So, as promised, here is an attempt at passing opinion/judgement on the live acts I saw on Easter Monday at Mercury Flux in Preston. It was a funny old day for all involved after the excessive drinking we all get up to on bank holidays. Big thanks first of all to all the bands for playing/watching, massive thanks to the guys on the sound desk doing their best with sub-standard gear, huge pats on the back to Dying For Toto and Stu Diggle for help with backline and Shim for the lights.
The list goes on… thanks to Jake (vegan) at Footloose and Andy Davies at TNS for getting such a fantastic line up of bands together. Particular kudos to Vegan for paying all of the bands something, even covering some bands petrol money out of his own pocket! Thanks to Mikey Wong for Djing when I didn’t have to energy or motivation to, thanks to Carl Swinnerton and Stormy Fucking Weathers for help with flyers and posters and, finally, a huge thanks to anyone who showed their face to support any of the bands, particularly those who lasted the distance! (I struggled myself!).
Here’s what I thought…
The Multi-Coloured Pop Shop
How does one write a review of Kris Ball’s solo act?! Well Kris, your rendition of ‘Favourite Things’ just scared me, ‘Black Boys’ pushed the boundaries in a satisfyingly filthy way, and ‘Prostitute Blues’ descended into a glorious, thrilling farce, with Kris stopping the song every time anyone dared to start a conversation to berate them and threaten them with violence until they shut up! Eventually won the crowd over thru sheer attitude and surreal humour, finishing with ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ and a fake (I think??) passing-out, Kris continues to amuse and confuse in his own unique way. Personally though I’d prefer to see him with a band, and look forward to the debut of his new band Peter Simple any day now.
The Guilty Pleasures
I’ve seen these guys many times before and as the first full band of the day they suffered from expected PA limitations. I’m sure the guys themselves would admit it wasn’t one of their better gigs, and problems with the drum-kit didn’t help. Having to fill in with jokes and banter doesn’t really fit with the ‘Pleasures politically-motivated street punk, neither did the bright sunshine blasting thru the windows! Their set picked up towards the end with the Anti-Flag stylings of ‘Media Deception’ and the classic ‘Freedom Of Free Speech’, and apart from the previously mentioned problems this was a tight and powerful set. However, in a more suitable setting and thru a better PA, The Guilty Pleasures are capable of much more.
The first act of the day to really impress me, I have seen Litterbug on numerous occasions with a few different line-ups, but the band seem to have really settled into a style all of their own incorporating surf guitar, Pixies guitar atmospherics and elements of Magazine and The Adverts into songs that get further under your skin with each listen. The band have finely-tuned their sound to create something powerful and unique, and play tighter than I’ve ever seen them.
Keeping between-song chat to the bare minimum and letting the music do the talking (songs are introduced by Adi with the title only, no-one else speaks), Litterbug’s experimental yet basic punk wakes me up like a million coffees, and gives me a similar buzz. New song ‘I listen To Bands’ shows a different side to the group both musically and lyrically, and the likes of ‘A Simple Contradiction’ and ‘Subhuman Scum’ have grown balls bigger than a house. One of the stand-out sets of the day, it’s a shame there wasn’t more people in the Flux to witness it.
First time I’d seen this Liverpool-based folk-punk 3-piece, and they didn’t disappoint. Never taking themselves too seriously and with a neat line in self-deprecating banter, Just Panic put smiles on many a face with their Against Me/Dropkicks influenced material and warm stage presence. Catchy, shout-a-long choruses and melodic punk rock are their stock-in-trade and they were one of the few bands that suited the sunlight. Would make a good festival band I think, which is as well as they’re playing Reading and Leeds later this year! Overall, an enjoyable summery romp of a set from Just Panic.
The Drop-Out Wives
The self-proclaimed ‘drugged out hippie motherfuckers’ and FELCH scene legends took to the stage for a mid-afternoon set full of dirty riffs, garage-rock cool and trippy voodoo style and panache. The PA did them no favours (particularly after hearing them thru the RHMG system in Thornton last week), but it didn’t make a slight bit of difference as the ‘Wives win through on sheer personality and individuality.
Stormy was on cracking form, taking the piss out of the punks, the straight-edgers and himself. But all 4 members come across as larger than life characters, Lola Fenix full of movie-star glamour and hammer-horror sleaze, Big D pounding away on the skins like a possessed caveman, and Pauly Smoke playing the cool, calming influence to Stormy’s whirling tazmanian devil (or was it last night’s whiskey still in my system?!).
Musically, The Drop-Out Wives are hard to pin down, I can hear elements of Queens Of The Stone Age, The Von Bondies and Sonic Youth in there, my girlfriend thought they sounded like The Ramones crossed with The Shangri-Las on a bad trip. Whatever, the ‘Wives stuck out like a glorious sore thumb, setting a prescedent for the best bands of the day being the ones that do something different. More of which to follow next. Excellent grubby set from the ‘Wives, standout tracks for me being ‘Wolfman’ and an inspired ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
The John Player Specials
So to follow from my comment about the stand-out acts being a little different to the pack, next up were Wigan’s John Player Specials. As you’d expect with Vegan involved, there was quite a few bands on the bill of a Ska persuasion, but the JPS’s are very much a SKA rather than a ska-punk or ska-core band, and as such were much more to my tastes. First time I’ve had chance to catch them, and the likes of ‘ritten In Stone’ put a smile on me and Mrs Dave’s face and got us up and skankin’. Nice to see a band making an effort with the make-up as well.
Nice big groovy relaxed sound from this 4-piece, the basic line-up of guitar/vocals, drums, bass and trombone(!) works well for them, tons of stage prescence and some cool haircuts all adding up to a quality act to accompany the socio/politically conscious lyrics. Good fun and I’d definitely like to see them again.
Looked like there was about 6 or 7 of these, got a bit busy with other things around this point (door, phone calls, girlfriend etc) so didn’t really have much chance to properly watch them. From what I saw, very good, tight band and a big sound, but as I already said, ska-core ain’t my thing and Kickback were just too fast and loud for me at this point of the day. Quite a crowd in for them though, and from what I saw were very good at what they do, I just wasn’t feeling it.
Missed these guys as I went out to get something to eat and hand out flyers, when I came back and caught the end of their set the place was rammed to the rafters with attractive young things, who all left as soon as The Fractions finished their lively ska-punk, so they must be doing something right. I have seen em before though, and, as with Kickback, not really my thing. Pulled a huge audience though, it would’ve been nice if they’d stayed to watch the other bands but there you go. Sorry I missed your set if your reading this guys!
The Senton Bombs
I don’t really want to blow any more smoke up Joey and the guys asses, as they know how much I enjoyed this set! So I’m gonna keep it short and sweet. This was the best set I saw all day (and there was some superb bands over the course of the day). Stunning guitar work from Damien and Jimmy Kage, Joey’s vocals have somehow got even cooler with a few firebrand screams thrown in for good measure, and Mason is the best thing to happen to the Bombs in ages.
We get ‘Buy Me A Gun’, ‘Violet Black’, ‘Rogue Style’, ‘My Girlfriend Was A Nazi’ and ‘Silencio D’Amour’, along with some riff-heavy and catchy as hell new songs, the pick of which for me was ‘No Return’. All played at full throttle with the trademark Kage guitar wall-of-sound and a tighter-than-fuck rhythm section thanks to the powerhouse drumming of Mason Mohawk and Class’s pounding bass. They end with a ferocious ‘Nightbreed’, Jimmy soloing with the guitar behind his head and Class with his bass in the air!
Still sounding like a drug-crazed rock n roll party at the end of the world (and totally unlike any other band), The Senton Bombs are in a Class of their own. Congratulations to Mason for landing a dream job and nailing it, and to the Bombs for getting through all the shit they’ve had to deal with over the past year and coming out with all guns blazing. Great to have you back lads.
(That wasn’t that short was it? Oh well, I tried….)
The Cost Of Living
I did try and get into these, but they just did nothing for me. Musically they were a bit all over the place and I just couldn’t get what they were about. Once again, the PA did them no favours, but a lack of real stage presence didn’t help either. Despite some good lead guitar and strong female vocals, they didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves and I just couldn’t get into it. Maybe it was just a bad gig for them, I’d like to see them again through a better system and when I’m not so tired so I could find out whether this is the case.
Fuck me! There’s not many bands that make me start a review with ‘fuck me!’, but then there’s not many bands like The Shadowcops. These Manchester maniacs play like they could die at any moment, and in the case of the crazed, gurning mentalist of a bass player, the way he dives around he probably could! Deafeningly loud and with more energy than the national grid, watching The Shadowcops is like watching a amphetamine bomb crash into a planet i.e loud, explosive and speedy as fuck!
But volume, speed and energy isn’t all The Shadowcops have. In amongst the 3 ultra-powerful vocalists screaming their tits off and distorted guitars that could melt faces the clever bastards have planted some of the catchiest choruses this side of a Wildhearts gig. I know many of you had to leave early and missed these, don’t make that mistake again! I’m sure they’ll be back around these parts very soon, watch this space! In summary, fucking ACE.
Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man
Following The Shadowcops (and another 10+ bands!!) was never going to be an easy task, but if anyone could do it, it’s these guys. Frontman Andy Davies is responsible for TNS records (the label half today’s bands are on), and admirably the whole of his band have been here all day and watched pretty much everyone. Revenge… are pretty hardcore, and admittedly my ears were on their way to being broken, but their insane superfast psycho-core still gets me moving. Lyrically bizarre and with some songs lasting well under a minute, Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man are unique in style and in (relatively) new addition Matt Gizmo, they have one of the most entertaining performers in punk rock today.
I’m dragged kicking and screaming into a (2-man!) pit by the Vegan for ‘Get Pissed, Talk Shit, Dance Like An Idiot’,and the likes of ‘No Sleep Til’ Guilford’ and ‘What The Fuck Is The Internet’ would’ve had me moving more, had I not been there for over 10 hours watching bands! And it’s not just me, a number of the audience look visibly drained and by this point I just want to go home. Which is a shame, coz Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man are an ace band, and really cool guys as well which always helps. Get out and see em sometime if your ears can handle it!
Dying For Toto
Let’s be honest here, by this point the P.A was totally fucked, I was totally fucked, there was a load of stuff I had to sort out and people I had to talk to, and Dying For Toto’s Screamcore did nothing for my destroyed spirit. To be honest, I remember very little of their set, but once again they were really cool guys to talk to and thanks once again for the backline goes to DFT, maybe one day I’ll get to give you a proper review!
One last thing, this review took me almost as long to write as the gig lasted. These all-day gigs are just too much, if you’re at a festival with stalls, other stages and bars etc it’s different, but by Monday of a Bank Holiday Weekend it was just too long.
Still, got to see some awesome bands, check em out on myspace and let’s get some of the Blackpool bands linking up with these excellent other north-west bands for more gigs in Blackpool, Preston and beyond!
If you’ve read all this, thanks!
review by Deadbeat Dave DJ too (26 March 2008)