So I am extremely lucky to have The Horn as my local venue; the home to some of the most insane bands I’ve seen, giving new bands and upcoming talent a platform to play
on long before anyone else, The Horn has a stunning reputation for unearthing new talent before most people have got their heads round the last wave of artists introduced by the venue. Working with Juicebox Live, the venue has put on some incredible gigs, and I’ve been a regular at Juicebox gigs since last September, having first done a gig there in 2015. This week celebrated a very special landmark in Juicebox’s history; 10 years since Luke Hinton started up the promotion company. In these ten years, bands like Slaves, Sundara Karma, VANT, The Magic Gang and Yonaka have played the venue…some big names to say the very least. But what I love the most is the finesse Juicebox have in giving tiny upcoming DIY bands a stage to play on.
Last night was the Juicebox Live 10th birthday party, with five acts taking to The Horn to play all night long. Rather than doing a standard gig review, I wanted to do a piece exploring the top bands I’ve seen at The Horn, and the top live acts I’ve discovered thanks to Luke and the Juicebox team.
A rowdy four piece band, I first saw Concrete Caverns playing Independent Venue Week in January. Since then, the band have become far more gritty and raw with their bold
riffs and politicised lyrics, epitomising the attitude and pure essence of punk music perfectly. Joe’s vocal is incredibly gritty and gravely, which is just what I like in indie rock/ post punk music. Always a hectic force on stage, the band’s sets are always packed with loud blaring riffs from Zach and Joe, tied together brilliantly by the finessed meticulous riffs from Liam. Last night I got to see the band play again, and the riffs and loops from drummer Adam were amazing too, packed with energy and power. Never shying away from a politicised message either, the band are proudly left wing with their powerful lyrics. They released debut single Unforgivable a couple days ago, and it’s a riotous political track with raw riffs and killer vocals giving it that post punk bite.
Strange Bones… so much to say about this band. Aggressive raucous punk, with a pure
70s bite. Their music is full of so much power and intensity, heavy riffs and thrashing screaming vocals from Bobby giving them an authentic punk edge. Tracks like Snakepit and Spitfire always get insane reactions from the crowd, with mosh pits, crowd surfing, and inevitable beer chucking and falling over just a natural part of their gigs. I’ve seen the band seven times now since January (where they played IVW at The Horn), and two of these times have been at The Horn. They always deliver an insane set, with thrashing drumming and rich heavy basslines from Will matching the screaming riffs from Jack and Bobby perfectly. What I love about Strange Bones too is the powerful lyricism embedded in their music; Big Sister Is Watching is a vivid political dig at the right wing media, a ‘toxic press’ as Bobby described it to me. The message behind their lyrics is fuelled with anger and aggression, creating an intimidating and moody aura. The band don’t shy away from controversy or in your face punk vivacity either, Bobby often chucking a balaclava over his face and referring to the Tories and The Sun as ‘scum.’
An artsy group full of spirited ambience, 485C embody beautifully the meaning of shoe gaze indie rock, bringing back an old school 80s sound with modern twists and unique
riffs rippled through. It’s indie with a psych-rock twist, very unique and cleverly written. Adam’s voice is beautiful too; it has a certain grit to it, an underlying element of rawness, but with this gorgeous quality of power and fullness to it, especially on tracks like She’ll Lie and Manic Filters. I love the unorthodox Avant-garde nature to the band, and the meticulous rawness of the riffs makes their sound even more intense. A five piece, Adam sometimes picks up guitar, meaning there are always 3/4 guitars playing at the same time. Rather than this being loud and heavy though, Dom and Rory almost intertwine their guitar riffs so they’re each playing something more delicate and finessed. Sam is a wonderful bassist too, and I love the way him and Dom play together (often standing next to one another on stage). What makes 485C so unique is the abrasive attitude and confidence to them, incredibly mesmerising to watch. Adam is a wonderful frontman too, embodying the carelessness and class of iconic front-men such as Morrissey or Ian Curtis. This neo-psych flow of indie rock mystery and romanticism makes 485C an absolute pleasure to see live; of the 4 times I’ve seen them, 3 have been thanks to Juicebox Live.
I’ve been lucky enough to see J.W. Paris live three times now, each time at The Horn. Playing with bands like The Amazons and Yonaka, the three piece are always a stand out act for me and I love them to pieces. A raw gritty rock band, J.W. Paris are made up of Aaron, Josh and Dan. Aaron and Dan take turns on lead and back up vocals, taking it in turns on each track and harmonising beautifully throughout their sets. Aaron’s voice is packed with this dark grit, a gravely undertone matching the breezy rawness of Dan’s voice perfectly. Dan on lead guitar and Aaron on bass is a lethal combination too, and tracks like Berlin, Wanted More, and Darker Side of Paradise have brilliantly polished tight riffs layered over Josh’s impassioned aggressive drumming. Josh is a fantastic drummer, his little loops and drum rolls just as refined and delicate as they are powerful and raw. There’s a seductive blues infused grunge edge to their music too, and they always tear the stage to pieces when they play. Slowly growing in popularity, not just around the local area but in London too, you can catch the band at Nambucca in a couple of weeks for the Some Might Say launch party. Buy tickets here.
One of the best live discoveries I’ve made this year, BlackWaters played at The Horn in January for IVW on their co-headline tour with Strange Bones, and I was blown away by their set. A young band, they have this youthful rowdiness to their sets, an exciting indie punk edge giving them a very FIDLAR/ Shame/ Arctic Monkeys edge. Max’s vocal is gritty
and rough and raw, with a really careless punk edge to it which I love. David is a wonderful guitarist too, backed up perfectly by the raucousness of Ollie on bass and James on drums. What makes BlackWaters so special live is their energy and no-shit approach. Tracks like Help Me, So Far Out, and Let The Good Times Roll always go down a storm, fuelled by the vigorous bite and energetic grit they have. Having toured with bands like Strange Bones, Carl Barât & The Jackals, and Marmozets this year alone, there’s something veryyy special going on with these lads. The group feature as the cover band for Issue One of Some Might Say, which you can buy here. BIG up.
Of the three times I’ve been lucky enough to see October Drift, each one has been thanks to Juicebox. One of the most insane bands I’ve ever seen live, there’s this manic deranged intensity to the four piece, their sets full of hectic aggression and abrasiveness. Kiran’s
voice is calming and soft, gliding perfectly over the amped up distorted guitar riffs; the way they all play is mesmerising on stage, with this air of being in a whole other world on stage. There’s a feel of darkness and boldness to them, completely uncaring and unaware of anything other than the music. Tracks like Cherry Red and Losing My Touch are phenomenal, the guitar simply being out of this world. To create such a blurry distorted mess with this underlying feel of delicacy really demonstrates the immense skill and talent to the band. The band are wonderful on record, but the spirit and unique rawness to October Drift comes across perfectly in its most pure form when the band play live. Their sets are manic and frenzied with a sense of unhinged immensity, and every single October Drift gig I’ve been to has been a stunning experience, it being an absolute honour to witness these four lads play.
Supporting your local scene is so important, I can’t stress how crucial it is. Keeping the scene alive and thriving starts with going to see local bands at your small grassroots venues, and I’m beyond lucky that The Horn is my local. For full listings and future gigs at the venue, head to their website here. Happy 10th birthday Juicebox!
Here’s some more snaps I’ve taken of bands playing Juicebox gigs (at The Horn and Wilkestock festival)