FUNGALPUNK GIG REVIEWS
Back up to The Polish Club in Bradford for another of Punkined's musical showcases. With a recently acquired SATNAV we headed for the venue and only realised when half way there that it was set to avoid motorways. One and a half hours later we pulled up outside the venue a little firmer in our belief that technology isn't indeed the be all and end all. Anyway we entered and after buying my wife and daughter a drink, chitted and chatted to Punkined, Cayn White and Ramdug amongst others. We were informed that a band had pulled out thus the start time would be held back, so we settled in and watched the sound check. Blitzkrieg gave a metalised noise, The Prairie Dugz knocked out the solid punk they are renowned for and The Despondents dazzled briefly. This was a nice mix and I anticipated the bands highly.
The anticipation was at its zenith for The Despondents who I have always deemed a rock solid outfit and who have recently added the talent of No Eager Men’s frontman Dave. From the first chord to the last this was a crackin' set that met all the promise I held and really got the night off on a firm footing. The three stringed players at the front worked in unison and seemed totally at ease with each others parts and so came across as a mightily effective unit. The garage sound is a tough one to handle and to churn out a goodly number of tunes takes time and this entire delivery reflected an outfit who know their rhythmic onions. Song after song foamed with surfing vibes and there were plenty of highs to appreciate. 'California' grooves grandly and seems reminiscent of a 60's beach-hut party vinyl, 'Gotta Get Away' is urgent to please and abandons the cesspool the music scene is over this side of the pond, 'Advice' is a melodic ramshackle that judders the jowls and 'You Stupid Girl' was my personal fave from the whole bunch of bang-on belters. These guys have played a couple of SAS gigs in the past and are headlining a forthcoming Spit and Skate Fest which is entirely my good fortune. By the way watch the drummer - fuckin' quality.
So all's well and next my debut viewing of the impressive Prairie Dugz. It was more than overdue that I caught up with The Dugz and after chatting to punk rock zealot Ram I was, it seemed, in for a real treat of proper punk rock. Their previous two CD releases inspired and I awaited the set to kick off with eager eyes. Looking at the set list it was loaded with gems that I was more than familiar with and this was indeed the case as the whole concoction of noise rocked and rolled. A blip in the middle of proceedings with the sound blighted things slightly but the lads picked up their tartan arses and finished with a strong flourish. These guys play punk - nothing more, nothing less and they do it wholeheartedly and fuckin' very well indeed. If you like things as they should be and none of this new-skool stuff and overly technical frillage then get and see this lot. I loved it and although it was a good hour showing you can't fault the attitude. 'Burn, Burn America' was delivered with aggressive nastiness and after recent e-mails Ram had received from that overpowering country I am not surprised. Politically provocative but hey there ain't nothing wrong with that and if more bands dabbled in these dangerous waters instead of playing it safe with fashionable opinions we may have a scene with a lot more clout. 'Violent Youth' blasted in and gave an all round full on sound that tore into the crowd and blistered with intent, 'This Is My Country' bled passion and I became totally vampiric and drank very deeply. For me though 'Lockdown' was the pick of the Prairie pops and was an utter delight. It is now my Myspace profile tune in case you wanna have a listen - go on get Dugged up. Just to add to this appraisal is that Ramdug is the kind of punk this scene so sorely lacks. Full-on, friendly and with an attitude to admire. This guy gets stuck in and says what's what with agreeable gusto and that for me puts him right up there at the top of the fungal 'shroom along with a few other choice guys and gals. Well played lads - class.
Talking of quality guys I caught up with Leon (Punkined) and we discussed how the night was going. The crowd was swelling and 70 payers wasn't half bad. Good stuff mate.
The intermission between the Dugz finishing and Blitzkrieg starting kept the crowd bopping with the DJ playing some retro punkology. The hazard here for the headline band was in the fact that they took a little too long to kick off and so the crowd was burning themselves out. No matter, the band eventually got going and after a slowish start picked up the jiggers and got things moving. This outfit today was a right overhaul from previous incarnations and boasted a lass from Girlschool on guitar and my old mucker Mick Pike from the now barely alive Pike (fuckin' under-rated band there ya set of bastards). This was more metalised than the old days and although added with a bit more weight still isn't convincing to my punked up nature. 'What Is Truth' is a strong boom blast and the pick for me was '21st Century Punks which came across as a large, ear-catching piece that also stood out on the recently released album (well perhaps not so recent). My daughter and good lady were now tired and unimpressed and got ready to go. I squeezed in a few more tracks by flashing one of my very persuasive toothless smiles (NOT) and we three punkers left the building to the sounds of 'Holiday In Cambodia'. Another viewing is needed with this lot to make up my mind so that is where I will leave it.
We said our farewells and met Punkined outside with whom we exchanged thanks. If ever a promoter is worth supporting and travelling for then this is the guy. Really the best I have known and such an unassuming delightful fella who just does it for the music (and 4 cans) - faultless.
We didn't use the SATNAV to get home so arrived in the house at 1.15am, approximately 1 and a quarter hours after leaving the gaff. A full 15 minutes quicker may not seem like much but to 3 busy, booked up and tired bees it was a God-send.
* Apologies to Chris Hind (Blitzkrieg) who was upset by a bit of a memory blip by the Fungal one. In a previous version of this review I claimed that Blitzkrieg were an off-shoot of a fave band of mine The Insane. Where this false nugget came from is beyond me and it was one of those things I had in my head for 20+ years and took as gospel. Ha, ha no such thing at all and the connection was with the drummer Dave Ellesmere (Bambi) who had played for The Insane and later joined Blitzkrieg. There ya go no problem at all.
review by OMD (19 April 2009)