Archive

Archive for January, 2012

The Misplaced Metalhead Volume Five

January 13, 2012 Leave a comment

KneeDeep Present

Promoter: KneeDeep Clothing

Date: Thursday 12th January 2012

Venue: The Railway, Winchester

Bands: Blood of the Spectre, House Fires, As Gods, Bloodworks, Eyes Like Knives

Okay so people who actually follow my blog (that’s all one and a half of you) and people who like my reviews (just me) do seem to be treated nowadays with the amount of gigs I’m going to and blogs I’m writing. Starting to become a regualr thing isn’t it? Anyway this has got nothing to do with the review, I just usually say something at the start of these and find myself without anything to say this time round. Nevertheless I’d like to start by saying thank you to anybody who is actually reading these and I hope to see you at the next gig with any of the bands who I’ve recommended.

Opening act Eyes Like Knives started out in promising form to the meagre crowd in The Railway, launching ahead with their opening number promising a ferocity which set the bar pretty high for the rest of the night. Best described as a sonic assault, the combiend efforts of vocalist/guitarist Lewis Lennane-Emm, guitarist Chris Sanderson, bassist Joe Paine and drummer Dan Dibben were impressive to both listen to and watch. The three standing members flew around the stage with a reckless abandon truly befitting a youthful band in this genre and really set the gig off at fever pace. That said, the heavy bass and drum lines did have a tendancy to overpower the mix, leading to a lot of fretwork on the part of Sanderson to be lost and completely drowning any attempts at clean vocals by Lennane-Emm (which, to be honest, seemed a little out of place anyway). Nevertheless the band did offer some great banter with the crowd to get them in the mood and even launched into a minute long jazz fuelled intro to one of their songs halfway through the set, adding a great flare of unexpected variety calling everybody to wake up and take notice.

All in all Eyes Like Knives are a great no-frills metalcore band giving you everything you need from the genre and not trying to be something they’re not, although I wouldn’t be surprised to watch them bust out something unexpectedly epic sometime soon.

Following Eyes Like Knives in the third support slot (a spot they deserve to be much higher than, frankly) stepped up the band I had come to see – Bloodworks. You may remember from the first Volume of Misplaced Metalhead that I saw Bloodworks back in October 2011 as part of the first Mosh! night in the opening slot and was highly complimentary. I am very happy to say that the young lads do not disappoint this time round and have come back with even more vigour than before. For a band so young (I don’t think any of the members are over 18) Bloodworks has a phenomenal amount of talent. The fretwork by guitarists Kieran and Lewis and bassist Turk moved at breakneck speeds dazzling to behold and was held together deftly by the thunderous beats laid down by drummer Liam. Inventive tapping by both Lewis and Turk and the powerful screams of Kieran punctuated the best things about this band, their sheer talent and aggression.

Just like my last review, I have to look very very closely to find any fault with these guys and to be honest, I cannot find any as such. Personally, I think the band could benefit from a bit of clean vocals from Kieran to provide some variety to the show and hit some different emotion but it’s not something they need at all. The out and out fury is something to behold. All I can say is I sincerely hope they get all of the attention their talents deserve and, if you haven’t already, watch this fucking band.

Seemingly echoing my thoughts for a touch of variety in the gig came the next support slot filled by As Gods. Unlike most of the bands I’ve seen at this venue, As Gods take their focus away from being harder and fast than anybody else and have a much more restrained and considered approach to the metal genre. Clean vocals provided by vocalist and consumate frontman Howard Ridgeon were perfectly pitched and emotionally effective, framed perfectly by the rest of the band. If anything its a bit of a shame that Ridgeon is so perfectly fitted into his role as frontman as the rest of the band do have a tendancy to fade away as a result but fortunately they have the talent to come back kicking, especially in heavier songs proving that this is a band which can’t be put in a box too easily. The rhythm was kept solid by bassist Sam Smith and drummer Elliot Ridgeon and paved the way for some tight guitar work from Fred Spooner and Jonny Price.

Soft, heavy, hard, fast, relaxed, soulful, furious. This is a band which can do a lot and, as long as you’re not an antisocial ‘heavy as fuck or fuck all’ wanker you’ll probably love them.

We were supposed to see Blood of the Spectre next by billed headliners The Valiant couldn’t make the gig (no idea why) so B.O.T.S got promoted to headliner and their place was filled by Pompey psychopaths Housefires. Psychopaths Nick? Bit harsh. No it’s not, its a perfectly reasonable observation given the way the band took to the stage. I’ve seen a lot of physical bands during my 3 years coming to The Railway but none have been quite as insane as Housfires. Vocalist Callis and bassist Jimmy made the floor their bitch, jumping around audience members, using the lead from the mic to lassoo them in closer, even dragging the monitor off the stage to better hear themselves as they brought carngae to the people of Winchester. As a soundtrack to this onslaught  guitarists Joe and Ollie and drummer Nate tore through the set like a bullet train on speed, providing additional vocals here and there whilst Callis was too busy trying to tear the fucking walls down. I’ll be honest I didn’t pay too much attention to the music, was a little busy moshing and trying to not headbutt Jimmy’s bass as he careened around the crowd.

Musically there wasn’t a lot to differentiate these guys from their contemporaries but its in the sheer energy of their show that they won me over. Brutal, intense and exhillirating. Even when Jimmy’s bass quit on him he took the initiative. He started a (small) pit, he pushed over pieces of the drumkit, he wrestled Callis to the floor. If anything it was the crowd who let these guys down, if they could get a bunch of metalheads as mental as they were in the crowd then that’d be a gig worth surviving.

Finishing up the night, promoted from their billed status as lead support, came headliners Blood of the Spectre. I’d heard the name a couple of times before back in the days when gigs were a lot harder to afford and my life was busier, making getting to them difficult. So, as I’m sure you can guess, I was looking forward to hearing what they had to offer. B.O.T.S. are an impressive band to listen to and offer an extreme and frantic brutality in their brand of metal. I’m sorry to say though that, apart from this, not a lot else was offered by these headliners. The bar had been set fucking high by the other bands tonight, even the relatively unassuming opener gave some impressive licks and shockers to add to the mix of variety, but B.O.T.S. fired off an ear assaulting metal behemoth with very little to differentiate from other bands. Vocalist Nick Brooks tried his hardest to get the audience involved but following the insane antics of Housefires was a mountain to climb and not a challenge I would wish on anybody. In any other circumstances I’m sure these guys would’ve been amazing and you can see that they have what it takes to develop into something incredible but they were up against some very promising up and coming talent tonight and, if I’m honest, could’ve been eclipsed by it.

I’m really sorry, I hate giving bad reviews, especially for headliners, B.O.T.S. were a great brutal band offering an intense and punishing sound for any hardcore or thrash fan out there, I just couldn’t help but think that the gig peaked a little earlier in the evening.

Look out for the supports guys, because they’re the ones that are going to surprise you and, if you’re lucky, you could be saying you saw them before it all went global.

Summing Up

Eyes Like Knives: 7/10
Bloodworks: 8/10
As Gods: 8/10
Housefires: 8/10
Blood of the Spectre: 5/10

Advertisements

Reflections in The Black Mirror

January 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Something different from a gig review this time round (although will have another one of those up very soon) I’ve instead decided to take a philosophical and personal response to Charlie Brooker’s recent 3 part TV ‘drama’ Black Mirror.

For those of you unaware, Black Mirror was a series of 3 stand alone dramas created by cynical favourite Charlie Brooker showcasing stories as a response to contemporary issues. More specifically the series addresses technophobia, the connected community and the consequences of our actions and the cyber world we have created. Each episode appeared in a different world with different locations, characters, plotlines and one common factor: Each set of events, whilst often incorporating fantastic elements, was very very close to home and a chilling portrayal of what could be if we are not careful.

So that’s the introduction done, I should warn you that, rom now on, there’s going to be some SPOILERS…

Episode One: The National Anthem
Written by: Charlie Brooker
Directed by: Otto Bathurst

Of the three dramas, The National Anthem is the one which is closest to inhabiting ‘the real world’ as it the the only one not including some form of technology which the world does not currently possess; whilst the subsequent two dramas take place in bleak futures, The National Anthem is firmly entrenched in the present day.

The story follows Prime Minister Michael Callow (Rory Kinnear) as he is plunged into a hostage situation revolving around the kidnapping of the much loved Princess Susannah (Lydia Wilson). The kidnapper makes his demands throught the princess in the opening scenes and Callow faces a dilemma no leader in history has ever gone through: Allow the people’s beloved princess to be murdered or, in front of cameras transmitting to every television in the country, have unsimulated and uncensored sexual intercourse with a pig.

The first time you hear this your mind can’t help but laugh a little. Sex with a pig? I thought this was a drama. The sheer grotesquery of it does make the concept somewhat laughable and indeed Callow does react in a similar way, insisting to his colleagues that it must be a joke until they look back at him with stern faces. It’s all true, Susannah is missing and, to make matters worse, the ransom video is not a personal delivery but rather a direct upload to youtube where it can be seen by the entire discerning public.

What follows is an hour long thrillride where it’s difficult to take your eyes of the screen. Surely it’s a joke, surely it can’t happen. They’ll get her out. At each turn the government is greeted by a kidnapper who is one step ahead of them and when an attempted double-cross (involving a porn star and some technical wizardry) by Callow’s aides without his knowledge goes wrong a package is delivered and a new video is uploaded. Princess Susannah has painfully lost a finger and the package is proof of this.

Of course the frantic race against time for Callow and his associates is the main plotline in this episode but interspersed we have the pervasive and insidious news media, the onlooking public and the ever present watching a judging eye of social networking at first ensuring Callow’s non compliance would be met with understanding but, after the finger, it is clear that such an act would be seen by the public as betrayal at least and murder at most. This is where the dramatic crux of the story lies; there is no privacy and no hiding for people in the public eye. Not while Twitter is watching. The world’s largest focus group judging you on your every decision, whether you’re the one who made them or not.

The final moments of this hour long drama are painful to watch as, out of options, Callow enters a room with two cameras, televisions displaying pornographic aides…and a pig on a chain, enjoying a nice meal in blissful ignorance.  The public who you have been watching and who have been watching the whole time tune in gleefully, the rooms dripping with schaudenfreude but the smiles are soon wiped off their faces as it dawns on them what they are seeing, what they have become, what a man has been reduced to. Possibly the most soul shatteringly bleak line in television history is uttered in this scene as one man refuses to switch it off and a colleague queasily responds: “it’s been going for nearly an hour”.

This episode is a joke, an hour long joke without a punchline – just a punch. That’s the best way I can describe it. Out of context fucking a pig sounds funny but when you deconstruct it, pull apart the consequences and actually watch it happening the reality is horrifying. Its an exaggeration and a metaphor admittedly, but this is what we are desensitising ourselves to. The rich and famous are often hanging on public approval and with information travelling as fast as it does the public’s opinion of you can change in a heartbeat until eventually you do things you had not even dreamed of doing. This episode does not ask you to relate to Callow, although you do feel his pain as he sobs through the thrusts of his duty, but to see yourself in the public consciousness and no that all it would take to make this situationa reality is one man trying to make a statement. Youtube, Facebook and Twitter exist alongside a dozen others. If he’s out there he has his platform.

Episode Two: Fifteen Million Merits
Written by: Charlie Brooker and Kanak Huq
Directed by: Euros Lyn

If you needed proof that these dramas don’t relate just look at the difference between this and The National Anthem. We’re not in the present anymore but rather in a future world where people live their whole lives exposed to adverts, games, television and activities spurred on by the aquisition of ‘merits’, the world’s equivalent of currency. Merits are aquired by cycling, constantly, day after day just to accumulate so that you can afford to eat, add features and costumes to your online doppel (a clear parallel to the Nintendo Mii) and, if you dare to do so, skip the adverts.

The opening minutes of this episode take a much more considered and slow approach to establishing this world as we observe protagonist Bing (Daniel Kaluuya) going through his mundane day to day activities, using his vast stockpile of 15,000,000 merits to skip the various porn adverts and cycling to a calm countryside instead of the game show humiliating the overweight like the arsehole on the bike next to him. Bing barely speaks for most of the opening of this episodes and seems ironically detached from the interconnected world around him constantly bombarding all its inhabitants with excess, degredation and the promise of a better life through X Factor styled talent show ‘Hot Shot’.

Of course, much like everything else in this world, Bing is disinterested when it comes to Hot Shot. That is until he meets fellow cyclist Abi (Jessica Brown Findlay) singing in the toilets. Her voice is amazing, touching and beautiful and, desperate to find something real in this synthetic world, Bing volunteers to get her on the show for a chance to escape, even if it does mean sacrificing the 15 million merits he inherited from a deceased relative. Abi sings for Judges Hope (a brilliant Rupert Everett) Charity (Julia Davis) and, head of the porn industry, Wraith (Ashley Thomas). The judges are impressed but it’s not what they’re looking for until Wraith pipes up saying he might have a job for her. Under the influence of ‘Cuppliance’ (a drink given before the show) Abi cannot hear Bing’s screams of protest as he is dragged away and agrees to be one of the Wraith babes and her new life begins.

Up until this point we’ve been shown the mundane and familiar side of our present culture of distraction and celebrity and visual parallels to break out of our own jobs cycling towards nothing. This is where Fifteen Million Merits turns on its head and shows the dark side that, secretly, everybody knows about but straight up doesn’t want to admit to. In an attempt to have some lasting fame (admittedly under the influence of a drug, helpful visual metaphor as it is) Abi has literally had to prostitute herself and Bing is left broke and alone.

He carries on his life as normal except now he doesn’t have the merits to skip the constant advertising, not even when that advertising is a painful reminder in the form of Abi’s face all over his walls degraded as a Wraith Babe. He attempts to skip, he can’t. He turns away, the screen follows. He closes his eyes, the walls go red and a noise proclaims that he cannot see it, refusing him access to anything beyond his room until he complies. This is the horror of aquisition culture. Watch it. Don’t stop watching. Never stop watching. Nobody is allowed a single moment to themselves ever, god forbid anybody should ever be allowed to think freely when there’s work to be done and celebrities to be worshipped. Bing’s personal torture is so horrific that he literally draws blood as he attempts to smash his way out of this prison cell, succeeding only in breaking off a shard of glass.

Eventually Bing amounts enough merits, through starving himself and cowering through every Wraith Babes advert, to appear on Hot Shot and uses the opportunity to get his message across. With the shard of glass to his throat he makes a passionate speech about how the shows has ruined everything true and pure. Of course the judges take a moment to process this but eventually Hope responds with a statement which resonates through to our world and their’s.

Guess what, everybody knows this. Everybody feels like this, the thing is that nobody actually cares. People don’t  care as long as they can get what they want and watch something so that they don’t have to think. I didn’t really know how to take the ending of this episode (And to be honest I still don’t) as Bing makes his speeches about the state of the world through a channel to the people as they buy his glass shard as a doppel accessory. Even something like this can be packaged and sold. It’s bleak as fuck. People lap it up pretending that it means something to them and they care whilst still watching humiliating game shows (let’s face it, X Factor viewing figures plummet after the first couple of weeks when the freak shows have left) and souping up their synthetic online prescence. People are vicarious animals lapping up the misforunte of others and constantly dreaming of a different life no matter what it costs, whether it be money, dignity or a dear friend sacrificed to the sex industry as a stepping stone. Maybe that’s why I didn’t know how to take the ending, because after all the sweet feeling and real emotion of the opening to this episode, all the shit turns out to be all too real.

Episode Three: The Entire History of You
Written by: Jesse Armstrong
Directed by: Brian Welsh

Of the three episodes, The Entire History of You was the one I found easiest to relate to. It is set in a world not to far removed from our own and addresses the issues of ‘regular’ people, setting it away from the futuristic dystopia of the second episode or the political thriller of the first. Following young lawyer, husband and father Liam Foxwell (Tom Cullen), the episode traces a series of events which tear his life to shreds as he slowly becomes a slave of the world’s favourite technology: ‘The Grain’.

In short, ‘grains’ exist as tiny little pods in the brain (hence their name) and act as a personal mix of Sky+ and Facebook, recording and cataloguing everything a person sees or does to be viewed later (known as a ‘redo’) complete with cataloguing of places and people and wireless technology so that redos can be viewed on screens by groups. Now of course we’ve pretty much all engaged in a spot of reminiscing on Facebook or, in our lonelier moments, a touch of Facebook stalking, but imagine if the information available wasn’t just shoddily posed drunken photos on a night out or wall posts between friends but rather every single look, every single intonation, every single gesture or every single change in posture. Combine these things together with the jealous mind of Liam and you have this portrait of a man going insane, you have The Entire History of You.

This is a much more self contained story than the others and follows Liam’s relationship with his wife Ffion (Jodie Whittaker) following the appearance of an old friend Jonas (Toby Kebbell). At a dinner Liam is introduced to Jonas and, as the evening progresses, becomes increasingly paranoid about how Ffion seems to react to him. The looks, the smiles, even a laugh at an unfunny joke as Jonas candidly recounts his sexual endeavours, commenting that it’s perfectly natural to masturbate to a redo of a previous fling.

Returning home Liam questions Ffion about Jonas and she admits they had a fling for a week whilst on holiday. Liam keeps digging and soon the week becomes a month and, before long, six months. As Ffion gets more and more uncomfortable Liam is forced to apologise for his jealousy and the two reconcile by having sex. Well, I say they reconcile, they definitely have sex but both lie there in the spooning position, cold and emotionless with eyes wide open as they engage in personal redoes of earlier, more passionate sex. This is one of the most disturbing images I have ever seen on TV and made everybody in the room who was watching with me make an audible noise of discomfort. The eyes open were creepy, but the underlying meaning and (sorry to say) familiarity for most of us was what really dug the knife in.

Of course Liam, as a bit of a jealous prick, is not satisfied with Ffion’s apologies and spends the rest of his night watching redoes and necking whiskey, focussing particularly on Jonas’ claims of masturbatory aids. It slowly dawns that Ffion could be one of them and, as a sane and rational human being, Liam decides to drive to Jonas’ pissed. He arrives, slurs drunkenly and confronts Jonas, a confrontation culminating in him pinning Jonas to the floor and making him delete the grain files of Ffion on the screen so that he’s sure it is done.

The next we see of Liam he has driven his car into a tree and a hazily goes over what he did through redoes. At first he is quite rightly horrified at his behaviour but notices a detail which gets his blood boiling again. In Jonas’ memories of Ffion on the screen, ready to delete, was an entry for 18 months previously, in his house, around the time his daughter was conceived.

Again, we are treated to an angry exchange between Liam and Ffion as he questions whether or not he is the father of his own child. Ffion insists he is, the memory took place the last time he stormed out in a jealous rage (of course), they did have sex but it was only once and she made sure he used a condom, or at least he said he did. Liam is unwilling to believe her and demands to see the redo. There is lots of shouting and the scene cuts out.

We don’t know if Liam’s the father or how the argument ends because the closing scenes depict Liam alone, wandering his empty house tortured by happy memories in each room. Not wanting them anymore, Liam looks in the mirror and uses a razor to messily cut out his grain. We are told this could potentially kill him if not done properly. Again, the outcome is left obscure.

The chilling thing about this episode was the sheer reality of it. These are all human conditions, human arguments and very human responses. The grains only make matters worse, compounding fears and jealousies that everybody has the potential to feel. Liam was right to not trust Jonas, clearly, but pursuing it in the way he did ruined his life. If you’ve ever used Facebook to check out your partner’s history, stalk an old flame, the one that got away or the one that never was then you know exactly the sort of emotions this process can bring up. You know how it can make you feel and, given a bottle of whiskey and the directions to some guys house, how different would you do things?

Reflections

I’ve missed out a lot of the subplots and supporting characters for these episodes so that you have something to take in should you decide to watch them. I personally think they were all brilliant. The National Anthem stopped your heart with tension and dread, Fifteen Million Merits broke your heart as you saw the people you cared about whore and sell themselves out for fame and The Entire History of You ripped your heart out and trod on it as The Black Mirror reared itself up and showed you exactly who you’d been watching this whole time.

As I said each episode comes with its disturbing and horrifying scenes, whether they be conceptual ones like sex to a memory, emotional ones like never being alone or free from painful memories or straight up pig fucking. The pervasive chord that resonates through each episode, regardless of their reality, is just how much of yourself you can see in it. Judging from your twitter account, laughing at the freaks of X-Factor and keeping an eye on the ones you love through Facebook. This is The Black Mirror, the screen of the smartphone.

Look into it and see yourself.

The Misplaced Metalhead Volume Four

January 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Mike Webster Presents…

Promoter: Mike Webster

Date: Saturday 7th January 2012

Venue: The Railway, Winchester

Bands: Near4saken, Jenna’s Revenge, Hancock, Crash Mansion, Lost Cause Cowboys

I should start this by contextualising how I felt going into this gig. Ordinarily Saturday gigs are a bit of a trek for me. I finish work at 5.30, come home, get some dinner and then head out to get to (usually) The Railway for around 8pm. This time around was much the same, except my body was running on 2 hours of sleep from the night before. I thought to myself I could not go but then I had a different thought. There are guys out there in their 60s who manage to rock the fuck out night after night on world tours and I’m sitting here, a guy who’s not long hit 21, thinking 1 day of work and a rough night’s sleep could stop me? Fuck that. If you’ve got an ounce of rock and roll spirit in you then live music is the polestar of life the universe and everything and skipping it or missing out for most of the bullshit busy, tired or too far away excuses is a huge pile of fucking crap. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the review, just some shit I wanted to get off my chest. On with the review.

It was a weird sensation standing in The Railway as Lost Cause Cowboys were setting up. I took a quick look around the room and realised that, with a few exceptions, I was the youngest person in the room…by some way. Ordinarily nowadays I’m a bit older than a lot of the crowd (in fact, sometimes the band too) but once the band began playing I started to get it. Less of a band and more of a collection of musicians entering and exiting the stage, Lost Cause Cowboys’ set was powered on by the southern bluesy drawl of frontman Rich and put me firmly in the mind of that quintessentially blues powerhouse that we know and love as Tom Waits. This music was old school and speaking as a firm metalhead I fucking loved it. When you think about it metal is the next step on from hard rock, it came from it, and if you keep going back hard rock goes to rock and roll, rock and roll goes to jazz and jazz goes to the blues – that awesomely soulful tune grooving its way from the history of New Orleans and finding itself in this little pub in Winchester.

As previously mentioned this gig dripped with the essence of Tom Waits and it turned out I was right on the mark as, just round the corner was a Waits cover which was nothing short of fucking awesome. Rich could quite easily have been an acoustic soloist with his talent but I’m glad he hadn’t taken that route as the band brought a richness and diversity to the sound almost impossible to achieve with one man and his guitar. Backing vocalist Jess has a voice which compliments and opposes Rich’s growl in a soulfully brilliant way and guitar/bassist Jonesy kept the groove coming with assurance and some quality playing. There were also two guys not listed on their myspace (one possibly by the name of Jay) one of whom played some epic south styled guitar solos in the finale and another who rocked the fuck out on the harmonica with an awesomeness that only the harmonica can bestow. Despite the beautiful understatedness of Lost Cause Cowboys these guys rocked, hard, and any misgivings I had about the possibilities of the acoustic genre were gone.

Also Rich wore a top hat. I don’t care who you are or waht you think, top hats are fucking awesome.

Second support Crash Mansion had some big shoes to fill following the opener and, I have to admit, when they arrived onstage I didn’t really want to like them. Vocalist Izzy Jackson and guitarist Sammy Scarlett had that sort of Motley Crue look about them that was really fucking edgy and awesome in the 80s and nowadays can be seen donned by the likes of Steel Panther as they knowingly mock some of the more outlandish aspect of the rock and metal scene. Conversely bassist LJ Hardwood and drummer Kitt looked like the sort of rockers more familiar to my side of the metal gene pool, down to earth and playing out of their garage, so this did add to my initial apprehension as I felt like I was looking at two seperate bands – the cocky show offs of a bygone age and the ‘I don’t give a fucks’ of metal’s new resurgence.

I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to the boys of Crash Mansion because I had a preconception which was not lived up to. It’s quite rare you come across a band as tight as these guys were with Scarlett’s fretwork so intense it was like the guy was on fire. All the cockiness which radiated from Scarlett and Jackson as they entered the stage was thoroughly earned. Not to say the rhythm section wasn’t without merit, whilst a little invisible in terms of stage prescence the bassist did keep the rhythm furious and the drummer was like a gift from the gods with his maelstrom of playing talent thundering the set along with flourishes of syncopated bliss.

So that was Crash Mansion, maybe a little cocky and glittery on the top but underneath there’s some real fucking gems in there.

I’d like to apologise in advance because I might get a little negative and divisive in this next bit because we’re talking about a punk band. Now punk, for me, is a pretty self defeating and limited genre. The patterns are simple and brash, it’s short, sharp and over before you can blink so room for innovation and individuality is limited. Back in the 70s and 80s when punk was the latest fuck you to the bourgeoisie the excitement from the genre tearing across the scene must have been palpable but, to me, not that many bands have found a way to move their style on from 30 or 40 years ago. I’m sorry to say third support Hancock were one of these bands. Guitar, bass and drums. Chord 1, chord 2, chord 3. Drumming Bm Tsch Bm Bm Smash. End of song. This pattern went on for each song for the whole set. It’s not that these guys couldn’t play, they really could, but rather that I just felt the whole thing had been done over and over again. It wasn’t until about halfway through the set that I realised I had actually seen these guys before, what does that tell you?

I don’t want to go on anymore because I hate being negative about any band. If you love punk go and see these guys, they tick all the boxes, they rock hard and you’ll have a great time watching them. You really don’t have to agree with me or find my opinions valid in any way, I’m just some shithead with a Macbook.

Again there’s a possibility I’ll be a tad biased in this next section but this time from the flipside of the coin. Jenna’s Revenge were the reason I was at this gig. I saw them at Joiners back in December 2010 and, despite having a pretty serious cold, loved being there to hear their stuff. I recently rediscovered the band and, having found in my absence that vocalist Sic had left and then rejoined, also found their name at this gig. Turns out that in that year long span the band had not lost any of their hard rock credentials. Billed on their Twitter as ‘simply bloody good balls out rock music’ this is probably the simple addage that best defines the band’s sound. There is no pretention with Jenna’s Revenge, no showboating, no frills. They are the stripped down essence of hard rock. Even the frontman’s powerful and commanding prescence was chopped down to human proportions with a one song sat on the side of the stage because he was, in his own words, a ‘tired old man’. On top of this skeleton of rock came the fact that all four of the band’s elements came together with their own individual voice. Gritty and harsh vocals from Sic, insanely co-ordinated fretwork from guitarist Craig Farley, poundingly fierce drum beats from Greg Dailey and, possibly most impressive, the funky, groovy slap and finger bass playing from the self titled ‘Super Nice Brad Ice’. It’s so tempting in bands to sideline one of the rhythm parts in favour of the more central guitar or vocal parts but when a band genuinely does give its dues to these parts the payoff is infinite.

The different songs on display by Jenna’s Revenge displayed an impressive range and, although I did spend close to the whole gig moshing, I could feel every note, every beat, every pop and every growl firing off that stage knowing that I was witnessing a truly great down to earth rock band. Part of me just wishes they’d played some songs from the last gig of their’s I saw – I would’ve loved to sing along to ‘Years’.

Now one thing I definitely remember about the last gig with Jenna’s Revenge was how much the lead support managed to eclipse the headliners (not naming any name) and I’m a little sorry to say that it was kinda the case this time as well. Near4saken started their gig with a very promising edge. Bringing out style reminiscent of the skater rock genre of the 90s, this band thundered through their first song bringing out some impressively different licks alongside the ordinarily tired and dated genre. Following this initial foray into reinvigorating the sound of the 90s Near4saken went through the rest of their gig cherry picking aspects and styles from across the more mainstream alternative (I know it’s a shit definition but it’s really a difficult thing to describe) blending in alternative, hard rock, skater, soft rock alongside a combination of brash music against more somber and introspective content. Musically this band were good, they had a lot of shit going for them in terms of their talent but there was just one thing letting them down – their performance.

It may have just been because the lack of sleep and long soul-destroying day at work were catching up with me but it never really felt like these guys were performing these songs – just playing them.  From the guitarist’s onstage move of left foot forward right foot back through the statuesque bassist to the look of pain/boredom on the drummer’s face I kept thinking to myself that this shit would be exactly the same on an album. It pissed me off if anything because, like I said, musically these guys blended so much stuff together that it felt like they had the talent to do something amazing, maybe that in of itself left it a little directionless, not a lot stylistically to cling onto. I don’t know, something wasn’t right, and without performance behind it the whatever-it-was really stuck out. I mean come on, it’s live. Fucking live it.

Like I said before these guys are very talented and I was a very very tired man by this point with a mind constantly forcing images of his bed into view like a girlfriend with a headache at a house party, begging you to go home. Maybe I haven’t given them them the justice they deserve. I’d recommend seeing them live to make your own opinions on what their style is and how awesome you think they are, something I believe about any of the bands here. Regardless of my opinions getting this far and performing live is still an achievement and without people to see them none of these bands, good or bad, would survive. Go see them, find your favourites, give them your love and just maybe you could be seeing the next Metallica.

Just please, for the rest of us, don’t go and see the next Brokencyde.

Summing Up:

Lost Cause Cowboy: 9/10
Crash Mansion: 8/10
Hancock: 4/10
Jenna’s Revenge: 9/10
Near4saken: 6/10