PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES / SKURVI / LAUNCH CONTROL / SECOND IN LINE at the Queens Arms, Reading

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES / SKURVI / LAUNCH CONTROL / SECOND IN LINE on Friday January 22nd at the Queens Arms, Reading

Something of the old and new sharing the stage tonight. Not that openers Second in Line are that new (they’ve got a good decade under their belts) but with the headliners Peter and The Test Tube Babies approaching 40 years now they do seem pretty recent in comparison. Second In Line are well rehearsed, the tight changes in ‘Triple Threat’ just wouldn’t work without the band being a cohesive unit. Regular set inclusions ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ and ‘John Candy Is Dead’ are catchy, memorable and fun. Their final song sees them go down to one guitar as guitarist/vocalist Gareth leaves his instrument behind to run through a spirited cover of the Descendents ‘Hope’. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

second_in_line_gareth

Second In Line

second_in_line_reading

Second In Line

Launch Control are new to me. I wouldn’t have known otherwise but I’m reliably informed that Mark Deans from Tindall is sitting behind the kit tonight instead of their regular drummer. A great job he does too, kicking things along nicely on up tempo US punk tinged songs such as ‘Moving Targets‘. Later on they drag Tindall’s singer on stage with them too. Somewhat reluctant at first he’s soon joining in and the band kick on, little leaps here and there and a first rate entertaining set all round.

launch_control

Launch Control

launch_control_tindall

Launch Control with added Tindall

Skurvi hail from Brighton and play a more basic form of punk rock. With songs about drinking and worse they share a lot more than just their home town with Peter and The Test Tube Babies. Singer Jimmy is a great front man, engaging the crowd with a bit of banter and getting them to join in on plenty of “Woooooh ooooohh’s”. Drummer Craig was the star of the show for me though, man he hit that kit hard! They really connect with the crowd but then their song ‘Three Cheers For Alcohol” is a real singalong, raise your glasses tune. With some more variety on offer with the slower paced ‘Her’ I find myself out in the bar trying to find a CD to buy. Trouble is they’ve recently sold out so I’ve had to make do with bandcamp until their album comes out around March.

skurvi

Skurvi

skurvi_guitar

Skurvi

This is probably the smallest venue and the smallest crowd I’ve ever seen Peter and The Test Tube Babies play for. It’s had something of a mates gig feel about it all night and as the band take to the stage I think it becomes obvious that maybe someone has enjoyed a little too much hospitality. Peter’s OK, he’s been busy all evening hustling on the pool table. Bassist H is just fine, debutant drummer Sam surely has too much to remember to get drunk but guitarist Derek is…pissed if not exactly proud. Some songs get their longest ever versions as no one seems to know where to end them while others misfire and go slightly out of time but as things go on everything starts to improve. When drinks are brought out from the bar during the bands set a plea of ‘for Gods sake don’t give him any more’ is heeded. “Banned From The Pubs’ sees one of the band quip “someone here should be” before they launch into a frenzied version. OK, so it wasn’t the best time I’ve ever seen the band by a long way. I very much doubt tonight will be released as a live album anytime soon but one thing would have made the whole thing worthwhile on its own. The band included ‘Peacehaven Wild Kids ‘ in their set for the first time in over twenty years. Love that song. Don’t care that they did no encores (probably for the best tonight anyway!) – I left with the biggest grin  on my face.

peter_test_tube

Peter Test Tube, try getting him off a pool table.

scott_drums

Test Tube Babies new drummer Sam

PUNK LONDON

PUNK LONDON – a year long celebration of all things punk – throughout 2016

It’s forty years since 1976,  the widely accepted start date for punk rock in London. To mark the occasion something called Punk London has been created by… well I’m not too sure. Their website doesn’t actually say who’s behind it. It’s ‘about’ page just lists some of its partners “some of the coolest cultural organisations and businesses in London”. I don’t know who decided this list but here it is:

British Film Institute, British Fashion Council, British library, Camden Town Brewery, Design Museum, Doc’n Roll, 100 Club, ICA, Live Nation Merchandise (WTF), Museum of London, On Off, The Photographers Gallery, PYMCA, Roundhouse, Rough Trade, Universal Music (cough, cough),

It’s also supported by The National Lottery, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Mayor Of London.

So far, so establishment. Punk rock, the ruby anniversary supported by funds from one of the most regressive taxes around and the unkempt buffoon that is Boris Johnson. Oh joy. The website is far from promising too with a to be announced section entitled GOB. Nothing like reinforcing a stereotype from 40 years ago then. At least there’s no safety pins on the logo. Oh hang on, there they are on the locations map as pin markers. See what they did there?

punk london

Despite all this can we actually get something useful out of what appears to be a back slapping orgy designed to create business opportunities (yes, there’s a shop on the website and in case you didn’t notice it one of the supporters is Live Nation Merchandise). Why yes, it appears we can. For a start there was the Resolution Festival at the 100 Club which featured some pretty good line ups. I’d have shortened the whole thing down myself and put some of the bands on the same night rather than stringing them out over 10 days (I love the 100 Club but really – who wants to spend 10 days straight in its subterranean depths with only the one day off for when the awful Anti Nowhere League play)? Having the English Dogs headline one night when they can’t even fill the Pipeline seemed a bit much too – and I’m saying that as someone who loves the Dogs.

A look through some of the other events Punk London have planned shows there’s other stuff going on worth checking out too – I’ll definitely be sticking my head around the door of some of the photo exhibitions assuming they’re free. Let’s just jump on and off the ride as we see fit. In the meantime the unsupported DIY punk scene in London will just keep moving on regardless. It’s 2016 and there are bigger things to make your voice heard about (ironically like fighting back against small venue closures – Hello Boris, are you listening)?

THE DAMNED / THE FEATHERZ – Islington Academy

THE DAMNED / THE FEATHERZ Sunday 20th December at the Academy, Islington, London

Having already secured my ticket for next years Royal Albert Hall bash to celebrate the 40th anniversary of punk originators The Damned I wasn’t really looking around for another opportunity to see them. I’d caught them at the Forum and the Roundhouse in very recent times but my careful diary planning all got chucked out of the window when they announced they were playing a much smaller venue – the Academy near Angel. There was no hesitation in getting a ticket – and next May is an awfully long way off after all.

Support came in the form of London three piece The Featherz. Never heard of them before tonight but they turned in a decent set. Part punk, part rock and with more than a dash of Glam they pounded out a bunch of upbeat songs slotting in a couple of well received covers along the way. In fact their chosen brace of Penetration’s ‘Don’t Dictate’ and Marc Bolan’s ’20th Century Boy’ bookend their influences very neatly. They made the most of playing in a larger than normal venue by taking a selfie at the front of the stage having taken the brave decision to ask the crowd to make whatever gesture they thought appropriate behind their backs. The resultant photo luckily and rightfully revealed a very positive reaction.

The Featherz (photo: Steve Cotton)

After a lengthy delay the Damned arrived on stage and launched straight into proceedings with a full on version of ‘Wait For The Blackout’. Captain Sensible immediately hit problems though and throughout the first few songs he was constantly switching guitars trying to find one that would actually work. The rest of the band stepped up straight away filling in for him, cracking jokes and generally keep things on track. Eventually everything settled down but the tone for the evening had been set. The band were out to have some fun. Of course the Captain is always the joker but on this night Dave Vanian was also on fine form and matched him throughout blow for blow.

Captain Sensible

Captain Sensible, The Damned (photo: Steve Cotton)

The set list saw the band visit just about every corner of their catalogue from ‘New Rose’ – the one that started it all, through the Goth years with ‘Grimly Fiendish’ to their flirtations with major labels (‘Eloise’) and, of course, plenty from those days on Top Of The Pops with a raucous ‘Love Song’ and an anthemic ‘Just Can’t Be Happy Today’. Dave Vanian was in story telling mode, referencing the well known names and more obscure bands along with the films and the actors that influenced their sound and lyrics. He was also having a lot of fun. Dressed in a Father Christmas jacket, hat and beard for ‘Sanity Clause’ and joining in with the rest of the band in relentlessly laying into Paul Weller he was animated and engaging. In the encore he enlisted the help of a guy in the crowd to say the opening line of ‘New Rose’ – “it’s all up to you, if you get it wrong they’re going to hate you”. Thankfully he didn’t and this unexpected guest delivered the line in a slightly mechanical American accent – “Is she really going out with him”? Of course it all then went nuts for a few minutes.

Captain Sensible and Dave Vanian use a novel approach to encourage audience participation. (photo: Steve Cotton)

The sense of comedy continued into the encores with the band being joined on stage by Charlie Harper and Gaye Advert for a run through of an old B side track – ‘The Turkey Song‘ which included a cameo by the original subject of the song. After the obligatory set closer of ‘Smash It Up’ was completed  there was just enough time for the Captain to linger behind to lead the audience in a rendition of ‘Happy Talk’ before saying ‘Cheers m’dears’ and exiting the stage. What a night, roll on the Albert Hall.

(photos: Steve Cotton)

Banksy turning the spot light back on Calais

New work by Banksy has appeared in the Calais area (photo: Banksy.co.uk)

While the rest of the world is busy solving its problems through the application of high explosives and automatic weapons the plight of those in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais and elsewhere in Europe has taken something of a backseat. Well, except for that quote about barring Muslims from the US by an odd looking American who treads a fine line between running for President and being sectioned.

So it’s good to see Banksy use his return to outside graffiti pieces to start up the discussion once more. Those people most of us left behind in the summer (I’m excluding the crew from Dismaland and many other volunteers who have been helping with shelter and food and maybe you here) are largely still there with many new arrivals adding to their numbers. There’s now four new pieces in Calais over on Banksy.co.uk but there’s only one that’s really grabbing the attention of media organisations worldwide. It depicts Steve Jobs carrying an early Apple computer and a bag of possessions. It looks like he’s a fugitive and the accompany text says:

“We’re often led to believe migration is a drain on the country’s resources but Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant.

“Apple is the world’s most profitable company, it pays over $7bn (£4.6bn) a year in taxes – and it only exists because they allowed in a young man from Homs.”

Steve Jobs (photo from Banksy.co.uk)

Yeah, the point here is clear but despite some reports in the media I very much doubt Banksy is only concerned with ensuring that the next technology entrepreneur makes it across the Channel. He’s pointing out that there is human worth in these refugees regardless of whether or not they make it to the board. Because right now they are being systematically dehumanised, portrayed as savages at the gates, potential terrorists even when they just want a better life. Because that’s a damn sight easier than actually doing something about the situation other than the application of high exp… you get the point. As the other piece in the Jungle say “Maybe this whole situation will just sort itself out”. As if.

(photo: Banksy.co.uk)

Elsewhere in Calais there is a stencil of a reworked version of Theodore Gericault’s  painting Raft of the Medusa. Those trying to stay afloat are trying to attract the attention of a luxury yacht in the distance. Maybe Banksy’s intention was not to make the painting too ambiguous. Of course because Steve Jobs isn’t on the raft it hasn’t garnered the same headlines but the message is still there. Maybe its time to decide if we’re the ones on the yacht and if we are whether we can do something to help those on the raft?

(photo: Banksy.co.uk)

(photo: Banksy.co.uk)

(photo: banksy.co.uk)

UK SUBS / RAMONAS – Academy, Islington

UK SUBS / RAMONAS, Friday 11th December 2015 at The Academy, Islington, London

With another year of extensive touring and their 26th and final album ‘Ziezo’ well underway tonight felt like something of a end of year Christmas party in their home town of London for the UK Subs. Before they could get started there was time for tonight’s support – the Ramonas –  ‘The UK’s all girl tribute act to the Ramones’.

I don’t really think that line does the Ramonas justice. Of course their entire set consists of Ramones classics save for the inclusion of Motorhead’s own tribute ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S’ but I’m sure they’re more than capable of being just as entertaining if they did their own songs. Being someone who had the pleasure of seeing the Ramones in person I can say they capture everything that made them such a formidable live act so well. Rohnny Ramona does that whole nearly doing the splits thing while hammering her guitar, Cloey Ramona has the long hair and shades look down to a tee and is not afraid to “beat on the brat with a baseball bat” with her assertive performance. Long time bassist Pee Pee Ramona is sadly absent with flu but replacement Donna(?) does a great job on the night. Finally up on the drum riser sits Margy Ramona blasting out the beats, ensuring that the momentum is kept at full throttle, barely pausing between “1,2,3,4’s” from the rest of the band. That’s the key to whole thing. Yes, much of the Ramones early output may be relatively simple but its that relentless energy, that endless line of classic after classic that made their live shows so memorable. The Ramonas understand this, it’s a physically demanding show and not a run through. Brilliant stuff.

Cloey - The Ramonas

Cloey From the Ramonas

The Ramonas

The Ramonas – “1,2,3,4”!

Rohnny from the Ramonas

Rohnny Ramona

The Ramonas Gabba Gabba Hey

The Ramonas – ‘Gabba Gabba Hey”!

I’ve seen the UK Subs more times over the years than I care to mention here. Right now though, with a line up that surely must be the longest serving to date, they are right on the top of their game. Drummer Jamie Oliver is rock solid, delivering a machine gun like beat behind the kit, guitarist Jet plays with a real flourish spinning on the spot whilst Alvin Gibbs kicks up a ferocious and thunderous rhythm while dropping to the floor. With twenty five albums under their belt they have a wealth of material to choose from. Of course much of their catalogue from their Top Of The Pops years such as ‘Stranglehold’ and ‘Tomorrow’s Girls’ is played but more recent offerings like ‘Suicidal Girl’ and ‘Hell Is Other People’ stand up just as well. For getting the crowd moving you can’t beat their first EP – ‘C.I.D’ backed by ‘Live In A Car’ – such memorable tunes. Charlie Harper, a proper punk rock legend if there ever was one, is at the centre of everything. He references the recent outrage in Paris and his love for the city and its people (“may they forever party on”).  Referring to  some sound problems the band are having he jokes that when it all goes wrong on stage it’s normally great out in the audience and vice versa. ‘Warhead’ is, of course, a massive singalong which sees the band joined  by Rohnny Ramona and a Pinhead(!). The band return for an encore wearing a mixed bag of Christmas hats and singing Kevin Bloody Wilson’s ‘Hey Santa Claus’ before they say their goodbyes. It genuinely looks like they’ve left for the night but they have time to come back out again and give us a couple more before its finally all done and dusted and a large amount of very happy people spill out of the venue into the adjacent streets. Roll on album 26 – ‘Ziezo’. Get involved in this historic issue via Pledge Music here.

Charlie Harper, UK Subs

Charlie Harper, UK Subs

Jet, UK Subs

Jet, UK Subs

UK Subs and the Ramonas

Uk Subs – ‘Warhead’ singalong

UK Subs - Charlie Harper

Letting the crowd take over on vocal duties for a bit.

COVERT TO OVERT – PHOTOGRAPHY OF OBEY GIANT BY JON FURLONG

COVERT TO OVERT – an exhibition of Jon Furlong’s photography of Obey Giant at the House Of Vans, London.

With nearly a decade of documenting the work of Shepard Fairey under his belt Californian Jon Furlong’s extended access to one of the most famous artists on the planet has itself finally been documented in a new book – ‘Covert To Overt‘. To support its launch the House of Vans, in the tunnels under Waterloo Station, is currently playing host to a short run exhibition of some of the best images.

Fairey’s work is a favourite subject of many photographers worldwide so the images of his art on the streets are very familiar. Furlong uses both his photographic eye and his unique position to add in unique juxtapositions, viewing angles and high quality captures to ensure his work stands out. What’s really special in these images though are the insights he provides into the creator of Obey Giant’s life. Candid photos of Fairey and the people he’s worked with, partied with and respected show a different side seldom seen. You also get to see him putting up his art, sometimes in precarious situations. It’s these views that make this exhibition and book of Furlong’s photos so much more than just a another street art book.

Free, at the House Of Vans, closes on Sunday 6th December.  Buy Covert to Overt on Amazon.

Jon Furlong Covert to Overt Obey Giant

JON FURLONG – Covert To Overt Photography Of Obey Giant

House Of Vans

Jon Furlong at the House Of Vans

REFUSED at the Electric Ballroom, Camden

REFUSED / FAILURE / MILK TEETH, Wednesday 2nd December at the Electric Ballroom, Camden, London.

Milk Teeth, odd name for a band. There must be a story in there somewhere. I’ve not come across them before but tonight they are playing the biggest gig of their career supporting Los Angeles rock trio Failure and Swedish hardcore punk legends Refused. When they arrive on stage its still quiet in the venue but they instantly hit their stride. Plenty of movement, especially from singer guitarist Josh who spins, jumps, twists and constantly uses the top of the bass drum as a platform for playing and leaping off. Elsewhere bassist Becky provides a thunderous noise as well as lead vocals whilst Chris and Olly provide guitar and drums respectively. Together they kick up a real grungy storm full of hooks and passion. The band are at something of a crossroads right now, playing some of their older songs for the last time before they get dropped to highlight material from their forthcoming ‘Vile Child’ album (29th January 2016, Hopeless Records).

milk teeth band

Josh from Milk Teeth

milk teeth band

Milk Teeth – the band!

milk teeth

Becky from Milk Teeth

Failure occupy the middle slot and seem to have an inordinate amount of equipment for a three piece. Maybe too much for me as they seem rooted to the spot for their entire set. Luckily they have a catalogue of mid paced strong songs with the occasional thrash out. Driven by rock solid drumming and a heavy bass sound they go down well with the crowd but all the same things aren’t really moving down the front. Maybe a large section of the audience is as unfamiliar with their work as me. They may not have connected on the night but a post gig trawl around youtube reveals them as an act worthy of further investigation. I’m left with the impression that I would have enjoyed them a lot more had I been familiar with their songs. My bad.

Failure band

Failure

Failure band

Failure

Refused, however,  are on another level when it comes to stagecraft and entertainment value. The hardcore punk tag they have is a long way away from Sick Of It All let alone The Exploited. Visually they are more like fellow compatriots The Hives but that’s an all too cheap and easy comparison. Singer Dennis Lyxzen is rock’n’roll personified, spinning on the spot, outstretching his arms and throwing and catching his microphone like its on elastic. Dual guitars clash and combine perfectly creating razor sharp riffs and the floor of the Electric Ballroom is bouncing from one side to the other right from the start. Politically Refused have a left of centre bias, it comes across most markedly in well received in-between songs speeches about the Paris attacks, climate change (“There’s no green capitalism” Dennis cries before launching into ‘Servants of Death’) and the taking in of refugees from Syria. There’s some real standout tracks in amongst a consistently strong set that ignores a lot of their earlier more thrashy output. Highlight has to be ‘New Noise’ with its tense build up for the first minute before it explodes into life but for many it’s on a par with the semi radio friendly ‘Liberation Frequency’ – all  quiet stripped down catchy choruses interrupted  with full throttle guitar / screams. Refused tonight are in a class of their own, there’s a lot of happy people at the end as the band bow together and leave the stage (I’m really not used to that!). Got to say that I’m one of them.

Refused punk band

Refused punk band

Refused band

Refused

STONE THE CROWZ – Protest Songs 85 – 86 LP

STONE THE CROWZ – PROTEST SONGS 85 – 86 Clear Vinyl LP and CD, Overground Records – Over148LP. Released 2015

Stone the Crowz - Protest Songs 85 - 86

Stone The Crowz – Protest Songs 85 – 86

Stone The Crowz vocalist Trevor Speed asks at the beginning of ‘Suffer Little Children’ “Sometimes when I’m alone I think I’m the only who thinks this way. Well am I?”. Back in 85/86 when these songs were recorded he was far from alone in his thoughts. Anarcho punk – a fusion of ideas, music, direct action, art and yes, even an anti fashion fashion, was still captivating large swathes of angry and disaffected people both in the UK and abroad. Stone The Crowz arrived when the movement was already on the wane from it’s peak during 1980 to ’84 but its end was never really fully realised and its influence and ideas are still very much with us today. As a result of arriving somewhat late they missed out on a proper dedicated release and instead only appeared on their own demo tapes along with with several tracks on compilations. This beautifully simple package gives them the outing they deserve: a Crass influenced identikit sleeve complete with black line drawings, clear vinyl LP, a CD with all the lyrics reproduced along with band photos and C60 cassette covers.

The first five songs on the record sound wonderfully fresh even after 30 years. They stand up well against the bands that influenced them. Vocally they remind me of Exitstance and musically there are nods to Flux of Pink Indians and Icons of Filth. That’s no bad thing, these were all amongst the best the movement had to offer. Lyrically its standard fare for the time. Killing animals is wrong, religion is wrong and the Police are…well, if you’re reading this you no doubt already know the score. From track 6 onwards the sounds not so clear but still good for the time and you get a sense in amongst all the songs that are on offer here that if the Mortarhate or Crass labels had put out a full release by the band it would have been a stone cold classic of the genre. Stone The Crowz capture the sound of pure rage against the injustice of it all. Guitars are abrasive and urgent, drumming is driving and solid and just as importantly – completely lacking of some of the biscuit tin plodding of other bands of the time. So thirty years on the band get the release they warranted and it turns out its just great – and its not as if the problems discussed here have gone away. Trevor Speed is still far from alone….

JIMMY CAUTY’S MODEL VILLAGE – THE AFTERMATH DISLOCATION PRINCIPLE

Jimmy Cauty’s Model Village – The Aftermath Dislocation Principle ‘New Bedford Rising’. America Street, London SE1. 19th November 2015 – 28th January 2016. 

Covering over one square mile of scale territory Jimmy Cauty’s ‘model village’ attraction depicts a world where only the authorities remain in place having cleansed everyone else. I first saw it in person at Banksy’s Dismaland show in Weston Super Mare where access was open to all to freely walk around it. That quickly changed after some of the tiny figures were stolen and it ended up behind a wire fence. In its new location, underneath the arches in America Street south of the river in London, it’s even harder to view. Now access has been limited to small circular viewing holes cut into the black sheeting that surrounds the work along with a step ladder to provide a more comprehensive aerial view. If this process continues the next time its exhibited we’ll just be issued with a postcard of the landscape outside the event. Oddly though the new viewing arrangements work well. Peering through the small openings restricts your view and cuts out the background clutter of the room. You feel like you are spying down on the scene, perhaps from the window of a tower block. Maybe you survived the cleansing and are watching from your hidden vantage point.

Through the peephole – you can just catch sight of Banksy’s ‘Rude Copper’ image in the window of this tower block.

Cauty has had a long running fixation with the Police – think right back to his work with  the chart topping outfits of The JAM’s, The Timelords and the KLF and their utilisation of Cauty’s American Police car (called Ford Timelord and credited with writing the Timelords songs). Their gatecrashing Brit Awards performance stage set back in ’92 also only featured a solitary flashing blue Police light. (along with the delights of Extreme Noise Terror).  There’s other references here too. Back in the day when he was in the KLF their videos featured extensive model landscapes (3AM eternal) and even graffiti covered miniature trains (Last Train To Trancentral). So this huge landscape can maybe be seen as more of evolution of his ideas – but on a breathtakingly colossal scale. He’s not stopping yet though, there is a whole new part being formed….  

Behind another fence work is underway on new components to further extend the Model Village literally to new heights – New Bedford is under construction.

Another reference to Cauty’s previous musical career – a modern day pyramid rising up.

A gold block being put into place by a crane atop the pyramid.

Another new scene sees masses of Police Officers all at sea.

It has to be said that the new viewing restrictions make taking photos something of a challenge so here’s a few more images from when I saw the whole thing clearly when it was on display at Dismaland.

The model features many individual scenes in its vast landscape

This Wickerman funeral pyre reference was a particular standout.

Black Metal church burning

New Bedford Rising can be viewed in Southwark until 28th January 2016

HECK / POLT HER GEIST / THECITYISOURS at The Horn, St Albans

HECK / POLT HER GEIST / THECITYISOURS Wednesday 11th November at The Horn, St Albans.

I caught Heck earlier in the year, back when they were called Baby Godzilla and before the legal overtures that made them change their name to their current moniker.  Part of what I liked about them, asides from their chaotic but committed performance was the fact that when they finished I didn’t actually have much idea what I’d just witnessed. So a return visit was on the cards and with London swiftly sold out a jaunt to St Albans was my next best bet.

Thecityisours at The Horn, St Albans

The Horn is a decent venue, set up nicely at the back of the pub but putting on gigs consistently enough to have its own PA and lights. TheCityIsOurs are taking the stage as I walk in  and kick off as they mean to go on. Machine gun drum beats, vocals that alternate between the tuneful to screams of rage while the music starts, stops and starts again constantly keeping you on your toes as to just where its headed next. The band sound destined for bigger venues but its a long slog out of here. Still they seem to be enjoying the ride and get the crowd on side.

Up and at ’em – Polt Her Geist

Polt Her Geist – caught in a mosh

Polt Her Geist set up on stage with a TV displaying static stage centre. It’s removed without explanation just as the burgundy clad band take to the boards and start up. In many ways they are similar to the opening act, stop start rhythms, complicated timing sequences, screamed vocals but they also have enough of their own style. With a singer not afraid of going berserk and a rock solid drumbeat the guitarist and bassist thrash out an at times discordant sound. Yet put it all together and it works. A bit of a theme for tonight. When the singer finishes one song crouched on the floor rocking backwards and forwards and repeating one line again and again its done with the kind of attitude and abandonment thats hard to fake.

An unusual shot of Heck, chiefly because it includes all four members roughly in the same space – a pretty uncommon experience as the night would prove.

Heck have a couple of tough acts to follow then – not that it phases them in the least. They start things off with a true cacophony of sound. Mike stands, guitars, even guitarists are all launched into the crowd. It’s instant chaos that only notches up the gears as the band truly hit their stride as second song ‘A Great Idea Bastardised’ arrives. Arms are flailing everywhere, crowds are split and then slam back into each other yet somewhere in the middle of it all are two whirlwinds on the guitar climbing and leaping off everything. Including me at one point as when the singer got bored of playing on top of the bar counter he just put his foot on my shoulder and used it to propel himself forwards back into the crowd. Gear gets left all over the shop – a guitar is just thrust into the arms of a kid who looks astonished to suddenly be part of the band whilst its owner is hoisted above heads by the crowd. Elsewhere parts of the drum kit end up on the dancefloor and another member of the audience is left looking after the mic for long sections of the set. How do they manage to keep it altogether and get through their songs? I can’t tell you but drums and bass keep it moving along and there’s usually at least one of the guitars going. Technical or musical perfection it may not be but entertainment wise its off the scale. Heck take the frenzy that most bands reserve for their final song but apply it to their entire gig. Music as an experience – and no I still don’t have much idea of what I have witnessed by the end – but it sure was fun!

More photos below….

A band called Heck

Heck, lit by halogen lamps they’d set up themselves.

Proper battered that guitar

Monitor or launchpad?

A band whose amps are stuck on notch 11. Cheers Heck!

Find Heck here