After a couple of weekends of festivals it was back to more conventional gig going as The Paper Street Soap Company (aka The Black Vote’s Andy Duchemin and not anything to do with Tyler Durden) staged a night of punk rock, hard indie and grunge-y sounds at The Fermain Tavern.
First to take to the stage were Jawbone, playing their debut show to a public audience. Mixing punk rock covers from the likes of Misfits, Ramones, Alkaline Trio and The Damned, the four-piece raced through their set at true punk rock pace with buzzing power chords and plenty of shout along choruses, even if many in the crowd weren’t actually shouting back yet.
Guitarist Lee Burton (formerly of Spat and more recently one of The Black Vote’s past bass players) was clearly enjoying being back on stage and holding his Gretsch after a long while off and, despite a broken foot, put on a great performance while Dan Keltie did his best Mike Dirnt on the bass.
For singer Steve Scraton and drummer Alex Morton-Childs though this was, to my knowledge, their first ever public show and the nerves did come across a couple of times. For a first outing though, this was a great set and it was nice to hear some different songs getting covered, particularly the likes of Roots Radicals, Neat Neat Neat and Bonzo Goes To Bitburg – The Doomsday Project this was not!
While I have enjoyed The Black Vote in the past, recent gigs have seen them become increasingly hard to like on stage and here they were slurred and sloppy even by their own previously ‘impressive’ standards. While Andy Duchemin’s vocals can sometimes be punchy and somewhat visceral they were loose and indecipherable here, while Cam Le Page’s guitar quickly descended into messy noise from which it never really recovered.
Kieran Smale did a good job of giving the whole thing a solid rhythm, at least, but, what used to be fun and felt like something the audience was in on, has become boring and all but cleared the room – but I guess that’s part of what makes punk music what it is, sometimes its great and sometimes it just all falls apart, and I know which camp this set fell into…
Jersey’s Hank Chinaski made their Fermain Tavern debut next and, as the set started things seemed promising with a very energetic frontman and a sound mixing parts of emo-core, grunge and the punkier end of indie. As things went on though it became clear that the band really only had one sound and the frontman’s energy, rather than being directed at the audience (who came and went across the set) was directed at a camera set up to record the show.
While there were moments where there seemed to be something interesting going on in Hank Chinaski’s sound it was lost behind a wall of noise and what felt like over-thought posturing and posing that failed to engage many of the audience – though a pit of five or six people did kick off briefly during one song, it soon dissipated and a screamy cover of a Nirvana track just really didn’t work.
Making their first live appearance this year Lifejacket started out their set with a few bass amp problems and something of their previous power and bile missing.
As the set went on though, and a few more headed down the front, after seemingly deciding to escape the venue during or after Hank Chinaski, the viciousness of Andy Sauvage’s vocals began to comeback while all three musicians’ (Claire Mockett on drums and John McCarthy on bass) power started to grow again.
With a new song in the mix that continued their trend of pop-tinged hard indie Lifejacket once again showed they are band worth keeping an eye on and, despite a broken bass guitar string that led to an impromptu rendition of Andy’s cult favourite Shit Myself For Love, they continued to up the ante to the end of the set, with Brains, Meanwhile In Hollywood and their take on Mclusky’s Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues ending things on a high, and the crowd had started to be drawn back in by this point as well.
Having fast become headliner material over the last couple of months, To The Woods hit the stage with good intentions and, while they too had some amp problems, this time on the guitar side of the stage, it wasn’t long before they were powering through their set.
While they were far sloppier here than their last few outings, with frontman Bobby Battle almost destroying both Dan Garnham’s drums and half the crowd in his over exuberance, they still managed to hold things together and once again demonstrate a real unreconstructed ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ vibe to their grunge-y indie.
As the set went on, and the Breda flowed further, things got even sloppier but To The Woods just about held it together and put in a great fun performance topped off by a guest appearance from SugarSlam’s Plumb on extra guitar and vocals for This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll that ended on the night on a fun, upbeat, high.