A beautiful riot of London’s most pure and immense guitar rock bands; Paves, Calva Louise, & The Velvet Hands live for This Feeling

A stunning showcase of the immense underground rock scene in London which is just brimming with raw talent, This Feeling took to The Monarch in Camden on Thursday evening, bringing together three of the most talked about bands on the DIY post punk circuit. Calva Louise and The Velvet Hands both performed riotous sets, followed by

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The Velvet Hands live

headliners Paves, playing the gig as a launch party for stunning new single Baby. This Feeling always deliver an insanely good lineup, but this time really outdid themselves, the gig even selling out beforehand. The Velvet Hands brought a feel of authenticity and nostalgia to the gig, intertwining classic 60s sounds into their set. A bold Stones-esque edge ripples through their tight licks and riffs, and the nostalgia of their sound was kept just fresh enough by the confidence and abrasive youthfulness present. Bringing a more gritty punk bite to the gig, Calva Louise put on a hectic set as usual; Jess’s sharp riffs and grating vocals fit together perfectly, and the raw DIY edge to the band always makes them a delight to see live. I could go on about the three piece for hours, purely because of the unbelievable talent they have; they possess the skill and talent to write punk tracks with indie and pop undertones to them, whilst maintaining that raw dirty punk grit which is so integral to their sound. Headline band Paves were on top form too; in all honesty it didn’t grip me properly until about halfway through their set, but what was clear nearer the end was how tight and polished they are. Their sound is packed with this rich romanticism, full of riffs which focus more on meticulous delicacy and intricacy than heaviness which I think works really well with the sound the band are going for, which is stunning classic guitar rock. What This Feeling did on Thursday night was mega; a showcase of some of the freshest, most exciting talent in London right now.

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Calva Louise live

What I liked about the gig was the versatility of the evening; each band was so unique in their own way, bringing 60s/70s mod rocker vibes, DIY punk grit, and anthemic guitar rock’n’roll together on one stage. For Paves, the gig was a single release party for Baby which has been released

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Paves live

via This Feeling records, the track being a standout summer tune (as Paves played a host of festivals over the summer for This Feeling). Baby is a brilliant piece of music too, and the reaction from the crowd and packed out buzz inside the venue during their set confirms Mikey Johns’ description of them as ‘the heart and soul of London’s and the UK’s new music scene.’ Paves are very well established in the London scene; they gig constantly and themselves attend most gigs around the city too, building up a reputation and certain popularity for themselves in the process. Live, they have an incredible sound. Luke’s voice is stunning; it’s rich and soothing, at the same time possessing a really tough gritty quality. He pushes it quite a lot in tracks like Baby and Woman, and I love the gravely undertone it has when he applies that extra power to it. The guitar he plays is stunning too, backed up perfectly by Mike who could play riffs for days, a stunning compliment to Tom on drums and bassist Perry. Calva Louise too were a band I already knew of really well, having seen them play live four times now. Jess is a mindblowing front woman, and probably one of the nicest people in the music industry. Her sharp screeches and gritty DIY punk screams ease into soothing pop melodies in an instance, and this glides over her insane riffs perfectly. Alizon on bass (especially in Getting Closer) and Ben on drums fits in with her aura perfectly too, the fact that they rehearse every single day being no surprise when you witness the perfection of their sets. For me though, The Velvet Hands were my favourite set of the night, simply as it’s always a pure

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Riffs for days…Mike of Paves

delight to be that impressed and excited by a band you’ve not yet seen live before. Their sound was rich and authentically rock’n’roll, drawing comparisons to The Rolling Stones, or possibly bands such as Squeeze and The Vaccines. 60s and 70s subculture was clearly an inspiration behind the band, reflected both by their old school sound and image; they could have easily jumped out of the Cavern Club, or some quirky underground London bar in the mid 70s. It can be difficult for a band to sound as if they’ve stepped out of another decade without sounding copycat-ish or cliché, but the confidence of the lads transcended regardless and they pulled their set off with ease.

A five star gig from This Feeling, once again.

© all photos snapped by the amazing Alan Wells (full photo album here)

 

Paves continue their tour for the rest of the month into December, including three more dates with This Feeling, and a special Christmas show with The Wholls and BREED at Bedford Esquires on 16/12

Calva Louise continue with their This Feeling residency, and play The Water Rats on 2/12 and The Monarch (with Rosko and Beach Riot) on 21/12

The Velvet Hands play for Modern Age Music at Paper Dress Vintage on 1/12

And if there’s one thing ya wanna do before the end of the year, it’s to see these bands live, because for all three of them 2018 is gonna go OFF

 

Celebrating Ten Years of Juicebox Live: my gig highlights with Juicebox

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

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The Wholls playing Wilkestock festival for Juicebox 

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.

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The Wholls playing for Juicebox at Wilkestock festival

Concrete Caverns

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

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3/4 of Concrete Caverns at Wilkestock

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.

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Concrete Caverns

Strange Bones

Strange Bones… so much to say about this band. Aggressive raucous punk, with a pure

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Strange Bones, shot by Mollie Yates

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.’

485C

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

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485C live

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.

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485C

J.W. Paris

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 BerlinWanted 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.

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J.W. Paris

BlackWaters

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Backstage at Wilkestock festival

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

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BlackWaters, by Mollie Yates

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 MeSo 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.

October Drift

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

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Chris and Kiran backstage at Wilkestock festival

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.

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October Drift

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)

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Echo Infirmary
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October Drift
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Boothroyd
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485C
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Tilt Back
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BlackWaters
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485C
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The Scruff
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The Scruff
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VANT
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The Wholls
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The Wholls
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The Wholls

Bluesy grunge infused rock at The Horn: J.W. Paris live

This week marks a monumental highlight in Juicebox Live’s history, ten years since the jw paris onepromoter company was born. I owe a lot to Juicebox, having discovered some of my favourite bands (such as Concrete Caverns, October Drift, 485C, Strange Bones and BlackWaters to name but a few…) through them. And one of the best bands Juicebox introduced me to are J.W. Paris, a gritty grunge infused rock trio. I saw the band last winter supporting The Amazons, as well as supporting Yonaka back in May. And last Thursday was a long overdue chance to see them play again. The band played alongside Baby In Vain and Blood Dope-Honey, delivering a stunning set to a pretty packed out venue.

The three piece are made up of Aaron on bass guitar and vocals, Dan on lead guitar and vocals, and Josh on drums. The group’s set up is really unique, with Dan and Aaron swapping lead vocals on each track, and changing from lead and backup harmonising vocals within a matter of seconds. Aaron’s voice blends beautifully with Dan’s, each encompassing a harsh raw grit which gives their music that dirty DIY feel. Their set really was brilliant from start to finish; those deep riffs and harsh bass lines work so well jw paris twowith the powerful aggression from Josh on drums. What I love about the band is how tight their sound is; they play with an air of natural carelessness, clearly having lots of fun on stage, but at the same time each riff is perfectly polished, a vivid sharp feel of meticulous tightness to their sound. Genre wise, it’s hard to categorise J.W. Paris into one box. Rather, they transcend a variety of genres, from gritty post punk grunge, to a more bluesy rock sound. Similar to the sexy sound of The Americas or Dirty Orange, their sound is gripping and delicate, laced with a wonderfully rich authentic rock aura. Set list wise, they played classic tracks LucilleBerlin, and Rapture, as well as new tracks including That’s Why (which they opened with), Charlie, and Darker Side of Paradise. A brilliantly unique and excitingly gritty set from J.W. Paris. the band killed it once again.

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J.W. Paris live

The band play the Some Might Say Zine launch next month at Nambucca alongside The Scruff, Judah Gayle, BREED, and Lucie Barât (what a lineup!). Tickets available for £5 on DICE here

J.W. Paris feature on my Bands to Watch in 2017 list, as well as (of course) featuring on my 25 Upcoming Bands list, Check ’em both out for a dose of sick new music

Causing a riot at Scala: Hotel Lux, The Rhythm Method & shame live

Hotel Lux, The Rhythm Method and shame. Man, what a lineup. Last Wednesday evening at Scala was a beautiful, mad evening of avant-garde art and fashion, sound tracked by uniquely abrasive music from three of the most intriguing bands right now.

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Hotel Lux 

The gig opened with Hotel Lux, a band I first saw live at Truck festival this summer on the So Young stage. What I love about this band is the raw punk attitude they have, not through heavy riffs and aggressive music, but through their unapproachable attitude and the moody sense of arrogance and broodiness to them. A five piece, the band use guitar sounds and a keyboard to build up a raw old school sound, often fusing synth elements in and out of their tracks. There’s a very dark, brooding beat to their music, not the kind you’d mosh to but arrogant and intimidating enough to spark an atmosphere of intrigue and interest from their audience. It seemed like there was a lot of anger to the band, amplifying an aura of grit and rawness which translated to the audience perfectly by the crude spitting delivery of the lyrics. Very bitter and scratchy with a pure British feel (think Skins meets Dead Pretties and Goat Girl), Hotel Lux deliver something very exciting on stage. Catch them live next month in London, playing The George Tavern on the 19th.

Next to grace the stage were The Rhythm Method, a band I’m not quite sure how to describe. The music itself is pure synth, classically 80s with a keyboard and synth machine played alongside a backing track. This kind of music I really don’t like in general, there just seems to be a lack of DIY old school guitar rock which is my personal preference. However, I weirdly enjoyed it? There was something so gripping and hooking about their set, and the music may have been synthetically produced but you could tell the immaculate thought and talent which had gone into it. The band felt like they’d jumped straight out of an underground 80s dance club, with this synthetic dance vibe to the tracks. Politically harsh and gripping, the lyrics touched on something more socially aware and intriguing, which I really liked. Opening one of their tracks with the line ‘if you voted Tory, you’re a nonce,’ the band refused to shy away from a boldly political left wing stance. I think the thing that drew me in to their set was the cockiness and confidence which Hotel Lux too had exhumed so well. The Rhythm Method were tight and impeccable in their sound; normally I’d say that can’t be hard with synth, but their set was just as much about image and performance as music quality, which they delivered extremely well. I would like to see the band live again at some point, but they still haven’t swayed me to synth music completely…still need some convincing!

One thing which made Wednesday evening for me was the audience at the gig; a beautifully artistic avant-garde audience, it felt like a vintage New Romantics gig, lots of red eye shadow and platform boots and berets and velvet knocking about. What I love about gigs, especially in the stunning capital, is how free it is for people to be as unique and out there as they want. There was a very 80s New Romantics feel to the night, very Vivienne Westwood/ HMLTD vibes, and this feel of art

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shame

and fashion and creativity came into its own element completely when shame took to the stage. I first saw the band at Reading festival this summer, but seeing them on a large festival stage is no way near comparable to seeing them in an intimate sweaty venue such as Scala. They were insane from the off, using heavy blaring riffs and a manic deranged style to entice and excite and energise the crowd. Moshing, crowd surfing and jumping into the crowd are classic acts at a shame gig it seems, with this rowdiness there from track one. Similar to bands like October Drift and Avalanche Party, I loved the pure gritty edge shame have live. Their setlist was fantastic too; for me, The Lick was my favourite track, not just because I love the live version to pieces, but because the wittiness and sharp tongued humour and satire of the lyrics rips through the raw underlying riff to create a pure masterpiece. Other tracks on the band’s setlist included Concrete, Tasteless and Gold Hole; the riotous blur that was shame live was really exciting and intense to be a part of. Got covered in beer (at least I hope it was beer?) and ended up an absolute state, but it was so worth it.

shame play America and Europe between now and December. Pick up tickets here

 

An Anarchic Riot on stage, breathing a new sense of Vitality and Rawness into Punk: Strange Bones live at The Horn, 11/10/2017

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

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Snakepit

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 RatsBig Sister Is WatchingS.O.I.A,

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Strange Bones, by Alan Wells

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

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Strange fucking Bones

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

 

Bringing their deafening mentality to The Horn: Dead! live

Last night at The Horn was another class gig put on by Juicebox, featuring Dead!, Airways, Chapter and Verse, and Love Buzz. A selection of local bands and more well known touring bands, it was a definite showcase of heavy, post metal rock.

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Love Buzz

The first band to play were Love Buzz, a grunge infused punk four piece from St Albans. Honestly, for me the majority of their set was underwhelming. They’re clearly well rehearsed and have a strong coherent sound as a band, and the way they played together in such perfect sync proves this. However, something seemed to be lacking, almost as if this raw DIY grit and power just wasn’t really there. At the end of their set though they played Babygirl which I proper loved. The heavy grungy edge to the track was brilliant on stage, and the rawness of Lloyd’s voice on it worked perfectly with the heavy guitar drops in the chorus. It had this element of raucous vibrancy, and on this track alone I’d recommend catching the band live. Despite the lacklustre feel to most of their set, Babygirl really amped it up, and I’m looking forward to seeing the band at Wilkestock festival next month.

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Chapter and Verse

The second support band were Chapter and Verse, whose set really confused me. The guitar was excellent, really heavy and powerful and raw. Similar to bands like Marmozets or Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes where riffs are the very core of the music, Chapter and Verse produced the perfect foundations for an alt-rock band. However, it was let down by Josh’s vocals. Now don’t gt me wrong, Josh is a really good singer, but as a vocalist it just didn’t work with metal music. His voice is very soft and light, and I was waiting for some kind of deep force to take over and rip through the music, to give it that thrashing edge and grit so crucial to alt-rock metal music. The underwhelming vocals in my opinion let their set down, and I can’t say I enjoyed it that much.

The third support band of the night, Airways, were far better, and I really loved their sound. They have a breezy indie rock sound, with really gritty riffs. Tight and polished,

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Airways, by Emma Viola Lilja

their sound is pretty abrasive, with a certain attitude and arrogance to lead vocalist Jake. They went down really well with the crowd too, performing a variety of tracks including One FootReckless Tongue and Slow. The band have a really full sound, packed with rich guitar loops and blinding vocals. There did seem to be a lack of DIY grit to their sound though; anyone who knows my blog would know my favourite kind of music is raw gritty DIY rock, and this was something Airways’ set lacked. However, the audience loved them and they managed to create a very tight polished indie sound which went down brilliantly.

And then for the headliners: Dead! At Reading festival last summer my mate took me to see them, and I remember being blown away. In terms of energy and live presence, Dead! are honestly one of the sickest bands I’ve seen. There’s so much abrasive attitude and cockiness to them, with blinding power and raucousness gracing their stages. Alex has this screwy manic sense of hectic insanity to him, with this mad deafening screaming on stage. His vocals are perfect too, a cross between singing and angrily spitting words into the mic. Tracks like Enough, Enough, Enough and Phantom went down incredibly

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Dead!

well, with jumping and moshing from the crowd. It was a heavy cross of indie, punk and grunge, with a very fresh unique feel. The band completely dominated the stage, dimly lit lamps and roses on stage adding to the band’s unique aesthetics. Something More Original, Jessica, Alaska and Up For Ran$om were fucking class too, the crowd screaming the line ‘Up for ransom’ back to the band during the chorus. There’s a thrashing beat to their music which gives Dead! a manic moshpit inducing feel, the bass and both lead guitars further amplifying this. The line ‘you’re so handsome, you’re so fucking handsome’ in Up For Ran$om was spit into the mic with a blinding careless attitude, with heavy post metal riffs tearing through Alex’s vocal. Dead! killed it once more, and I left the gig feeling exactly as I did last year after the band’s Reading set; mesmerised, blinded, and sweaty. Big up Dead!

Dead! are currently on tour, and you can pick up tickets here

Gig Review: Big Spring, Fangclub & Ripley at The Horn, St Albans

Another wicked night at The Horn, Juicebox recently put on a stellar gig with Big Spring, Fangclub and Ripley. Each band were good in their own way, with raucous boldly vivid rock undertones to each of them, the audience at the gig featuring members of local bands like Concrete Caverns and The Violet Shakes. The gig was opened by Ripley, a three piece band from the local area. They were probably the band I was most impressed by that night, with a really pure raw rock feel to their set. I got Slaves/ Queens of The Stone Age/ Royal Blood vibes off them, and they even managed to amp up Blur’s Parklife, giving the jaunty track a more rock feel. The dynamism and raucousness of their set was a result of the band fusing indie and punk, with heavy distorted riffs played to meticulous perfection. Their sound was really tight, and there’s a layer of boldness to their sound and image on stage. Jack’s voice was really pure and gritty, and complimented perfectly by his roaring bass lines. Guitarist Jonty built up this wild punk edge too, backed up brilliantly by Max on drums. It’s always sick to see good local bands opening gigs at the Horn, especially when they showcase the high level of skill and talent that Ripley did. You can check the band’s website out here.

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Ripley

The second support act were the immense Fangclub, who had a few passionate fans in the crowd thriving off their set. Fangclub really are the type of band I click with; they use raw pounding guitar riffs with messy drum loops and rough vocals, giving their tracks a dark undertone. Packed with spit and gravel, Fangclub had a very heavy intimidating aura on stage. It’s brutal garage rock, and the raw punk riffs give their music a very catchy quality. They have a very mosh pit inducing feel also, packed to the brim with screwed up grunge enthusiasm. They managed to blend harsh punk grunge rock sounds with well written melodies, and there was a feel of meticulous tightness to how well the band played together. There’s a very raw Tigercub/ Drenge/ Demob Happy feel to the band, and I’d strongly recommend catching them live at some point soon as I can’t imagine the band to be sticking around small intimate venues for much longer.

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Fangclub, backstage at The Horn

And then for the headliners Big Spring. I’ve listened to them quite a bit, and always liked the gritty vibrant rock edge the band have. Packed with rough riffs, distorted amp effects and a nasty grungy force, their music has always been insane. Similar to bands like God Damn, Black Foxxes and Dead!, Big Spring have a very cool reputation, and the heaviness to their music gives them a cool post-metal grunge sound. However, and it kills me to say this, they were a bit underwhelming on stage? For some reason it didn’t click with me as I’d hoped, and the energy and power they have on record didn’t seem to be 100% there. I don’t know if it was the fact they weren’t playing to a huge crowd, or that maybe the amped up distorted loops and riffs they have on record are easily done in an experimental studio, more so than live with only limited hands. I’m not saying they were bad though, as they were fucking good. My expectations (based on killer tracks I adore like Buzzards Leave The Bones and On A Bamboo Sleeping Mat) were just extremely high, and I feel like the killer sound they have was lessened slightly on stage. I’d love to see them again though and give them another go at some point. The heaviness and power they have as a band is undeniable on record, and there’s no denying there is something very special about the raucous vibrant punk sound the band have.

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Big Spring (shot by Alan Wells)

The Horn has some sick gigs coming up soon, most excitingly Dead! and Airways next week (which I am SO pumped for), and Strange Bones in a couple of months. You can buy tickets for gigs at The Horn here.

 

Ripping St Albans to pieces: J.W. Paris & Yonaka live at The Horn, 4.5.2017

Thursday night last week was yet another unbelievable night at The Horn (St Albans), with live sets from Yonaka and J.W. Paris, two of my favourite bands. I’ve been a huge fan of J.W. Paris since I caught them live last year with The Amazons, and they truly are blinding. The band are a three piece, with lead guitarist Dan and bassist Aaron both taking up lead vocals, backed up by Josh on drums. They’re a raw force of blues infused rock on stage, with grunge and indie elements to their sound, and live they really are one of my favourite bands. The band recently released single Berlin, and played live it’s undeniably good. Set list wise, the band played an unreal set of tracks, including RaptureLucille, That’s Why and You’re So Dangerous. Aaron’s bass in Lucille has this crazily gripping quality to it, with a really catchy riff played throughout. Both Dan and Aaron take up vocals, taking it in turns to do lead/ backup on different tracks. Both of their voices have really raw gritty gravely undertones to them, and this hooked the audience from the off. For me, the best track they did was closing track Wanted More, which is an immensely blinding piece of music. It’s got this gripping, mesmerising feel to it, especially through the tortured line ‘I’m sorry I met you, you wanted more. I’m sorry I kept you, I wanted more…’ sung by Aaron. There’s times in the track too when Aaron and Dan both scream the lyrics into the mic at the same time, spitting those lines out, which is blinding. The track builds up and up before crashing down in this dark, hypnotically sensual burst of guitar rock. The drumming from Josh is meticulously skilled too, similar to Ben from Calva Louise, with enough aggression to build up an intense rock sound, but enough meticulous delicacy at the same time to keep that disciplined sense of refinement which is so unique to J.W. Paris. Wanted More features Dan talking into the mic too, in a really dark soft way. The rolling drums and bass line in the background build it up even more. It’s lyrically dark and brooding too- especially through lines such as ‘well we were made for each other, now we’ve fallen apart.’ Featured on my Bands to Watch in 2017 list, I could honestly go on about this band for hours; they’re an immensely unique and exciting burst of raw rock grit, and they just hit you in a special way. You can keep up to date with J.W. Paris via Facebook, and make sure to keep on track of their live dates too.

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Yonaka

And then for Yonaka. I last saw the band in March with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Strange Bones, and have been hooked ever since. There’s something really special and unique and exciting about the band, and they seem to be doing everything right musically speaking. So a little bit about the band- the four piece formed at uni in Brighton, and are made up of Theresa, George, Alex and Robert. Me and my mates got to talk to lead vocalist Theresa after the gig, and she was so lovely and genuinely humbled, which just added to the whole gig atmosphere. The thing about Yonaka which makes them so fucking good is the real sense of discipline and control to their music- every lyric and riff has been written to perfection, and the beat you get with their music is incredible. There’s also an undeniable chemistry they all have when the play live, especially between Theresa and George, whereby his guitar matches her carefully tuned vocals perfectly. It’s so easy to dance and mosh to their tracks, and that’s exactly what my mates and I did throughout their set, especially to Ignorance. The band played a variety of unreal tracks, with their ten-track long set including Gods and Lovers, Drongo,  RunBubblegum, and personal favourite of mine Pride. Theresa’s voice is outstanding as well; she has the ability to sing a whole range of notes, and the power her voice has is unbelievable. As a front woman too her dancing and energy is infectious, made all the more better by the undeniably strong vocal range she possesses. Her flare and style too was on point, and the whole image/ branding behind Yonaka really has been worked to perfection. What I like about Yonaka is the contrast. Her voice is clear and bold, rather than heavy or gritty, yet is paired with this loud brain-explosive guitar. George and Alex play the guitar in a really raucous intense way, which gives the band a more deep and immense sound. The contrast between this aggressive heavy guitar (and the boldness of the drumming) and Theresa’s powerfully abrasive vocal is what makes their sound so immensely heavy and powerful. To see their set in such a small venue too was thrilling, as the dark crowded atmosphere just added to the bold aura the band had on stage. The band group heavy alt rock sounds with post-punk indie elements to give them a wildly explosive rock’n’roll bite, and this is unreal on stage. Last time I saw the band I didn’t take as much notice as I should have done, maybe because they were playing with two hardcore punk bands, but Thursday’s gig is proof that one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK rock scene are Yonaka, one million percent. The band still have a large number of gigs coming up, alongside a series of festival appearances, including sets at Truck and Reading & Leeds; and I honestly can’t recommend seeing the band live highly enough.

Gig rating: ★★★★★

Photo credit: Alex Cabré 

The best of London’s upcoming rock bands at Nambucca for This Feeling: 485C, Scarletinas & Slowlights

There’s a reason why This Feeling is known as ‘the best club in the UK for future rock‘n’roll stars,’ dubbed this by Mr Noel Gallagher; every week they put on the best gigs with some of the most exciting new bands playing for them, and Saturday night was no different, with Nambucca hosting three of London’s most brilliant new bands; Slowlights, Scarletinas and 485C. Each one of the bands had a wonderfully unique edge to them, with something really vibrantly different and exciting about each of them. There was a lot of distinctive individuality to each of the bands, with the unorthodox approaches to their music making for a night of blinding rock’n’roll.

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485C live

The first band to play were Slowlights, a soothingly buoyant indie rock band. Their music was quite soft, but didn’t lack the intensity of good indie rock music. There was a lot of depth to their set I felt, with really beautiful meticulous riffs and crashing drums. There’s a sense of build up and anticipation to their music, with their tracks being heavily controlled and well written. Rather than having a raw DIY edge which I typically prefer, their tracks were far more controlled and cleverly written, which was actually fantastic live. There’s a wonderful confidence and assured attitude the band have on stage too, which gave their set a brilliantly refined edge. Energy wise, the band had heaps of this on stage which made their set really engaging and entertaining. Their music was laced with meticulous riffs and really well thought out, well written chord progressions, filled in with brilliantly delivered lyrics and drum loops. They were a wonderful opening band, and the professional sound to their set and on point attitude they had sets their future up to be potentially huge.

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Slowlights live

Second to the stage were Scarletinas, possibly one of the most exciting bands out there right now. Their set was immense and intimidating and thrilling right from that first chord, with a unique roughness throughout. I haven’t had that kind of reaction to a band in a long time, but Scarletinas were truly thrilling. It was such a mad set from them, and I was literally blown away. They were really unique, and dressed in a sort of 70’s glam rock style, this artistic fashionable flare just adding to the experience of seeing them live. Their energy and vigour ripped through the venue, with a sense of exuberant electricity to their music. For a band that have only been playing for a year, the image and sound they’ve built up is blinding. They have one track released online- Walking On Water– and it’s killer. It’s packed full of loud blaring riffs and Marc’s authentic rock vocals, qualities which transcended throughout their entire set on Saturday. They reminded me a lot of late 60s and mid 70s rock‘n’roll bands, similar perhaps to groups like Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple. The anthemic sound to the band gave their set a stage-shaking, blistering feel which was full of proper rock power.

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Scarletinas live

And then for the headliners, one of London’s coolest most intriguing live bands, 485C. I’ve been a massive fan of the band since I saw them at The Horn earlier on this year, and Saturday’s show just proved how unreal the band are. Live, their presence is captivating and unique, with a wonderfully intense on stage atmosphere. Atmospherically the band have a really eccentric, unorthodox aura which makes their live sets all the more immense and exciting. The band are a five piece, and at times there were four guitars playing at once which just added to the intense rock sound to the band. 485C are fronted by lead vocalist Adam Hume, who stands still a lot of the time when singing, with little sways and dances which reminds me a lot of artsy atmospheric artists such as Ian Curtis or David Bowie. The band have been playing together for around seven years now, and this is evident through their meticulously sharp riffs which blend together stunningly, played in absolutely perfect sync. On guitar you have Rory and Dom, with Sam on bass and Lucas on drums. As a vocalist, Adam is blinding; his vocal can be rough, with this gritty gravel to it, and he also uses these long wails to add to the intensity of the band’s sound. Very uncompromising and unique, 485C’s rough rock sound is laced with artsy elegance and a modernised twist on 80’s indie rock. Their music has a sense of captivating post punk, taking clear inspirations from art sub-culture movements and traditional guitar rock music. In terms of modern current day bands, there’s no one out there quite like 485C, and they’re revitalising the core essence of indie rock which may have been lost slightly. Set list wise, the band performed a wonderful array of tracks. They opened with Kids On The Beach, going on to perform tracks like Oh Rhianna, Primal Concerns, American Walls, She’ll Lie and In My Cell. It was an honour to see these tracks played live, and as always 485C were blinding. Heavily tipped by Radio X and John Kennedy, 485C are quite possibly one of the most intriguing and promising bands out there, with a mad future ahead of them. With plans for a debut album and the band constantly gigging and recording, it would be mad not to take notice of 485C.

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Gig rating: ★★★★★

© All photos to Alan Wells Photography (see more of his photos here)