|Punkfest Weekend - Pontypool, Hog And Hosper - 5th May 2012|
|Written by Johnny H & Dom Daley|
|Thursday, 17 May 2012 04:30|
There's a point here today halfway through This System Kills mid afternoon set where the band's charismatic frontman Pig turns to the assembled faithful and laments the descent of the majority of mainstream UK rock music festivals into the corporate hellholes that we all know they are. He may be largely preaching to the converted here but he still makes a very valid point, as today's proceedings work out at costing us, the average gig goer, a whopping £1.66 to see each band, and with band shirts ranging from £8 to £12 this is hardly the economics deployed on the festival battlefield these days.
So with so much to offer your avid punk rock fan, and as you can see above spread over the entire May Bank Holiday weekend this Punkfest makes out almost like a mini Rebellion for the South Wales valleys, albeit for yours truly and the boy wonder from out West Dom Daley, it was only ever going to be this, the Saturday's line up that we could actually get our sorry arses along to. So our apologies to the rest of the bands playing who don't get a mention here.
With yours truly arriving at the venue suitably early to catch the 2pm advertised door time, I end up missing first band of the day Meathook who feature father and son duo Michael and Jay Tatler from the English Dogs, but with the Abta-lairy massive already in residence awaiting the arrival of the next band of the day they assured me that they were "fucking excellent". So job done I guess.
Taking their places with military like precision, printed set lists placed in front of them, it was time for Pontypool to experience Trigger McPoopshute - a band these days looking "almost" like a professional porn rock combo. Bearing in mind that some of the audience were perhaps slightly more than a little shy of the 18 years required to share the blue air with such smut as 'Knob Rot', frontman/bassist (and resident Dr Martin boots wearer) Sutton was on fine form, fired up on Polish lager and winking at the ladies ahead of a galloping run through 'Glory Hole Viper', his warning the parents of the aforementioned siblings that he wouldn't be held responsible if any of them turned out to be mass murderers of the future was pure comedy gold. Expect more from the 'Shute anytime soon as they tell me they are in the midst of recording their debut album. God help us all.
With the event poster running order stating that 100,000 Bodybags were due up next what we actually got was a bit of a local punk scene supergroup going by the seemingly makeshift title of Trackstar Pornstar. Featuring two members of the Bodybags and two members of Dead Radio, the band's mix of old Rectify tunes and gothic country/pop covers managed to both confuse and amaze, frontman Brewer raising perhaps the biggest cheers of the afternoon so far by dedicating 'Spent You' to the fall of the Nazi scum party in the recent UK local elections. It'll be interesting to see what these guys do next and under what name, although as a Facebook page now exists for Trackstar Pornstar I'm guessing today's moniker stuck after all.
Nottingham's Girlfixer are the first band of the day to bring a more modern edge to the punk rock proceedings, and that's quite possibly because they are so damn young that they would never in a million years get my comparison of singer Natalie Thornton to one Jody Turner (high praise indeed though old schoolers eh?). Raised on a mix of Hellcat punk and metalcore the four piece bounce their way through a lively 40 odd minute set sounding not unlike Human Waste Project on more than one occasion, new track 'Hitman' meanwhile hinted at a more direct "go for the throat" approach. With talk all day of who had slayed the in-house drum kit the best, I would like to offer up Girlfixer's Nicola Brooks as perhaps the hero of the day, boy can she hit them skins!!!
And so as the clock strikes 5 it's time for the aforementioned scene legend Pig and his This System Kills band mates to deliver what was quite possibly the best set I've ever seen them play. With the frontman "kilted up" and restricted in his mobility as a result, today's set may not have been the liveliest (although the few high kicks we did get instantly make a few of us feel rather queasy), but with the newer tracks that pepper the set with maybe a slightly more metal edge (like on say 'All Sinners Rise') this makes for an all more compelling reason for you to sit up and take notice. Set highlight for yours truly came during a faithful rendition of '30 Years' where stood next to Pig's old Classified Protest band mate I suddenly realised just how much of a formative effect these characters have all had in my years spent following music. Let's just say it was emotional.
So with all the punk genre boxes seemingly ticked at this point up pop Sickpig from the West Country plying a very fine line in anarcho hardcore punk to frighten the shit out of those of us not brave enough to appreciate their more direct 1-2-3-4 approach. The splendidly titled 'Shit What You Eat' finally gets a pit going, whilst also reminding me I should perhaps seek out some sustenance other than what is in my pint glass. However with nothing open for what seems like miles I instead settle for one final slice of Sickpig, and wait for the arrival of my partner in grime Dom Daley who is picking up the evening's bands.
And I wait....and wait. Not since Nightwish got lost in the lanes around Donington Park have I waited so long for a band (and their accompanying uber scribe) to turn up, in fact the natives are starting to get a little restless as the between band silence is almost deafening, then as by magic - both of them appear in quick sucession.
I arrive fashionably late at The Hog just in time to catch the bar before Foreign Legion take the stage, and my first band at this quality all - dayer succumbs to the dreaded sound problems (God damn you gremlins), although it has to be said that the band admirably fought on and soldiered through. The fact that the vocals of frontman Marcus Howells were now working in a Norman Collier style-y was a bit of a shame especially in between songs when he was trying to get a message across to the throng of punters who seemed to be enjoying every minute of throwing themselves around the dance floor. During their brief set they managed to play some pretty nifty tunes along with some choice covers such as 'White Riot' and the excellent heads down 'Commando' from da Bruddas from Queens Noo Yawk. The pick of the Legion's own tunes was the poke in the eye for big corporate food chain stores at the cost of our villages and towns (something sadly quite evident in Pontypool) in the 'Market Trader Song' and the tribute to a drunken friend 'Wasted Your Life'. Always reliable and punk to the core - that is Foreign Legion.
Next up were the lovable English Dogs who've also been around the block and back again with many line ups and a sound that over the years has ebbed and flowed from punk to metal and back again. Here tonight they were on the money delivering a pretty decent support set for the mighty Subs. After the troublesome mic was eventually sorted the band could settle into their slot and kick up a shit storm of throbbing bass lines and furious drumming. Pick of the set were 'This Is A Class War' which again preached to the converted, as the beer was spilt and the fists were pumped, 'Left Me For Dead' and 'Fucked Up People' were also knocked out with suitable aplomb. For a finale English Dogs knocked out a cracker which I believe was called 'Greedy Cunts' (correct me if I'm, wrong guys) containing some right proper old school terrace chants thrown in for good measure, and in turn making one or two Uber scribes beam from ear to ear. "Your going home in a fucking ambulance!" and the 70's terrace classic of "Your gonna get your fucking heads kicked in" had me Oi! Oi!-ing like a fourteen year old. A great addition to the line up and so far so good I'd only been in the venue for over an hour and already seen two quality bands - Result!
Last but not least headlining the Saturday night were the one and only UK Subs, and if I'm being honest I was delighted to see Alvin, Jet, Jamie and Charlie walk in to the venue, as I do believe they are my favourite holders of the UK Subs torch that still burns so brightly. Without much fussing and hanging about the band set up and got straight into business as the punters of all ages crammed into the room to get a face full of top notch punk rock.
Kicking off proceedings tonight was 'Emotional Blackmail' and it was plain to see that the band who are forever on tour were as tight as fuck, and the feeling that tonight was going to be something very special was already starting to deliver.
Now I've seen the band play many many times, and as was pointed out by my learned friend Mr Hayward they never play the same set twice. So whilst you have the usual suspects like the behemoth that is 'Warhead', you will also get more than one or two surprises thrown into the set that the guys probably haven't played in a while. Tonight's set list just got better and better as it went on, and the band really were in absolutely sparkling form as Jet threw out some blistering licks on the Les Paul Jnr and bass monster Alvin Gibbs played the guts out off his guitar looking every inch the fuckin' rock 'n' roller. Those dreaded gremlins were back briefly on the microphones but it was quickly sorted and didn't interrupt the flow or performance as bodies were being flung across the room and drinks were tossed in the air the fans singing along to every word that fell from Mr Harpers chops.
I always think after watching the UK Subs I wish they'd played longer or done this or that one, but the simple fact remains I always know I've been entertained and witnessed a great band play some great songs - both old and new. Tonight off the magnificent and Uber Rock approved 'Work In Progress' we had the Gibbs penned 'Hell Is Other People' as well as the brutal 'Creation', but the heat was turned up for 'Barbie's Dead' which followed a brutal 'Endangered Species', which preceded 'New Barbarians' before 'Tomorrows Girls' finally ended the main set!
Before I finally went off into the cold summers night in East Wales we were treated to a magnificent encore as Mr Harper introduced some crowd participation during 'Organised Crime' with some fetching Slade-esque "Woah oh oh oh oh's" (as on We'll Bring The House Down!), and you know on this kinda form I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Then 'CID' and 'I Live In A Car' followed - and that was it. The night was sadly done and the curtain dropped on another fantastic Subs set that had wasted bodies staggering around the venue and fans beaming from ear to ear knowing that the boys had just done it again. They came - we saw and boy did they conquer.
As Johnny had already commented earlier in the review this event was all about a great venue - great value for money - great company, and most of all fucking great music.
Job done - Love it!