Posts Tagged ‘York’

Christopher Nosnibor

This was supposed to be the perfect bookend to the year: after Percy supported Soma Crew at The Crescent in May, the roles were to be swapped tonight following the release of Percy’s new album, Monorail, in June. But sadly, it wasn’t to be, on account of Percy’s drummer Jason royally fucking his back.

Gigs at this time of year are always a risk, and not only on account of the potentials for injury (as the icy pavements on the way only highlight): the fact that it’s hard sub-zero means a lot of people can’t face wrapping up again after work to turn out on an evening, and then there all of the obligatory work / mates drinks and all that cal. Throw in Steve Mason playing across town and this one was always going to be a gamble, but despite the headliners’ late withdrawal, it’s a respectable crowd who witness The Rosettas emerging sounding stronger than the last time I saw them at the end of September. The sound is solid, buzzy, grungy.

The singer’s confidence leans into arrogance throughout, and not just in ignoring advice sagely dispensed in my coverage of said show in September, while actually mentioning the recommendation not to drop a cover as their second song, they slam in with a faithful rendition of Blur’s ‘Song 2’ as the second song of the set. But it makes sense, and it is well played, as is the majority of the rest of the set. I suspect the singer’s suffering from a cold or something that gives his voice quite a ragged edge, but actually, it sounds decent.

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The Rosettas

Unfortunately, technical issues and a lack of organisation means the set ends abruptly and somewhat chaotically, but they played with enthusiasm and were a lot less reliant on covers, and ultimately made the best of a less than ideal situation.

They seem to clear out and take half the audience with them, but, undeterred, Soma Crew take the stage and drench it with sonorous droning feedback. Then they build into a single chord dragging for all eternity as the muffled drums plod away in the back and they hit peak hypnotic. And then the tremolo enters the mix and the volume steps up with the arrival of the snare drum and…. and… and… the set drifts, and my mind drifts, and it’s a most pleasant experience. Time hangs in suspension. ‘Mighty Forces’ is indeed mighty, and the mid-pace one chord chugs are supremely soporific. Everything is measured, mellow, hazy. Everything comes together to conjure a thick sonic mist, and it’s absolutely magnificent. It’s also seriously loud, as I come to realise about two-thirds of the way into the set. When did that happen? Did it get louder? Perhaps. Probably. I can’t help but feel that Soma Crew are seriously underrated, and tonight they really hit all the sweet spots at once.

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Soma Crew

Leeds trio Nervous Twitch are worthy headliners, and launch into their set without a word, no fuss, not a single note of level checking. Pow! It’s proper, unfussy, old-school punk, three and four chord thrashes played with big energy, and they’re as tight as any band you’ll hear. Sure, with a female singer (who also plays bass), they invite obvious comparisons to X-Ray Spex and Penetration, and as much as they’re punk, they’re catchy and poppy at the same time, and ultimately, they’re good fun.

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Nervous Twitch

There are, of course, many bands playing in the next fortnight, in every city across the nation. Some will draw crowds, others less so. While I enter temporary hibernation, it feels like an appropriate time to reflect, and to celebrate the venues we’re fortunate to still have, and the fact that while times remain tough, 2022 has at last seen live music return to the social calendar. And for all the other shit we’re surrounded by – I can’t even begin the list – this is something we can be immensely grateful for.

Christopher Nosnibor

All of the good gigs are happening in November this year it seems, when traditionally things tend to be a bit quieter. Much of this is down to the knock-on effect of two years of rescheduling, not least of all with venues being booked solid with rescheduled dates till now. As scheduling goes, the fact that Please Please You has brought Part Chimp to York is a huge deal, and the turnout on a soaking wet night in the middle of a month of rain says it’s widely appreciated.

Part Chimp are one of those bands who’ve been going forever – well, twenty-two years is close enough – and have enjoyed something of a cult following. But with the release of their latest album and the shows to promote it, they seem to have enjoyed something of a surge, receiving at least some of the recognition they’ve deserved – and richly so, because they’re simply a great band.

And tonight they’re headlining a great lineup. The fact the support acts are brain-foamingly good is something I’ll get to the detail of shortly, but again, credit has to go to Joe Coates for his curation skills.

If it’s quiet in the bar before doors, it’s the only thing that is quiet about the night, and it’s remarkably busy for the arrival of the first band. While they’re local, that’s no guarantee of attendance. But they’re bloody good. Junk-It are a shouty riffy drum and guitar duo. They’re kinda straight rock but a bit Pulled Apart By Horses too, with some crazed vocals and incendiary riffs, and with some melodies spun in. Songs are tight, their chat less so. The singer looks a bit like a young Bill Bailey but sounds more often than not more Robert Plant. They’ve got good energy, and good tunes, and they work hard. It’s early days for them, so they’re a bit rough around the edges, but promising; they’re grungy, left-leaning –they’re definitely left – and deliver some exhilarating guitar-driven noise.

Junk-It

Junk-It

Uncle Bari, another duo consisting of Pak 40 / Redfyrn drummer Leo Hancill and Cat Redfern of Redfyrn, only Cat’s drumming and Leo’s on guitar, and they kick out some mega-heavy, mega-loud dark psych drums and dense guitar with vocals submerged beneath the tidal wave of riff and reverb. The sound is immersive, with slow, spacious minimalism dominating, but when they go big, they go big. With slow picked guitar and steady, rolling drums, the last track is very Earth. And at appropriate volume, it’s a remarkable experience.

Uncle Bari

Uncle Bari

The experience is a fundamental aspect of a Part Chimp show. Listening to the albums, it’s obvious that they’re a loud band, but live, they’re LOUD. I mean ear-bleeding, skull-crackingly loud. It’s not just nasty overloading volume for the sake of it, though – the riffs come through with remarkable clarity, you can make out the component parts just fine, even if the vocals are a bit buried (but no more than on the studio recordings). It’s one of the most amazingly joyful experiences, being bathed in sound in such a way, as is witnessing a bunch of older guys play in such a way that really is a masterclass for so many of the next generation to observe. They’re not overtly cool, and there’s no theatre or pretence, and the most chat we get is a ‘cheers’ here and there. It’s simply all about churning out the big, dense, grungy riffs, and sometimes they plug away at two chords for a full half minute.

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Part Chimp

The set is dominated by cuts from Drool, but there are some oldies in the mix, and they encore with ‘Trad’ from 2009’s Thriller and ‘Hello Bastards’ from second album I Am Come. Not that it really matters too much about the specifics of the songs: they’re all beefy blasting riff blowouts, and there is absolutely no letup from beginning to end. There aren’t adequate superlatives or adjectives to express the elation this elicits: sometimes, you really do have to be there.

It’s a wet and blustery and very northern night in York, but this eagerly-anticipated rescheduled show from The Birthday Massacre, which sold out this intimate 150-capacity venue long ago has brought the old goths out of the woodwork like a swarm of woodlice, and with doors advertised as being as an early 7:00, it’s busy on my arrival at 7:20, and despite Witch of the Vale not due on till 7:45, already the front rows are solid.

The synth-heavy, mood heavy Cleopatra Records signings Witch of the Vale deliver a magnificent set of dark brooding ambient with ethereal vocals and combine spacious moody soundscapes and introspective vulnerability. There are strong hints of Zola Jesus, but also so much more. Harder edges and industrial percussion grow in force as the set progresses. They don’t do chat, they don’t do audience connection, but they do very much do moving, haunting atmospherics. Toward the end of their forty-five minute set, they cover Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Hurt’ in an industrial shoegaze style, and it’s good. In fact, it’s all good, although instrumentalist Ryan’s denim shorts spoil the look a bit .

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Witch of the Vale

“What’s up Yorrrrrk?” I slump a little inside as Vanilla Sugar struts onto the stage. From the off, there’s lots of posing, hands up cheerleading… Suddenly, maybe three songs in, the urban cybergoth pop karaoke gets dark. That is to say Pretty Hate Machine NIN meets Kelis with direct and fairly juvenile lyrics, and while she’s got an impressive light show, it’s still urban cybergoth karaoke. ‘Listen York I want you to vibe with me now’ toots the skitzy mall goth, and while she may call it horror pop, it’s ultimately r’n’b with dayglo, pink hair, and zips, and the overreliance on backing including backing vocals which make t difficult to determine what’s actually being done live rather undermines the impact of the handful of decent tunes she does actually have, There’s lots of tongue out and Instagram posing – but not a lot else.

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Vanilla Sugar

The Birthday Massacre are as straight up goth as they come in terms of image, and have spent the last twenty-three years mining a seam of technoindustrial / electro / dark pop / goth.

This is a small stage for a big band, and I don’t just mean in terms of dimensions. Back home, they’d just played the 600-capaccity Lexington in Toronto; two nights ago it was the 200-capacity Lexington in London. The 150-capacity Fulford Arms, with its low ceiling and low stage very much epitomises the concept of ‘intimate’. But they absolutely revel in it, as do the crowd.

There’s an overpowering smell of Deep Heat at first, but that’s swiftly replaced by the tang of perspiration. It’s hot, hot, hot! Amazingly crisp, dense sound. Keytar! Instant clapalong to #’Destrpyer’ which lands early.

They repeatedly describe it as cozy, and that’s hardly surprising in context) but seem genuinely enthusiastic to be playing this intimate show with lots of handshaking and high-fiving. As they slam out relentless poppy choruses and phat chunky riffs. The drums are so tight they sound programmed, and despite the apparent chaos onstage, they’re pristine tight. It’s a proper pea-souper of a smoke show, too.

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The Birthday Massacre

I’d be entirely immersed were it not for the fact the bearded ponytail-sporting guy in front of me is an irritating end, extravagantly waving one arm while clenching his girlfriend’s waist tight with the other and dancing and singing along as if to prove he’s an uberfan. Uberfanny, more like.

‘Precious Hearts’ thuds hard, while ‘Crush’ is an anthemic slow burner. ‘Enter’ is lighter and brings giggles in the first verse. Sara does get a bit lost in the songs at times, bit rides it well, and she ventures into the crowd for hugs. It’s a hot a sweaty crowd. Fans are out. My eyeballs are sweating. Recent cut ‘Fascination’ still sounds a bit Paramore to my ears, but ‘Pins and Needles’ brings a thick industrial chug.

They do the no-departure encore, and respect is due for that. Everyone knows that going off to be clapped back on is nothing more than ego-stroking bollocks, and it’s welcome to see bands acknowledge that.

‘Falling Down’, the second song of the non-encore is a decent pop song, and they finish a high-NRG set with ‘In the Dark’. And it’s a job well done: they sound great and the energy is on fire. Wednesday nights don’t get funner than this.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a while. It’s been a while since the last Wonkystuff. Like, six months or something. It’s been a while since Deluxe Hugs debuted at a previous Wonkystuff, and just as long since they last played. It’s been a while since legion of Swine last played in the UK, and even longer since the porcine prince brought his brand of harsh electronica to York – like about four years. Time flies when there’s a pandemic and everyone gets so screwed by lockdown conditions that they’re trepidatious about going back out and find their urge to create, to get out, to perform, has gradually leached out of them to the point that any event is a herculean effort to perform or attend.

The great thing about Wonkystuff nights, as I’ve perhaps mentioned previously, is that they’re not only brilliantly-curated melting pots for musical hybrids from the fringes on all fronts of electronica and beyond, but they’re also wonderfully warm and welcoming occurrences with a real sense of community. And so we’re all here being socially awkward and comfortable and accommodating of that awkwardness, acknowledging the fact none of us get out as much lately, while being pleased to see friendly faces. And you know what? This isn’t just ‘nice’. These are the fine threads that keep people together – not just in a community sense, but individually, knowing that for all the isolation, we’re not alone.

The Wonkystuff House Band who played at Wonkystuff #19 mutated into Deluxe Hugs on a night it seems I failed to document for some reason. Anyway, their debut was fun, a stab at entertainment and some kind of alt-disco thing, and tonight… well, tonight it’s apparent that they’ve not spent much time together since last time. But with big, squelchy bass, disco grooves, and atonal vocals, through the chaos, the songs shine through, as does the chemistry between the three. ‘People in charge/they know what they’re doing…’ drones Simon, and the layers of irony are impossible to ignore. It’s a bit punk and it’s a lot of semi improv fun.

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Deluxe Hugs

Up next, Spore, a duo from Hull, bring big, dank, murky modular noise. They churn outa mass of swirling dark ambience that slides into power electronics and old-school industrial. The emergence of a thumping drum beat part way through made for a change of texture. Their set is hypnotic, but also sounds like a noise gig with a club night in the next room. I feel I should collaborate with these guys – because they’re ace, and Nosnispore has a definite ring to it.

Spore

Spore

Glider Theory are a Leeds-based guitar and drum machine duo. They bring soaring, drifting, post-rock post-punk hybrid instrumentals… Guitars that sound like synths. Guitars that sound like woodwind… Ambient contrails. It’s nice.

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Glider Theory

But if you want more nice, you don’t want Legion of Swine. Me, I don’t want anymore nice: I want to feel uncomfortable and I want my ears to hurt, and my chest too vibrate, which is the main treason I came down to see legion of swine on the first date of their UK tour on a visit from Sweden. And I got what I wanted.

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Legion of Swine

The set, in near darkness bar a deep red light, begins with static drone. The distorted hum continues, buzzing, grating, sawing. It tense and uneasy, in a way that’s reminiscent of 90s Whitehouse It’s surprisingly quiet, and, I reflect, kinda like listening to a hair dryer. Then it stops, and there’s a rumble, a breeze. It’s more ominous than abrasive… Until suddenly it isn’t. A harsh noise wall erupts. And keeps on building. Fuck. It hurts. It’s an immense sonic force. And then… then it stops. Proctor does his signatory trotter pose at the end of the set. It’s a welcome return for one of the north’s greatest masters of din, topping off a top night.

Christopher Nosnibor

The Crescent seems to have really come into its own of late, with midweek gigs attracting some seriously strong turnouts. Of course, having decent bands on is a key factor, but having a local venue that has decent sound, a welcoming atmosphere, and affordable drinks are also significant factors. With times being tight and banking on travel a gamble, I’m by no means alone in the fact I’m increasingly likely to pick a gig nearby – although that’s only possible because there are gigs, and good ones, nearby.

Sitting in the bar beforehand with a decent local hand-pulled pint for £4 provided a welcome moment of reflection, and increasingly, The Crescent feels like York’s Brudenell: there’s a relaxed buzz and sense of community here.

It’s busy early doors, and local support Pennine Suite, who I realise had been sipping pints and meeting friends at the next table from me in the bar not twenty minutes previous, serve up solid and more than passable 90s style indie with energy and synths and a dash of shoegaze and a hint of Cud. Having announced his sister on keyboards and brother on guitar, I almost expected the singer to announce his dad on drums. It wasn’t to be, but the five-piece displayed a good chemistry and some more than respectable songwriting skills.

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Pennine Suite

It would seem that ‘fehlt’ is the German word for ‘missing’, suggesting that the enigmatic Leeds quartet, whose Figure Two EP was mastered by Slowdive drummer Simon Scott, aren’t making some limp reference to the 90s indie band who prefaced Denim. This is a good thing. Said EP included an intense and near note-perfect and magnificently produced cover of Joy Division’s ‘No Love Lost’, and while it’s not a feature of tonight’s set, it gives a fair indication of where they’re coming from.

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Fehlt

They play moody I Like Trains style chiming indie post-rock / post-punk crossover, and do so in near darkness since the projector isn’t working, and it only serves to add to the ambience. The vocals are often mumbled, and are low in the mix throughout. Gliding violin adds brooding tension and melancholy. Onstage it’s pretty static, but there’s plenty of movement in the music, especially the drumming, but also some nice strolling bass grooves and some tidy runs that are pure Joy Division, and the set builds to a blistering instrumental climax. Again. And again.

It’s clear that a large number of those packing the front half of this 300 capacity venue have been playing BDRMM’s debut album a lot. And I mean a lot. And when a full setlist is available on Setlist FM within hours, you know that this is a band with a serious following. They know every word, and sing them back. Like, how? They’re barely audible half the time. But then, it’s hard to fully detail the rise of BDRMM. From being a one-man home project to a fully-functional live act with remixes by A Place to Bury Strangers and support slots with Ride, it’s a story that reads like a dream. Back in January, they were playing 100-capacity venues. Now…

Hearing them live is also very like a dream. Some of it’s the volume. Some of it’s the hypnotic, motoric groves, the guitars swathed in echo. Some of it’s the heads-down, chat-free approach to performing: this is all about playing the songs and the atmosphere they cultivate. Ultimately, it’s a conglomeration of all of these things that make BDRMM such an experience, rather than just another live band.

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BDRMM

They walk on, unassuming. A string scrape vibrates. The start of the set trickles slowly: mellowness delivered at bladder-shaking volume. And it builds… and it builds. There are immense surges of sound that explode seemingly from nowhere. The vocals are buried in reverb and delay and it’s a wall of noise and it’s so powerful. As is the case with the bands they’ve modelled themselves on – early Ride, Chapterhouse, Slowdive – the songs would be fairly middling psych-tinged indie were it not for the effects: whack on a dozen layers off chorus, reverb, and distortion, and it’s a whole other story. But then, The Jesus and Mary Chain would have been a Beach Boys rip-off were it not for all the distortion pedals

When the drums and the pedals kick in, they really kick in. The volume and density seem to increase as the set progresses, and while half of the songs played toward the end of the set could have bought it to a roaring finale, the set culminates in a blistering sheet of noise.

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BDRMM

They look reluctant in performing an encore, but oblige appropriately with a strong, high-intensity rendition of ‘A Reason to Celebrate’.

It isn’t until afterwards that you realise just how loud and intense the performance was. But, make no mistake, this was both loud and intense.

Christopher Nosnibor

The Fall’s ‘Fiery Jack’ is blasting from the PA as I line up behind a cluster of gothy / alternative types: promising signs, always, and Wire and Sleaford Mods feature on the playlist while we’re waiting for Balcony Plants.

York has suddenly begun sprouting a new crop of indie / alternative bands, and tonight’s event showcases three of them.

First impressions? They’re kids. Of course they are. And they’ve brought a lot of mates along. They all congregate and hug in the front rows as the band take the stage. Second impressions? Jesus. Balcony Plants are into introducing the band members and making and calls to make some fucking noise while they’re still tuning up, before launching into some lame-assed rap-rock with elements of early Beastie Boys, with songs about house parties and nightclubs. Then something happens mid-set. After tinkering with some pedestrian Kerrang! flavoured alt-rock that shows they’re as stylistically coherent in their music as their image, they lunge towards ever grittier punk as the set progresses, and improve exponentially as they do, and there’s lots of moshing, especially to their cover of Nirvana’s ‘Breed’, which, is undeniably storming. They do know how to build a set to a climactic finale, I’ll give them that, and by the time they’ve orchestrated some tidal waves of crowd action during their signature song, they’ve convinced me. They’ve work to do, but it’s early days and they’ve got clear potential.

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Balcony Plants

So the guitarist in Balcony Plants is also the bassist in The Rosettas, a more visually and sonically coherent proposition. The singer makes an entrance….and it kinda takes a brief nosedive there. The riffs are meaty and the drumming is particularly tight, but the vocals merely so-so. I’d always question throwing in a cover as the second song of any set, but especially one of The Foo Fighters’ ‘Everlong’, however well played.

That tonight’s bands – all clearly made up of millennials (and I mean that factually rather than in any way disparagingly)– scatter their sets with choice 90s cuts is interesting; I suppose in context it’s the same as young bands of the 90’s dredging up songs of the 70s from their parents’ collections, or every band of the 80s covering ‘Sister ray’ and ‘Louie Louie’; there seems to be a two-decade loop which essentially corresponds with the emergent generation gap.

‘Save Your Time’ may be their idea of heavy, but… Still. They play with energy and are decent enough in a middling gruge-tinged alt-rock way. They probably need to work on the between-song chat, though, since “We’re about to play a song some of you might know. It’s on a thing called Spotify” is about as good as it gets. Blur’s ‘Song 2’ is the second cover of their set, and they seem to play the covers better than their own songs, but also manage to deliver a strong finale.

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The Roosettas

The Rosemaries exude an air that they’re a cut above from the second they walk on. Tonight, they’re all wearing dresses, but still look the most rock ‘n’ roll of tonight’s acts. The 90s covers continue as they open with a passionate cover of ‘Killing in the Nam’, and it again seems an unusual choice. The squawking vocal uplifts are unexpected. But there’s a lot that’s unexpected about this bunch, and it’s all good. They’re political, they’re tight, and they’re solid. Sprechgesang verses bounce over buoyant baselines before breaking into mega choruses. ‘Pogo pogo pogo’, say my notes. Those squeaks are an interesting post-punky vocal quirk that seem to reference early Fall more than anything, but then also make a nod to Siouxsie.

Overall, The Rosemaries land between The Sex Pistols and Yard Act with a dash of Pulp, although ‘Easy Peas’ bludgeons away at two chords Fall style. The singer heckles the audience in classic northern style: “Are ya gonna do some proper moshin’ or what?”

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The Rosemaries

They slip into a three-chord punky thrash with sneery, shouty vocals that call to mind Jilted John and hammer out as their second cover – the most contemporary of the night – Fontaines DC’s ‘Boys in the Better land’, which had been aired over the PA earlier. It’s a faithful rendition that’s delivered with zeal, and one can’t help but feel its relevance to bands knocking around in York. There are some decent pub venues to be grateful for, but there’s a world outside, starting just a few miles up the A64.

If this seems critical of the bands or local scene, it really isn’t: bands have to start somewhere, and with grassroots venues closing by the dozen, it’s a joy to witness nights like this – bands cutting their teeth in venues what are happy to give them a platform, and what’s also encouraging is the embracing of the ramshackle, rough and ready. I’m tired of a scene where bands strive to sound like arena acts in pub venues. It’s just not punk, and what we need is to hear live music that sounds and feels live. This is what tonight brings. It’s unpolished, unfinished, work in progress. But it’s great fun, and this is the next generation coming through. Just wait.

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s been a very long while since scuzz-punk rock duo Mannequin Death Squad came to our shores, and even longer since they last set foot in York – but hailing from Melbourne, Australia, it’s been quite a while since they’ve set foot anywhere outside their province, with now fewer than six lockdowns and more than 260 days under restrictions during the pandemic, which led to Victoria’s state capital to be dubbed the “world’s most locked down city”, according to the BBC. Hardly conducive conditions for a band who thrive on playing live.

MDS seems to have harnessed all of that pent-up energy for this month-long UK tour, scheduled at relatively short notice, but before they’re on, they’ve got a solid bill of local talent in support, too (let’s face it, four bands for £7, you can’t go wrong), and first on, up-and-coming KissKissKill (styled as XXK so as to avoid any iffy connotations, and who’ve been around a while but seem to be finally kicking things up a notch) prove to be a solid opener giving an assured performance. Their sound may bet kinda standard rock with some big guitar solos, but they’ve got a good level of energy and enthusiasm. Singer Gemma-Louise performs with her eyes as well as with powerful lungs, and she’s backed by some solid riffs and she bounces around a lot: they all do, apart from the bassist who hides at the back behind his straightened hair. They’re a lot of fun, and clearly have potential for great things.

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KissKissKill

Ketamine Kow bring mouth frothing energy and aggression. They’ve had their songs shared on Twitter by Sleaford Mods. The front-cunt’s proper mental and the songs are almost secondary to the spasmodic energy as he charges around maniacally, getting in people’s faces and generally creating a disruptive energy. I mean, there seems to be something not quite right about the guy, but this is the spectacle of a performer who lives every second of the performance for real. Like a young Iggy Pop, it’s all for the moment. There are some squalling riffs and pounding percussion going on behind the manic screaming and shouting. Ketamine Kow could well be the new Baby Godzilla: with the exception of the drummer, who also provides strong second vocals, the band spend as much time in the crowd than on stage, the singer everywhere all at once, hollering from the back of the room, leering in and looming over the crowd, or writhing on the floor. Skinny white boys with gangly limbs, you can’t imagine that being in a band is likely to help any of the members of Ketamine Kow to pull: they’re sweary, sweaty, raw, authentic punk, and so, so angry – and fucking brilliant.

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Ketamine Kow

The Bricks Draw the Line at the start of the set, and they seem to get sharper, more solid, more meaty with every outing, and singer Gemma is more confident and more commanding than ever. The sound is a perfect amalgamation of juggernaut bass with choppy stuttering riffs that splinter onto shards, with heavy hints of Gang of Four and Wire with martial beats. In terms of performance, Gemma doesn’t ‘do’ much – no bouncing about, no, posing: she doesn’t have to. The voice is immense, and is all the presence, allowing the three middle-aged blokes (no criticism, especially as they’re clearly having a blast playing the songs and have the sound absolutely nailed) to fade into the noisy background.

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It’s gone 10:45 when Mannequin Death Squad start, but when they do it’s incendiary: the set is back to back killers, heavily raiding their 2016 debut mini-album ‘Eat Hate Regurgitate’ alongside songs released on-line since and brand new material, too. They’re loud and they’re tight with a full sound, the dual vocals really defining the sound over the big, grungy riffs. They play hard and fierce. ‘Sick’ lands third before a new track off the forthcoming debut album. Elly’s eyes lol up into her head as she kicks out the riffs. The mid-set instrument switch seems to take it up a notch, and Dan steps out from behind the drums to take over the guitar and lead vocals, and stomps the stage fiercely. Meanwhile, the hi hat’s fucked and zip on her trousers is bust, but still Elly doesn’t miss a beat. They’re committed, alright. Live shows don’t come better than this.

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Mannequin Death Squad

Things are running late and curfews are a kicker for most venues these days, especially those in residential areas, so they’re forced to truncate the set a little – and so what it lacks in duration, they compensate in energy, turning the small venue into a total sweatbox as they deliver the title track from their forthcoming debut album, ‘Super Mental Psycho’ as the penultimate song, and it’s blistering. We’re all wiped and melting by the end, and while there’s no chance of an encore, the rush to the merch and to chat to the band after showed the level of appreciation. And rightly so – they’re one of those bands who never disappoint.

Christopher Nosnibor

There’s no escaping politics and economics, even when you go to gigs as your primary mode of escape from life. When people are struggling to make ends meet, going out is a luxury for many. This is truly a tragedy. With the ‘cost of living crisis’, as it’s being billed (because everything has to have a name, a brand now), crippling pubs and clubs and individuals alike as hard as Covid restrictions and lockdowns did, gigs like this are incredibly welcome: a showcase of emerging local talent for a quid, at a venue where a decent hand-pulled (local) pint costs £4.

Perspex in particular have been building quite a buzz in recent months, but had almost completely bypassed me, so curiosity coupled with the simple urge to go and see some live music meant that a quid seemed like a safe enough punt, especially when the venue’s in easy walking distance.

Given that it’s a race night on which Madness are playing at the racecourse and there’s a sold-out gig at The Vaults with other rising local talents, it’s an impressive turnout at the 400-capacity venue as Captain Starlet take the stage.

Christ, they look young. Like bands starting out in 1979. Ill-fitting shirts and striped t-shirts, Vox and Rickenbacker guitars. They’ve not yet figured out haircuts or grown into their faces, but have fashioned some tidy indie tunes. It’s a bit jangly, a bit C86, it’s well played but ultimately kinda middling. And then it goes country, and all the moustache and suit-sporting Nick Cave rip-offs start having a hoedown down the front. I realise I don’t understand anything anymore.

Captain Starlet

Captain Starlet

Trueman start off promisingly, with some bold sax action reminiscent of the Psychedelic Furs. But it rapidly descends into a quality performance of average music. My mate suggests Razorlight as a comparison, and he’s right. There’s much movement and arm waving from the sixth-formers down the front.

People really love bland shit. I know I should be supportive of new bands, but these reek entitlement. They’re not as good as they think they are.

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Trueman & the Indoor League

Perspex: great name, sharp look (some of them are the suit and shades wearing posers who were getting down to Captain Starlet), lame, forgettable songs. I persevere for a while before retiring to the bar. They’re still audible, and actually sound better from there, but still ultimately forgettable. There’s a steady trickle of departures during their set, so it’s not just me. They weren’t terrible, just terribly average, and when there are a million average bands knocking about, there’s simply no need for any more.

Perspex

Perspex

But for all that, it was a good night: people enjoyed themselves without interfering with others or spoiling their nights. People enjoyed the bands and didn’t gab on through them, and the vibe was good. The bands played well and the sound was good, so much credit is due to bands, fans and venue. There’s definitely a market there, and potentially, a large one. I wish them all the best of luck.

Christopher Nosnibor

Seems like gigs at the Vaults are cursed when I go. Just as headliners Witch of the East cancelled the last time I was down, so PAK40 have had to bail due to Covid. Yep, over two years on and it’s still having a significant impact on live music. But the good news is that REDFYRN are worth turning out for, as previous outings have shown, and even prior to PAK40’s withdrawal, it had the air of a double-header.

It’s fucking melting. I mean, I’m drinking cider, it’s that mafting. And I’m sweating it out faster than I can drink it. My skin is like a sieve or muslin bag. It must be absolutely punishing on stage.

Openers Beswick get off to a bit of a ragged start. But then, it is their first gig in three years, and they’re not looking like the kind of band who get tour-tight. It would be wrong to complain about the lack of guitar definition with a black metal band, and they lean towards the lower, slower end, where everything slips into a sludgy mid-range mesh, thanks to the five-string bass and seven-string guitar and the most fuckedest cymbal I’ve seen in use in a long time.

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Beswick

The main vocalist has three distinct styles: a penetrating, shivering squawk, a low growl, and a cleanish, atonal punk snarling shout, which actually works at least half of the time as they swing towards a dingy punk style at various points during the set. They do seem like a band in a bit of a stylistic quandary as they slither hither and thither, but they’re solid entertainment. The final song is a nod to their previous incarnation as Tokechamber, and sees the set conclude with billowing drone doom chords and feedback. I would have happily watched that for an hour.

REDFYRN start as they mean to go on, bringing the riffs slow and steady, with more five-string bass groove through an immense effects rack. The bassist has bounding energy, smashing every note with fists and feet, and the weighty guitars contrast with the soaring vocals. Big brave but stoner with a bluesy twist, chunky gritty riffs.

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REDFYRN

The solos aren’t overdone, and showcase the fact Cat Redfern is an excellent guitarist on a technical level as well as being a heavy hitter. She plays with only a handful of pedals, but a lot of crunch and a big dense sound and big volume.

A big hairy moshpit happened during the last song, and the half dozen beardy guys going crackers down the front was enough to bring the band back for one more, and they encore with ‘Unreal’, to an even more vibrant response. For a hot Thursday night when people would have likely been lured to a beer garden to toast the announcement of the Prime Minister’s departure, albeit at some time in the future, and for a stand-in headline slot, REDFYRN delivered a commanding performance and owned the night. Having only recently found themselves in headline slots, REDFYRN look ready to take it to the next level.

Christopher Nosnibor

It may sound perverse, but I find metal gigs to be highly therapeutic. I suppose it’s the escapism – the release of fury from the stage working like some kind of Reiki, drawing the tension out and casting it into the air.

I didn’t really do much research beforehand – because sometimes, it’s nice just to rock up, see some bands, and drink some beer. Especially on a Sunday afternoon. It’s bloody boiling, which means I’m going to bee needing quite a bit of beer to keep hydrated, and I arrive just in time to get a pint in before the first act.

Grunk are pretty much classic grind, with two vocalists. They’re raw and ragged, with a lot of drum, but not a lot of guitar. They’ve plenty of grunt and humour, too. They’re not very good, but aren’t trying to be, quipping about the proper bands being on after, and they’re a fun opener, their set concluding with the rotund main shouter rolling around on the floor in front of the stage.

It wouldn’t be a proper dirty metal gig in / near Leeds without Steve Myles doing something, and here he’s Sulking, doing shouting instead of drumming for a change. Instrumentally, Sulk are another guitar and drum setup, but sound altogether more meaty, and consequently all the more grindy. Their tightly-structured songs pack all the heft, all the pace, and Myles pages the stage menacingly while delivering raw-throated rage. They’re absolutely brutal, and one of the best bands of the night.

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Sulk

It’s been a few years since I last caught Deathmace. They’re very much at the thrash end of the spectrum, with some frenzied guitar solos, and a sound filled out with a second guitar and bass, too. Too earnest to be truly menacing, the singer speaks normally between songs but growls the song titles when announcing them, and made me think of the recent movie, Metal Lords. They’re very obviously complete metal nerds (although the drummer is wearing a Yes T-shirt), singing about death, coffins, maggots and large fish, but can genuinely play, and being a local band with a strong following, go down a storm.

It’s truly oven-like in the venue by now, and everyone clears out to the beer garden, and consequently most of them miss the first half of Wolfbastard’s set, which is definitely their loss. The trio’s scratchy bass sound blends into the incendiary treble of the overloading guitar wall of noise. Bassist Si’s barking vocal contrasts with the guitarist Dez’s sandpapered screech, and it’s a stonking set off crusty black metal, which is exactly what I came for.

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Wolfbastard

Cryptic Shift are big hair and pointy guitars, and the first thought is ‘Megadeth’. It so happens that’s also my second thought, too. Granted, they’re a bit more death/black than that, but seem to take the remainder of their cues from Venom. They’re supremely technical and super-serious and megafast, but the bass sounds like arse and there’s so much endless harmonics and fretwanking it’s… well, of course it’s a matter of taste, but the singer plays every inch of the fretboard, and uses all 36 pedals, and it’s impressive and all, but it’s just not particularly fun. They drink a lot of water.

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Cryptic Shift

For Foetal Juice front man Dez, this is his second set of the night, and what a set it is. Foetal Juice are grind heavyweights in every way. Without the restriction of an instrument, Dez charges back and forth across the stage, fist pumping and finger pointed. There’s little commentary required: it’s death metal, played as it should be, and they sound exactly as the name suggests. They slam down the heavy noise relentlessly, and it’s a magnificently riffy, gnarly affair, and a mosh frenzy ensues. Fucking yes. This is what we came for.

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Foetal Juice