Just when you think that it’s all been done, that punk/DIY/independent music can be placed into a nice, neat category alongside comes a ‘happening’ that is inspiring, creative, funny and life-affirming.
I don’t want to say too much about the Membranes and the choir…because if you missed it, well, you really MISSED it.
It was surprising, unexpected, dare I say it, very risky, yet brilliant and funny and original.
This was space rock with a sense of humour. A piece of art and also proof that we humans have an infinity capacity for doing things that inspire other people and bring them joy.
I still have a smile on my face from seeing the Membranes in a big ugly industrial car-park with a modern choir dressed in black who sang in an avant grade style with grins on their faces.
If this is what space is like, if what the future is like…..then sign me up captain.
Some things in life are difficult to think about, you’d prefer they weren’t there, that you could turn your head away.
But life isn’t simple, it isn’t right, it certainly isn’t fair.
It might seem like an odd thing to have at a festival, but it says so much about the punk community that space was given to a heart-breaking conversation between John Robb and the mother of Sophie Lancaster, who was brutally killed for doing nothing wrong. She was killed for ‘being different’.
This can’t have been an easy conversation, so I have a lot of respect for both John Robb and Sophie’s mother for doing it, and being so sensitive.
We’ll put a link up on the site with more information about this tragic case. One of the positive outcomes is that people are being educated about hate crimes. As Sophie’s mother pointed out, as a society we have made great strides towards tackling racism and sexism but it is still easy to slip into lazy ways of thinking, of taking things for granted. How easily we make human beings who we don’t see as ‘being like us’ into OTHERS. And that’s a narrow way of looking at the world, and as Sophie’s death proves, the consequences can be tragic.
A plush theatre in the North West of England. A new band, an audience of punks in a room full of history.
There is a sense of excitement. I certainly don’t know what to expect, except that Dunstan from Chumbawamba is involved.
Naturally, being creatures of habit, we look at the stage……then from behind us comes a voice, through a megaphone, it seems to say: I’m so taciturn I got to answer a question on the radio!
Odd, and it makes me want to know more. It’s good when you don’t get all the answers immediately.
Interrobang are amazing, a beat group for the beaten generation. Sharp suits and talk songs with a great two-piece backing band……this is the true spirit of punk…..vibrant, creative, entertaining and thought-provoking.
The sound contains The surprising elements of Gang of Four and Wire…..even a bit of the intro to Staring at the Rude Boys was smuggled into the mix. They represent a fantastic transition from Chumbawamba….who will never be forgotten in the Dublin DIY community for their brilliant eccentric, and pointed performances most notably in the SFX with Fugazi.
The set ended with a mantra of: I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this any more.
They were promoted, quite rightly, from new band stage last year. Youth Man are a Birmingham three-piece who play fast and furious rock with a mighty girl guitarist who trades vocals with a male vocalist who played bass and wore a Smiths t-shirt…how cool is that!
An absolute highlight of the festival for me. This is what punk rock is all about, unexpected, surprising, energetic and inspiring. They don’t fit neatly into any of the punk rock tribes, and personally that’s one of the reasons they are a favourite new band of mine. They are harder to categorise because they are original.
Their songs were full of tight tension and coruscating release, a bit reminiscent of moments of Sonic Youth but are genuinely genre-defying. Maybe that’s why they feeling like something new stirring in the punk universe…
Celtic punk is alive and well and full of energy…..that makes me realise just long ago I first saw the Pogues opening for the Shillelagh Sisters in Camden’s Irish Centre.
I am old, and that’s OK…..as the t-shirt says: ‘I’m Old But I Got to See All The Good Bands’ well almost most of them.
Matilda’s Scoundrels are a six-piece including mandolin, banjo and accordion. I still think that Celtic Punk brings a great sense of colour and diversity to the punk scene. The singer had a gravelly maritime voice; think Slade’s Noddy Holder after spending a decade on a pirate ship.
The band played sea shanties for the Blackpool rockers and announced a new album coming out on September 8.
If you like the idea of a more grizzled The Men They Couldn’t Hang high on the high seas or shipwrecked off the coast of Newfoundland, the Scoundrels are the band for you.
Sometimes you come across a band that stop you in your tracks and make you go: “how come I didn’t know about them before?’
That’s what I felt watching Brian’s All Gone a rockin’ female three piece. I think they are from Poland…but I could be wrong.
They had great changes in tempo and rhythm, and we’re certainly not indentikit punk. They could appeal to the rockers just as much. They reminded me of Babes in Toyland and L7, and how much those bands brought to the punk scene by injecting a dose of female energy.
Brain’s All Gone have a really solid musical foundation with a strong front-woman who was also a fine bass-player.
Their CDs were sold out, no surprise there, they’ll impress music fans anywhere.
They even took a bow towards the end of their set…..and it was well deserved.
Their lyric, You Seem to Love your Enemies, made me think.
Despite their name these are serious young women, confident and capable despite their singer saying ‘we don’t have anything to say’..that’s ok they let the music do the talking for them.
Another new band to me, a female 4 piece, who reminded me of the Runaways, and that is high praise indeed. They are a hard rocking group with the magic 1960s Motown/soul oooh ooh oohs.
The front woman has a gravelly voice and the classic skinhead style. These are Not just women who can play,these are women who can play really well.
Their songs had great changes of tempo, and they are more hard rock than punk rock, and that demonstrates why punk provided such a boost for rock and roll.
Kenneths were new to me but they had a great backdrop…their name in blocks, that also made for a great patch.
They are a young 3 piece, with a female drummer/co-vocalist and a singer with the classic low slung guitar. The bass player would have fit right in with early Corrosion of Conformity. So there’s lots to like there.
Their songs veered towards the Ramones-y heartbreak pop lyrics, one outstanding example is their song, I don’t want to go out with you, which might be my favourite Kenneths’ song. With lyrics and sentiments like All Cried Out they proved that introspective, even plaintiff lyrics, can be paired with a grinding sound to make a great impact. Viva the punk contrast.
This was one of the most interesting and illuminating chats about entrepreneurship I have heard in a long time.
Two young people who loved music, style, culture and having fun opened a club, The Roxy, that four 100 days provided an outlet for the emerging London punk movement.
Both Andrew and Susan had fascinating stories to tell, about managing/nurturing/being around the Damned, Chelsea and Generation X.
The club itself sounded like a typical toilet venue that most people would avoid, yet in this case it hosted the likes of the Clash and the Heartbreakers and launched thousands, perhaps millions, of dreams.
I had a brief chat with both Andrew and Susan afterward and they were incredibly nice. They stressed the idea that you should follow your heart in your early career, do things you enjoy, work with people you find interesting, and always be open to opportunities.
They have recently published a couple of books about those 100 gigs, one is a collection of evocative photos and one provides details (and for me, inspiration) of the early DIY spirit that launched punk into the public consciousness.
It was also a good reminder of the Irish presence in that early punk movement…..the band Chelsea’s lead singer Gene October was originally one Gene O’Hara….and one of their early gigs was billed as ‘The O’Haras’.