing the time by drinking booze. The crowd were an eclectic mix of nationalities, Americans, Germans, a few Swedes, the list goes on. A man walked up and down this line of punks trying to hand out leaflets about Jesus. I guess he’d never heard the phrase “target demographic.”

After about an hour of queuing I was in, checking the surroundings and not having a fucking clue where anything was, which was okay, because Thursday didn’t really have a lot I was interested in. The first band I checked out was Angry Agenda, Watford based street punks. Apart from being musically retarded, their singer had that kind of embarrassing drunken uncle look about him, the one who always sings karaoke at parties in front of your mates, but instead of singing Phil Collins he was having a go at punk.

As much as Angry Agenda sucked, they were nothing compared to Newcastle’s The Fiend. With a name that shitty you know it’s gonna be good fun. Their tough guy noisey punk might have impressed the skins but it wasn’t doing shit for me. “This song is about the government and goes like this, FUCK THE GOVERNMENT! FUCK THE GOVERNMENT!” “This song’s about religion, FUCK RELIGION! FUCK RELIGION!” “This song’s about the police,” ….well, you get the picture.

Thankfully it didn’t all suck balls, and I was pleasantly surprised by the band Girlfixer who, I’ll admit, I checked out because I thought the name sounded pretty cool. Female fronted and hard hitting they were the first instance of the entire day where I thought, “Hey! There might actually be some decent bands here!” Their singer had a great stage presence and also a cracking pair of….lungs. Had ya going then, didn’t I?

The real wild card of the day came in the form of Pete Bentham and the Dinner Ladies, a rock and roll act which didn’t really fit in with the rest of the bands I’d seen but kicked mega arse anyway. Catchy, quirky, funny and tight as hell, Bentham and his band were easily the most entertaining I’d seen all day. Though I really don’t get what the fuck the dancing dinner ladies were all about.

After this I headed to the Empress Ballroom, a giant hall which was originally intended for, no surprise, ballroom dancing. They should have kept it for that because even though the majority of the best bands that weekend would be playing in here, the sound team just couldn’t get the acoustics to work for them and this greatly hindered the bands. I watched Old Firm Casuals featuring Lars Fredrikson of Rancid and Bastards fame, they played really well but no one gets a free ride with me so I’d like to point this out to anyone who was pitting during their set. I saw more enthusiastic and violent pits the one time I watched Simple Plan in Manchester. Fifteen year old pop-punkers gave it harder, that’s embarrassing. (NOTE: I do not condone or promote Simple Plan, but if a homeless guy offers you a ticket because you shared your cider with him, you take it.)

The only band I was really looking forward to on the Thursday list was OFF! They did not disappoint, again, the poor sound (though this is meant as no offense to the sound guys, I can’t even imagine how hard it’d be to make that hall work) made it difficult to understand what Keith Morris was saying between songs, but it didn’t matter much, they tore the place apart and left faces melted left, right and centre.


Friday came and the first band I got to check out was the Creepshow, I was actually just making sure I got a good spot for A Wilhelm Scream but this band played hard and impressed me a lot. Their 2 foot tall (probably) female singer had more balls than any of the men in the bands and she jumped right into the centre of a pit while still strapped up and began guitar soloing her little heart out. I’d never been a fan of music whose genre features the word “billy” at the end, but I’d come a little closer to the dark side thanks to this Canadian four piece.

I have a lot of respect for D.I.Y bands but unfortunately the Restarts didn’t get me off. They had solid moral ethics and this came across in their on stage banter but musically I wasn’t blown away. I don’t want to insult a band as hard working as the Restarts because it’s a rare thing in the music scene these days but it just wasn’t for me.

I’d began to notice something about Rebellion Festival, there was a scary amount of white people, and not just white people, white people with skin heads who looked like thugs. Now I know it’s stereotypical for me to think that just because someone has a skin head, wears steel boots and looks like a bruiser that they are inherently racist (the skinheads had originally brought ska and reggae to the U.K but must have lost their cool somewhere along the way) but come on, if you look like a fucking murderer, people are going to start thinking you’re a fucking murderer. It made me a bit tense but as the day went on I saw a few faces of varied skin colour and no one was shooting dirty eyes at them so luckily it didn’t seem like Hitler’s “Pure Aryan Nation” was going to be achieved this weekend.

A Wilhelm Scream finally came on. I was right at the front. I’d seen them play in Manchester on Wednesday and they were definitely in the top three bands I was looking forward to seeing (T.V Smith and the Damned also.) They completely destroyed the place and I was surprised to see a healthy turn out for their set as I’d not noticed many about who looked the AWS sort. The band battled through a few sound problems but made a complete riot out of the Empress and, with debatably the exception of OFF!, were the band that give it the most in the Empress the entire weekend. The most being their all.

Now I imagine people reading this who know me would think I stuck around for the Bouncing Souls. I actually didn’t, because another stage at the festival featured a band I hold very dear to my old school punk heart, The Vibrators. The first time I’d seen them singer Knox wasn’t with them and the band played as a three piece, I actually prefer them like this, and came across as a sort of wrinkled Lawrence Arms, I loved it. They played this way today. They didn’t disappoint this time either playing the tightest I’d ever seen them play being the first band to get some real honest punk motions out of the crowd. Every topless mid life crisis in the audience jumped about like a kid after a bowl of lucky charms and it was truly a beautiful sight to see. Their bassist Pete genuinely thanked their crowd as the set finished, who thanked him for the beers he’d given out at the start, who then thanked them again for thanking him. What a bloody nice bloke.

Next up on the “to do” list was Arturo Lukers “punktry and western band.” Being a big fan of the Lurkers I was intrigued so headed to the Bizarre Bazaar room to check them out. What I hadn’t planned on doing was stepping into the bad acid trip that was Rubella Ballet. It just didn’t make sense. The lights were off and some fat old woman covered in glow in the dark paint was making orgasm noises to a backing band. What the actual fuck is Rubella Ballet?

Arturo came to the stage and kicked out some Johnny Cash style grooves tinged with a punk rock feel and comedy lyrics, songs like “God and Chips” and “Three Legged Ben” instantly became crowd favourites and even the people who had no idea about the punktry and western band, like me, were soon singing to every chorus.

I’d heard good things about Infa Riot, admittedly I’d head good things about them from a pissed up guy who was waiting for them to come on, but none the less, good things had been said. The good things didn’t match the reality, making Infa Riot by far one of the worse bands I’d watched; they weren’t The Fiend bad, but pretty close. Another over the hill four piece consisting of members who’d taken time out of their busy schedules working at TESCO’s or the local butchers to pretend they were still punk to the bone and hard as nails, it was kind of sad really.

Thankfully Infa Riot fucked off and so did we, planning to suck up the set of Drunken Balordi in exchange for a good spot for the Damned. The Balordi bunch never played so instead the time until the Damned was spent sat on the concrete floor on the Olympia in great anticipation for a chance to see the Captain and co. They took to the stage and burnt through a barrage of hits leaving nothing in their wake except a sea of gob smacked punkers covered in sweat. I think I saw one girl crying she was so happy. They played all the greats, mixing old with new and didn’t let up for a second. Definitely worth the years I’d waited to finally see them, and I didn’t hear “The Captain is a wanker” once (though it was probably still said.)


Practically all of Saturday was spent at the acoustic stage listening to great artists like Louise Distras, El Morgan, Honest John Plain and Kelly Kemp. The acoustic stage really was the place to be for the most part of Saturday. I was excited to watch El Morgan again as I’d been a fan of hers for about a year now, the only downfall of El’s otherwise incredible set was a fat Irish woman who was sat behind me being very loud, very drunk and very rude. Congratulations, you’re a national stereotype. I hope you choke on a burger, you bitch.

After the acoustic stage had died down I moved across to the Empress to watch the Boys, having just watched one of them do an acoustic set, and they really nailed it. Though no longer boys, the band donned receding hairlines and bloated guts these days; they still kicked it with the energy and enthusiasm as a 14 year old that’s just discovered masturbation. They played a sweet cover of the Ramones “Beat on the Brat” as well as all their hits. The crowd went nuts, me included.

I’d heard good things about the Filaments and Captain Hotknives so checked them out accordingly. Neither hit the spot. I couldn’t stomach another band that used trumpets as stage decorations more than part of the music and I didn’t find Hotknives funny one bit, and I’m a funny bastard. Instead I checked out the Have Nots who played a pretty solid set appealing to the younger demographic of the event with their ska influenced punk rock.

Pennywise were up next at the Empress and to say that they were one of the mostly eagerly anticipated acts for a lot of patrons would be a massive understatement. But here’s where things go wrong, where good reviews go bad, you could say. I’d been a big Pennywise fan when I was younger but even before original singer Jim Lindberg left, I’d kind of lost enthusiasm. I thought I’d watch them anyway as they were a hard hitting band whose opinions, I thought, matched my own. The band themselves played a real good set, the music was tight as hell and everyone went nuts, the atmosphere was almost perfect. The only downfall was the banter, “Alright you fucking mother fucking fuckers, are you fucking ready to get the fucking fuck up?” I’m not eleven anymore and I don’t think swearing as much as possible is cool. “This song is about being different!” Really? You’re probably pushing forty and playing to a crowd of mostly almost thirty year olds who, after this weekend, are going back to their 9 to 5 jobs like the rest of the world and you’re trying to appeal to them on grounds that would grab the heart strings of a high school kid. “This song is about how much high school can suck, but you can get through it!” It did suck and I did get through it, you know what else I did? I got over it. I love Pennywise, but they kind of need to grow up a little, it was all a bit childish and fake, like New Found Glory singing about dating girls in high school even though they probably have daughters of their own there now. Kelly Kemp will hate me if she reads this.

With Pennywise done, sometime to kill, and not wanting to watch a band with a name like “the Grit” I headed to the Olympia to see what the Red Eyes had to offer (yet again, another shit band name.) They took to the stage and looked even more burnt out and pathetic than any other mid-life crisis band of the weekend. They opened their set with a song that, “We love music, music is our life, we’re living our life, because we’re playing the music,” or something like that. Great. Fat fifty years olds playing half arsed punk rock with lyrics that would fit nicely on Sesame Street. I was out of there. I’d take my chances with the Grit.

I wish I was less of a dick, I really shouldn’t judge bands by their names before I watch them. The Grit were awesome. Really good. Another band that was slowly pushing me more towards the “billy” side of punk rock. Grufty, aggressive, full of attitude and gusto, the band’s name actually described the mentality of their music to a tee. With a stand up bass player, who manically climbed a set of speakers with his large instrument (haha) in hand, the Grit were not only fantastic musically, they were also one of the most kick arse bands to watch live involving the crowd in sing-a-alongs and the rest of their on stage antics.

The Grit left, and so did most of the crowd in the Arena. Eddie and the Hot Rods were up next and even though the place had emptied quite a bit in comparison to the previous act, more fool them, the Rods were fucking awesome, energetic, fast, furious and just all around cool as fuck. Eddie looked as if Rod Stewart and Mick Jagger’s love child….of about the same age. I’d heard the Sex Pistols once opened for the Hot Rods and really couldn’t work out why that fucking butter selling hair dresser had got so far while this outfit of pure talent were left at the sidelines. If you don’t like the Rods, you’re a dick, and that’s not opinion, its fact.


The weekend was coming to a close and depression was setting in. I didn’t want to leave Rebellion, it’d been the most fun I’d had in a long time and the people and bands were cool as hell. I’d miss being able to see all my favourites in one building. I’d miss A Wilhelm Scream being one hundred percent cool to me and my constant queries. I’d miss hanging out with all the cool people I hardly got to see while living in my cave and hiding from the daylight back home. I’d miss drunken punks who looked like they’d spent their lives lying in a field of smack needles asking me where I was from to such an inquisitive degree I was pretty sure they were gonna turn up for tea someday soon. Hell, I was even gonna miss the Fiend.

But it wasn’t over just yet, there was one more day left and the line up was looking great. Well it was until I noticed who was playing before Glen Matlock.

This is a review, okay? And as much as I’ve joked and made sly comments about some of the bands I’ve attempted to keep some element of professionalism (it’s still a review by me, so admittedly, that isn’t much) but honestly, fuck John Robb and fuck Goldblade. They might as well change their name to “The John Robb ego band even though my hair cut makes my head look like a vagina….band.” The guy had been swanning around the festival all weekend with this air of arrogance and the same crappy suit he wears to every event he somehow blags his chimp looking fuck head into. “John Robb spends more time in crowds then he does on stage,” maybe he should work harder on his shitty band and stop sliming his way into other people’s shows. Fuck that guy, fuck Goldblade and fuck his shitty haircut and God complex. The only thing you’ve done for U.K music is piss a bunch of bands off by bothering them all the time. I bet even his mother hates him, “Mummy, I just played on stage at Rebellion in front of thousands of people and they really loved it!” “Oh, shut up John, you twat. No one likes you.”

With that rant over, it’s back to the review. I watched Glen Matlock and the Philistines and they were great. Even the Sex Pistols covers sounded alright without that fucking hairdresser on the mic. Glen had a real good attitude and the crowd responded to this with aplomb, singing back the lyrics to the bands punk influence rock and roll sound.

As soon as Matlock had finished, it was a quick dash to the Bizarre Bazaar to watch what I’d truly been waiting for. T.V Smith. I’d never

This could easily just be a picture of Ian Critchley's Dad, you'd never know the difference

seen him play acoustic before and even though it was a little disheartening to not see him blast about a stage kicking the crap out of whatever piece of air he could find, the change from distorted guitars to acoustic melodies wasn’t only a nice change, it worked great bringing a whole new love and dynamic to the T.V Smith experience for me. He played an array of songs from the Adverts to the Explorers and brought a weird combination of extreme intensity whilst playing and polite post song gratitude that left the audience of manic Smith fans high as hell off their T.V fix.

I moved back into the Empress to check out the U.K Subs. For years now people had recommended the Subs to me and I’d never checked them out, I don’t know why, I guess other shit just came up, but I was here now and had a free space in my itinerary so the Subs seemed as good a choice as any. They took the stage and instantly I thought one thing, WHY HADN’T ANYONE TOLD ME THEIR SINGER WAS JIMMY SAVILLE?! Jokes aside, the band were great, far surpassing my expectations of a moderate punk band with decent riffs. The audience was clearly in adoration and beer cups, a mix of empty and half full, flew across to room as did an abundance of crowd surfing mohicans while Charlie Harper downed beer after beer mid song.

Thankfully, the Sub didn’t run over as across in the Arena were another band I had been greatly anticipating, the Lurkers. I’ve tried to describe the Lurkers sound to friends who have yet to hear their music and the closest I’ve got to putting in an image they’d understand is, “kinda like Glenn Danzig Misfits, if they were from the U.K, but didn’t dress like trick or treaters and write songs about shitty B-movies” (I’d like to point out now before anyone calls me up on this, I actually love the Misfits, they’re one of my favourite bands and I think a lot of B-movies are pretty cool.) Though the majority of Rebellion patrons had clearly gone to see either Slaughter and the Dogs, the Lurkers still drew a healthy turnout of fans clearly addicted to the Lurkers sound. Arturo was, of course, as hilarious as ever having some of the best on stage banter in punk rock and reminiscing about how the open for Metallica in the states. “It’s good to be playing the little venues again!”

The day was drawing to a close and there was only one more act I wanted to see. Truth be told there was two, but Captain Sensible was on at the same time and I’d already had one viewing of the Captain so instead I vouched for Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. Before the band took the stage Red Alert had been playing on the stage across and were getting pissed by the amount of people NOT paying attention to them. “If you’re waiting for that fake Yankee tosser, you can fuck off!” The bitter truth was, everyone was and were not up for fucking off anywhere.

The band took to the stage followed by a Biafra dressed in bloody medical gear and looking like a wanker. He spent the entire set getting more naked, to the point where I almost thought we’d be seeing little Jello make an appearance, and dancing around like an insane moron. It was great. The band and Biafra played like crazy, chucking a dead Kennedy’s song in after every few of their own. Though the majority of people seemed more interested in the DK songs than the School of Medicines originals they still went crazy the entire way through. Bar some sound issues at the start of the set and Jello’s pre song rants (which raised some good points I guess, but were just a little excessive) the Guantanamo School of Medicine were a strong finisher for one of the greatest musical weekends of my life. “We’ve ran out of time! We’re being kick off stage!” Keep the rants for the spoken word dates next time, Jello.

So Rebellion had ended, it was done. It’d be back to the normality(ish) of my day to day life tomorrow. There’d been highs; there’d been lows, blah blah, and some other parting cliché’s. I’d watched a whole lot of bands, and if you weren’t mentioned in the review then you probably weren’t great, didn’t suck incredibly, I couldn’t think of anything funny to write about you or, most likely, I just didn’t watch you or forgot. Now there was nothing left to do but go home, put a pot of tea on, and wait for the Fiend to come round and kick my fucking head in.

– Charlie Cooper

Low Points

  • Scary amounts of thug looking white people
  • · The Fiend
  • Infa Riot
  • Being pretty sure Pipes and Pints sang WHITE POWER on one of their songs (though I think I’m wrong about that)
  • Being sober (mostly)
  • Being pretty sure that the Olympia is usually a car park
  • John Robb not getting hit by one of the bands buses on the way out of the festival (I haven’t heard anything about it anyway)

High Points

  • OFF!
  • A Wilhelm Scream
  • The Vibrators
  • The Damned
  • Getting to hang out with Sam Barry and Melissa Murphy
  • Going outside and walking along the pier
  • The Fiend (they were pretty damn funny)
  • That hot girl from Munich with an Against Me! shirt
  • El Morgan and Kelly Kemp (both watching them and hanging out)
  • Jobey’s awesome but totally fucked up art (which you can see some of here)
  • The girl who, when asked by John Robb during Goldblade’s set did she believe in the power of rock and roll, said “Do I fuck.”
  • T.V Smith and Leigh Heggarty
  • Getting a picture with T.V
  • T.V Smith wanting me to have some kids so another generation could listen to his music
  • Something, something. Look, I just really like T.V Smith, okay?
  • Jello Biafra’s bouncing podgy man boobs (is it strange this made it into high points and not low?)

Gig Review :: Polar Bear Club – The Cockpit, Leeds – 16/07/11

“In short, Polar Bear club are a great live band.”

If you’re into pop punk and haven’t heard of Polar Bear Club, then expect to soon. The Rochester, NY five-piece are close to releasing their 3rd album, Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride, but not before a short tour of the UK, including a stop at The Cockpit in Leeds.

Watching first support bands is always awkward, you’re not sure what to expect, half the crowd hasn’t even showed up yet and the other half’s talking to friends by the bar. The stage is treated like a bio-hazard zone for some reason. To top it all off there’s a band trying their hardest to play their music and get some sort of response. Local band, Gravelines didn’t appear to be put off though, playing a pretty good set.

If I had to describe Man Overboard in one sentence, it’d probably include the words ‘slightly clichéd’ and ‘pop punk’. Not that that’s a bad thing, If it’s done well and sounds good, something which Man Overboard manage pull off well. Seeing them live, on the other hand, feels like a letdown. Their music isn’t bad but, to be honest, I could’ve just sat at home and listened to their albums, which is probably what I’ll be doing in the future.

Polar Bear Club’s set was pretty awesome, which is probably a huge understatement. With songs such as ‘Most Miserable Like’ and ‘Burned Out In A Jar’, Polar Bear Club gigs really are giant sing alongs, with a heavy dose of fist pumping. Their set is well thought out, with more rowdy songs interspaced allowing the crowd to catch their breath before being launched into the next high. In short, Polar Bear club are a great live band. New song ‘Screams In Caves’ was a nice inclusion in the set. If it’s any indication of the rest of the new record, then we’re in for a real treat.

Gig Review :: Pressure Kids

“Pressure Kids” are a talented band of twenty-somethings hailing from the West Midlands who would like to introduce you to a world of guitar-laden pop and a happy-go-lucky attitude to the world of music.

Having solidified their line-up in 2011, they are now a strong, experienced 5 piece with a charismatic and professional female lead singer, giving the band an interesting dimension.

The band are currently working on an EP which they plan to release in late 2011 and are currently performing in their local music scene and beyond.

They have recently played a series of gigs, including their local ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, in which they have reached the final. I went along to the heat gig and the semi-final and thought their performances on both occasions were incredible.

For the Semi Final, the band opened with a stripped down cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game”, with a spotlight on the lead singer and a single guitar accompaniment; a delightful and touching homage to the late soul singer with Pressure Kids’ frontwoman paying her respects perfectly with soulful and powerful reflections on Miss Winehouse’s sassy and haunting vocals. As this cover faded out, the band kicked into their own repertoire of tracks. With effervescent energy and a great rapport on stage, the band certainly engaged the audience where heads were bobbing, toes were tapping and plenty of people were dancing. Their sound is full and profound with hard-hitting percussion and edgy guitar riffs. The vocalist has a strong tone and has great control of her voice which compliments the intelligent and witty lyrics perfectly. The set ran smoothly and the band received a great reception from the crowd once their slot was over. The 5 accomplished and talented musicians gelled on stage and were a genuine pleasure to watch and listen to. There was no pretention or angst, but plenty of raw ability and star quality.

The reaction from the audience was extremely complimentary and excitable, with a general hubbub of interest in the band. Once the audience vote opened, a swarm of fans headed to place their votes for Pressure Kids who were, in my opinion, champions of the evening and thoroughly deserving of their place in the final!

A selection of the band’s songs include “Monster”, with a catchy-chorus and fun lyrics and their new track “Blinded”, which will undoubtedly be stuck in your head after listening to it (video of live performance below!). “Robots Break Hearts” is another great upbeat track whilst “We never really got on anyway” offers a slower, edgier take on ‘Pop’.

I recommend, no, I URGE you to head over to the band’s Facebook Page and show them some support. You can download their first EP for free and acquaint yourself with a fantastically talented and interesting unsigned band! You can find Pressure Kids at: or


Gig Review :: OFWGKTA – Academy 2, Manchester – 12/07/11

© 2011 Kate Black

“…Slumped against walls, wearing tattered ‘GolfWang’ shirts, and being treated by paramedics…”

Since the release of the ‘Yonkers’ video last February, the music world hasn’t been able to stop talking about Tyler, The Creator and his band of not so merry men. Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All  (often shortened to OFWGKTA or Odd Future) are a hip-hop collective formed in Compton, California – a city famous for violent crime and ‘Gangsta’ rap. Unlike their 90’s predecessors, Odd Future prefer skateboards to guns, but that doesn’t mean they’re without controversy. They’ve been accused of everything from homophobia to devil worship, so why were 800 people (myself included) waiting to see them?

The reason is fairly simple: Odd Future are, by far, the most interesting thing to happen to hip-hop in a long time. To quote Tyler, they’re not rapping about “fucking bitches and getting head”, like the majority of today’s hip-hop acts. Their songs range from the clever to the comedic (often at the same time), and even manage to turn a few stomachs. Their on stage antics are equally extreme, bordering on those seen at a punk show, and often leave fans, and Odd Future themselves, injured by the time the lights go up. I’m happy to report that Manchester was treated to exactly the same, despite Tyler having a broken foot (see, I told you).

Odd Future DJ and producer, Syd The Kyd kicked the night off with a selection of current hip-hop stuff and dubstep remixes; chants of “Wolf Gang” eminating from the hyped up crowd. Syd finished her set, but we had no time to recover. MellowHype (Hodgy Beats and Left Brain) burst onto the stage to performing ’64’. I guess that’s what happens when you get your own DJ to open up your show. Left Brain and Hodgy were soon joined by the rest of the crew, with the biggest cheer of the night going to Tyler. The entirety of the group (well, all those who could make it) shared the stage throughout the night, and it became clear why Odd Future’s shows were so chaotic. Having that many people jumping around the Academy 2 stage at once, is something I’ve not often (if ever) seen. The guys really seemed to be enjoying themselves. All of them, Tyler included, throwing themselves into the crowd at one point or another.

Despite the craziness, each member got a chance to show Manchester what they were made of, which was a great decision. Although this had been billed as an Odd Future show, it was clear that the majority of those in attendance were there for Tyler and ‘the hits’. They won’t have walked away disappointed either. The only notable absence from the setlist was ‘She’, which was likely cut due to the absence of Frank Ocean. Singles, ‘Yonkers’ and ‘Sandwiches’ went down really well and worked well in amongst some of the lesser known songs – ‘Fuck The Police’ (not an N.W.A. cover) and ‘Splatter’ were a couple of personal favorites.

Tyler and co had the whole crowd under control. Having grown weary of “Swag”, which was consistently chanted throughout the night, they managed to get a room full of people shouting “Soup” at the top of their lungs – a surreal experience to say the least. With the night coming to a close, the guys launched into ‘Bitch Suck Dick’ and the night almost ended there. With all the excitement, Tyler hopped up onto Syd’s equipment. Needless to say, he broke it. This caused almost ten minutes of mundane chatter and a capella. Even this didn’t silence the crowd, who all seemed up for this improvised mess. With the equipment sorted Tyler closed the show with ‘Radicals’, clearing the room of any ill sentiment their might have been. A chant of “Kill people. Burn shit. Fuck school.” engulfed the entire building, and the crowd engaged in a ‘wall of death’, before Odd Future left the stage to, the absent, Earl Sweatshirt’s ‘Earl’.

As I made my way out I witnessed the casualties of a good gig. The same people I’d seen outside playing tough guy were now slumped against walls, wearing tattered ‘GolfWang’ shirts, and being treated by paramedics whilst holding their ripped Supreme caps. I couldn’t help but wonder what they had expected from a night with Odd Future.

Gig Review :: EELS – O2 Academy, Leeds – 12/07/2011

© Lucy Keating Photography

© Lucy Keating Photography

“The only thing that matters is that you bring it!”

If you don’t know who the EELS are, chances are, you suck as a human being. Mark Everett, better known as E, has been kicking ass and taking names with his experimental rock band for the past fifteen years since the release of Beautiful Freak in 1996 and I was finally going to have the honour of watching them right before my eyes.

The first act, with emphasis on the “act”, was a juggler. Now I’ve been to a lot of shows and seen some weird shit, but I have NEVER seen a juggler open for a rock band, let alone one as influential as the EELS.

You know the moments when you think your life is gonna end? A real “this is it” moment? Straight after dropping one, the juggler decided to juggle three large bowling pin shaped pieces of metal over my head, I saw my life flash before me, I’ve had it alright.

He didn’t kill me which left my mind to wander and I came to a conclusion, this would be GREAT shroomed up. The juggler spun a large luminous pole, that flashed a multitude of colours, at great speed looking like Donatello at a rave, I REALLY wished I was high.

These feelings were soon put aside when, second act, Jessica Hoop took the stage. Two songs in and I was glad I wasn’t tripping. I’d prepared in my mind journalistic masterpieces such as “if Nick Drake was a woman. And Sucked” and “if Ani DiFranco had perforated her ear drums at age six.” But before I could put the final nail in the Jessica Hoop coffin this butterfly appeared from the cocoon of cat calls and her final three songs were honest, beautiful folk songs with transcendental melodies (yes I did just use “transcendental” in a review, suck it).

The highlight of the night should have been finally watching the EELS, and it was. The band, other than looking like ZZtop had switched wardrobes with Maroon 5, completely destroyed the place and by destroyed I mean put huge smiles on everyone’s faces and caused a human ocean of upbeat head bopping, because this is EELS and even with E’s nightmarish past the music continues to be some of the most life affirming I’ve ever heard, this is shown greatly in their live performance.

“That was really positive!” E’s one liner commentary contributed fantastically to heartening the mood as the band tore through an ecclectic mix of new and old, two encores and a heavy hitting, punk rock styled, full band version of “I Like Birds.”

“The only thing that matters is that you bring it!” Was another E one liner, and believe me, they fucking brought it.

I often find myself after reading a review that, no matter how well wrote, it never quite captures the mood of the evening, so here’s video evidence of the EELS playing the Daisies Of The Galaxy great, Flyswatter.

Gig Review :: Morrissey – The Barbican, York – 25/06/11

© 2011 Daniel Robson

People Crushed, Punches Thrown, Dehydration – A Typical Morrissey Gig.

After a successful set at Glastonbury, making sure to have digs at U2 and David Cameron, Morrissey played a sold out show at the Barbican Centre in York. This old school gym like setting held 1,800 members of the ‘Moz Army’, all of us anticipating a fantastic show from the former Smiths frontman. Packed like sardines we watched clips of old live performances and interviews from the likes of Lou Reed and The New York Dolls. When the curtain finally dropped, the place went mad.

It wasn’t as mad as I’d expected though. Having seen Morrissey live a couple of times before, the Smiths ‘covers’ seem to go down better than his solo stuff (which is to be expected). A shout of “Ee, bah gum” preceded a fantastic performance of ‘I Want The One I Can’t Have’ – a Smiths classic and a personal favorite – with all the usual Morrissey trappings of arm flailing and other mad body movements. Even with all this, the crowd barely moved. ‘First Of The Gang To Die’, a more recent addition to Moz’s catalog, came next and forced the crowd forward. Packed more tightly than before we all sang along, all the while fighting to keep our footing in the crush. I couldn’t help but wonder why it was this that spurned the charge and the opener. Not that it matters.

Morrissey struck a good balance with his setlist. Though his solo material made up the majority of the set, it was a selection of his best work with ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’, ‘Speedway’ and ‘Alma Matters’ appearing alongside ‘Ouija Board, Ouija Board’ and, the aforementioned, ‘First Of The Gang To Die’. Those wanting to hear Smiths songs were not disappointed either. ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out’ and ‘Shoplifters Of The World Unite’ were amongst the five Smiths tracks played during the show. It was expected that some new tracks would populate the night’s set as well. After all, his new album has been finished for some time. ‘The Kid’s A Looker’, ‘People Are The Same Everywhere’ and ‘Action Is My Middle Name’ were interspersed between better known songs and seemed to go down really well. Moz even threw in a cover of Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite Of Love’ which was a nice surprise.

During this tour, Morrissey’s fervent vegetarian beliefs have taken centre stage. All meat products were banned from sale in and around the venue, as is usually the case, and ‘Meat Is Murder’ was one of the night’s final songs. Bathed in red light, and with footage of an abattoir behind him, Morrissey and his band launched into a powerful rendition of, arguably, his former band’s most depressing track. Though it’s not a song I’m a fan of, it worked really well live. The band were most impressive here, and the addition of a fantastic instrumental performance at the end of the song was one of the highlights of the night.

Returning in a new shirt, Morrissey closed the set with ‘Irish Blood, English Heart’. The lights went down and the stage emptied, returning shortly after to perform an encore. ‘This Charming Man’ had everyone up on their feet and singing along. A great choice of song to mark the end of a great gig. Morrissey was on fine form all night and it’s nice to see him back on form after recent spells of illness. I’m just waiting for that new album now.

Gig Review :: Rival Schools – Manchester Academy 2 (16/04/11)

© 2011 Natalia Balcerska Photography

“Needless to say, I made sure to get hold of the new album when I got home.”

The back of Academy 2 is somewhere I hadn’t been in a while. It wasn’t nice to be back. I’ve come to realise that it’s not the greatest of venues, but I was going to enjoy myself regardless. The band had just started as we (that’d be me and Ian) wormed our way into the sea of people. It was warm, claustrophobic and, for a short arse like myself, quite hard to see. Still, we were here to see Rival Schools. It was awesome.

This being a co-headline tour with And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead there was a lot of people there seemingly uninterested at what Walter and co had to offer. I can’t say anything AYWKUBTTOTD (it’s even long as an acronym!) are a band I could care less about. Not that they’re bad, I just don’t know their stuff and, much like Rival Schools will have been to many a crowd member, they were the ‘other’ band on the bill – a band we didn’t stick around to see.

Rival Schools’ hour-long set started off great. After opening with ‘Wring It Out’ the guys went straight into two tracks from United By Fate to get us all warmed up. After all, their new album, Pedals has only been out for a moth or so. This wasn’t a bad tactic, as it seemed to make everyone that little bit more receptive to these songs the majority appeared not to have heard previously. Needless to say, I made sure to get hold of the new album when I got home.

The set itself was really tight and the band played really well. Walter owned the stage and really drew me in. The guy really knows how to put on a performance; the whole band does. During a break in the set a someone in the crowd starts shouting towards the stage, asking the band to play a cover. I forget what they said, but it made the guys start playing Bon Jovi’s ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’. An odd, but fun inclusion to the set without a doubt. ‘Used For Glue’, a fan favorite, closed the set and this being a co-headline deal there was no encore.

Rival Schools really put on a great show. I wasn’t doubting that they would, I just didn’t think they’d play with such intensity. The hour they got wasn’t enough. I hope to see them back in the UK sooner rather than later.

Gig Review :: Thursday – Manchester Academy 3 (20/04/11)

© 2011 Jodie Weatherley

“…an abundance of sweat drenched mother fuckers who’d just experienced what could easily be one of the best gigs of the year.”

We (me and Barlow) almost didn’t make it into the gig: being totally broke on the night one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen are playing is never a high point in life. Luckily we have some good friends in high places who finagled us in for free. I would once again be watching the New Jersey kings, Thursday.

We arrived just in time to see the majority of Attack! Vipers! set, which was a relief because the previous times I’d attempted to watch them I’d either been late or had some form of previous engagement. I’ll say this about the Vipers, they were nothing like I expected them to be. Being part of the ‘Southsea punk scene’ I was expecting to be seeing something a bit less…let’s say brutal. But this was by no means a bad thing, after I got over the initial shock of just how hard and heavy they were I found myself drawn to the front of the crowd, or as close to the front as I could get, seeing as, vocalist Joe had decided to do the first half of their slot in the centre of the crowd. This confused a lot of the audience who were unfamiliar with the intimacy of UK underground bands, but pretty soon everyone was digging it. The room wasn’t even close to full capacity, but I imagine Attack! Vipers! captivated the majority of the people watching.

We decided to take a trip to the bar during Circa Survive’s set. I have nothing against the band and I have a lot of respect for Anthony Green and his work in The Sound of Animals Fighting but, unfortunately, the band he was playing in that night were not my cup of tea.

After the bar break it was back to the gig, and as soon as the lights went down I shot the front-right side of the stage in anticipation. Thursday soon appeared on stage and the crowd just lost it. The first three songs were all from new album No Devolución and even though they went down really well, there was a feeling that only the newer, or more hardcore Thursday fans were singing along to every word; the albums release having come only 8 days prior to tonight’s show. As much as I was enjoying the new material I was aching for something off their initial LP’s. With no chance of a Waiting classic sneaking in, I kept my fingers crossed for a good amount from the other two.

“Ten years ago we released an album called Full Collapse, so we thought we’d play the entire record tonight. Is everyone cool with that?”

Everyone wasn’t cool with it, they were fucking ecstatic.

The band blasted through the album, start to finish, with only the odd break to address the crowd or remember which song was next on the album (it had been ten years) with a great intensity which left this participant, who at this point had dumped his bag and glasses and was firmly pressed at the stage front being the filling for a sandwich consisting of a young girl and a sweaty meat head, absolutely drained of all vocals, energy and bodily fluids.

After the start to finish of the record, the band left stage, returning momentarily to end the show with another new song Turnpike Divides, a homage to their home town of New Jersey. The band left and so did the crowd, an abundance of sweat drenched mother fuckers who’d just experienced what could easily be one of the best gigs of the year.

Gig Review :: The Stranglers – Manchester Academy (26/03/11)

The band were tight, the lighting & sound were great, we got all the hits and I’m sure at the end the vast majority of the punters had a great night out.

The night after the TV Smith gig, (see here) I was back in town for The Stranglers, another one of punk rock’s evergreens.
Although not strictly “punk” at the time, they certainly surfed the New Wave. No strangers to controversy they were one of the bad boys of the late 70’s/early 80’s and 30 odd years on have become a bit of a British
institution & I guess the majority of the sold out crowd thought they were at a punk rock gig. The Academy is a purpose built music venue, pretty sterile really, next to the Union building of the Uni.

I didn’t miss the first band although I wouldn’t have really minded this time – nuff said.
The next on the bill was Wilko Johnson. Can I just say that the man is FUCKING AWESOME!!!
Would there have been any punk rock without this man? You tell me.
Would The Stranglers have been signed to UA if the company hadn’t had the success that they achieved with Dr Feelgood (a number one album for god’ sake)?
So I guess it’s only fair that The Stranglers returned the favour eventually (although who’s doing who the favour?).
Dr Feelgood in general & Wilko in particular were a massive influence on both sides of the Atlantic, a fact which is finally being recognised – check out Julien Temples recent rockumentary “Oil City Confidential” (now available on DVD) if you don’t believe me (would I lie).
Since Wilko left/got fired from the Canvey Island outfit he’s kept the flag flying (mainly unsung and alone) for British R&B although we have seen a raising of his lantern-jawed profile over the last couple of years.
Anyway, Wilko perfectly complemented by Norman Watt-Roy (surely this country’s greatest bassist) & Dylan Howe (Steve Howe’s son ) on drums powered through a shamefully short set of Wilko classics.
The stage leaps have stopped n recent years (after all the man is in his 60’s) but all the other moves are still there. Always the consumate professional, he didn’t even miss a riff when part way through his set, the stage was invaded by two naked (apart from bow-ties & ballons) Stranglers.
And I remember the days when it was female strippers.

After a short intermission (probably to put their clothes back on), The Stranglers took to the stage & what can I say. The band were tight, the lighting & sound were great, we got all the hits (there are quite a few) and I’m sure at the end the vast majority of the punters (of all ages) had a great night out.
But being the contrary bastard that I am, I got to thinking.
Would The Adverts have gone down this road if they’d carried on? – we’ll never know.
Which gig was “Pure Punk Rock”?
Perhaps The Stranglers have got the right idea – after all punk was the “great rock’n’roll swindle” (allegedly).

This was the last night of The Stranglers tour.

I’d been invited for drinks in the VIP Lounge.

I did the punk rock thing and pissed off home!

Gig Review :: TV Smith – Star & Garter, Manchester (25/03/11)

TV Smith is one of Punk Rock’s great survivors.

His band, The Adverts first came into the spotlight with a brilliant debut single on Stiff Records – One Chord Wonders/Quickstep, their contribution to the Live at the Roxy album, a second single which caught the public’s attention and a Top 20 placing in the charts (as well as a TOTP appearance) – Gary Gilmore’s Eyes/Bored Teenagers. Two albums & a hand full of singles followed before the band split.
Not given the credit he was due at the time (possibly a bit too subtle for the tabloid reading punk masses?) TV is one of the best songwriters of his (and any) generation and let’s face it, we’ll probably never know how much some of his contemporaries actually wrote themselves. Since The Adverts, he’s produced a number of consistently good albums & singles and re-invented himself somewhat as a “punk protest” singer/songwriter.

I’d seen him a few times recently playing an acoustic set and been mightily impressed. For this tour, his largest for some time, TV had enlisted 3/4 of an Italian band, The Valentines, to play a “Best of The Adverts”. He’s done a similar format in recent years with The Bored Teenagers playing “Crossing The Red Sea” at the 100 club in 2007 (available on CD & DVD) & with The Valentines themselves at last year’s Rebellion festival.
The Tour is billed as “TV Smith knows one chord, The Valentines know three….” which if I remember correctly is a similar blurb for The Adverts tour with The Damned in ’77.
The evening started in genuine punk rock style – being stopped by the police for driving up a one-way street the wrong way. Back in ’77, we’d be down the station pronto with a burly copper putting on the rubber gloves (and not to do the washing up I might add) as it was, we were politely informed of our mistake
and even given directions. Police On My Back indeed!
So we were a bit late getting to the gig and missed the first band of four on the bill, Manchester’s Dangerous Aces. Anyway, The Star & Garter is a typical punk rock venue (late 70’s style), a dilapidated pub skirting the city centre. That said, it’s friendly, the sound’s not bad and the prices are OK.
Our first band & the night’s second were The Adjusters from Wigan who played a decent powerpop/New York punk tinged set and even finished with The Damned’s New Rose. Penultimately we got Sunderland’s finest comprising of 2/3rds of the most recent incarnation of The Lurkers and a handful of “classic” punk tunes
although at times, I could have done with an interpreter for guitarist/vocalist Steve Straughan’s in between song raps! He’s a real mackem.
Finally, the moment we and the expectant (small but were they enthusiastic!) crowd had been waiting for – TV & the band hit the stage & did they hit it! From the first song “No Time To Be 21”, all the old moves, energy, passion & commitment to the cause were there. TV Smith does “MEAN IT MAAN!”. Ably assisted by
the shit hot Valentines, he powered through most of the “Crossing” album the first two singles (no “Quickstep” though) and a clutch of tracks from the second Adverts’ album. There was a bit of a technical hitch with the mikes but in the words of the man himself, this was “Pure Punk Rock”.

Check out forthcoming dates for your town/country at Whilst you’re there, if you don’t own any (or all) of his stuff BUY SOME!