Femcore bands are on the warpath and it’s a joy to behold, especially when they’re as incendiary and intense as Baltimore’s WAR AGAINST WOMEN (Junction, 2nd Aug). Apart from one unfortunate moment of mob-rule misadventure, it’s bands like this who ensure that hardcore doesn’t become the machismo-sodden boys club it repeatedly descends into. Decidedly un-macho men, WALNUT FALCONS, played their last ever show and it was a beaut (Nowhere juke joint, 25th Aug). The Plymouth band’s command of country and bluegrass took on a celebratory hue as they harmonised and honky-tonked to perfection, honouring the legacy of Willie, Johnny and Hank along the way.
Canada multi-faith indie-rockers, MEWITHOUTYOU, were a revelation; gracefully seesawing between euphoric highs and tearful lows (Junction, 27th Aug). Openers, YNDI HALDA, stretched pensive post-rock soundscapes to breaking point and ended their set with a truly sublime, hand-held bell-ringing finale that, for a few minutes, felt like God herself was nibbling our ears with her pearly whites.
My band of merry men, CRAZY ARM, played our first hometown show in forever (Junction, 28th Aug). I’ll hand you over to Dan Shelby, who proffered this succinct review of us: “Fockin class.” Thanks. Steampunkin’ slaughterhouse-blues duo, THE WATTINGERS, wrestled with technical gremlins as they spun their brilliantly oddball redneck yarns with a nod to Ministry, splatter-movies and Tom Waits; KING COLOBUS delightfully darkened the mood with their two-parts QOTSA, one-part gothic melodrama; and openers, local boys, TRIPPER, frolicked at will between the rhythmic nous of Fugazi and the heaviosity of Torche. An outstanding debut.
There was a particularly scathing review of PETROL GIRLS‘ Plymouth performance (Junction, 31st Aug) on a webzine recently. It was a hatchet job that wilfully mistook the band’s aggressive self-defence for misandry, and also failed to mention that Petrol Girls rocked hard. Needless to say, the band’s hard-line feminist stance was inspirational, and they rocked so fucking hard it hurt. PERKIE‘s gently melancholic piano balladry was the perfect foil to PG’s animus; while Cornish grungeniks, HONEY, spat out succulent Cobain-inspired riffs like a malfunctioning tennis ball machine.
It may be the 40th anniversary of Punk™ but Plymouth Punx Picnic celebrated its 20th year in true DIY fashion. I missed the first night (soz) but arrived at the Junction (9th Sept) in time to catch SPLINK ploughing a decent enough furrow in almost-2 Tone nearly-ska. Punking things up a notch or five were ANGRY ITCH with a solid bruising noise, but it was MISERABLE WRETCH who stole the show, combining nu-grrrl politics with disjointed, no-wave sonics. Enduring anarchos, VIRUS, topped things off with a decent mid-tempo slice of aural insurgency.
I missed Saturday night (double soz) and resumed on the Sunday (Thistle, 11th Sept) where Bristol politico-punks, SPANNER, were doling out simplistic shoutalong anthems to a zealous throng. They had me up until they dissed Peaky Blinders. Someone clearly forgot to tell them that you don’t fuck with the Peaky Blinders. Local loons, POPULATION PODS, have been around for a while and their comedy thrash was as juvenile and jocular as ever. But where would punx picnix be without the perennial 2 SICK MONKEYS and their deranged prodding of NoMeansNo with Stiff Little Fingers? And if singer/bassist, Pete Butler’s lovingly ferocious, gravel-voiced banter doesn’t win you over, nothing will. The last band of the weekend were old-skoolies, THE CLEANERS, whose array of classic punk rock covers (with a smidgen of originals) included at least five Clash songs. Being tipsy and an unashamed Clashite meant that I spent more time onstage than off, which I can only apologise for. But shan’t. See-ya bye.