Three days of finest punk rock ahead and Jonny March and his buddies have put a lot of work into these 3 days, which are collectively known as ‘Nottingham Punk Festival’. The proceeds are to go to Punk 4 The Homeless (whose motto is ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’, due to the amount of children murdered by the authorities in Latin America) and The Sophie Lancaster Foundation - named after a young girl murdered by a different set of intolerant thugs and headed up by her Mother. An organisation established to further tolerance of people who chose to adopt an unconventional appearance and attitude.

So Friday night kicks off at The Old Angel, Nottingham and not the originally scheduled Doghouse. An organiser’s nightmare scenario, which I personally know well.   OK. I arrived at the venue with Rachel (the lady due to become Mrs Spitz), and was hit by the sign of No life. I was told by a young barman that he didn't think there was a gig there tonight. So we partook of the corporate oppressor’s red and white fizzy drink and pondered our next move. Fortunately the next people to arrive were Chiz Shakespeare et al i.e. Septic Psychos crew. We were not mistaken, right place, right night for a gig.

Without further ado we kick on to the first band. Zoo Party; sounded somewhat akin to the best of The Crew of early 80's generic Punk bands with aspects of The Professionals and Boys and Girls who had learnt to play their instruments. The uniquely British sound of Zoo Party was slightly odd due to them being Swedish. The Cook and Jones quality to the band is again Bizarre as Glen Matlock and Brian James are involved in the production of the band’s latest album. These guys are good and I detect traces of Crisis and Killing Joke in a couple of their songs. Track titles include; ‘CSI’, ‘Another Pack Of Lies’, ‘Sick Of The Racket’, ‘Raised On Boredom’ And ‘You Must Be Joking’. There are some sing a long bits and at times I feel like I am watching Chron Gen after they have nicked Martin Atkins for their drummer.  The smallish crowd love em' and I could probably manage another helping.

Next to take the stage Yorkshire lads Skip Rat. Playing extremely enthusiastically to the 8 punters left in the room, whilst the masses cram and jostle in the bar downstairs. These guys are great at what they do and I love it. A mix of Ska, Punk and Crusty Reggae , sounding like they've grown up on  a healthy diet of Citizen Fish, Revolutionary Dub Warriors, The Specials and Shouty Punk Rock. Among the shoutiness and the drumming for the second time tonight I detect a hint of Killing Joke. The smiling guitar playing front man won't let the lack of audience deter him from his tuneful attack on fascists and The Affirmation that it is great to be in a band. It's a shame that ‘The Punks’ prefer to be in the bar and it’s at moments like this that you'd appreciate an influx of crusty travellers and a dog on a string. On a personal note I loved em'.

Right the next up are one of my favourite bands on the circuit. Septic Psychos; years of experience, vein bursting angst, political sensibilities and a wry sense of humour. It's been a couple of years since I've seen these guys and they race through a set of Hard Punk Rock songs. Chiz, who must be my age, but doesn't keep still shouts and jerks his way through 13/14 tunes which makes me realise why I still love Punk Rock. Throughout the set they make references to not being at their beat tonight. I seldom see bands as good as this bands 'poor' show tonight and the crowd seem to agree. Loads of good natured banter between the band and a packed room with a toupee putting in an appearance with their tongue in cheek track ‘Not Racist, But Bald’ which is a great example of the humour of this band and how it fits alongside the serious nature of the bands material. I am chuffed to bits when they dedicate my favourite of their songs to me ‘Armchair Activist’, a song which has sat on the MySpace player on the Punk 4 The Homeless site for over 2 years. Possibly the happiest song is ‘Drinking With The Punk Rock Family’. At times like this it is great to be part of the underdog punk family. The band get asked for an encore, to which the youngest member of the band declares himself too knackered to continue. But continue they do and finish with the old classic ‘The Thatcher’, about the old lady herself. Hope to see you at the Party one day VERY soon.

On to Drongos for Europe.  Having, until recent years, spent my life drunk, I can’t actually recall ever seeing Drongos. I know that I put them on circa 05 with Doom, as part of a Tsunami Benefit but I was too ill to attend the gig. I have chatted to the guys on occasion and still own a couple of their 7inch singles from the early eighties but as for actually seeing them ????????, so what were they like tonight?  EXCELLENT- full on punk rock. A couple of the songs they played I knew having recently played them on the radio show but THEY ROCKED! Big time, full force, no holds barred, punk rock. Loads of energy, tight as tight gets. Interactive, no ego, punk bloody rock. Some great guitar work, loads of rock n roll posturing for good measure. At times a two headed vocal firing squad. Song titles included, ‘Don’t Need A Gun’, ‘Stand Up Be Strong’, ‘Fight For Your Rights’, ‘Revolution Times’.  A very positive punk band with well humoured banter between songs. I could have listened to much more so looks like I have missed out for several years.

The Saturday was cancelled due to a licensing technicality so no kids or freaks helped today.
But the kids can be helped-here-
And here’s Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Chuck em’ some of your beer money.

So the Sunday sees us back at The Old Angel. We arrive late, just as the first band, Multitude Of Sins are on their last two songs. They were playing full force punk to an almost empty room but they didn’t let this stop em’- both barrels fired-eeehhhh.

Next on stage, Asbo Peepshow, a handful more punters and a handful more influences. Kinda Sloppy Seconds meets Blaggers ITA; yes it is a weird world we live in. These are just two influences this tight young band take and sublimate but they are by no means a two trick pony.  In the set they throw in an edgy ska song followed directly by a fast punchy punk number. If they have a pop punk bone in their body they found it on SLF’s second album which wasn’t a bad place to look.

Next boys and girls - Girlfixer:- extremely tight, metal edged punk, possibly sounding like a noisy crossbreed of No Future Records and Post Hardcore. Tight as you like with a large Mohawk on a young lady whose vocals remind me of the lady from The Violators (indeed). Said vocals are backed up by two blokes doing almost scream vocal style. Does it work?- very well, are they professional? -indeed. Am I entertained? - partially. It’s actually not totally my cup of tea but I seem to be in the minority, most of the people around me are more than impressed, which speaks far louder than my likes or dislikes.

Well onto The Fuckwits, their clash sensibilities ooze. Their Kings Road, late 70’s attire is nice. Loads of peroxide and hair spiking substance (much like myself) and we have some blokes who have my fondness for Strummer, making a tuneful, thoughtful punk rock. These guys are well capable of holding a tune and the punters seem to like em’. As for me, it’s not happening, normally I love anything Clash-esque but I am full of Flu and snot so decide to clear off downstairs for fresh air and a rest.

Downstairs I bump into a young punk guy who I have seriously pissed off a few years ago when I was ‘off the planet’. Turns out he’s the boyfriend of Cryogenics bass player. Eagle (being a nice chappy these days) apologizes and offers hand of friendship. Hopefully thereby gluing a bit of a fracture in our punk rock family. Who knows, they are on next so what are they like?

Cryogenics, hard as you like, early 80’s influenced punk. An obvious love for Discharge and maybe a nod to Conflict. ITS WAKE UP TIME, they clear my head much better than the stuff I have been snorting (Olbas Oil). Yes, I like it, yip, Singy, shouty bits with shouty singy bits. Anti-War songs, anti BNP songs good old punk fave topics. Titles include, ‘Plastic Pig’, ‘Americas War’ and ‘Taxed to Death’. Angry, tightly played punk with some intentional feedback. Somewhere during the set, The Exploited also enter the equation-sweet.
Aged 16, I saw Discharge for the first time, my thoughts then were that they were a crap metal band. However I grew to love the sound and the sound of many of the harder punk bands. I like Cryogenics in much the same way.

Sick Pig followed and for me were the best band of the day. Young guys and gal doing anarcho punk extremely well. Youthful vibrancy rooted in a solid punk history. The female bass player, who’s backing vocals sound like a tweenie version of Eve Libertine (pc anarcho fascist lady from middle England), not slagging the girls vocals off, I LIKE EM, just describing, is the daughter of English Dogs Wakey, and she is one hell of a bass player. Dad should be proud. The vocalist, young but experienced and determined, shouts, screams, jerks his anger and disgust, get out of their way. I had never seen this lot before so I was chuffed to bits that they were so good. Like discovering a dark chocolate Bounty for the first time. They got the venue moving, fast, fast but tunefully fast, anarcho punk just like Uncle Conflict used to make. Keep going, keep doing what you do. I love it. Anarchy, Peace and Freemasons-yeeeessssssss. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEEE indeed.

Certified next - Just before they were to come on I bumped into the drummers girlfriend, an old friend of mine who I have only spoke to twice in about twenty years. Nice when that happens, but anyway:- Raging and ramming like a possessed African elephant trying to knock down Adrian’s Wall. Volatile, hostile, anger and saliva bursting from a mighty, unstoppable force. Beautifully ugly which takes no prisoners. A square three course meal of liver with extra iron tablets. Tattoos by the ton, swimming in perspiration and spittle. Where were you in the early eighties? These guys were probably doing just what they are doing tonight. Tight knit musical family of a band, marching to carnage central, get on board. Energy akin to diesel oil to keep this machine revving til' the crash. DONE - Shell shock-time to clear off to find coffee and headache tablets.

The last act I saw was Paul Carter. First time I had ever seen him and thankfully not what I expected. I was expecting some crap off Crass Records, Bullshit Detector type psuedoanarchy but no, a clever, funny, punk influenced, singer song writer with acoustic guitar. Initially I wasn’t sure if I was watching Chaz or Dave but then I got it. The clever humour talked such topics as X-Factor, Lady Boys and going to the doctors with an itchy arse. He did a song “dedicated to the anti-acoustic league”, in which he suggests that when anarchy arrives the electric bands will shit out cuz there will be no electricity. His rendition of the Benny Hill theme tune was phenomenal. He also covered Sham 69’s ‘If The Kids Are United’ which gives me a chance to rant about the person who nicked a Punk 4 The Homeless T-Shirt, thereby taking food out of very hungry children’s mouths. As it was, due to the authorities screwing things up, the event never made any money for those who desperately need it. But don’t worry the shirt will match your NIKE trainers. Anyway another great song he performed and one I totally agree with the sentiments was “living in the past”, very much about the fact that there are loads of great bands about nowadays and you don’t just need to reminisce.  Enjoyed the bloke loads and my Mrs lost her voice due to laughing so much-BONUS.

So that’s about it  except a few thank u’s - Jonny March obviously, Steve Nelson, who sponsored event, all the bands, Rachel for photos, bar staff and anyone else involved-you know who you are.
Jonny has kindly finished this review-cheers ALL.  (Eagle Spits)

EAGLE SPITS an unexpected unrehearsed address from an unwell Eagle roused a reaction, spitting venom on society and authority and the front row. Emotive subject matter such as Down’s Syndrome Euthanasia (infanticide) overwhelmed the man himself as well stirring the feelings of the people watching and enjoying the poetry, think an anarcho style John Cooper Clarke and you're not far off the mark. Nice and different, well done Eagle, more please!

THE VILE; what would you expect of a punk group formed from Discharge/Varukers/Broken Bones and Certified. Sheer class and enjoyment from the band that was very well received by one and all, don't know how these guys find the time? A couple of Sex Pistols covers (‘Queen’ and ‘Belsen’) were given uk82 treatment which really worked and their original material was very high standard, brutal English sounding punk! Rat, Sean and Tez were clearly having a whale of a time, never thought I'd see Mr.Varuker throwing shapes, they were all having a ball as was the entire room, big respect to them for playing and special mention to drummer young Ben who held his own among these pro's.  MUST BE SEEN!

VERBAL WARNING - the longest serving punk band in Nottingham were unfortunate to have to follow The Vile but someone had to, all but a dozen or so (and at times less) sought refreshment during their set which was well delivered with powerful choruses, UK77 punk that sang about modern day problems. Well done lads you played as if the room was packed! (Where were your usual crew, seen you play to hundreds in Nottingham in the past?) (Jonny March).

review by Gary Eagling/Jonnny March (10 May 2012)