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Monday, 13 June 2011

Phoenix Mayhem Punkfest - Ivory Blacks - 12/6/11

There's tumble weed blowing through Ivory Blacks, and in the distance I can hear a noise.
It's a repetitive beat.
It's not the sound of a heartbeat pumping blood around a healthy body, but instead it's the sound of another nail being hammered into the coffin of the live music scene.
This is starting to remind me of 'Groundhog Day'.
Another venue, another poor turn out.
Unless it's a high profile show in a major venue then it's the same old story of bands valiantly battling the Lords of Apathy, and the same sad tale of yet another music fan delving into promoting only to get their arse chewed off.
The Phoenix Mayhem Punk festival is a prime example of this.
Great bands, text book promotion job and a cheap as chips door tax, but it still isn't enough to get people to make that leap from the couch to their local venue.
As a gig goer I'd like to think that my attendance at the shows, the buying of t-shirt and CDs etc is helping keep everything afloat, but I'm delusional.
All I am doing, along with the other people who turned up last night, is fuckin' the dried out coma victim that is the live music scene on this level.
We are the last men, and women, standing.
The ones who refuse to turn of the life support while praying that a miracle will happen and the glory days will return.
It must seem ludicrous from the outside looking in, but the reason we do hang in there is because while others can't be bothered we still get a thrill from watching bands in the clubs and the pubs locally.
We just can't seem to let go.
Enough of that negativity though.
Instead here's what people missed.

The Liberty Club.
Bit of a paradox these guys.
On one hand they sound great, but on the other they look shit.
I don't know if it's supposed to be a punk rock anti fashion statement, but injecting a bit of rock and roll pizazz would have made there set jump up from being damn good to bloody great.
It's getting that balance thing right.
All the bits are in place musically.
The mix of rock guitar and punk rock attitude works extremely well
That side, the most important side, is well covered, but providing a visual show would help the band more so than they may think.
There's nothing worse than a band who are all style and no substance, but a band who are all substance and zero style will struggle to get out of the starting gates to.
It's a harsh reality, but a reality none the less.
Some new threads and moving about a bit could make a world of difference for these guys.
People don't just want to hear a band.
They want to see a band.
As an opening act they fit the bill, but with a tweak here and there and they could easily outgrow that position and do so much more.
The original songs they play hit the spot and their choice of covers is nothing to be sniffed at.
There's a rollicking take on The Newton Grunts homage to Abba called Super Trooper and a ballsy version of Cock Sparrer's Runnin Riot. The latter seeing them joined by Shug O'Neill, currently of The Snipes, but previously a member of Cock Sparrer.
Definitely a band to watch out for.

The Skudpuppetz
First song in and I was thinking it was maybe time I took a walk around the building to kill time until the next band came on. The second song reinforced the idea, but before I got away the third one pulled me in and from then on it wasn't too bad at all.
Strange how that small change of pace and direction can catch your attention.
Initially the Skudpuppetz sounded like they had learnt everything they knew from a couple of Rancid singles and the Ramones song 'Warthog', but once they settled into their set there was a bit of ska thrown in and the sharing of vocals helped shade it all to.
Okay, they have a tendency to go down the vein popping throat tearing one hundred mile an hour punk noise route, but thankfully they aren't as one dimensional as many of their peers can be, and that's important, as without that ability to branch out then they would just be another second division punk band who would wash up on the shores of obscurity.
I wouldn't go as far as to say that they rang my bell, but they didn't piss me off and I didn't go for the walk that I was contemplating on.
A plus for sure.
The talent is most definitely there and I'm sure that fans of harder edged punk rock would lap them up.

Ana Trash and the Sociopaths
This is one of those bands whose name keep popping up, but until this show I couldn't have told anyone much about them.
In my ignorance I thought they were a female fronted band with the traditional lead and rhythm guitars, drums and bass, but instead it's Ana on lead guitar and the Sociopaths are simply Abi Sociopath on drums.
You would expect that being a duo would limit the sound, make it more minimalistic, but that's not the case at all.
Abi carries everything along with a relentless beat and some nice flourishes.
More John Bonham than Meg White.
In fact she's the frantic eye of the storm that holds it all together while Ana riffs away adding her own little sonic twists on the guitar.
To be honest the first song didn't win me over as I found it too repetitive, but then everything clicked into place.
There's a bit of a Slits attitude to what they're doing.
It's not right out front slapping you in the face, but it's there and it helps that Ana can growl and howl with the best of them.
I suppose that while so many bands play to punk rock stereotypes by thinking that making a racket is all that is required Ana Trash and the Sociopaths actually have it sussed.
The racket has to be in context and have a point. It has to have some form in the chaos.
So while others are still blindly scrambling about in the dark trying to get a clue this is the band that have hit the barn door instead of missing it by a mile.

The Media Whores
yet another fantastic set from the Media Whores.
They initially pulled me in when I seen them supporting Spear of Destiny.
It was at that gig that I picked up a a copy of their d├ębut 'Starfishing' and since then it seems to keep gravitating to my stereo.
It's what we in Scotland would call a 'belter' of a release, and the band can play the shit out of it live to.
For some strange reason though the majority of an already sparse crowd decided to grab some fresh air, or nicotine, and buggered off when they came on.
It was a what the fuck moment as like everyone else I think the people should like what I like.
That they should appreciate what I hear in a band and concur that they are indeed bloody great.
How the hell anyone would want to wander off and miss these guys is a mystery to me.
While I had enjoyed all the band who had already played to various degrees I would have to say that I would have rather missed one of them than The Media Whores.
I've got to ask.
What's not to like.
It's sort of a full package deal.
They can all play to a very high standard, they have well written original songs and in their front man they have someone that can drive it all home.
Everything is there.
Maybe they're considered not punk enough by a certain type who think that everything starts and ends with a mohican and a studded leather jacket.
Bollocks to that though.
Just because a band can write well crafted melodic songs and play them well doesn't mean that they're not a punk band.
The Media Whores prove that every time the step onto a stage.
I'd personally highly recommend them to anyone who has a record collection that spans the Jam to Wire.
There's a bit of everything in what they do and it all fits together pretty much seamlessly.
There set was definitely one of the highlights of my night.

The Red Eyes
Glasgow's unsung heroes, and I'm not sure what I can add to what I have already said about The Red Eyes in the past.
How many times can you say that a band are the dogs bollocks?
How many superlatives can I use that I haven't already to describe them?
I'm firmly of the opinion that if they had recorded an album in 1979 then they would currently be on par with Stiff Little Fingers or Buzzcocks.
They're that good.
People can laugh at that, but all the evidence I would need to defend my position was there in front of me on the stage.
Go and check them out and then come back and tell me I'm wrong.
Although I'll probably just ignore anyone who disagrees with me.
Alan Bishop has a fine voice and lyrically and musically the band are firing on all cylinders.
I would love to see these guys get the kudos they deserve.
If they were to announce that they were splitting up and did one more gig and advertised it as such, then they could easily pull in a good few hundred people, but by being the stalwarts of the Glasgow scene people seem to have the notion that they don't have to go out and see them as there will always be another gig.
All I can say to that is I thought the same about The Cramps, and then they never came back, and now there is no chance of seeing them.
Now I know people wont see that as the same, but the Message is that you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

The Duel
All the way from London to Glasgow for a single gig.
You can't knock that can you?
It's that sort of attitude that endears people to the band.
Mechanical problems, equipment forgotten and a police stop in Glasgow all raised their ugly heads, but as usual the show must go on.
So there they were, larger than life, but missing their Korg.
Life had thrown them some lemons and they were making lemonade.
I've got no comparison to make with what the band would have sounded with the Korg in place, but without it they rock.
So I don't think that we were missing anything in Glasgow.
What we got was a straight ahead rock and roll show and while I like the breadth of what the band do in the studio this is what I want to see on stage.
Pumpy has been with the band for an age now and the back beat never falters as you would expect, but the new, to me, guys have really brought something else to the party.
Thanos on lead guitar knows his way about the frets and looks as if he enjoys letting go and getting the notes out there. Meanwhile Chris on bass is outstanding.
I'm not a musician, but even to my untrained ears that some fancy stuff he plays and it all nicely balanced.
Nothing that the band do is overpowering and holding anyone else back in the shade.
It's a well oiled machine, or at the every least they are giving the impression that it is, because any changes they have had to make to fill in for the Korg not being used is unnoticeable.
I see bands all the time and many of them can be filed away into two boxes.
Good local bands who are entertaining and then those band who have that little bit of magic that you know could transfer out to a wider audience.
A friend describes them as hobby bands compared to real bands.
The Duel are of the latter type.
This is their life and not a sideline and they live and breath it.
The only misgivings I had about the performance was the inclusion of the keytar.
I'm not sure about the keytar that Andy has, but that's maybe just me.
The damn things just throw up images of Kajagoogoo and their ilk.
Every time my eyes wandered to that side of the stage I just had to ask myself what the fuck Andy was doing with it.
It's just a visual thing though.
I've got a sneaky suspicion that once the show was finished he headed outside, packed it into the back seat of his DeLorean, kick started the flux capacitor, and arrived back in London ten minutes before he was due to leave for Glasgow.
Never mind all that though.
Did I say they were great?
Do I have to say it.
The truth is they were bloody fantastic, and the cover of the Clash's London's Calling was sublime.
Hopefully it wont be as long until I see them again.

Have to say sorry to the Hateful guys as I had to leave just as they were about to go on.
If anyone else want to submit a review of their set then I'll happily add it.


  1. Well my friend , before i start one of the guilty ppl that didnt go to this gig (for a genuine reason mind you), But guilty none the less , that being said , as you know , ive been a large part of the local punk scene for at least 20 years , i too have put on several gigs in my time one being the old RAT TRAP venue that used to be down beside the tuxedo princess in 1991 were i had the best turn out id ever seen to a punk gig , the ole wall paper paste in hand with some quality A3 posters certainly done the trick , bands like distorted truth , oi polloi , filthkick , to name a few , But nowheredays we face the ongoing progression of technology and change of days and peoples attitude to music.
    I dont know how many times 4pm played to a near empty venue , not just in glasgow but down south and so forth , small bands are not classed as being worthwhile to go and see , and ppl would rather buy a carryout from the shop and get pissed in the house ...its like trying to get spunk out of a limp dick to get ppl to come to see your band..infact most of the time your practicly begging folk to show up.
    You start asking yourself , wtf do i have to do!!
    Oh then you get rancid , dropkick murphys filling the barrowlands to capacity and folk come crawling out the woodwork ...your like ..were the fuck are these folks when we are playing their houses , cause your not worthy of their attention..simple as that.
    The music scene in general is well and truly buggered.

    I feel sorry for the promoter , like others , she has put in alot of effort and had little return , and ive been their and its a hard pill to swallow i can tell you.

  2. Ach, Peter. You know that not everyone can go to every gig. I could start rattling off names just now of those who over the years have done their bit.
    Some people deserve medals.
    Part of the problem seems to be that no one is picking up the torch for us ol' yins.
    You people aren't bothering.
    Between the latest playstation game and the latest cover star playing the SECC they seem to have lost the time, energy or passion to attend gigs in the club sized venues.

  3. You hit the nail on the head my good friend

  4. If the bands were any good then people would go. Simples.

  5. So how do you explain the success of certain bands and artists who have very little talent?
    The argument that talent equals success and popularity doesn't hold any water at all.
    Now there's a serious answer. Lets see if you can up your game and respond in kind.
    Have you heard any of the bands mentioned?
    One song will do.
    Can you claim any authority on the matter?