So half of one gig and a full account of the other - oh ye lucky bastards.
Arriving at the Ska Bar at 4.30pm I was met with a note on the door stating the first band had pulled and the gig would start at 5.15pm. Bollocks! These days though I am always prepared and so a book on 'Fungi' was carried and consequently read whilst enjoying some fresh air outside. Eventually into the gaff and a half pint of cranberry juice was thoroughly enjoyed and in truth was the best CJ I had partaken of in a very long time. So to the first band, namely Bastard Fish. Well rather than swim I thought this crew splashed and floundered in equal measure with some really strong surging moments hitting all the right currents and some less effective snippets falling flat on dry land. The 'in between songs' adhesive was lacking and it was a bit like 'oh shit what do we play next' kind of stuff that hindered the flow somewhat. The band ain't been around too long and there is enough obvious talent on show to warrant further viewings to see how progress goes. The contrast between the harder and mellower moments needs pronouncing a little more I feel but I reckon they will get there given time.
Systems DMC were in fact Ded Mole Crickit with a few extra trimmings (two bands in one to be more exact). Hash head vibes played with a bouncing zeal and conviction this was a fair do with many sub-sonic flavours thrown into a melting pot to see, it seems, what happens. What did happen was a darn good noise that held attention and contained plenty of tangents to keep one on the back foot throughout. A rapping, reggae, skank attack with hipping and hopping moments of sheer abandon that found Fungal flavour by the bucket load. Of course 'The Symphony' gets my vote as it is a highly orchestrated track that wins big time with a peppered noise filled with varied sonics. Solid.
At this point I thought time was pressing on so I duly 'fucked off' across town to the Star and Garter for the STP show that was happening there. Upon arrival I found the time to be only 6.45pm which was one hour before the first band was due on. What to do - dash back to the Retro Bar or stay put and natter? No choice really as my enthusiasm for noise won the day and I jogged forth in time to catch the greater part of the Bears, Bears set. A lot of arsing between songs was my only gripe as I was in a rush to get back to the S&G and wanted to see as much of this three-piece as possible. Mr Wongs inane off stage banter halted proceedings further and brought many a tumbleweed blowing through the gaff with some abysmal one-liners. Would he be deterred - no way and more drivel poured forth and so the set was hindered. What I saw musically however was marvellously executed with intricacies and big riffs copulating with fervour and creating many boisterous babies the crowd were more than happy to suckle. Outsiders with a favour for straight-forward sonics may find the fiddly bits rather distracting and self-indulgent but the band has an abundance of talent (especially front gob and guitarist Francis) so why not show it off. Very good what I witnessed and anyone who sings about 'Horses' and 'Badgers' gets my vote. The hands of the clock moved forward so it was time to ping from this gig to the next with the general feeling of what I saw summed up with one sentence. 'A good mix of music done for the right reasons but where the fuck was the crowd?' An insult to the promoter and the work done - end of!
Talking of wank crowds - the first STP show last month was poor as far as attendance went and I expected a lot more this time around. Stu Taylor the promoter is the dogs bollocks for me and puts on darn good shows with very interesting acts that cover a fair sonic punk spectrum - but - and a big BUT at that - will this draw the punkers forth? Initial impressions made the answer a resounding 'no' but rather than blaze this good-natured dude stayed calmed and just stated 'it happens'. A few chits and chats and then the gig started proper with Bad Taste Barbies crudely delivering a set of enjoyable sonic androgyny. A cunning mix of drum machine, she-man, rock 'n' roll reprobates and lazy town reject this is a delightful tongue-in-cheek cabaret that has bitched talons and some hot property music. Singe yer asses and lugs and enjoy the spectacle as all performers love what hey do and pass on the inner delight to all in attendance. Every song had its own captivating idiosyncrasies with the last two ending the set on a high note. Acquiring a CD from Medicine Stu afterwards was my pleasure and a review will come as soon as. When I get promoting again note has been made to get these dudes a little bit further afield. Check em' out - a tasty treat on par with the pickled pepper Peter Piper partook of (sexual connotations intended)!
Leather Zoo are a band I have grown rather fond of over the last few months and was looking forward to this debut viewing. I came, expected much and went away.....wait for it! Straight in with the amazing 'Fleur Du Lys' and man what a start. My aforementioned fondness grew from this seedling song and the thought of seeing this performed 'live' had me salivating in anticipation (come on its known as enthusiasm you twats). This was a golden opening and promised a 24 carat set to follow. I was not to be disappointed with one song, two song, all songs being absolute fuckin' crackers with some marvellous execution along the way. Front lass Mel is a passionate singer in all its terminology and rocked away with precision and sung with utter professionalism hitting a solid range along the way. Guitar geezer Biff looked in pain as he applied himself to the 6-stringed device and really played a scorcher with some robust riffology and taut twists. The bassist fingered the fret with a learned nimbleness and weaved a merry pulse and the banger at the back gurned and churned a fully convincing beat to admire. I am now totally convinced by this crew and their amiable nature afterwards added to that belief. Support Leather Zoo - you will not be disappointed!
So the last act of the night had a lot to follow and I didn't envy them one bit. Dragster came with a good reputation but it seemed not good enough to draw a decent crowd. Such is the Manchester scene and with so much going on each and every band takes a risk when playing this saturated scene. Well, the punks missed out here big time as Dragster tore away from the starting line and burned riffing rubber all the way to the finish with a bomb blast of high energy and rigid rhythms throughout. Time was taken to observe each component and nothing short of marvellous was the opinion, all that is except the drummer who was out of this fuckin' world. The vocal vixen provided eye-candy if you are that way inclined but for me she gave a powerful performance and great guile and gusto that detracted totally from the 'oh she looks nice' angle. I fuckin' hate that aspect and I hope this lass gets credit for her singing ability and actual zeal rather than the shape of her legs and chest size (you get the drift). The guitarist (the bald headed one) provided the real sinewy strength of the show with a heavily perspired performance reminiscent of the old Deadline strummers. The other string man played the rhythmic sweet note to perfection and saturated the sound with complimentary skill. Bass wise the execution was spot on and the guy manipulated his chosen piece with aplomb and conviction. The award for top effort of the crew though, and of the night, must go to the temporary drummer (who is in the band Maximum RNR) who absolutely rattled away with 100% vigour and expertise and shone bright from an already blazing stage. His whole demeanour and visual presence was hypnotic and boy could this guy thrash those sticks - amazing! The entire offering was fabulous and why I didn't chase up a CD is beyond me? Dragster look set to take the scene by storm and with Stu Taylor on board there is no reason why they shouldn't.
3 bands done and the crowd was poor throughout! I have many explanations why this is but it doesn't change the fact that this was one red hot show that those in attendance were surely appreciative of. Why people want to se the same old, same old is beyond me and punk should move forward no end with the likes of the quality out there at the moment.
STP will continue and I am sure gather momentum but don't wait to be dragged into the mix - get up, make the effort and fuckin' be there!
review by Fungalpunk/OMD (26 April 2010)