THE SAS TOUR
BIRMINGHAM, THE SWINGING SPORRAN - 22nd November 2008
The previous few weeks leading up to this event had been somewhat of a headache with news of other events being booked in on the same night and the fact that the venue were impossible to get hold of thus making it a struggle to finalise arrangements. Jacko from Obnoxious UK and Paul from RAM-MAN/Contempt helped out marvellously at the Brum end and despite a few other glitches here and there I woke up on Saturday morn hopeful that this gig would go smoothly enough. I had finally accepted that the 4 other events were going to have a real detrimental effect on my gig and wondered why the fuck can't the scene work together. This was the first of all the gigs to be booked in but no heed is ever taken and as a result everyone suffers. Punk fuckin' rock hey! Anyway after a recent bad do with the old ticker in the week preceeding this event I do need to stop stressing and ranting so....with a more upbeat approach taken the review continues.
Tim Davies arrived at our house at 12pm and after a cup 'o' cha, a chat about the afternoons footy and such, myself, wife Gillian and Tim set off to get our young un' from gymnastics training and head to Brummy land. We left gym at 2pm and arrived at Birmingham at approxiamtely 3.45pm and were quite pleased with the progress made. Little did we know that the one way system and congestion would combine forces and leave us high and dry in pursuit of the venue. A few calls to Paul resulted in the taxi driver who had just dropped him at the venue coming to find us and lead us to the hidden destination. Paul had already tipped the driver so when he asked for an extra £9 I found it quite harsh and palmed him off with £6. A twisting twat to be true and one who unfortunately rang me on his mobile number thus giving me the chance to ring him later this week and send him on several wild goose chases - ha, ha, the money grabbing bastard won't be so greedy next time and perhaps will understand the meaning of a favour! After sorting out parking with Paul we entered the fine looking gaff whereupon my co-promoter Sister Crow arrived. Chit chat and the setting up of 3 backdrops (SAS, Fungalpunk, Deadlamb Records) and slow progress was made getting the first band up and at it. 4 localish bands and 4 from out of town would make this a long night with the proposed finishing time 12 midnight. Challenge set and eventually Dirty Mindz were hustled into flamboyant action.
This was a new band to me and with the very rock 'n' rolling sound, and look, the crew did quite well and held the stage as well as delivering some good riff-laden numbers. Very image conscious and with a cool dude attitude to match I felt that for an outfit so young they pulled off the set well and one or two efforts shone really brightly. The teething problems with the PA were a minor niggle at this point but as the night progressed it proved that the sound system was inadequate for the venue and that all bands would suffer as a consequence. In light of this I will overlook this when reviewing the bands and try and give an insight into the potential rather than the end product. So with all things considered Dirty Mindz got the gig off on a firm footing.
Freedom Faction paid heavily with the sound and with a guitar string busting as well the old performance was polaxed before it could get up any head of steam and make an impression with the paltry crowd. Care was taken with this viewing and there were some real neat tunes hidden away beneath the blanket of feedback and discordant reverb. I liked what I saw and more will come but next time they will be given the opportunity to do themselves justice.
Flat Back Four gave out their worst noise to date and both myself and co-promoter Donna were getting a trifle pissed off at the lack of co-operation the PA was giving. For any showcase of punk rock you need the best you can get as these bands really can't afford to miss out on opportunities to strut their stuff. When they play well and get a shit output the feeling I get as a promoter is one of utter despondancy. Several songs that I am more than familar with were barely discernible and this was the most affected outing of the nights proceedings. The best song was 'Psalm 23' as well as the melodically excellent 'Locked Out', but my main concern is that the host of gems FBF have on offer were wasted tonight and the band will not get the credit they deserve.
Death Zone were old school punk rock with no frills and no unecessary tweakology and in truth got away with hardly any sound problems due to the harsh noise the band make anyway. This was pretty good but a clarity was lacking due to - yes you guessed it! The drumming was fuckin' fantastic and the best was saved till last with a great finale to an adequate set. I'd like to se these again with a better output available so watch this space!
Born To Destruct rely on subtlety rather than all out blasts and my concerns were great as they took to the stage and attempted to get to grips with the ropey acoustics. Frontlady Kat tried her best and the band played very well although the outpouring was a mismatch of pollution with the poor young lass at the front virtually drowned in the mess. I was quite aggrieved by this point and the night was turning sour before my eyes as band after band were being held back. Full marks to all for sticking with it and the BTD crew gave them good applause after each and every song which was well deserved indeed. 'Roadtrip' and a new one whose name slips by, were of note and the next outing for BTD will require the frontlady being a trifle more interactive with the crowd. Fungal has a plan - a cunning plan but a plan nonetheless! Point made too of the bassist who has moved from drumming duties and seems well setlled - good on yer man!
D' Corner Bois are quality supreme and their recent album backed up any belief I had in this band but it was more than apparent that the crew wouldn't be able to shine tonight although they did their best and came across quite adequately despite being alot more wayward than I have come to expect. 'Throw Your Shit', the exceptional 'Twenty Years' and 'Duped By Nazi's' were the pick as I ranted and raved about the piss poor sound to all and sundry. Calm down man! These are one of Brum's finest bands and I would recommend everyone to check em' out as you will really see some straightforward punk rock played brilliantly.
The Senton Bombs made this gig in good time and for one I am glad they did. Performance of the night must surely go to this great outfit and they got on with their usual rock and rolling in fine style with some nifty strokes on the bass, some fine guitarwork and a rock solid drumming performance. This isn't straightforward punk but blends several elements that combine to make a choice brew. The first time I saw these I was unsure but I am glad my curiosity got the better of me because these guys are pleasing me with every outing. 'Buy Me A Gun' was quite excellent and for me the Senton Bombs are always in the mix when considering bands for a gig. A great aspect to any showcase and I hope we can get them a better PA to display their fine sound next time.
Finally RAM-MAN who closed the day in quality fashion and did seem to be getting the best from the sonic system. Frontman Paul put everything in (I never expected anything less) and the crowd, what was left, were treated to a good set of choice songs, good musicianship and convincing attention to detail. Despite the late time and the sparcity of punter the band played a 45 minute cracker with ' Dig Your Own Grave And Save' and Same Old Rat Race' the top of the pops.
Well this one I enjoyed and I didn't. I met some nice people, saw some new bands and experienced a new venue but as has been mentioned too often the sound took the edge of the night's proceedings. Add to this the fact that 5 other gigs were going on in town (I didn't previously know about New Found Glory next door) and a similar taste was had in my now fouled mouth. The big city, it seems, always gives promise and then snatches it all away at the very last due to the divisions and subcultures found therein. As in Manchester and Liverpool this orifice of Oiks has many people all pulling in different directions and when this is even found within the punk scene then we know we are all in trouble. Unity is needed and hopefully more promoters can work together and more bands can sort gigs with each other and so help the scene to flourish preferably with good venues who work alongside with. Who knows what will transpire but now is a good time to try and go some way to determining the answer.
Oh as a footnote we arrived home at 3am - shattered, skint and bloody well cold - oh the joys of peddling punk!