(reviewed by Neil Crud, MWJ, Andy Fatman, Goth, Wayne The Bastard, Tom Price)

Crud: Some idiot decided to let a 120′ long 11′ wide abnormal load travel across Anglesey tonight, on the eve of the busiest weekend in North Wales. Thousands of happy holidaymakers were left bemused by the fact that the Dept of Transport had miraculously turned the normal single lane A55 roadworks site into a dual carriageway only to be held in 30 mile tailbacks as this wide load trundled along at 16mph. Thankfully for ourselves I spent my late teens & early twenties driving illegal cars & would keep them off the beaten track. This extensive knowledge of every back road in the area was put to good use as we Colin McRae’d our way to Hendre Hall.

Tom: Tonight starts a week of gigs and piss-ups & thankfully I arrive from the Bangor side of Hendre Hall so miss out on all the fun of the holiday travel. I’m here to represent the 22 to 33 year olds. Never got into indie (but it was a close run thing) and thankfully got into 70’s punk just before heading off to university, which meant missing out on all that Green Day and Nirvana fing.

Crud: Without prior consultation this turned out to be a gathering of the link2wales fellowship of writers as we were all here & due to a low turn out, we made up 10% of the audience.

Mwj: I came home smelling like I’d been smoked in the woodshed thanks to the medieval feel of Hendre Hall. XMS3 (pic left), good grasp of melody in their grunge way for some so young, perhaps needed more bite to their stage presence.

Crud: Yeah the smoke brought on a bit of pre-hayfever season asthma, but XMS3 did help clear it with some tuneful ditties like ‘School can suck my cock’ and a damn fine set of mohicaned spikes.

Tom: My night starts well with an argument with a Rancid fan about my Dead Kennedys tee-shirt. His argument is “it isn’t the Dead Kennedys if Jello ain’t in it”, my argument is “My 25th birthday, pub or Dead Kennedys’ gig?”. Alien Matter’s front man’s view is “its the Dead Kennedys”, which deserves a handshake. He then asks me what the appropriate punishment (in the form of an old style tangoing) of the Rancid fan to which I nod in agreement. Punishment is applied, a pint gets chucked, Rancid fan gets soaked. Bar staff annoyed. Me dry and satisfied. This leaves Alien Matter’s front man to perform his party trick involving his pants. Despite the destruction of at least one pair of pants (which the bar staff thought was pants), and several pint glasses, at least the toilets managed to stay intact on the night, unlike the following night which was more hippy oriented, the very fine Tarantism sound system launch. That night one toilet was ruined (during the Kipperwig set I believe) by having a chunk of the bowl broken outward, maybe they should stop eating so many beans.

Wayne: It’s a small world, as I found out when the manager of Xms3 tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that he was the DJ at the first 4Q gig 15 years ago. As usual the Crud crew are haunted and chased down by their past activities. After last weeks discussion with Crud, I decided to bring some herbs along to the gig for him. Unfortunately he misunderstood this kind gesture and spent most of the evening trying to get stoned on mint and rosemary.

Crud: Everyone recognises Wayne from 4Q, with or without his erotic moustache.

Goth: Make sure you mention the drummer of Xms3, he’s very good

Tom: Having vaguely familiarised myself with Xms3 (due to the Wendykurk connection) I come with some preconceived ideas. Most of which are removed. They are not really what I’m listening to at the moment but at least they seem to have progressed beyond just “skool sux” attitude, a song which wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

Goth: During XMS3 I (& everyone else) had noticed how totally smashed Pete the vocalist for Alien Matter was, which gave me an image of what kinda show we were in for (based on the fact that any recollection of any music is very obscure by the 6th pint). But I was wrong. The sound of music, although very loud, was clear & with presence, the vocals should’ve been louder & Pete knew that. I have nothing but commendation for this band as, although the audience was small in this out-back venue, they held nothing back; keeping it raw & true. Opening on Popcorn I was afraid they had peaked too soon, but as Blood rips in & Pete moshes with his eager audience & throws beer bottles at them to finish the set, I know I was satisfied. Even the answer to our plea for an encore didn’t go unheeded & we moshed the song away.

Mwj: To me Alien Matter remain a mixed up mixture. Personally I see more metal over/undertones to their punk, but there’s more going on besides. Driven by a star frontman fuelled by alcohol and the powerhouse Mr Pants on drums, the one new song they played I found most interesting, the way a slower keyboard refrain fitted into the rumble from the rest. I wonder if their straddling of many styles to create originality will lead to them falling between stools in gaining an acceptance in this world ruled by scenes.

Tom: Judging by the look of Alien Matter there are a whole lot of influences going on there and I need to check this lot out properly soon. Their front man continues his already noted volatile nature all through the set.

Crud: I’m not convinced they consciously straddle the styles as looking at their history of line up changes, they’ve adapted old songs with the influences that a new member has brought in. A great performance & what a contrast of seeing Pete in full on punk glory.

Wayne: A huge contrast from that timid guy who used to hide behind a mask to this drunk punk frontman.

Tom: Stuntface might not have got the feel of the first time I saw them, but I definetly like them enough. With across the board set of influences to satisfy me. Better live than on record.

Fatman: After the mayhem & misdemeanours of Alien Matter comes the spectacle of Stuntface. From the way they start their set, you know they mean business, music or monkey, or both. Stuntface seem to thrive on contridiction, approaching their music with the utmost professionalism, yet poking fun at themselves, each other and the crowd. This was the second time I’d seen them and many of the songs had stuck in my mind, but not in that predictable 1,2,3,4…..kind of way. Their look is no ‘punk by numbers’ either …singer Wayne Z’Addiction looks like he’s just finished work, setting up Rhyl fair ready for the Easter weekend (& has decided to “go commando” tonight), guitarist Ian Maiden looks as though he’s just come off tour with Nalpalm Death (as their T-shirt seller), drummer Nick Feratu obviously used to belong to the Wrexham FrontLine until he met his missus and she told him to grow up… only guitarist James Flames is buying into “the look” with his bondage pantz/kilt ensemble & Misfits t-shirt (sadly his rather excellent mohican cut has been given the Wash & Fuck Off treatment tonight, is looking decidedly limp).

Mwj: They don’t deviate much from straight up fast punk mayhem yet still maintain interest, quality songwriting. The new material now that they are signed up, sounds just as good. I was forced to shake loose my dandruff. However they’re a bunch of Wrecsam scally conts as I bought their CD EP for a quid only to subsequently find it was just the case. I shall enjoy their set on May 3rd at the Old Hall then kick them in.

Tom: The last time I saw Stuntface (in Cardiff just after Wales lost to someone, at rugby of course) I said “Percentage-wise it is the same as North Wales”. This is wrong and is something that was said more of the cuff (sorry Al (Nameless) better not take quotes from me again) because on the reaction on the night doesn’t really match Valleum’s fans, and percentage-wise Cardiff far out sizes North Wales and the numbers in attendance weren’t really that different, which is what I meant. At least there was some action in the pit this time.

Goth: Stuntface were of undeniable punk quality but personally I think they lack the atmosphere & originality that make Alien Matter shine

Fatman: Showcasing what must be most of their forthcoming album & chucking in a few tracks from last album “Can Your Puny Body Survive?” Stuntface kept the disappointingly small crowd either nodding, tapping, or in certain cases wrestling each other to the ground. Fantastic tunes & a savage wit make these boys a must see band, especially in full swing at breakneck speed, pulling out the stops and they got de moves too (although how a 4’2″ bass player can play his instrument that low, without having to do the splits, is beyond me).

Crud claimed to me Alien Matter (pic below) were the best punk band in the country at the moment, well that depends what you want from your punk….cos this lot are certainly competition!
Miss ‘em & weep!