Slugfest – Abertillery, Doll’s House – 1 July 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Saturday, 15 July 2017 05:00

It’s come around to that time of year ago, the time of year when probably the best underground punk/rock and just a touch of metal festival rears its head and shows the big guys how things should really be done. Darrel Sutton’s baby, started ten years ago (yup, you read that right) is now entering a new phase. I’ve watched it grow and grow, the bands getting higher and higher up the underground food-chain; always defiantly different, always genre defying… but, with the level of growth comes a level of expectation: has it become too big? Where do you go for the next ten years?


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After missing Friday’s festivities with localish heroes Pizzatramp amongst others playing, I entered the Doll’s House towards the end of the Saturday afternoon. The heat hits you first; the next thing that hits you is the energy and atmosphere: it’s still early but everyone is there for a good time.


First band up for me? The Blunders, coming out of Trowbridge, these guys pushed the old school anarcho-punk sound, veering into New Model Army territory. What a way to start things off.


But, being Slugfest, there’s no let up and you’re straight into the next band on the floor stage - and at this point the day ignites for yours truly. Flashhouse out of London tear the Doll’s House a new one. I love the intensity, power and attitude displayed in what was a real step up in the power game, hinting at punk, hardcore and at times just intense rock and roll, they reminded me at times of the John Spencer Blues explosion and the temperature in the Doll’s House just got hotter and hotter as more and more people stepped in to listen.


How do you follow that? With Brassick obviously! These guys entered the field in late 2012 from various areas of the west midlands, they’ve worked their socks off and have gained a reputation as one of the country’s most hard working and best up and coming punk rock bands, gigging relentlessly with the likes of GBH, Cock Sparrer, UK Subs and Subhumans just to name a few. Frontwoman Nicola Hardy, to me, has to rank as one of the best focal/vocal points currently out there: talk about star quality. The band that back her taking no prisoners with a hardcore punk blast that you just have to get up and move to: fair play. It’s about my fourth viewing and they just get better and better.


There is still no time to breathe before we’re up and running again, with the Black Bullets bringing a new slant to the proceedings. Their brand of downright dirty, sleazy rock and roll just oozes through the venue, at times hinting at the Stone Temple Pilots, at others Velvet Revolver. With frontman Billy T and bass player Alice leaving the confines of the stage and getting up close and personal with the crowd at every level of the venue, they deliver a stunning set, ramping up the noise and converting a whole new fan base.



Time to take a breath, with next up Stay Voiceless providing the soundtrack, a band I’ve raved about often enough on these pages. At this point, I decide to actually talk to people! Five bands in already, and I need a drink and some fresh air, as the temperature is just going up and up as more and more people enter the venue.


Whether you think your ready or not nothing prepares you for Scumbag Millionaire. These guys deserve to be huge, grabbing that Hellacopters vibe, giving it a re-boot and nailing one of the best sets I’ve seen for a long time: the rapidly filling dance floor I think emphasizes the point… Think very early AC/DC with a punk rock heartbeat and you won’t be far wrong. As their Facebook says ”high energy punk from the gutters of Gothenburg”: I think that shows you how far Slugfest has come, as we have bands coming in from not just all over the UK, but all over Europe!


Speaking about that European connection, Christmas just smash it. I love the hardcore noise being generated – and, again, why keep to the stage when you have a frontman who loves to get up close and personal and in your face? This is how things should be done.


After a brief lull post-Christmas (hey, I thought this was July – Ed), you can’t help but reflect and look at the conundrum Darrel Sutton must be in: he runs a festival, in a small valleys town that has got bigger and bigger year on year and has always maintained the need to keep it free. It has supported charities to the tune of probably £30,000 over the years, but what must be nagging him is the amount of work, time and energy that this beast currently consumes on an annual basis…



If rumours are to be believed then this could potentially be the last Slugfest - something that we all hope is not the case! If it is, what a time to step down or step away - or bring in a full team to support the running. Whichever way the apple falls, we have to respect what’s been achieved to date, in an era that's seen the rise of the cover band, there’s still a punk rock heart beating in the underground, exploding the myth that people have lost interest in new music.


Finishing off in a deserved headline slot, JD and the FDCs are a band that we’ve championed from the off on Über Rock - and they absolutely smashed it out of the park, bringing their own journey to an end, with this being their last but one gig: just one more in Nottingham before they go wherever the musical journey takes them…


What a day, what a festival, and here’s too many more Darrel?


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