The day of my latest gig had arrived, it was the week following the all-consuming Rebellion Fest, the heat was through the roof and turning people's private parts to utterly sweating insults and a gig clash had cropped up at the last minute with so-called names and diluted cover acts destined to draw a few fickle folk. DIY and small up-close and personal gigs are the only way for me, 40+ years has taught me well and I realise this is where I feel like the eternal sonic pig in shit. The people I meet, the effort poured in and the many unassuming characters matter - and so, I get off my arse and chip away and of course, piss in the wind.

After a day that saw me record yet more wildlife, pick up some plants for my Denton DIY Nature Project and finalise a few wildlife records I headed to the gaff feeling ruddy jaded and with the crack of my arse streaming like a budget-price log flume. Upon arrival I met up with STP Stu, swilled a beer and greeted the bands who were bang on time and eager to go. The gaff was all set up, the man at the helm, a super keen doofer, was doing his bit and making sure the gig ran as smooth as melted Lurpak, which indeed it did.

The first band got underway at 5.15pm, there was a small gathering in attendance, I had my peepers peeled and lugs bent outwards to receive the tones - and here is what vibrated the aural tympanics.

Thee Odds had only played one gig prior to this offering, it was for yours truly and I fuckin' loved it. The band are a three-piece, are quite fine and amiable gents and even though the drummer has several charges against his name for molesting pot bellied train drivers (Steve Tucker take a bow) I still thought, for the sake of the Railway Reprobates Scheme, it was still worth giving the band another go. This set excelled and despite a busted guitar halfway through the delivery was both fluid and mightily rewarding. The tones are not the everyday tick-box punk that so many seem to want and are utterly crippled by. I like the angles the band throw in, I adore the power the trio of tonal twats deploy and the songs are already starting to stick in the noggin which is always a good sign. The switch in vocals is always a solid move if done right and here that is the case with the application exact and very relaxed. The riffery that was radiated was carefully done, the stick work tidy and making sure all areas were kept in good order. I am hopefully catching this lot next week when they play their third gig although I have a some Non-League footy booked in and a trip out recording mosses - I will see what I can do, passion is a curse at times.

Next up and after a breather in the clammy air, Cosmic Slop did what was expected and to a slightly larger crowd dished out the usual delightful raw, unplugged and angular ad-hoc arrangement that I take great pride in pushing. A duo of deviancy with Mark the plucker fucker sat and serenading, Kelly the fidgeting sprite warbling with conviction and never letting down the crowd. The songs delivered are set in stone on my radar - today I noted 'Infection Control' as one to mention, a real jerky delight that does indeed infect. 'Illuminator' is a solid bout of sugar sweet soft-soapery that lathers the emotions whilst need I add that 'DIY' sums up everything about the band, the gig and what many of us truly believe in. This is unassuming artistry played with an unyielding joy de vivre and a spirited flame that will not be quelled. The Sloppites deserve your attention and support - the Fungalised backing for the crew goes on.

Finally, The System hit the stage with myself and many others seemingly hesitant as to what to expect. The last time I saw this lot was 41 years ago, this was a different set up and had me wondering what the end product would be. Perhaps a pathetic shadow of lost years that I have witnessed too many times? Maybe an out-of-date bi-product that is best left of the shelf? Well, to be fair this was a real shake up of what had been and was a totally believable set of noisy and well-timed musicianship that was belted out with unified accuracy. The tunes were from the yore and from the now, the general gist of the whole package was watertight and personally, I found this a quite exceptional surprise. Classics came, craftwork was high, the front lass was impeccable in her delivery and the string savages molested the soundscape with damning power. The sticks were clattered and battered with sweat-inducing hunger and from the first twang to the final twinge The System had me enthralled - this is the beauty of small gaffs, good bands, a brilliant sound system and expecting nowt. I reckon this lot did themselves mighty proud and hope they back up these performances with some wholesome releases too - needs must.

Farewells and thanks to all were had, again my approach of picking and choosing what I see, what I do and how I do it, is paying dividends - I am enjoying my music as much as ever and will crack on regardless. Tonight wasn't the greatest crowd, but we got by and all seemed to love it. The Spinning Top is up against it, as are many other fine gaffs around the country, these places are the backbone of music and for me, should be a priority of any music lovers list rather than the festival merry-go-round. Never underestimate the beauty and rewards of seeing good minstrels do what they do in a sweaty and in yer face way - it is truly something special and I love it. Now on to the next one – have it.

review by Fungalpunk/OMD (15 August 2022)