Archive for the ‘Live’ Category

Christopher Nosnibor

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the pros and cons of geography, particularly the fact that all the gigs seem to happen in London, and a lot of smaller London-based bands on a perpetual tour of the capital and rarely venturing far beyond. It’s hardly surprising, given so much recent coverage of the costs of going on tour – particularly with the added uncertainty of the ongoing matter of Covid. But then, here in the North, I can travel from York to Leeds in less time than it takes to cross a corner of London, and a pint is about half the price. And in a six-day span when Mclusky, Big | Brave and Melt-Banana all play Leeds or York, I feel pretty spoiled.

And so here we are at The Crescent, York’s answer to The Brudenell, which operates with similar principles of remaining true to its WMC origins with low-priced beer and a focus on decent sound. If you’ve ever wondered what a typical melt-Banana fan might look like, the answer is that there is no such thing. A mad genre-spanning noise band, it seems, appeals to anyone with an open mind and ears that are happy to take a battering, with punks, indie kids, goths, metallers and all sorts from ages twenty to sixty all gathered, and what a wonderfully pleasant, sociable lot they prove to be, and as so often proves to be the case, the more extreme the music, the more friendly the crowd.

Mumbles don’t really benefit from the sound with their primitive (post) punk. It’s played with frenetic energy and packs so many tempo changes they can barely keep up with themselves. It’s an eventful set, where the guitarist/singer’s austerity trousers aren’t the only things worthy of note: technical issues lead to an impromptu clarinet sol, and things get a bit jarring Avant jazz in places. I’m on the fence as to how well it actually works at times, but ultimately, they emerge triumphant. The guys are visibly nervous and some songs seem almost beyond their technical ability, although that’s not remotely a criticism: listen not live recordings of bands in the 70s and 80s, and this is what bands sounded like live. With more or less every band emerging super-tight and polished, it sometimes seems as if something has been lost, and Mumbles won themselves a fair few fans on this outing.

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Mumbles

It’s a welcome return to York for Cowtown and their breezy, caffeine-fuelled bouncy indie. The epic reverb on Jonathan Nash’s vocals adds a layer of depth to their up-front and punchy sound, and he too showcases some more dubious trouserage with plus fours and long socks. But, as always, they’re fun to watch, and the energy of their performance is infectious, getting the crowd warmed up nicely for the main event.

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Cowtown

And what an event it is.

Blam! Grraww! Whap! Pow! Yelp! I’ve absolutely no idea what the fuck is going on, and I’m not even convinced a detailed knowledge of their twenty years of output spanning eight albums would make any real difference. Fast and furious doesn’t come close: everything is a complete blur. The stage is piled high with amps and speaker cabs, so much so that despite it being a large stage, the pair have barely room to move. So much backline! So much volume! This is crazy! No bass, just squalling guitar racket propelled by programmed drums – that actually sound live – at 150mph.

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Melt-Banana

Only Japan could produce a band like Melt-Banana, who infuse high-octane whiplash-inducing grind with a manic pop edge, dirty great sawing guitars and sequencers controlled by some strange handheld device that looks like an 80s disco. For all the raging noise, the technical precision is astounding. Somewhere toward the end of the set, Yasuko Onuki announces ‘nine short songs’, and they’re played back-to-back are blistering grindcore abrasion and over in about three minutes. The mighty moshpit, which has been pretty intense throughout the set, simply explodes.

The atmosphere as the band leave the stage is electric. We’re all dazed, stunned, as if our brains have been used as punching balls for rapid punching exercises. It’s beyond rare for a set to blow away an entire packed venue – but then Melt-Banana aren’t rare, they’re truly unique. What an insane rush.

Christopher Nosnibor

Tonight’s bill represents a Sheffield invasion of Leeds, with four noisy bands packed in back-to-back. And they may only be from across a county border, but it’s apparent these guys aren’t from around these parts (and I say that as someone who’s ventured from North Yorkshire, where things are different again). I mean, since when did thick silver neck chains become a thing? There’s a proliferation of them on stage tonight.

It’s a small stage and a small venue, and a four-band lineup means it feels busy even before any punters turn up, and it’s one of those sweaty, drinking-like-it’s Saturday night intimate gigs that has something of a party vibe the moment you walk in, and it’s made all the better by a sound man who isn’t afraid to crank it up.

Spaff are on first, and their name certainly sets the bar low in terms of expectation. And visually… The singer’s questionable choice of office trousers and wifebeater vest (and seemingly obligatory chain) is paired with an iffy haircut. But the trio prove they’re not a load of wank, slugging hard and sound infinitely better than they look. Slamming down driving grunge riffs, they get properly heavy in places, while in others they’re more overtly punk. They showcase some particularly impressive drumming, with facial expressions to match, playing every beat with his mouth and manic eyes. There’s some innovative stuff going on with the arrangements, too, where the groovesome bass sometimes doubles as guitar, and it’s a solid sound. The last song is by far the best, with a genuine hook.

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Spaff

Apparently making their ‘technical’ debut after a number of previous debuts, Sickboy show off more questionable style, although it’s probably not intentionally an homage to Trainspotting: the drummer appears to be wearing scrubs while the bleach – haired guitarist has a knitted tank-top-cum-waistcoat, but again, musically they’re gutsy and loud, and they sound immense, with gritty guitars to the fore. The stage is a bit tight for four of them, so the singer spends much of the set in front. He prowls, hunched, menacing but awkward, anguished. There is a kinda 90s vibe with occasional hints of rap/rock crossover, and throughout they’re channelling a lot of angst, and in places sound a fair bit like Filter.

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Sickboy

Caesar Did It have one hell of a lot of effects and incorporate sequencers into their thick, post-grunge sound. It’s so dense, but also melodic, even a shade Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. Going slower, heavier, they venture into stoner rock territory, driven by some hard-hitting, expressive drumming. The guitarist has a short-sleeved t-shirt over a long-sleeved t-shirt that’s pure 90s, and has a chunky silver chain. He and bassist Kane share vocal duties to create a sound that nicely balances layers and thick, dirty overdrive.

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Caesar Did It

Another gig, another lineup as Weekend Recovery continue their heavy live schedule in promotion of their new EP ‘No Guts, All the Glory’. Lori’s gone for some permutation of the superhero outfit, only it’s her bra rather than her underpants on the outside. I’m not sure it’ll take off, but stranger things have happened. The band’s true superhero tonight is stand—in drummer Elaina from Caesar Did It, filling in for Dan (not to be confused with bassist Dan) who’s out due to work commitments (damn those dayjobs!), Playing two sets back to back is pretty hardcore, and best of all, she’s a good fit, being a hard-hitter and super-tight.

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Weekend Recovery

Dan’s bass is dominant in a good way: it fills out the sound and he plays with passion, throwing some shapes and lofting his instrument in true ‘axeman’ style, and everything looks and sounds cohesive throughout this punchy set. ‘In the Mourning’ is an early rocket, and ‘Yeah’ is back into the set after not featuring on their last trip to Leeds in January.

If ‘There’s a Sense’ feels a bit flat and short on breath, the crowd are too busy bouncing and throwing themselves about or falling over to notice, and they immediately pick up the energy and power on through and end with a searing rendition of ‘No Guts’. It’s a ripping finish to a fiery set.

There are probably going to be some sore heads in the morning.

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been rescheduled after last November’s booking was cancelled, The Golden Age of TV are back in York on the eve of the release of a new EP.

It’s not the most promising start to arrive to find the doors locked, and Sea Legs are still soundchecking when they open the doors 25 minutes late. Something isn’t right with the mic in the kick drum, and it’s creating huge crackling distortion. But a change of mic, a change of leads, and things are back on track, albeit with a slightly later start.

It’s pretty quiet to begin, too, so the time between soundcheck and the start affords a bit of time just to sup a pint of Timothy Taylor’s dark mild and see the venue properly. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that there’s still a fireplace and mantelpiece at the back of the stage behind the drum kit. It’s even more of an anomaly than the huge great radiator at the side of the room. These are reminders that The Vaults may be a venue, but still a pub at heart, and I’m drinking my hand-pulled pint from a real glass. There’s something comforting and gratifying about this.

Sea Legs’ melodic indie/alt rock stylings are easy on the ear, and occasionally fade into waves of ambience in between. There are some nice bass grooves too, not to mention some detailed and textured lead guitar work. They’re tight and tuneful: to my ears they’re nice enough but a shade ordinary, although that means they’re also exactly the kind of band that goes massive with the right breaks.

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Sea Legs

Pavillion’s front man’s beige chinos and shiny paisley shirt are a bit of a distraction from the music, although that’s probably just me as I realise he’s dressed how everyone dressed when I was their age, down to the early 90s curtains. I also realise the place is suddenly a lot busier, and it’s a shame their fans / mates thin out again shortly after their set, not least of all because they seriously missed out. If I was being harsh, I’d say their song ‘Terrifically Ordinary’ could be their signature, but they show real songwriting panache, with hints of Squeeze, and they play well, even if the visual aspect of their performance isn’t particularly evolved yet. Their lyrical vignettes are poetic and evocative, and well-constructed.

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Pavillion

All of this is just preamble, both in terms of the bands and the commentary. I’m here for The Golden Age of TV quite simply because the last time I saw them back in September, they absolutely blew me away with their sheer quality. Although they’ve been around a while, something seemed to have fired them up several notches during lockdown.

Tonight proves that their Long Division performance was not just a flicker post-pandemic exuberance, and that they really are a band who’ve achieved a new level of form. In a bold move, they open with the upcoming EP’s title track and lead single ‘Bite My Skin’ that merges motorik groove with choppy post punk and solid riffing.

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The Golden Age of TV

The energy they radiate is magical: they’re overtly nerdy in image, and they embrace it to the max. Rock god guitar poses (Ryan with glasses sliding off face, the guy plays every chord like it’s an absolute crushing stadium-blasting monster, Sam hard thrashing like he’s possessed) epic gurning and unashamed mum dancing, they are just so exuberant and joy to watch, and I keep finding myself grinning like a loon. Bea is a remarkably expressive vocalist with great presence. In all, they’ve got great tunes, tight and tidy with neat structures and finishes, and a great vibe. When a band are this into what they’re doing, it’s hard not to get caught up in it. The golden age of TV may have long passed, but their own golden age is now. Go see them: because recorded they’re ace, but it’s live where they really thrive.

Christopher Nosnibor

Snakerattlers are BACK! Almost two years to the day since their last show, the ass—kicking psychobilly duo are back on the circuit, and landing in style to launch a new album, The Left Hand Path at the same time.

Snakerattlers have always embraced their DIY position as something that enables them to do things their own way, and this event is exemplary: whereas album launches are often massive blow-outs with loads of bands and balloons and gimmicks, which mean you’re knackered by the time the headliners take the stage, they’ve gone for something that’s truly special and personal, in the form of an afternoon show with no supports, playing the album live in its entirety for the first ad only time, with some talk about the inspiration for each song before its played. It’s also noteworthy that said album is only being released on CD and vinyl: no downloads or streaming. A proper album, old-school.

The times on the door list Doors as 2:30 and Snakerattlers 3-4pm, and it’s getting busy when I arrive at 2:40, and while I am not tall, I’m amazed by the fact that practically everyone in the place is a fucking giant, so I grab a pint and get down the front, quick. Dank ambient atmospherics rumble over the PA.I figure there’s probably not much point trying to photograph the scribbled set list since the pitch of the launch event is to play the new album through as a one-off. So I suppose this is something of an in-the-moment first-hearing album review as well as a live review.

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They’re punctual, and Dan’s grin is something to behold. He may be shitting his pants nervous, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone look happier to be onstage before. As a band who usually play around a hundred shows a year, a two-year enforced break probably felt like having their limbs amputated.

They’re straight in with a swampy reverby tune with no lyrics beyond ‘wooh’ and ‘huh!’ by way of an intro, and it feels like they’ve picked up precisely where they’ve left off, although it very soon becomes apparent that there’s been a significant shift in the world of Snakerattlers as they start working through the album. That’s what happens when there’s a global pandemic and successive lockdowns, and Dan is a lyricist who very much writes about the moment, meaning there’s a lot of contemplation and a darker atmosphere across the album as a whole. And while Dan is the voice and the mouth of the band, Naomi’s contribution should never be underestimated. Quiet, serious-looking, she’s the perfect counterpoint in terms of character, while her drumming has a natural feel to it, and a nice, easy swing, even at pace.

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‘One Hand’ is a song not about wanking, but about friendships (or lack of) and in some ways, independence, echoing the sentiments of The Fall’s ‘Frenz’. It starts gentle and sensitive, then goes blamm! ‘No Friend of Mine’ continues the theme of friendship, “All relationships are empty and temporary,” Dan comments in the song’s preamble, nabbing a Mansun lyric in the process, before launching into a rambunctious country-punk knees up. It’s about a minute long.

The songs feel evolved, and show a keen attention to changes in tempo and pacing, and the album sequencing also feels considered – which corresponds with the formats of choice, with the jangly ‘Rattle in my Bones’ ahead of the darker, gothy ‘I Remain’, with hints of The Gun Club. It’s slower, and fully anthemic, and I find myself prickling with goosepimples. ‘In the Ground’ is a contemplation on death penned during the pandemic, and it’s mid-tempo, minor key punk, and utterly magnificent to boot.

Taking the “darkness dial to 10” as he puts it, ‘All Hope is Lost’ emerged from a dark place during lockdown. It’s tense, and while it’s not quite Joy Division, it’s pretty damn bleak – but still manages a hook. ‘Small’ is more old school rock ‘n’ roll, while ‘It Comes’ (if that’s what it’s actually called) is a churner about insomnia, while ‘Spooks’, which emerged last year is more standard Snakerattlers uptempo Fall-esqu rockabilly – or rattle rock, as they prefer to call it.

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There’s another switch with the twangin’ instrumental boogie ‘Wolf Dance’ that paves the way for the final double salvo of kick-ass tunes, culminating with the fast, angular ‘We are Your Hell,’ inspired by a dickish punter facing off to the band at their last gig in Leeds on 5th March 2020. It’s a storming finale to the album, and to the set. It’s been exactly forty-five minutes, and it’s been a blast from beginning to end.

And with that, they’re off to man the merch stall. Rock ‘n’ roll! Yes, Snakerattlers are most definitely BACK!

Christopher Nosnibor

Three years on from the original Lips Can Kill Tour, which took place in December 2019, these four likeminded bands reconvene to showcase their contrasting but complimentary styles around the UK, landing in York on the second night after kick-starting things in Birmingham. And, while ostensibly London-based acts, this is very much an international affair, and it’s this range of flavours and elements of cultural context that make this such an exciting proposition.

On the one hand, I feel that making a deal of the fact any band is female-fronted is unhelpful in the scheme of things, as if being female-fronted is something particularly novel or to be applauded in itself, or, worse still, a kind of virtue signal or positive discrimination. It’s more a hindrance to equality and detracts from what the band actually does. Female-fronted is not a genre. I say this because context matters, and the fact that all four acts on this tour are female-fronted is precisely the point: it’s a package deal of strong female frontspersons working in solidarity: stronger together. But stepping back from that, the fact of the matter is that it’s a package deal with four fiery guitar-led bands that you can’t really go wrong for the seven quid or so entry.

With a revolving running order, the stage times on the door simply list bands 1-4, and the first is on early, just fifteen minutes after doors. It’s Tokyo Taboo up first after some last-minute pole prep. Their act and image has come on a fair way since I last saw them way back in 2018, and their set now features unreleased material and singles released since 6th Street Psychosis. For the most part it’s chunky, spunky, punk rock with a pop edge. ‘Pussy Power’, dedicated to the women of the bands on tour is strong and empowering. The second half of ‘Self Sabotage’ is sung from back by the bar after Dolly totters through the crowd on heels that are practically stilts. As it began, so it ends, and they’re back to low-slung stoner riffage for closer ‘No Pleasure Only Pain’.

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Tokyo Taboo

Healthy Junkies are up next for what seems to be a depressingly middle-aged male-dominated crowd, and they’re on form on their second time playing in York this year. They sound denser, louder, more driven and energised and get people moving from the start. They’ve got the quiet/loud dynamics and beefy grunge/punk riffs nailed and kick the songs out with swagger and confidence, but without coming across as cocky. They’re proficient and efficient, lean and strong. It’s the first tour for their new bassist. He’s young and energetic and delivers some solid Rickenbacker action. Chat is kept to a minimum as they pack in the tunes and play them hard. ‘Tricky Situation is pure spirit of 77 with guitarist Phil Jones taking over lead vocals. They’re joined by Frog from PollyPikPocketz for closer ‘Mayday’. It’s got novelty value, but the green haired old punk’s Lydon ripping is a shade anticlimactic in its predictability. Still, they look like they’re having fun and the crowd love it, so maybe it’s just me being cynical and jaundiced.

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Healthy Junkies

The night steps up a notch or three with the arrival of Yur Mum onstage. They immediately up both the volume and intensity. Something about cutting down to a duo seems to have given the band – who already kicked arse as a trio – a fresh impetus and incentive to kick arse twice as hard. If it’s a case of overcompensating, then fine: it works. Anelis’ rib-shaking bass packs a massive, phat, buzzing, booming punch, and it’s matched every note by Fabio’s stick-flipping hard hitting drumming. The jarring, jolting frenzy of ‘Tropical Fuzz’ is absolutely killer, and brings all the cowbell, too. Then they’re straight into the jungle… and there’s more amazing bass, with fast fretwork but it’s not wanky for a second. They really turn up the heat with ‘Sweatshop’ and, for my money, are the band of the night.

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Yur Mum

PollyPikPoketz present an interesting dynamic – and pack a hell of a lot of energy. The guitar and bass are – specifically those wielding them – are old punk/metal with their Lemmy / Rotten stylings respectively, and are probably older than singer Myura’s parents. It makes for an odd dynamic, visually at least. Sonically, though, it works a treat, combining experience with sass and energy. They’ve got some killer riffs, too, and hit full-throttle gut churn at times, simultaneously calling to mind early Therapy? and The Adverts.

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PollyPikPoketz

In all, it stacks up for a quality night, and where many package tours feature bands who sound alike – which can get tedious pretty quickly, because no-one needs four shouty punk bands or instrumental post-rock acts back to back – Lips Can Kill 2 offers stylistic range sonically and visually, not to mention top-notch entertainment all night.

Christopher Nosnibor

I may have mentioned this before, the reason I like going down to The Fulford Arms, and in particular, why I enjoy checking out the Wonkystuff nights. Yes, the music – John Tuffen’s curated events guarantee a nice and eclectic but complimentary selection of leftfield sonic explorations – bit it’s more than that. The venue, and these nights especially, cultivate a sense of community. I feel at home here. I don’t always feel sociable, but knowing there will be people I know, and people who won’t judge if the interaction is only a ‘hello’ because we’re all here to see the acts is a big deal.

And as ever, the acts are diverse, but of a solid quality.

I’m always happy to watch Namke Communications: John Tuffen never disappoints with his experimental improvisations, which usually see a single longform work fill the allocated time. On this outing, elongated drones and plops and plinks of electronic extranea blend and juxtapose against one another, melting into a slow swirl. A wind whispers through, and an organ swells slowly and falls away again a crackle of static. Some of the glitchy intrusions are ugly, others more subtle. Beatless, abstract but certainly not ambient during the first half of the set, it’s dark and ominous, but not unpleasant. Beats build in the second half of the set, arrhythmic, stuttering, pops and thuds bouncing in all directions at once. I lose myself in it, and it’s joyous.

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Namke Comunications

Wonkystuff regulars TSR2 – all 3 of them – make for interesting viewing. Yes, they’re typical middle aged white guys with gadgets, including lap steel, but they actually create some fascinating soundscapes, rising to reverberating cathedrals of sound. Immense surges of synth sweep cinematic across the stage. Elsewhere, they swing between Krautrock and funk-hued space-age prog. It’s considerably better than it sounds on paper, trust me. They’re clearly enjoying themselves up there, too, and that enjoyment is infectious.

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TSR2

Next is, Leeds maker of noise, 13x. Is it supposed to sound like that or is your cable fucked, mate? Yes, it’s supposed to sound like that. Mangled to fuck overloading stuttering, glitching electronics, the sound of circuits malfunctioning, melting give way to a fucked up samples-riven S&M collision between Suicide and Donna Summer. Darkwave disco with punishing beats, static fizz and Portishead crackle block up against slow, grinding industrial grooves and fleeting flickers of woozy trance weave in and out of a varied, but ultimately abrasive instrumental set. And yes, it’s mint.

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              13x                                                                                       Sam Mitchell

Wrapping up the night is another Leeds artist, Sam Mitchell. Sporting straggly grey hair and beard, he emanates the vibe of ‘scene veteran’, and he clearly knows his way around his (comparatively minimal) kit. Technical issues briefly delay the start of his microtonal glitchtronic set, but once going, it’s all wow and flutter, flickering bleeps and bibbling bubbles. It’s spacious, expansive, layered, textured and easy to get lost in. By easy, I mean perfect, and it’s a perfect finale that makes for another Wonkystuff win.

Christopher Nosnibor

Almost invariably, when there’s a buzz building around a DIY act, they’ve had some kind of assistance or boost, either via a PR campaign or radio play, and / or some fortunate support slots. Not so Benefits, whose profile has grown with the speed of contagion of the pandemic: they’ve thrived during lockdown without management, any ‘proper’ releases, and next to no press (although that’s changing fast); but instead of them seeking out the coverage they’re the ones being sought out.

On paper, their appeal is limited: shouty sociopolitical spoken word paired with blistering squalls of electronic noise is kinda niche, right? Like Sleaford Mods only more noisy and a bit shoutier, right? Sociopolitical ranting aside, not so much. Mods have very much exploited the affront some people feel about their not being a ‘real’ band, and have turned the lack of performance into a schtick. Benefits are very much a band, and despite the swinging, rhythmic hip-hop style delivery of some of the lyrics, Benefits share more with harsh post-punk noisers Uniform than another other contemporary act that comes to mind.

Steve Albini perhaps sums up the two key, and seemingly opposing elements of what Benefits do in referring to the period of musical foment of the early 80s, with ‘the Crass/Pop Group ranting lefty/anarchist punks, and Whitehouse/TG/Cabaret Voltaire pure noise’. He’s not wrong when he writes that it’s ‘Been a while since something evoked that era as effectively as this Benefits track.’

But Benefits don’t only evoke that era: they’re a band that are precisely of the moment. During lockdown, people were on edge – and they still are as they emerge, blinking, into a world that has changed, and not for the better. More divided, more violent, it’s a difficult place to navigate. People are scared, and they’re also disaffected. Benefits channel and articulate all of this, and the buzz around tonight’s show was positively electric.

Feather Trade could easily be mistaken for being a ‘haircut’ band on face value, but their tousle-topped singer’s vocals invite comparisons to The Cooper Temple Clause’s Ben Gautrey, and the comparison to TCTC doesn’t end there as the trio blast through some jagged alternative rock defined by solid, meaty bass and gritty guitars. With a post punk vibe, great voice, the lineup may have been hastily-assembled, but they boast a truly great rhythm section. Switching between acoustic and electronic drums varies sound, and the line ‘fuck your trust fund’ from closer ‘Dead Boy’ is a sentiment we can get behind. Keeping the set to a punchy five songs, they made for a compelling opener, and I doubt I’m the only new fan they’ve won on this outing. I liked these guys a lot.

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Feather Trade

Some guys I never really liked are La Petite Mort: in fact, my last review of them was pegged to a single line in parenthesis. But this newly-resurrected iteration shows that they’ve evolved massively in the intervening years, transitioning from a novice sixth form indie band to something altogether more challenging, and altogether more powerful. If anything, there are shades of The Young Gods both sonically and visually. Now a duo with laptop and live drums, they’re dense, dark, intense. At some point, just as he has for Avalanche Party on occasion, Jared Thorpe whips out his sax and starts tooting away. No, it’s no euphemism. La Petite Mort embrace a slew of genre styles, and nail them to some tight, technical jazz drumming and lots and lots of reverb.

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La Petite Mort

This all leaves us ultra-hyped for the headliners, and they sure as hell don’t disappoint with their spoken word grindcore hybrid. With some brutal electronics from Robbie Major, they build from sparse, acappella hip hop to a blistering wall of noise. They build and build and rage so, so hard it’s savage. There are some smoochy hip-hop vibes, but they’re a stark contrast to the raving lyrics. ‘You get what you deserve’, Kingsley Hall warns, menacingly. Against the backdrop of Russia invading Ukraine as we look on, we hope it’s true. They venture into post punk / Sleaford Mods-ish territory just the once over the course of an hour-plus long set. Hall reads the lyrics to ‘Meat Teeth’ from his phone in a state of anguish. The song itself is stark, harsh, and it hurts. And yet this pain is what connects us with the band. Hall’s openness and honesty when he speaks between songs is like a body blow. This isn’t a performance, this is real. “What a fucking country, what a fucking state…. Sausage roll man… Tory cunt.” He admits to struggling with the whole being on stage thing, but it’s clear from the way he attacks every line, this is something he feels he simply has to do.

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Benefits

In a recent interview with Loud and Quiet, Hall explained, “I’ve got this pent-up anger and desire to speak and to shout and discuss. But how do I translate that?” On stage, that anger is anything but pent-up: it’s channelled into an eye-popping storm of words dragged from the very soul.

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Benefits

‘Flag’ steps up a level just when there seemed like no more levels to step up, with punishing percussion and snarling noise. It’s harsh, but so, so invigorating and cathartic. The encore / not encore is a perfect example of the way Benefits don’t conform, don’t play the game. And while doing things on their own terms in every way, they stand apart.

There’s no pithy one-liner to wrap this up: I leave, borderline delirious, simultaneously elated and stunned by what I’ve just witnessed – a show that was, frankly, nothing short of incredible.