The Grosvenor, Stockkwell, London
11 November 2013
It’s the back room of a south London pub. There’s cool dub reggae on the sound system. Skanking along are mohawk-sporting punks from all over the world. It’s gonna be a good night. Opening the live show are Blat Oidea – three London-based Sicillians and an Englishman.
Drums, bass, and two guitars forming a tight wall of post-GBH sound.
It’s fast, the vocals are venemous, they pull in the audience.
Their last song – Alive – is the most memorable.
Next on stage are The Rebel Spell, a ten-year old Canadian band playing their first UK gigs.
Drums, guitar, bass and a singer – there’s a north American feel to their sound.
Think Leftover Crack meet the Street Dogs and you wont’t go far wrong.
Some melodious “oohs” and “aahs” on the backing vocals add some extra value to the songs.
Notably in a still male-dominated scene they have a woman guitarist.
Wretched Erin – that’s her name – said to me afterwards:
“In punk there isn’t a very high skill bar to get over. More women should have a go at playing in bands.”
I’m no Mozart, but Erin’s musicianship seemed exemplary. And she and the rest of the Rebels threw some top punk shapes.
They are off to France for the next leg of their European jaunt.
Topping the bill are The Restarts – my favoutite three piece since The Jam.
Guitar, bass, and drums with the vocals shared.
They have an easy rapport with the crowd.
Their music switchess seemlessly within songs, from hardcore punk to joyful ska.
They sing against bigotry, climate destruction, borders, and flags. They sing for gay rights in Uganda.
The space on stage that has been filled by the other bands’ fourth member is asking to be invaded.
There’s a constant stream of fans joining the action. A drum goes flying, it’s unthreatening chaos.
More people dance as the gig just gets better and better.
The Restarts and The Rebel Spell have just played in Leeds and Sheffield. Up there, says bass player Kieran, they make human pyramids and say the southerners are too soft too follow suit. Turns out they are right.
But the lack of a punk pyramid is the only disappointment.
We’ve seen three top bands for six quid.
And you know you’ve picked the right gig when Deko from Dublin’s hard line anarchists Paranoid Visions is in the audience.
It really was a good night.