STILL AMAZED BY THE TALENT BUT DEPRESSED BY THE DROSS
Personally the punk scene this year has been a real pleasure for me with the odd problematic pain being over-ridden by the joys of seeing some awesome talent. I still get that youthful buzz from making the effort to go and see new bands and coming away totally and utterly impressed. As I did thirty odd years ago I still buy CD's just on a whim - regardless of never having heard the band. Its great to just take a chance and see what you come up with - and believe me nine times out of ten its a real good do.
Sadly this is not the mentality of the current scene as my attempt to release a CD of 'less obvious' bands highlighted. True I shifted all I had but the amount of times I was met with 'Nah never heard of them' or 'How much? Sorry I don't think so' was amazing. £3 for 18 tracks of underdog punk - aaaaggghhh! The CD was pushed like buggery and in truth it was a struggle to sell them. The reviews I did get were all positive, the quality excellent and the £3 price tag a real bargain - but still the indifference! The response via the internet was dross and virtually all sales were done face to face with emphasis on blackmail ha, ha. Never mind - I enjoyed compiling it and feel as though a small point was made.
The free music available on-line has a lot to answer for!
Anyway back to it!
The month of January gave me viewings of two bands that I immediately became a fan of - namely the almighty Shadowcops, a young band seemingly drugged on rattling power chords and concrete riffage and Faintest Idea - a solid unit blending ska and retro punk with admirable ease.
February was a real choice month with quality performances from The Day Man Lost (as always), Fuckawe Tribe, and all bands on the 2 SAS gigs during this month. The one on the 11th at Joshua Brookes in Manchester was a dire turn out and turned into a crazed piss-up with Steve Scab all over the place, but the Lancaster gig on the 24th was a more sober affair with bands on best behaviour. One of the best gigs of the month was at The Royal Oak in Poulton Le Fylde, near Blackpool were the stunning Epoxies lasered through a classic and had superb support from Riot Squad, Pink Hearse and Senton Bombs.
Early March saw an SAS cracker at The Exchange in Bradford where Most Likely To Fail and Flat Back Four shone bright from a day where all bands played out of their skin. The re-vamped Boredom (now with an AD tag) were top notch and led by crazed spoon Bri Barnes, the quintessential punk rock prostitute. Sadly, a change of management at The Exchange led to this being one of the last gigs at this hit and miss venue. Sense of Urgency caught my eye at the always quality Ska bar in Manchester at the months end.
April saw myself and Ageless Chaps do a joint gig with The Subhumans headlining. Rammed to the rafters it was a classic with support bands doing the business too. Another SAS jolly was held in Retford were myself and Tim 'Punk4Life' Davies went down by train via a piss-up in Sheffield. Totally off our heads the gig went fine but again a shite turn-out wasn't what the bands or the now defunct venue deserved.
May and June were quiet affairs with overseas bands taking main accolades. Fucked Up were superb at the Star and Garter and The Objex were just total quality at Bradford Gasworks and Grand Central in Manchester. In fact I would be really tested to find a better band all year of this ilk as the music really had a bouyant buzz to it.
The high in July was a massive piss-up in Bolton where The Alma Inn hosted hardcore maniacs Mafafi. A real riot this with myself and several others rolling around on a beer soaked floor covered in glass. Most Likely To Fail, Flat Back Four and The Bastrad Son Of Charlie Brown provided great support. The Clorox Girls and The Feelers from across the pond were also noteworthy acts viewed this month.
August was a void month with mothing and butterflying and trips across the country taking precedence.
The month of September will be regarded as a minor success by me as I set about putting together a 3 day SAS festival which I pulled off and ran as smooth as butter with all bands really doing myself and themselves proud. The crowd was up and down as can be expected by the long duration but for me it was a pure joy. Some of the bands I had been working with were really put under the spotlight here and they came up trumps. First Time Riot, Asezawallas, Sounds of Swami, the classic duo of Flat Back Four and Most Likely To Fail (again), plus in fact everyone else, all did their bit to make this a minor classic and a small but worthy statement about how good the underdog scene really is. An unforgettable 3 days. Pity the month was blemished by a real dud SAS fest at Poulton-Le-Fylde - an apparent stronghold of punk support. Of course only when its a top band or a gig to be seen at I later realised do the punters turn-out at this fine venue. £3 for 10 bands and a turn-out of 10 paying punters. The bands played great and the day besides the absence of people was enjoyed by all. As well as this The Lurkers I put on at Bradford played a stormer with rock solid supporting performances from MLTF, FBF and the X-Rippers but alas another shite appearance by the punters. Aagghhh!
November and October seemed to whizz past and a few new bands were noted with John Player Specials, Buzzkill and D'Corner Bois exceptional.
And so into December and with another punking year nearly done I decided to pay my respects to The Uk Subs on the first at the Club Academy in Manchester. I hadn't seen them at all this year (now that must be a first) and thought the original line-up would be worth a viewing - and indeed it was. On the 2nd Thats Not Skanking put on a cracking night at Joshua Brookes in Manchester with Buzzkill and The Computers playing class sets and Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man getting back to their rockin' self. The Fractions as well opened in fine style with a consistency they had been showing all year.
The Gasworks gave me the chance to put on a 6 band Christmas bash with the quality on show wasted on an average turn-out. The Scabs played their best set to date which was good to see and Holy Racket and The Jesters were quite superb.
A few more gigs up to Christmas with MDM playing the best I've seen em' in 16 years which was real nice to see and the year, gigwise, was done.
A busy year and one filled with its usual highs and lows but one which still leaves me maintaining the underdog has a whole lot to say and some genuinely high class talent to parade. The Sex Pistols reformation was a complete and utter joke and was a nasty insult to all that I support. The ticket price said so much!
Other bands continue to bleed the scene dry and others get disillusioned by having no success and so call it a day. The scene has seen a few solid punkers fall by the wayside this year due to its lack of passion and support and numerous in - crowds that can't be accessed. For me personally I enjoyed it albeit with a fair amount of stress and frustration but I believe you just gotta hang in there and do what you do and hope the ones who stick by will get their lucky break.
The highlights of the CD reviews must go to The Red Eyes and Gimpfist for a collection of wonderful stuff. Riot Squad produced one hell of a storming CD and the offering from The Objex was immense.
The final total of new bands seen this year by myself is 83. Yeah you read it right 83 new bands! Not the same old shit I can view by going through groundhog day but 83 brand new bands. The pleasure they gave has been wonderful and after 30 years of punking the spark to keep things fresh burns bright. The main message I would try to pass on would be as always to keep it real, keep it passionate and seek out the new - you may be pleasantly surprised.
If I have missed any band or person out of this review then apologies but there are so many to mention. Deadlamb Records don't get forgotten as the support they offer the SAS is irreplaceable and totally appreciated. Its nice to have a sponsor who is punk to the core. Distorted magazine are also worthy of mention for supporting the underdog cause and letting me push lesser known bands alongside the bigger boys!
Punk has a rosy future if we just think about our attitude and what punk rock is truly about. Some things I have witnessed this year make me realise there are a lot of people thinking they are punk and they ain't and a whole lot of people who just get on with it and are punk through and through. All I say is only you will know.
Enjoy this scene and support the cause because it really does matter and get checking out some new stuff - preferably at an SAS gig ya bastards!
Fungalpunk/OMD - buzzing with the bounty of brilliant bands