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The Skeptix
Red Flag 77
Violent Playground

Penrhyn Old Hall

15/3/03

(reviewed by MWJ)

D&B promotions go from strength to strength, another packed turn-out, quality bands, happy atmosphere (not in the Russ Abbott style, but as Dave himself said more of a social club gathering). Indeed, news of the success of these nights is spreading with a stream of requests to play they can hardly keep up with. Interesting then that another promoter was scoping the venue to put on additional nights, again based on all good reviews heard from other bands. The more the merrier in my opinion, I donít think things will be diluted in quantity versus quality, itís a great success story for an alternative venue/night. Plus with all thatís happening over at the Dudley Arms there doesnít seem to be the age old restriction in gigging opportunities thatís always knocked back North Wales bands.

First up Violent Playground were intriguing, punk in their presentation but with a twist. Female singer controlled melody and spite in equal measure, drums steady and driving, bass plagued by tech problems until Skeptix loaned their own, then bouncing up and down scales. The guitar made it for me though, young ladyís playing seeming chaotic but with a relentless nature that carried you along on a tide of rushing noise. There was some of the Dead Kennedys speed and awkwardness in the riffs, but a whole lot more besides and the female vocals really lifted it a level.

Red Flag 77, quite simply one of the best Iíve seen at all these gigs. Trekkin all the way from Ipswich via a gig in Manchester, D&B had been after these since the West Shore days, knowing how good they were. I, uninitiated, soon learnt. Pure fast punk, not straying into hardcore through maintaining plenty of melody, itís a grin inducing hi-tempo blast. The vocals are machine gun staccato, snarling snotty Cockernee, with the most melodic backing heard since the Misfits. Playing is tight as they come, faultless. Iíd compare them a bit to New Bomb Turks but they pre-date them. Throw in covers of the Clashís "White Riot" in memory of Joe Strummer, plus a version of "Football crazy" that even has the landlord coming down to see if he can believe his ears. Thereís probably a couple of others I donít recognise but their own material is so strong it doesnít matter in the least, itís all good. They are assisted/abused by one of MDM who sadly have had to pull out of the gig due to vocalist illness, it all adds to the enjoyment.

That leaves The Skeptix to finish off, and while they donít strike as well after the RF77 experience, itís still a meaty performance. They admit to being somewhat of a metal band (or maybe just called that) and there is that leaning to their playing. Plenty of good bass breaks amidst the heavy chugging riffs, the shouty vocals maintaining them within the punk creed, especially as everyone in the band is joining in on backing. Sound is a bit muddier than before though. Comparing their opener first single from way back when "Routine Machine" to their new stuff theyíre sticking to their guns, charged punk, in your faces. The singer climbs the railings to shout through at the seated folks up above, make sure they get the message. I get the impression that some who come might not even see the bands, too busy socialising, but each to their own, I enjoyed meself.

  

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