The Skints // Nambucca // London /

December 27th, 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

As just down the road at Emirates stadium thousands of Arsenal fans descend Holloway Road to watch the match I had been invited to Nambucca, to watch something very different than Arsenal vs Wolverhampton.  Normally when stepping foot in Nambucca it is a busy place of people raring to see bands, but when stepping in mid afternoon for a private acoustic session from one of the best new bands of the last few years it’s a much quieter friendly atmosphere with only friends, family and ten competition winners getting to see a extremely intimate and special acoustic set from The Skints.

Jamie Kyriakides of The Skints

Having seen many sets from The Skints this year, whether headlining their own show, supporting a bigger band or playing a festival, it’s nice to have a change for their usual full live show for something a lot different in their half hour acoustic performance. Although very used to playing acoustic together as we have seen evidence of in many youtube videos this year the band were perhaps slightly out of their comfort zone having to perform acoustically in front of a audience much smaller than they are used to, but a crowd all intently watching the band perform. Despite the pressure the atmosphere is very friendly, with the majority of the stage banter presented as usual by Josh easing any pressure between the band and audience.

The set list consisted of a balanced mixture of first album favourites, tracks from the forthcoming second album as well as a selection of cover songs brilliantly adapted and performed by the band. The highlight of the cover songs was the genuinely beautiful version of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ performed just by Jamie on guitar and vocals and Marcia on vocals, another highlight was a rare performance of Jamie playing ‘Live. Breathe. Build. Believe’ closer ‘Soul for Sale’ solo. The acoustic set  showed just how talented a band The Skints are and how successfully they can adapt their full band sound to stripped down acoustic version, they even treated us to an acoustic version of ‘Bright Girl’ which they have never played acoustically before. It is also very impressive how well some of the songs sound acoustically, such as the brilliant version of ‘Murderer’ closing the set, a track you would not expect to be easily translated into a slow and stripped down acoustic song. The acoustic set was incredibly special for any big fan of The Skints and was well received, once again the band prove just how talented they are as a unit as well as separately, it’s not often you get to see a band this good in such intimate settings, not a performance to be forgotten.

Moving onto the main event of the Christmas party, once the door opens and the place fills up almost automatically, leaving what was a more chilled out vibe to one of merry anticipation. It’s clear that much of the crowd are very very excited for The Skints tonight, helped by it being their first headline show in London since summer. It’s also clear that The Skints are starting to get bigger with just how fast the venue filled up, you get the feeling quite a few here are seeing the band for the first time, I even overheard someone ecstatic by how small the venue is considering how big The Skints are, not something you would get a year ago, the band have had a decent sized fan base for a while but you really start to get the feeling that the fan base has expanded a lot only in recent times.

Opening the show to an already decent sized crowd was the most enjoyable Gecko, playing a set of brilliantly written catchy songs. They gave a much more chilled out vibe than the other bands playing tonight with their acoustic based songs mixing a clear wide range of influences that come together into songs with great commercial value (in a good way). Gecko are clearly a band who should be amongst the top of the charts with their amazingly catchy and addictive songs, such as ‘Safest Bet’, a free download that got one of the best reactions of their set. Not that the band are modest at all, seemingly enjoying themselves opening for smaller shows but It’s clear they have potential for a lot more. A perfect band to open the night to get a party vibe going.

Next up was the insane, explosive Random Impulse, a London based rapper playing with a full band. The band had a immense energy, with a banging rhythm section who were killing it on stage while being led by Random Impulse’s great hip hop vocals while also joining the band on guitar. It was an incredible and powerful set, with a mega loud and energetic sound which could easily challenge most hip hop acts on the scene today, and was certainly had much more effort and uniqueness from a music scene where very little have the talent to stand out as Random Impulse who has successfully created his own sound.

Josh Waters Rudge of The Skints

By the time The Skints take to the stage the room is completely crammed with people, and as they take the stage they do so to massive applause, after the busy year they have had it must be heart warming to come on stage to such a welcome response. Once the band start playing the cramped crowd start moving straight away and it becomes very clear that the band have outgrown this venue, The Skints infectious music makes you compelled to dance but this proves a hard thing to do in a crowd this packed but the atmosphere is generally great. The crowd is very mixed tonight; many family, friends and early fans have clearly turned out but so have many new fans, sadly at times certain members of the crowd ruin the good vibes by attempting to mosh to the more chilled out reggae tracks, as well as a fight almost starting between songs which luckily got stopped, let’s hope that this isn’t a sign of things to come from a usually very considerate and friendly crowd The Skints normally attract. Apart from these few instances, the crowd generally gave a great response to the band keeping the full room constantly moving, the only problem was the lack of room meaning that the first row often collapsed onto the low stage and many crowd surfers almost just falling right onto the band, which helps the intimate atmosphere of the show, for a band fastly increasing in popularity this could be one of their last shows being this close to their crowd.

The performance from The Skints is flawless, they have come a long way since the release of their first album and are now well accomplished in live performance, playing the set list to perfection while being able to consistently keep the crowd pumped, the reaction to the band is truly special and phenomenal, there is a great connection between the band and audience in the room. The band don’t disappoint the crowd in terms of set list, playing all the old favourites such as ‘Roanna’s Song’ complete with a cover of Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’, which has become a live staple for the band, as well as ‘Murderer’ and ‘Get Me!’ which both get some of the best crowd reactions of the night, but as well as the classics they also preview a decent amount of newer material, including next single ‘Ratatat’, getting one of the most crazy reactions of the night when the crowd gets told that part of the video is being filmed that very moment.

Overall the show was a great way to end the year for The Skints, with a mixed crowd of fans who have been with them from the start, their friends and family and also a portion of newer fans, this could be one of the final times to see the band in such close and intimate settings and was sure to be a memorable gig for all involved.

The brilliantly eccentric Jonathan Pierce

By: Hugh O’Boyle

Here tonight at the Bristol O2 Academy, proud New-Yorkers Drums are a long, long way from home. From first bursting arrays of sunshine in their EP Summertime!, Drums wasted no time in finding fame. Unfortunately, despite their perfectly timed and truly spectacular debut album Drums, 2011’s third release Portamento was evidently rushed, bringing about clear reminiscence of previous material – sun-drenched melodies, driving bass and guy-likes-girl lyrics cloaked in airy reverb. Although, front man Jonathan Pierce brought a more personal approach of religion to the new release – the album cover featuring a young red-eyed Pierce glazing into the camera, burdened by a hanging crucifix on the wall behind him. In fact, many lyrics throughout the album, especially those in ‘Book Of Revelation’, showcase his atheist views, “I’ve seen the world/ And there’s no heaven and there’s no hell”. 

Whilst the beginning of the set whiffed of the slight sense of unease, it didn’t take long for the band to propel themselves into full-action mode, Pierce dropping one of the very highlights of the first album ‘Best Friend’ two songs in, a strange and twisted story of the death of an intimate companion,“You were my best friend/ but then you died”. With the introduction of new members to their live performances, the sound is certainly tighter to say the least. Throughout the latter of the night, it’s evident the group are aiming to play the more favourable classics,surfing on their chiming summer-soaked melodies and infectious vocals; ‘Forever And Ever Amen’ does a swift job of involving the close-knit crowd, whilst rousing renditions of ‘Me And The Moon’ and ‘Jonny Don’t Be A Jerk’ treat the closely-knit crowd well. Pierce cuts a flowing figure throughout, closing his eyes as he rides pulsing rhythms of Morrisey-style stage-presence referencing sunny-side Beach Boy’s and British 1980’s indie-rock totems Orange Juice and The Pastels.

The Drums – Book of Revelation

 

Despite being relatively new to Portamento material, the audience don’t take long to catch on to sophomore material ‘Book Of Revelation’ and ‘Days’, whilst ‘Money’ – a tail of wanting to buy someone a gift and not being able to afford it – attracts sufferers of the recession and looters alike. One obvious change in terms of sound in the new album is the introduction of airy synthesizers adding more texture, ‘How It Ended’ delivering unnerving notes. However, as the encore drears on it is clear the songs insinuate a lack of variety, guitarist Connor Hanwick previously admitting he doesn’t even know what chords are. Unsurprisingly and, unfortunately to say the least, glistening ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ is boycotted, Pierce announcing his anger at a crowd member for continuously requesting the song leaving many fans scratching their heads. Whilst Drums have been mistaken in the past for being period to past icons, they are an eccentric piece of lovingly engaging music that not even the most critical can detract.

Airship // The Deaf Institute // Manchester

28 October 2011

By James Murray

As always, Manchester is producing its fair share of new music – Airship being one of the city’s most recent breakthrough bands. It’s safe to say that generally hometown gigs are a highlight of most bands tour schedules; and it was clear from the offset that Airship cherish the connection they have with their beloved city – lead singer Elliot Williams introducing the set with a to-the-point “we’re home, and it feels good”.

Manchester's own: Airship

Airship opened with the anthemic ‘Kids’, perhaps a more obvious finale, but a brilliantly fast-paced rendition nonetheless. Under The Deaf Institutes obligatory ‘mood lighting’, Airship powered through a set which predictably but satisfactorily showcased debut album ‘Stuck In This Ocean’.

Connecting with a crowd is important; but too often bands and artists try too hard, disrupting any fluidity and energy levels as a result. Airship did the extreme opposite, keeping small talk to a minimum. Standout tracks included second single ‘Algebra’, ‘Test’ and the remarkable vocals throughout ‘Invertebrate’.

The special guests of the evening included Golden Glow, who released their debut LP ‘Tender Is This Night’ this summer. Lead single ‘You Don’t Adore Me’ was the stand-out track of the set; the vocal slur of Pierre Hall best explained as a hybrid of Alex Turner and Robert Smith.

Golden Glow impress the Manchester crowd

Tipped for success by BBC Introducing Manchester, it was hard not to expect something memorable from The Cold One Hundred. When informed that a band has two lead guitars and a talented lead vocalist – a somewhat vintage, essentially typical indie rock ensemble isn’t what you’d call the pinnacle of diversity. What The Cold One Hundred displayed was solid, but safe. Clearly influenced by The Smiths and bands akin, unfortunately in the 21st century a band relying solely on nostalgic value doesn’t quite cut it.

Smokey Bastard // Sub89 // Reading

23 October 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

Support: Claypigeon, Drones

Having worked hard on creating their latest album, ‘Tales of the Wasteland’ since summer 2010, Smokey Bastard finally got round to releasing their record (receiving a very positive review from Sound-Revolution) backed by a launch show in their hometown of Reading.

Opening the night was energetic Camberley punk band Drones, who are preparing to release their debut album in December. They played a short set of fast tunes with a great energy seeing them bouncing all over the stage, with vocalist and guitarist Daly George moving off stage for the last few songs of their set. Sadly, due their early playing time, they didn’t play to much of an audience – and despite their attempts to get people moving the crowd remained mostly inactive throughout their set. Luckily this didn’t stop the band putting a great deal of effort and energy into their performance.

The main support slot came from brilliant London ska punk act Claypigeon, having lost a key member earlier this year the band have recently returned to the live scene as a three piece act. They played a set mostly consisting of new versions of their older material, as well as throwing in a few newly written songs. The band played strongly as a three piece and maintained a decent sized audience, with a few people dancing and singing along to the set.

Reading's own: Smokey Bastard

Coming on stage to an enthusiastic hometown crowd, Smokey Bastard got things going straight away opening with an old song, getting the crowd nice and lively with Smokey Bastard’s great style of folk punk. The band went on to preview the majority of ‘Tales of the Wasteland’ for the fresh ears of the crowd who remain just as active hearing the songs for the first time as they do for the few older Smokey Bastard songs played in the set. Highlights of the set included the epic ‘Mongrel’ and danceable ‘Mong Some Hoof’. Latest single ‘Yuppie Dracula’ inspired the crowd to start dancing the waltz much like in the video for the song. Another highlight of the set was ‘Dear Mol’ bringing onstage Smokey Bastard’s former fiddle player to provide the female vocals and the crowd engaging in a circle pit for the more rowdy climax of the song.

Getting one of the best reactions of the night was ‘Wasteland’, a song about the very town they were performing in – perhaps getting a special reaction from the locals agreeing with the view of the town represented in the song. After two short poems before the encore from bassist and vocalist Mike Wood the whole band returned for a rendition of ABBA’sMamma Mia’, much to the enthusiasm of the crowd. A cover that does not fit quite so well on ‘Tales of the Wasteland’ fits perfectly well as a slightly humorous closer and sing along for a live set, it’s not often you see a mosh pit to an ABBA song. Smokey Bastard are a fantastic live band with a great brand of energetic folk punk to get people dancing and with the new album have a brilliant set of tunes to display when playing live, you are guaranteed to have fun if you see this band live.

Random Hand // Nambucca // London

15 October 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

As part of their amazingly named “Terminatour”, Yorkshire ska-punk-metal act Random Hand hit up North London’s best small music venue, Nambucca, bringing along a great selection of ska infused bands from the current UK scene.

Opening the night were acoustic act Chapter Eleven, playing with one less member than usual. Their short set contained some well written songs that could just have easily have been performed by one person, but the use of two acoustic guitars allowed their sound to become louder – making them fit better into the line up, as well as having songs about passed away Anti-Vigilante drummer and Rebellion festival – these are guys who are just as much fans as they are musicians.

Adam Payne // Resolution 242

Second band on the bill were the brilliant Resolution 242 playing a short set of powerful tracks mostly taken from their recent EP ‘Resurgence’. Most the set featured ‘Mr Wheelz’ on hip-hop vocals, the band ignored their Dog The Dog released debut album and sounded very much like a different act. This is a band clearly still in development, but they are starting to create their own solid sound – definitely a band worth keeping an eye on.

Next up were Essex reggae act New Town Kings, giving a fantastic half hour set made up mostly of songs from their well received recent album ‘MOJO’. Playing with one less guitar than normal was a slight downside but this did not affect the overall sound a great deal. Where the previous two acts had failed to have much of an active audience New Town Kings managed to achieve a decent portion of the crowd – skanking their hearts out with the incredibly danceable music. New Town Kings are a great and entertaining live act, perfect to get people dancing. They have a tight live sound leading to flawless performances from the clearly talented band – well worth checking out live.

No nonsense skacore// Anti Vigilante

Aggressive skacore band Anti-Vigilante had a bit of trouble with their guitar amp, but this didn’t stop them from tearing the place apart with their mix of hardcore punk and ska, with front man Josh switching between vocals and saxophone. It’s very easy to compare the band to British ska punk heroes Capdown, the two bands have a lot of similarities (including both being from Milton Keynes), but Anti-Vigilante are a much more aggressive band, just lacking the discography that Capdown can flaunt. The band proved to be a perfect warm up for Random Hand, despite their technical difficulties – but they did still manage to keep a full room and perform well.

Arriving on stage to a enthusiastic and packed crowd Random Hand kicked off with ‘Find What’s Out There’ but were interrupted by a failing guitar amp much like the previous set from Anti-Vigilante. After starting again the guitar amp failed yet again, but luckily having given up on the opening song they didn’t have any further problems. The band played a fast paced, entertaining set with a good combination of songs from all three of their albums; including fan favourites such as ‘Bones’ and ‘Play Some Ska’.

Random Hand // Matthew Crosher

The band kept the crowd active for the entirety of the set, even having to ask the crowd to calm down at times, but also spurred on the crowd to partake in a “crawl of death” during ‘Anthropology’ which was fairly entertaining to watch (like you can imagine it was much like a wall of death but with crawling). Ending the set with ‘Anger Management’ once again Random Hand proved that they are one of the best live bands in the ska scene today, the only criticism you could give to their set was they didn’t play the 90’s classic ‘Macarena’ as the crowd requested (because let’s face it, Random Hand doing a cover of ‘Macarena’ would be incredible).

On Friday Fences, the brainchild of singer/songwriter Chris Mansfield, are set to take to the stage of Théatre Corona in Montreal. Following the release of the indie outfits self-titled debut album in 2010 Fences are touring the US and Canada besides female indie two-piece Uh Huh Her. 

Chris Mansfield // Fences

For those wanting to catch Fences on their US/CAN tour this month, there’s still plenty of chances. You can read the rest of the tour dates here. For those of you that can’t make it, check back here for the full gig review.

Gallows // ULU // London

23 July 2011

By: Chris Fishlock

On the 8th of July, Frank Carter, vocalist of Gallows announced he would be leaving the band, much to the distraught of Gallows’ dedicated fan base. But being a band as loud as Gallows are, no one is going to leave the band quietly – prompting the band to announce a short run of intimate dates concluding at ULU in London, to give Frank the proper send off he deserves. The atmosphere before the show was very foreboding, the crowd were pumped for action and are prepared for what they felt would surely be a memorable show, and Gallows gave them so much more.

Frank Carter // Gallows

After what seemed a long wait after doors opened the first band on were Bastions, taking to the stage with a large amount of energy it appeared a good start for the set. Unfortunately, by the end of their set they failed to keep their energy going, partly due to a lacklustre response from a lot of the crowd. One of the problems was that for a few songs, the bands vocalist started to lose his voice and the guitarist threw an almost full water bottle into the crowd, hitting someone in the face which created hostility between the audience and band. The second band to take the stage was another hardcore punk band by the name of 33, playing only 5 minutes after Bastions. 33 were squeezed in between the two bands leaving them to play a very short but enjoyable set. Having some great shout along tracks the band featured joint lead vocals, with one vocalist spending most the set in the middle of the pit – defiantly a band worth checking out live.

Taking to the stage to the sound of Amy Winehouse (who passed away earlier that day), Gallows jumped straight into Leeches, as the crowd started to tear the venue down. By the end of the track the size of the venue was already moshing, with many people already crowd surfing. The energy on the stage was incredible with Frank Carter giving it his best for one last time. The band continued to please fans with other great tracks such as London Is The Reason and first album favourites Come Friendly Bombs and Abandon Ship. It wasn’t long after Gallows took to the stage that Frank began diving into the crowd from the speaker stack. After just three songs there was already a group of moshers drenched in sweat at the bar drinking water – and they later got treated to massive circle pits that could barely contain themselves with the size of the small venue and a human pyramid later in the set.

Throughout the show Gallows continued to please the fans, bringing out rarely played live tracks such as Sick of Feeling Sick and Six Years, as well as introducing to the stage Eva Spence of Rolo Tomassi to guest on Black Heart Queen.  The band kept on delivering great tracks right up to end the night, with live favourites Gold Dust, Misery and I Dread The Night proving perfect songs to mosh to. Frank takes his last shouts as a member of Gallows to breakthrough track In The Belly Of A Shark before handing over the mic to anyone who wants it for a chaotic ending to Orchestra of Wolves, waving goodbye to a great and talented vocalist. After the crowd eventually dispersed out of the venue there were plenty of people saying that they had just experienced the best gig of their lives – this was one show not to be forgotten.