Vice Squad, Punchdrunx, The Vermin Suicides @ Krazyhouse, Liverpool
Luv Dump, Truro @ Next to Nowhere, Liverpool
(reviews by mwj)
Another selection of punk to finish of the weekend (reserving Monday for recovery). Saturday had seen a slightly mellower evening than the grind/death horror/pleasure of Friday, ska punk from Smoke Like A Fish and Luv Dump in the salubrious surroundings of Llanfairfechan Sailing Club. Down on the seafront, with a backdrop of setting sun, food laid on, no entry fee just donations for the bands, and good company. The locals didn’t seem to mind the invasion at all, it was an excellent party atmosphere at this annual event.
Dragging myself back to life Sunday lunchtime I rescued fellow survivor Dave Cox from the hell of a child’s birthday celebration and we headed over to Wrexham to meet the minibus laid on to get us to Liverpool and back. We met our host for later Ell and naturally having half an hour to spare used the time wisely in a couple of pubs before meeting up with the rest. Relatively early arrival in the ‘pool due to us being a semi-tourbus for Punchdrunx was another recipe for disaster as we retired to the Weatherspoons to have the craic and marvel at how busy the city was in general on this alleged day of rest, the Matthew St Festival evidently having some effect too.
Although originally we were just heading for the 6 band line-up in the Krazyhouse we had learned with interest of Luv Dump playing again at a “squatted” venue nearby so this was our first port of call. Not entirely sure of its legitimate or otherwise basis but very quickly found that Next to Nowhere (another basement venue under the News from Nowhere not for profit co-operative book shop) was exactly the kind of positive, anarchist social space that we know and love from the likes of 1 in 12 in Bradford and the Bussey Building for Scumfest in London. Only a donation to get in again and we were able to enjoy the vegan cuisine and a can or two before the first band. Truro (they like the place) seemed a bit rough and ready, maybe early days for them, but there was certainly a lot of fire in their bellies in getting their straight forward hardcore across. Our second dose of Luv Dump for the weekend was next and they have a lot more bite and direction to what they do, really good shifts in their songs between the charging hardcore and skanking breakdowns. All topped off by the raw vocalled political lyrics, recognise stuff from the “information is power” release they have out on Righteous Anger, that suits our surroundings to a tee. Filling my pockets with newsletters and leaflets we head out to our next destination sure to visit and support this place again.
Somewhat of a contrast to come to the corporate/gangster environment of the Krazyhouse next. To be fair I’ve enjoyed a few good nights at this huge, three floor metal/alternative club over the years but that is no thanks to the perennially dickheaded bouncers that take casual obstructiveness to new levels, although thankfully not with the mindless violence I have seen in the past. In making today a gig double header we’d missed the first bands up on the middle floor, with quite a decent stage space. This unfortunately included Bite Back, the new band of Hocky from Instant Agony, but before long we had The Vermin Suicides. They certainly created a visual impression of style and swagger on stage, and their punk’n’roll almost had that revved up folk vibe of the likes of Gogol Bordello. The fact that they’ve all had previous history in bands seems to stand them in good stead, a confident performance of some tunes with a good undercurrent vibe. Surprisingly cheap beer (on a 2 for 1 anyway) meant we were in fine staggering form for Punchdrunx when they took the stage next, and again they were in their stride from the off evidently enjoying the occasion too. They have a good mix of styles within the melodic hardcore punk boundaries but my favourites are inevitably the top speed ones, with “Ripped to Pieces” reminding of the best mix of The Misfits and the Exploited, while new track “The Wave” is just superb. To finish the punk legends Vice Squad, who I’d first and last seen in Chester a couple of years back, on another evening that by amazing co-incidence involved complete boozefueled mutual destruction. There’s much to appreciate with Beki as a charismatic frontperson, adding extra guitar oomph to some songs herself, and Wayne on the bass as ever a consummate entertainer. However for as many songs that hit the spot as singalong punk with a bit of pace and attitude there’s also a fair proportion that are a bit more traditional and basic and somewhat forgettable. Things aren’t helped by the bouncers wading in to intimidate anyone who might dance in anything more than a slightly lively fashion. It’s a mixed bunch but ultimately past caring/focussing too much and its good background before things shift to the metal club to end a crazy, enjoyable day, indeed weekend.
We all surprise ourselves by finding the bus back successfully and in time and are back in Wrexham before 4am, where me and Dave enjoy the luxury of Ell’s camper van on his drive and the toilet facilities of the adjacent pub car park before returning west to civilisation on Monday. Much fun!