Slugfest(ivities) – Abertillery, Dolls House – 28th December 2009 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Thursday, 31 December 2009 17:04

SlugfestivitiesChristmas may come but once a year, but this is the second Slugfest of 2009 and it's certainly far more fun. It's also rather a strange feeling to end my gig going year exactly where it started way back in January of this year when Uber Rock was but a distant dream.

The day's line up was pretty much assembled within the space of little under five weeks and with zero budget, and once again Slugfest (or Slugfest[ivities] as this baby version was called) was looking to raise money for Hospice Of The Valleys, so we certainly made sure Uber Rock was out in force to support such a worthy cause. 


Leading up to the day's events the festival organisers informed us that by the end of their second week of putting this bill together they were already having to politely turn bands away, so credit to all of the bands who played for free just to be a part of what Slugfest stands for...Kudos indeed.


Ten bands for £3, that's what Slugfest(ivities) offered us as punters, and as we turned up with our best Holy Right Xmas pullovers on that quickly turned into nine bands as we heard the news that Fell On Black Days were unfortunately unable to play due to family illness. Hope all is well guys and see you soon.


Settling into our premium seating I immediately took in the ambience of the day about to unfold, and quickly realised that a repeat of the chaotic summer madness that the main event brings us would be something of a Miracle on Alma St. This seemed largely because everyone seemed to be as hungover as fuck, the guy next to me having woken up at 1AM that morning still in the pub...Double Kudos indeed for still making it to the event on time.



Slug_3So at 4PM promptly it was left to Dirty Valleys Dudes to unleash their own brand of Blues Rock covers on the 'Alka Seltzer' (like fuck, this is Abertillery most are already on the Stella!!!) drinking audience. Formed from the ashes of local rock legends Lotus, DVD credibly managed to get some glasses raised in the air this early in the day with their (better than Gary Barden sung) version of UFO's 'Doctor Doctor'.  The band's relaxed vibe and approach to their set being a perfect intro to what was to follow.


Next up were Slugfest stalwarts Red Riot with a new drummer on board and just one rehearsal under their 26" waste belts. The band immediately adapting to the more relaxed vibe and declaring their songs "about fuck all really".  I see the 'anger management' classes have been working then guys.


The introduction of 100,000 Bodybags to the bill was the day's first true musical curve ball, as this band demand your attention with their own unique style of punk baroque n roll. Fronted by ex Funeral In Berlin man Brewer, songs like 'The Providence Of Recompense' brought a more Eighties gothic feel to proceedings and made me wonder what Killing Joke doing the soundtrack to John Carpenter's The Fog might have sounded like? Dark, moody psychotic rock, and a near perfect set from the three-piece, this was also a gentle prod in the right direction for the crowd who were just starting to get warmed up.




At this point I decided to pay a quick visit to the local chippy for some much-needed sustenance, only to find that the temperatures outside the venue had now fallen to ridiculous new lows and the old brass monkeys/welder gag wouldn't have been out of place being told.  So it was a very welcome relief that on returning to the venue I thought I was walking into the very depths of hell or at least, wasn't this Kreator playing a set of Venom covers?  It in fact turned out to be Outgunned from Caldicot, making this delightful racket, equal parts nu and old school Thrash Metal, this band sounded just the much needed musical tonic to get the now fast expanding crowd numbers fully involved.  It's certainly credit to the strength of Outgunned's own material when you feel that the Machine Head cover played towards the end of their set was out of place there...Great stuff, and yet another band to add to the ever burgeoning (Cardiff) Bay Area Thrash Scene.


Slug_6Not letting the pace slip one iota, next up were Merthyr's punk rock legends Foreign Legion delivering a size Ten Dr Martin boot down your neck just in time for your supper. These guys could get on any stage anywhere in the world and deliver their almost faultless version of street punk; it's just so much more perfect when they are playing to local crowd. The dedication of 'Rat Race' to those who have wasted their lives, seeming so fitting being played in a town with the best part of fuck all going for it. Whilst closing track 'Where's Johnny Gone' had more than an ironic ring to it as next up was a tribute band and I don't do tribute bands...full stop.


But, as Alice Unchained contains more than just a smattering of friends from over the years I stuck around to witness their extremely credible run through the Seattle band's of a similar name's hits. However, when any band contains musicians who have been around the block a few times having played with some pretty major names over the years, you'd expect nothing else would you?  Tighter than a duck's arse musically, and with singer John Williams more than capable of replicating Layne Staley's vocals the only real disappointment was they didn't ask the guy behind the bar, with the fantastic afro, to get up to sing a couple of numbers at the end of their set, just to complete the authenticity. Speaking to the guys afterwards John intimated that they might start recording their own songs soon, now that I'd certainly be interested in hearing.




With the venue now brimming with people and a renewed sense of seasonal cheer (for that read everybody was pissed again), it was This System Kills up next with what turned out to be a show stopping/stealing performance par punk rock excellence. It's impossible not to like This Systems Kills' brand of Hardcore Punk, and when they are as musically tight as they were tonight they are simply unstoppable. Frontman Pig with his invisible Lemmy mic stand singing posture, provoked and teased the day's first proper pit into submission well before he introduced his brand spanking new drinking bucket for those fortunate/unfortunate enough to be pressed against the stage.


But it's the songs and their subject matter that make This System Kills so essential to their scene, tracks like 'If The Cap Fits Wear It' are the perfect soundtrack for the valley that's the shit on everyone's shoe (Pig's words not mine, before I get shot here).


With Limerick punks The Demise unable to make the day's events, it was time for Brecon's WithNoRegards to be declared unsung heroes of the day, stepping into the breach at the very last minute with their old drummer standing in for the evening just to make things happen. So what if the band may have been a tad unrehearsed, it took real King Kong sized balls to get up and play at such short notice, and tracks like 'Time Will Tell' seemed to go down well enough with those still cooling down from This System Kills full on earlier onslaught.


And so to the night's headliners, the Thrash Metal titans once know to us as BrabazoN and very soon to be called Mutator. This three-piece ply their trade kitted out in the best white Hi-tec Bumper boots and skintight black canvas jeans money can buy you this side of the once legendary Sandhu Brothers stall in Newport's old Cattle Market.  Their holocaust of riffs was a welcome blast of energy to revive the crowds aching and failing limbs. Mixing up their set with some top-notch covers by the likes of Slayer and Sepultura, it was the band's originals that really shone out for me, 'Pull Yourself To Pieces' being a prime slab of raw as fuck heavy metal, and a perfect way to get the Slugfest(ivities) rounded off nicely.


During the day there were rumours flying around that Slugfest will return for a third year this coming August, and this time around it will run for three nights. Tonight in contrast to that prospect was something a gentle reminder of what this is all about and why it was started, bands and punters coming together for a common cause to help raise some money and have a great time in the process.


Maximum kudos then to everyone involved, (bands, venue and promoters) and to everyone who attended... Here's to 2010 then, and an even more successful Slugfest 3.