Strange Bones have been on fire these last few months, rounding off what has been a killer 2017 with a huge tour, playing over 25 gigs in some of the UK’s best intimate grassroots venues. Whilst the archaic energy the band have is perfect for bigger venues, they always create an undeniably riotous and raw atmosphere in those cramped dark sweaty venues. Wednesday night last week saw the Blackpool lads stop off at The Horn in St Albans, a thrilling return since they last played the venue for Independent Venue Week at the start of the year. Always a thrill to see live, their set was packed with
insanely huge riffs, crowd surfing and mosh pits, which erupted the minute the band walked out on stage. My 6th time seeing the band (ended up at their Camden gig the next day too), Strange Bones one again proved why they’re my favourite live band at the moment. There’s an insatiable chaotic sense of madness to their sets, fuelled by the purest taste of punk aggression and angst. The insane set from Strange Bones followed support from local acts Written In Ink and Diamond In The Dirt.
The first band to play were Written In Ink; I first saw the band last year supporting October Drift, and remember being really impressed by their sound and on stage aura. Wednesday night was no different. There were heavy mosh pits and circle pits from the off, which is always promising; the band had clearly brought loads of mates down, and the crowd were wonderful. They were riotous, with an insatiable amount of energy and passion for old school rock music. Written In Ink are a five piece, and they played perfectly in sync together which can be challenging with so many people playing all at once. There was an experimental bite to their music too, mixing in pop riffs with more heavy rock bass lines. Myles swapped his guitar too at one point for a saxophone, which complemented their sound really well. I’ve said it so many times before but Mia is an insane drummer too, and the meticulousness of her playing really adds something special and intense to the band’s music. All the riffs and guitar loops tied in really well with the crowd’s want to mosh and jump to the music. What I loved about this band too is how young they all are; aged just 17/18, they’re creating something remarkably promising and exciting in the local music scene.
Next up came the second support slot of the evening, from hardcore grunge four piece Diamond In The Dirt. A punk infused post 90s sounding band, Diamond In The Dirt had a crazy heavy grunge feel to their set. It’s not punk in a classic old school sense, their sound instead had a more hardcore feel to it, similar to early Marmozets or Nirvana, even likeable to early music from bands like Slaves and Pulled Apart By Horses. The screaming and thrashing rawness of the band was not compromised one bit by a lack of energy either; the band were crazy up on stage. Often jumping into the crowd and running around that circle pit whilst playing at the same time, there was something really heavy and intense about their set. The raucous savage sound they had fuelled an intense adrenaline in the audience, with moshing and circle pits continuing from Written In Ink’s set. Diamond In The Dirt definitely possessed a more heavy edge, with a gritty grunge bite giving their set a bold and explosive aura.
And then finally for Strange Bones, man, what a band. I’ve raved on and on and on about them since I first heard God Save The Teen last year. Fucking hell, they’re good. They’re one of those bands who are insane on record, I genuinely listen to their stuff every single day, but live they’re on a whole other level. I’ve seen them loads this year, at intimate venues like The Horn, The Victoria and Camden’s Dr. Marten’s store, as well as playing bigger gigs like Reading festival, playing with Cabbage and The Blinders at Scala, and supporting Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes at Koko.
Their set the other night was explosive, an incredible showcase of UK punk. They opened with Snakepit, which may be my favourite live track they do (although I say that about all their tracks to be fair). The set opened with a siren wailing in the background, this siren being the opening of Snakepit. That rolling guitar riff then kicks in, Bobby and Jack being unreal guitarists. Will’s bass amplified the existing heaviness up brilliantly, and by the chorus Bobby was already in the crowd. The pit from track one was insane, with avid fans eagerly singing back each lyric and riff to the band…you know you’ve made it when the crowd screams your riffs back to you, right? The rest of their setlist was absolutely mega, performing nine tracks including We The Rats, Big Sister Is Watching, S.O.I.A,
and God Save The Teen. For me, the highlight track was Big Sister Is Watching just because I love the nasty political bite it has to it; when I last interviewed the band Bobby and Will spoke of a ‘toxic press,’ and since then Bobby’s famous DIY ‘The Scum’ shirt (in the style of the Sun logo) has become official band merch. The track is full of power and aggression and energy, and I grabbed the mic off balaclava-clad Bobby at one point to scream the ‘B-I-G-S-I-S-T-E-R’ line into it. Spitfire was another highlight, as it always is live. How the band perform it is a build up of Jack on lead guitar and that electrifying bass from Will, building up and up and up before Bobby screams ‘If I was in World War Two they’d call me Spitfire,’ jumping into the crowd as the guitars crash down in sync. Spitfire is one of the most insane punk tracks I know, simply because it’s authentic punk with harsh riffs and deep thudding bass lines which make it all the more intense.
Another highlight, of course, was the band’s rendition of Energy. I say rendition, as the original track features rapping and grime-style verses from Stormzy and Skepta. The Strange Bones version features a deep rich bass line (rather than the synthetic style bass in the original), with Bobby screaming into the mic ‘don’t show up to my show if you got no energyyyy.’ Live, the track never disappoints, with (no pun intended) a fuck load of energy injected into it. The fusion of punk and grime is sick, but live they
deliver it as a pure punk track, changing the line ‘She wants a man from London’ to ‘She wants a man from Blackpool’ (naturally). As mentioned before, I saw the band play Camden the next day and for Energy I ended up grabbing the mic with Bobby screaming ‘no bad energy’ on repeat. What I love to death about the band is how hectic and raw and passionate they are live. It’s straight up, in your face punk, with a killer heaviness and riotous abrasive feel to it. The band are the best live, end of. I always say the three best live bands around right now are Strange Bones, BlackWaters and False Heads. Big up.
Strange Bones still have loads of gigs left on their tour, and I implore you to go if they’re playing near you (or just make the journey out to see ’em). Tickets available here