Thursday, 18 July 2013

Spunge – Kidderminster Boars Head – 06-06-13

Well the summers here and that means the hottest weather we’ve had in years, lots of festivals and good times. But it doesn’t really mean gigs, due to the downpour of small festivals over the past few years bands don’t tend to tour around the summer time. But tonight in the middle of this baking heat, Spunge have decided to play a small gig in Kidderminster, in promotion of their current Pledgemusic campaign to make a greatest hits album.

Spunge have been around now for 19 years, and have come to that point in their career where they want to put out a greatest hits, but not in the normal way, no, they want fan input to decide the setlist so they can re-record classic songs and make give them back to the old fans and introduce new fans to the best of the band. So they’re doing a few gigs like tonight to spread the word about the album and also to show people there not dead yet!

The venue is a lovely little venue in a side street in Kidderminster, it’s got a nice bar, friendly staff and it’s all open at the sides to make the hot summer breeze float throughout, instead of making it boiling hot and unbearable. The gig is a late one, so the one and only support band gets on stage at half 9 and rocks a set of covers, but not normal covers…. No this band does bread related covers!

Sister Sandwich, are a local 4 piece who’s lead singer dresses with tartan trousers, googly eye glasses and with a giant sandwich costume over the top. They do rock and pop covers including Lady Gaga’s Poker Face, The Ramones Blitzkrieg Bop and a cover of Ricky Martins Living La Vida Loca which the lyrics are changed to Living In A Toaster. They’re a cheesy cover band, but it gets the crowd rocking, everyone is smiling and dancing along, they even join in with the singing in the more punkier songs but some songs are a miss, as I suppose it’s hard to get a room of punk fans to sing along to a cover of One Directions You Don’t Know Your Beautiful. They play a nice set and get the spirits up ready for the main act.


Spunge take to the stage at 11, they set up their own equipment and as they’ve been milling around most of the evening no-one pays much attention to them until lead singer Alex Copeland says “Hey we’re ready now, everyone who’s having a fag outside get in here as where about to start” this then gets the room full to brim as people appear from all different areas of the building to see the main band play a great set. They kick things off with 2 tracks from Pedigree Chump; Lyrical Content and Idols before going into chart hit Roots. They sound great in this small venue, with the upbeat hard hitting drums smashing across the room, mixed with the funky bass and fast rich guitar all with Alex’s gravely clear vocals on top. The crowd get into the swing of things and jump around like crazy, bouncing into the small stage and each other, with the less crazy people dancing on tables towards the rear of the room. The set contains lots of great songs that are bound to be on the greatest hits, but with them letting the fans decide we could have a comeback off songs from the first album or even a load from their last self-titled album. They play Backstabber, Skaking Song, Nothing At All, Ego, No Woman No Cry, Jump, Some Suck Some Rock and few others. The audience loves every second but you get a few people who are a bit too anxious for that one song, and keep chanting “Kicking Pigeons” between every song, but Spunge take it in their stride and make jokes between songs; especially bassist Jarv who brings the taste down as he makes jokes about periods and paedophiles as the rest of the band cringe and apologise for him, but it’s all good fun! The time comes and they play Kicking Pigeons much to the crowds delight and then by the end of the song the stage is full of fans jumping and singing along, but it’s not over yet, the crowd clears the stage and Spunge play a cover of Centrefold before calling it a night. The crowd chants we want more and eventually they come back to the stage and announce how they don’t normally do encores but how they’ll do it tonight seeing as everyone’s been so great and they finish the night on a high with everyone happy, hot and sweaty.

Spunge stick around and sign people’s tickets and albums and continue to spread the word about their Pledgemusic greatest hits project, so fans will go on the site and donate to the project where they will be guaranteed the album along with other limited items along with t-shirts and cd’s, the band are that passionate about the project that they didn’t bring any merch to the gig as they’d rather fans go out and pledge than buy a t-shirt on the night.

So tonight was a great gig, a late one but a great one. The band are still on top form even after 19 years! If they’re playing near you on one of these small dates they go and check them out as they’re great in a small venue and if not, they’ve got a big full UK tour in November at bigger venues(where they also sound awesome)! So if you’re in the mood for some Ska Punk just remember to go and see Spunge, as they’re not dead yet!

Slam Dunk Midlands 2013 – Wolves Civic – 27-4-13

The sun is shining in Wolverhampton today, and that’s great as we’ve got Slam Dunk to go too and with 2 outdoor stages we need all the sun possible. The queues have already formed as thousands of rock, emo, pop punk and ska fans wait eagerly for the gates to open. At one they let the crowds into the festival site so they can get ready for a long day of fun, and the majority head indoors to catch the first band.

The Summer Set kick things off in the main room which is bustling, no doubt allot of the people are here to get there place ready for the headline act All Time Low, but as they’ve got a long wait ahead of them.  It’s good that the first band are in the same vein, very poppy and upbeat. They play lots of catchy songs and end with the cheesy but loveable, Chelsea, The Summer Set kick things off with a bang, let’s hope the rest of the day continues like this. 3.5/5

Tonight Alive have travelled all the way from Australia for these gigs, and I think all those miles and all the gigs around the UK have took it out of them, they play a nice enough set but the sound isn't really suited to this size of venue, Jenna's vocals are a little lacklustre and the songs lack any real power. There are good points though, they move about the stage with great prowess, and the fans in this heaving room really dig them, so it could just be me missing their appeal. 2.5/5

Mallroy Knox burst onto the stage like they own it with all the power and attitude of a veteran band. They may have only been going a few years but they've worked hard to be as good as they are and it really, shows.  The crowd sing along and mosh like maniacs especially to the “woe ohs” of death rattle. This band are up the way up and definitely deserve their place, on the main stage. 4/5

[Spunge] are playing outside on the Vans Stage and are trying their best to brighten up the rain that’s just started. They play plenty of classic songs including Roots and Kicking Pigeons that get the whole outdoors jumping. They also throw in some nice banter between songs like; “if there’s one thing you take away from today, it’s that we are not dead” and “we don't have merch, as we couldn't be bothered to bring any, so if you want Spunge on your shirt, then find a mate with a pen”.  They brighten the whole mood of the festival and the weather also agrees as the sun comes out towards the end of their set. 4/5

Sleeping With Sirens are on the main stage, and have the room waiting in anticipation to see one of the hottest bands around at the moment. Unfortunately there not as good as all the hype. They blast onto the stage jumping and twisting around, whilst singer Kellin Quinn screams down the mic. The sound is impressive, but the vocals are lacking  but this doesn’t matter to the crowd as they lap it all up, including Quinns sickening intro to ‘A Trophy Fathers Trophy Son’ where he tells everyone how this is for all the people with deadbeat dads and for all the people who have to bring up their siblings, whilst yes it is rather heartfelt, it feels rather tacky at a festival especially when all the people here are basically agreeing and slating their own families who probably bought them a ticket to be here. They do play a decent set, but it really doesn’t stand out from the rest. 2.5/5

Allister are bringing a dowse of pop punk to the Macbeth Stage, by playing their iconic album Last Stop Suburbia in full. Although they’ve been back together since 2010 they haven’t been back to the uk since 2006, but the way they’re playing today it’s like they’ve never left. They’re on fire and play through this timeless album with a great amount of energy and they sound great. They get this bustling room bouncing and send them away feeling all warm and full of that lovely nostalgia. We hope they come back with a tour that includes other albums soon. 4/5

Yashin are playing on a stage that is only just about big enough to hold them, over at the Tiger Stage. The room is to capacity and we think it’s an odd choice that they’re playing this stage but when they kick into their set by playing ‘New Year Or New York’ it’s clear why, they love this intimate atmosphere as they get up close and personal with the audience. They play a stonking set and sound amazing, with the two singers making great harmonies whilst at the same time commanding the crowd to circle pit and have a great time. By the end of the set they’ve climbed on top of amps and have got the entire room hot and sweaty. 4.5/5

The Wonder Years are already in full swing as I fight my way into the Wulfrun Hall. They’re playing their newest song ‘Passing Through a Screen Door’ from their latest album ‘The Greatest Generation’ and everyone is getting into it. They play a great set that includes songs from all 3 of their albums, and even though singer Dan Campbell’s voice is going this doesn’t detract from the sound as the rest of the band all have mics and the audience helps by singing every word. They take the audience through up and downs as they sing about being disillusioned in your twenty’s, which bursts into an explosion of emotions as they play ‘The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves’ and the whole room chants “I came here looking for a fight!”. The Wonder Years show everyone on this bill how it’s done, and we can only hope they’ll be back later in the year with a tour of their own. 4.5/5

The Skints are bringing their unique form of Dub, Ska, and Reggae to the outside Vans Stage. They sound awesome and play songs such as Ratatat and Rise Up which get the moderate sized group that’s gathered all chilled out and mellowed. As well as sounding great they also look wonderful as the lighting hits the stage with blasts of greens and blues that make the band shine in the lowering natural light. They wrap up their set with Culture Vulture that has everyone begging for more. 3.5/5

All Time Low are headlining the main stage, and have a jam packed room to play in front of. The girls that got their early to get a place at the front, remain in their majority ready to raise the roof with their screams and chants of All Time Low! The Baltimore four take to the stage and blast away with 2 hit songs, ‘Lost In Stereo’ and ‘Damned If I Do Ya’ which has the whole room singing along and rocking out. They do their normal bit of entertaining everyone with their witty if not dirty one liners, as well as jumping around the stage and placing Bra’s that the girls through onto their microphones. They continue their pop punk infused show with songs like ‘Neverland’, ‘Stella’. ‘Pillowtalk’,’Time Bomb’, ‘Jessy Rae’ before ending their set with their biggest hits ‘Weightless’ and ‘Dear Maria’. They close the main stage in style and make it clear why they’re the main act on the billing. 4.5/5

Four Year Strong headline the Macbeth Stage and have a room that’s only half full due to the scheduling of having 5 headline bands play at the same time, which is clearly a shame as they put on a great show by playing songs such as ‘Tonight We Feel Alive’ ‘What The Hell is a Gigawatt?’ and ‘Enemy of the World’. The bearded foursome, sound wicked, the levels make them sound as good as they do recorded and even the security guards can’t help but mosh along to the pop punk goodness. They finish their set with the massive songs ‘It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now’ and ‘Wasting Time’ which sends everyone who stuck around for this treat home happy.  4/5

King Prawn are fighting a tough battle, being up against 4 other headliners on the bill and to be fair most of the crowd here today probably hadn’t heard of them, as the average age here is probably 15 and the band haven’t played a gig in almost 10 years, but a good sized crowd has gathered to see the bands great comeback! They sound amazing, it’s almost as if they hadn’t been away, the audience lap up their ska/dub/punk vibes and dance into the night as they play songs such as ‘Racist Copper’ ‘Day In Day Out’ and ‘Dominant View’. They end the day on a high and show that there’s allot more to come from them, so if you don’t know who they are, check them out now as they’ll be around for a while to come and are ready to convert newcomers into the world of the mighty King Prawn! 4/5

Overall today has been a huge success, the bands have been amazing, the crowd have all had fun and were up for it, the security have been great(especially the one that gave me a can of monster), and it has been organised to the best level. I sincerely hope they bring it back to the midlands next year as it has been one of the best festivals I’ve ever been too (and I’ve been to allot!).