Posts Tagged ‘Fulford Arms’

Christopher Nosnibor

Last time I saw Ming City Rockers, supporting Arrows of Love in Leeds, I wasn’t hugely impressed, and thought that if they put as much effort into the songs as into looking like rock clichés, they might get somewhere. I’m here, in fact, for grungy Australian duo Mannequin Death squad, whose debut EP was one of last year’s highlights. Anyone who caught them on the supporting tour over here, thanks to their Hull-based label, would have witnessed a treat.

Back in the UK once more, they’re gracing York with their presence on the night before dropping their first new material since the Eat, Hate, Regurgitate EP in the form of the track ‘Blue’.

Warming things up are local lads Naked Six. At one time a three-piece, they’re now reduced to a two-piece. But rather than diminishing their power, the guitar / drum combo have focused and concentrated their energy, and with the guitar signal split across two amps, there’s a real depth and solidity to their sound. And it helps that the amps are cranked up loud. It’s the best way to listen to their swaggering, ballsy, hard-edged blues rock. Seb Byford not only has a classic blues rock voice that also works well when they move into grungier territory later in the set, but he’s got a stomp that’s half Angus Young, half frenzied madman as she grinds the riffs into the stage with his heel. It’s a cracking performance.

Naked Six

Naked Six

Mannequin Death Squad certainly don’t disappoint, and it’s telling that the instrument-swapping pair have evolved a set with enough new material to be able to drop killer tracks like ‘KYMS’ from their debut EP without the set being remotely lacking.

The eight-song set, which kicks off with ‘Sick’ from the aforementioned EP boasts almost 50% new and unreleased material. For a band who are yet to really break the market, it’s a bold move, but with a debut album in the offing and so many ace tunes, it means they’re able to arrange the set based not on simply what they’ve got, but to sequence it from a selection that gives the set shape and a dynamic beyond the individual tracks. It’s clear they’ve spent time out and about, on the road, refining their sound, and they benefit from the venue’s appropriate volume to make for an attacking sound.


Mannequin Death Squad

‘Nightmare’ marks a change of pace and style, bringing a darker hue and a bass-led dirginess to break up the succession of driving grunge tunes with killer hooks which define the band’s sound.

Swapping instruments at the set’s mid-point and again near the end (much to the appreciation of those who thought they were about to finish), they keep themselves and the crowd on their toes, and they work bloody hard to power through a full-throttle set often coming on like Live Through This era Hole, with the added punch of a spiky post-punk edge. They’re fucking awesome.


Mannequin Death Squad

With a surly-looking female guitarist, a trashy aesthetic, and a slew of uptempo punk tunes, what’s not to like about Ming City Rockers? Regrettably, and despite the consensus of the aged punks going nuts down the front, they still suck. The lack of imagination is the issue. It’s bog-standard spirit of ‘77 4/4 punk, and like many of the bands of the era, at its heart it’s just pub rock played fast with the amps cranked up. The songs are churned out with an abundance of posturing and posing but without any real substance, or tunes, and the sameness gets tedious very quickly.


Ming City Rockers

They introduce one song as being about playing a gig in Lowestoft where a man chased the singer and ‘tried to pin me down and fuck me, I mean proper fuck me!’ but the lyrics are articulated as something along the lines of ‘wahwahwahwahyaggch’. It’s crass, lowest-common denominator stuff, and much of what happens on stage feels extremely contrived: the walking off stage into the crowd, knocking over cymbals on the way by way of a finale is pretty much emblematic.

Filing out, a few punters could be overheard commenting that Mannequin Death Squad were the best band of the night, and those punters would be right.


Christopher Nosnibor

“I’ve fucked my wrist – chipped a bone in rehearsal.” I’m talking to Dom Smith, drummer with Seep Away. His band are due on in ten minutes. Should he even be playing? He’s not exactly a gentle percussionist. But as he and the rest of the band take to the stage to Hole’s ‘Doll Parts’, it’s clear he’s adrenalized and up for going all out. Screamer Jay is kitted out in full mini-skirted drag and looking killer. Seep Away get harder, heavier, denser and louder with each outing, and tonight, Jay is even more manic and confrontational than ever, writhing on his knees among the front rows.


Seep Away

Brooders might have a tough act to follow, but if it bothers them, they’re not showing it. They may be young – they certainly look it – but this power trio are solid as they come. They knock out some driving grunge tunes, which are dark, dense, and weighty, but also so much more. They pack in some neat and hooky melodies alongside the chunky, bass-driven noise: in many respects, they’re the quintessence of 90s alt-rock, and they know how to nail down a hefty Nirvana-inspired riff.



Hands Off Gretel have drawn a decent crowd, particularly for a Thursday night that’s blessed with beer garden weather. In fact, it’s a battle to get a decent spot down the front on account of the clamour of folks with their phones out, filming. It’s not hard to see – or hear – why: they’re a killer live band, who combine a raw, ragged energy with a musical tightness. And there’s simply no sidestepping the appeal of Lauren Tate.


Hands Off Gretel

I’ve been criticised on occasion for commenting on the physical attributes of women in bands, because despite the fact I’m equally likely to comment on the physical aspects of a man in a band, it’s not really the done thing. But Lauren Tate doesn’t so much invite the eyes to focus on her, but demands it. If the powder-blue hot pants and matching top, accompanied by knee-high socks, is sort of cutesy-sexy, the heavy eye makeup, smeared lipstick and truly ferocious full-throated vocal is terrifying. It’s the perfect paradox of appeal and repel, the cheerleader slut who’ll murder you and play with the blood. This, of course, makes her the embodiment of the grunge style; the oppositional elements of quiet / loud, melody and discord, introspection and screaming rage. And the songs encapsulate all of this perfectly. Yes: let’s not forget the songs, or the rest of the band. Both are equally essential to the band’s appeal.


Hands Off Gretel

Tonight, airing a set built around debut album Burn the Beauty Queen, the band positively tear into the guts of those songs, channelling every ounce of fury into those angst-filled aural assault. Dropping ‘Be Mine’ as the second track of the set, it’s a shuddering, full-on bass-led attack. ‘Bad Egg’ is served with a huge dose of venomous self-loathing, and ‘One-Eyed Girl’ is pure Live Through This era Hole – although unlike their forebears, Hands Off Gretel don’t sound ropey, and you can be pretty confident they’ll make it all the way through the set. And by the end of the set, everyone’s a sweaty mess, uplifted by the joy of catharsis.

Aural Aggro faves Hands Off Gretel return to York on Thursday and promise to bring with them a tidal wave of angry, angsty grunge rock.

They’re pitched as being ‘for fans of Nirvana, Hole and Alt Grunge’, and it’s an accurate enough summary, as their debut album Burn the Beauty Queen evidences in spades. But what it doesn’t really convey is just what a killer live act they are, and in Lauren Tate they have a real star in the making as their focal point.

Support comes from Brooders and the mighty (and seriously noisy) Seep Away. Needless to say, we’re fans.

There’s more info, including ticket links, at the Facebook event page. See you down the front!



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The Fulford Arms, York, 6th April 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

The saying goes that variety is the spice of life. If it’s true, York-based promoters Behind the White Door managed to dished up a musical phaal at this free / donations midweek showcase of the weird and the wonderful, and it was gratifying to see such a decent turnout.

Local stalwarts Percy, who’ve been going forever and will probably still be going another eternity into the future warmed things up with their reliable punky pub rock. Not everyone would agree, but there’s something appealing about a bunch of disenfranchised middle-aged men wearing shirts and ties – like they’ve just walked from the office to play – cranking out four-chord riffs over which they grouse and sneer with distinctly fall-like overtones about shit jobs and equally shit relationships, neither of which they’ve the energy or inclination to get out of.

What swayed me to turn out tonight was a video by tonight’s second band, Hull-based Cannibal Animal. They didn’t disappoint. Throwing elements of early Therapy? together with bits of more obscure 90s noisy shit like Jacob’s Mouse, Headcleaner and Fudge Tunnel, into an industrial blender with a dollop of Godflesh, they crank out a fierce, feral racket that’s defined by a powerhouse rhythm section. The drummer’s ace and the bassist is something else. It’s all about the snarling, churning, springy, remarkably detailed but relentlessly driving basslines. As a nit, they’re as tight as they are angry, and man, they’re angry. But for all that, the vocals are drenched in reverb and at times have an almost psychedelic hue. Band of the night by a mile, it’s no hyperbole to say that they’re also my favourite new band.

Cannibal Animal

Cannibal Animal

They’re a hard act to follow, but Sweet Deals on Surgery – having travelled from Manchester for tonight’s show – do themselves ample justice. The first song of their set is called ‘Elvis Costello is a Wanker’. Whether you agree or not isn’t the point: it’s a great tune that grabs the audience’s attention, and for that, respect is due. They’re hard to place, musically. Vintage indie (as in vintage indie in the key of The Smiths), collides with contemporary indie (think the complexities of Everything Everything), but with a strong noisy / classic rock element (if melding AC/DC riffage with a dash of Golden Earring and Cheap Trick sounds like a bad ideas, it is, at least on paper, but these guys actually pull it off. (How, I’m really not sure, and no, the Theakston’s Old Peculier hadn’t taken effect at this point, and I switched to Oakham Citra at a more modest 4.2%. A more thirst-quenching beer was required to counter the rising temperature in the small, low-ceilinged pub venue)). They’re whacky, alright. And the between-song banter is gold at times.

Sweet Deals on SurgerySweet Deals on Surgery 2

Sweet Deals on Surgery

The headliners don’t actually have a name as yet, and ask the audience for suggestions. They’re celebrated York band The Littlemores reinvented and rebranded, and while their previous incarnation made a decent job of presenting ska-infused indie tunes which took cues from the Arctic Monkeys in their kitchen sink lyrical leanings, they clearly feel it’s time to move on. By way of references, my initial thought was Oasis – only infinitely better: I’m referring to the big wall of guitars rather than the songs, which are a long way from the turgid plod of the 90s reinventors of pub-rock for stadium consumption. However, I’ve been reliably steered in the direction of The Cribs, and it’s definitely a fair comparison. They’ve got a keen pop sensibility, strong harmony-led melodies, and a layered guitar sound. It’s their debut gig, and they’ve barely got 30 minutes of material, but it’s not only solid, but already rehearsed to perfection. Whether or not it’s your bag, they’re a quality act with huge commercial potential.

No More Littles

No More Littles.. or whoever they may be by the time this is published or you read this

In a world increasingly dominated by sameness and homogeneity disguised as consumer choice, and driven by profit, the fact that it’s possible to discover four high-calibre but completely disparate acts at a decent beer venue and pay nothing for the pleasure (if you’re a miserly skinflint) is something in itself. But the atmosphere – that intangible thing that can make or ruin a gig – lifts the evening to another level. Small gigs can be every bit as special as big ones, and for Cannibal Animal alone, this one was extra special.