FUNGALPUNK GIG REVIEWS
Its the early hours of Saturday morning and we are setting off to pick Stephen Surreal up to do a long trip to Lowestoft. JD is semi comatose in the back of the motor, I am still suffering from flu type symptoms (paracetamol and beer would get me through the weekend) Rachel is suffering with carpal tunnel in one hand and recovering from an operation in the other (hand). Things have already gone wrong. We have already had 5 bands pull out for various reasons but hey, this is DIY punk rock. So with Can, Pete Tosh, Billy Childish et al to keep us company we travel through five counties to arrive at the venue to be met at the venue by Steve Knuckle Soup who has organized the event. Charming smiling fella who has bought Chi Tea in for us and sandwich making equipment. The first thing we are told however is that The Hip Priests' van driver had crashed on the way to pick them up. Six down.
So we decide to kick off a tad later with Rum Direction. By the time we start proceedings Stephen Surreal (aka, Stephen skum) has gone for a kip in the room with chi making facilities so we have slightly less of the small audience watching Rum Direction; who kicks off with a finely tuned acoustic punk set of drinking songs full of crudity and hilarity. If Rum Directions humour is not taken in the spirit it is intended then it could offend. Thankfully punk seldom bothers about offending. In one song he gets his finger stuck in his girlfriend, your sister and your mother. Whilst stuck in the barmaid he pours himself a cider whilst inside her. In another song he suggests that Valentines Day is crap, its much better to take your valentine to the pub, get her drunk and take her to bed than to buy flowers and go out for a meal. “wetherspoons wouldn't entertain us just cuz I was wearing trainers” is fine social commentary and “Wizards sleeve” is a fine description. In the main he created laughter and a little bemusement. Nice one fella.
Eagle Spits & Rachel Joy cobble together a set of poetry and acapella at short notice which goes down a treat. PMT, Atos, Chicken in a basket, a love poem to the NHS, A poem/song, recited by Eagle, sung by Rachel about the passing of Eagles mum went down well. So a mixed bag of the political and personal and the ridiculous. Cultured as Fuck.
“Hows anybody supposed to get any bloody sleep round here” wins the best quote of the weekend competition. A prize of fuck all is heading in Stephen Surreals direction. The quote was spoken just slightly after Jonathan Marriott started his set. No mic, one unplugged acoustic guitar and a set of passionate acoustica better crafted than a micro-brewery. To captivate an old punk audience (small as it shamefully was) takes some doing. Master Marriott did it with ease. “We are not what we own” is a masterpiece and none of his songs fall short of this mark. The words are wonderful, the voice heavenly yet edgy, the guitar playing second to none. The only reason Jonathan is not huge is his intent is pure. The great thing about punk rock is that anyone can do it but that doesn’t mean that if you can do it expertly you shouldn't. Jonathan is an expert in his field. Points of reference are easily to apply, Billy Bragg definitely (he actually covered a Billy song), Nick Cave quite probably but what makes Jonathan stand out is the spiritual depth in his voice, guitar playing and songs. Spiritual not in a religious way but the whole otherness, ethereal quality of the holistic feel. I cant nail this in words, go and see him and be lifted to a different place. It is good for the soul.
DSA are next off the hocky. A first time for me and although I had checked em’ out on you-tube I didn’t really know what to expect. Full on punk rock and roll in places. Elements of Rancid and Social D but for some reason I heard touches or twinges of The Cramps which is no bad thing. Old skool with a new skool feel? I don't know but this is 5 piece rock. The front man is crazed with a slicked back hairdo and energy which can only come from being wired to a drip of amphetamine sulphate, unstoppable. At times skatey, a very small touch of ska and lots of axil grease to keep this train running. From the horror punk sounding title of their first number ‘Midnight Caller’ one would expect a hint of The Misfits and whilst it may be there it is well blended in the mixer. A punk version of The Stingrays also springs to mind and yes although the R&R element is there with ‘Skate RNR’ and ‘That’s the shit’ DSA are still in control of their influences and play the music they want to play whilst managing to sound original and fresh. First impressions count and fuck what an impression they made.
Back in 2004 I first put Mispelt on at a two day event called ‘Doin It For The Kids’. A fundraiser for Casa Alianza. You could say it was a forerunner to P4TH. Back then Mispelt were a three piece. Tonight I see them as a three piece again (much love and get well soon Jen). I have given them some good reviews but how will they do as a three piece. Obviously very different and there were songs which couldn't be done due to not having Jen's voice but let us look at what happened. A tight as fuck three piece who roller coasted and rumbled out a set of pure punk rock delight. Mispelt have been around for some time and know exactly what they are doing but this does not effect the excitement they ooze. Tonight they are three guys doing what they so obviously love and that ignites the stage and the punters. Therapist is a great raging opener which sets the pace for the rest of the set. Class musicianship. Vital personality and concern for the life we all share. ‘Friends Like You’ and ‘Foxtrot Oscar’ are the highlights for me but that’s probably cuz I know the tunes and can sing along. When I say highlights I mean in the sense of hundreds and thousands on the top of your favourite cake. As a diabetic I shouldn’t enjoy cake this much. I wolfed it down and wanted more. They finished with ‘Ring of Fire’ with Jonathan Marriott on guest vocals. Fuck yeah.
Last up The Fanny Pads and we love em. Stacks of character. Old school punk with a touch of oi. Feet don't stop moving as personality drips from the charismatic front guy. Politics as politics should be ‘Nick Griffin get to fuck’ Yes the politics are in there which is great to see but there’s also stacks of humour ‘Mid-life Crisis’, ‘Spunk Bucket’. Which is equally great. Lots of fun and thoughtful too. If you want anything but old skool punk then look elsewhere. If you love punk then you will love The Fanny Pads, simple as. I loved The Fanny Pads and so did everyone else, a handful of encores, they probably did their complete back catalogue and people still wanted more. Punk of this type seldom gets better and few bother to turn out. Stop fucking posing and support the underground scene but even if you don't the underground will rage on cuz there is no alternative to the lame arse crap the system wants to feed us. So catching sing-a-long punk rock with a desire for a ‘Better Life’, good time, good vibes a bloody good band.
We go to our beds and will return tomorrow for some more. We will sleep comfortably because we have spent a few hours in a good place and have been drinking beer.
Lazy Sunday morning spent in great company by the seaside and a 6pm kick off with a duo who had had their first practice on Lowestoft beach that afternoon:- Necrotic Pancreatitis (named after a condition one of my close friends nearly died of a couple of years ago ) are Peter and Eric from Government Death Epidemic doing an acoustic set with Peter on vocals and Eric on djembie. A splendid short set of political acoustic stuff with song titles which included ‘Stoned Alone, ‘Here Come The Bailiffs’ and ‘Waiting for the War Crime’. A mellow way to start the afternoon in totally DIY style. I was privileged to experience it. Music which matters from hearts which care.
I am obviously biased when it comes to JD The Acoustic Anarchist. I came across him whilst he was out busking several months ago and he blew me away. I have sorted him a handful of gigs out since. Anarcho politics, strong voice, good songs. ‘Its all a load of bollocks’ about the crap the government and the media feed us. A song about the plastic x-factor culture and Glastonbury's plastic hippies. I loved him as usual and those in attendance lapped it up. And you are right mate we don't need fucking Trident.
Spitune played. People applauded. Nobody left. People said they enjoyed us. Something is wrong. Back to the drawing board.
Shanarchy finish the weekend for us and do so in style. They play what they want. A mix of folky, punky stuff with bits of reggae thrown in. Awesome covers of a few old folk songs. Some wonderful jigs on violin. Dinosaur kicks things off with a Scottish sound folk tune done as a punk number with good effect. Next we are asked to ‘Meet your maker’, punk folk ballads are a wonderful thing. Shanarchy do them wonderfully and three tunes in they play three wonderful jigs. A Seanchaí (shanachie) is a traditional Irish story teller. Shanarchy tell those stories in a punk folk kind of way but sound authentic and enjoy what they do. They finish their fine set with two covers Leon Rosselson's ‘Diggers Song’ merging into Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’. Fine stuff . Check them out, you will not be disappointed.
So a major thank you to all the bands who played their hearts out. Thanks to Knuckle Soup Steve for all his hard work in putting the event on. Thanks to Grannies and the sound man. Thanks to the P4TH crew. Thanks to those who turned out. £100 is on its way to Casa Alianza to help street children. Lots of fun was had in the process.
review by Gary Eagling (6 October 2014)