Our sincerest apologies to those whom have waited so patiently for this review. Our photographer has been rather busy – Birthdays and all that – and Jordan has decided he simply had to get this one done before his own birthday, which is coming ever-closer. Depressingly.
By Jordan Mooney.
With thanks to Becky, Pete, Andy, Ian, Dick and Nick. Much love, chaps!
Nottingham is one of our favourite destinations at Cat on the Wall. Full of history, really good pubs, a great music scene, and lots of punk bands. Perhaps more per square mile than any other city in England.
Unsurprisingly, on the 4th of July, all of these things collided and infused. And, as if to make things that little bit sweeter, it was all in aid of charity.
This particular gig was in aid of English Bull Terrier Welfare, with every penny donated by the audience (it was, as a result, a free entry gig) going straight to the charity of choice. Masterminded by an utter gentleman by the name of Ian Newman (the talented, beardy and often shirtless face of Nottsnoise), there was simply no way we could miss this one.
We’ve ranted and raved upon the sheer perfection of The Old Angel as a punk setting time and time again. It’s a fantastic pub with a very real atmosphere, completely non-sterilised, plastered in leaflets, posters, newspaper cuttings and stickers, and above all else has seen two murders, several decades of operation as a brothel. And as a chapel. Complete with a subterranean lair underneath. That was also built as a chapel.
What more could you possibly want? Try some good beers, great service and a stag’s head on the lighting rig. Sorted!
Tonight’s line up is full of groups we’ve had on the Zine in the past – our friends Trioxin Cherry, STP stalwart, Headstone Horrors (with our topless chum Dick Venom on the drums, no less) and ‘Nottingham’s heaviest punk group’, Army of Walking Corpses, providing the headline. Such was our main reasoning for travelling down for a look in..! This fine collection of music was backed by two more local acts – The Superkings and out of towners (Grimsby) The Siknotes. Needless to say, with Nottingham’s reputation for such fantastic musical talent now widespread across our Webzine, we were quite excited to see something new.
The evening started up nicely enough. Except for the heat. The excessive heat. The utterly excessive heat that continuously rose over the next few hours.
I am utterly convinced that if any children were in the audience, the heat and constant vibrations would ensure that they’d burst. Sadly, none were present to test this theory…
It must be remembered that the Old Angel’s live music aspect is a black room with very high ceilings and a tiny stage. A great sound techie without much in the way of hardware, sticky floors and no proper windows or doors to provide ventilation – this is a weakness of the building’s listed status and original purpose of a place of worship.
It certainly can’t be said it led to poorer music or lower spirits, but it meant that the audience was forced to become transient, having to repeatedly leave the room one-by-one to get oxygen into their lungs. Or tobacco smoke, to be more accurate – but regardless, this self-administered ventilation was utterly essential to survive this night of baking debauchery.
DISCLAIMER – The reviews are going to fluctuate predictably in size for this review. Groups we don’t know or haven’t heard live will naturally give us far more to work with and hear in comparison to those we’ve seen several times beforehand. Nobody gets favouritism, but we do like to concentrate on the new rather than repeating ourselves…
Our first group for the evening was the Siknotes, a group that proudly explores just how informal a group can really be on stage when faced with an audience of friends. Bedecked in flip flops, shorts that are all too ready for quick removal and some of that oh-so-lovely traditional punk noise, the result was a band ready to shout at the folk they recognised in the audience in the middle of the song if a witty (or drunkenly hilarious) bit of banter came to mind.
It’s difficult to treat the Siknotes as what you might dub a ‘formal’ group, one really aiming for greatness or causing a resurgence in rock and roll – they’re more of a traditional punk group aiming for the ‘let’s get pissed, eat a shit ton of monster munch and make a lot of noise‘ variety. And while that may not be the freshest game, it is the funniest to watch on stage and dependent entirely on the group’s personality – and thankfully, the Siknotes are all too willing to expose their characters – and hairy legs – without hesitation.
“Get your shorts down!”
“Only if you suck me off, you wanker!”
“What will you pay me?”
“Fuck off, I want it for free!”
If that sort of crude humour between a man holding a guitar and a man in the audience holding a pint is liable to bring a chuckle, the Siknotes are on that perfect level of both this and musical talent. Their sound is pretty raw and rough around the edges, and in that sense hails the punk world from about twenty years ago with a great gusto. It’s not sophisticated, it’s not intelligent and nobody gives a toss. Nice one, and a great starter.
Our next group on the fantastic line up was The Superkings. And I got most excited when I saw an upright bass get heaved up onto the Old Angel’s tiny stage.
Cue the sorry admission that this was one of the first times we’d seen a band actually use one in their regular line up. Pitying looks are exchanged.
It must be said though, we went out raving about the Superkings. They were absolutely fantastic, and substantially different to what we’re used to hearing – think a classic rockabilly band with some rumbling, sleazy vocal – even nearing a classic swing or funk element – and an upped tempo, and you’re coming ever closer to the group’s flavour. It’s Psychobilly, but not quite as we know it.
It’s a little salty, a little rough but still carries that smooth, swift and practised flavour that makes the group so attractive, even when plunged into a harsher and louder line up. They cross genres and practises effortlessly, and this becomes a sort of unspoken unique selling point. They don’t try to focus on a specific subject or idea, but instead meander openly to wherever they wish to be. It’s perhaps not the loudest, largest or most outspoken group, but their rathermore old fashioned and identifiable edge rewards their entertainment value in spades.
The Superkings, for a group with a relatively small following, are not only talented musicians, but, to our experience, utterly unique. And I think that can be taken to the bank. It’s now an utmost priority to see them again..!
Next up came Headstone Horrors, whom we first encountered at the STP Christmas Party in December. The group are firm favourites for us – we love a bit of good, old fashioned horror punk and the Horrors provide it nicely. Now with Dick Venom, freed briefly from his Terrortones, perched behind the drums, the group have developed nicely and seem tighter knit and a fair bit more voluminous in sound than our first encounter. Still bedecked in their makeup – which is really, really bloody good. Although was soon streaking down their faces, thanks to that bloody heat. (Curse you, Old Angel. You and your sweaty ways will be the death of us all!)
The only negative to this performance – and, to be fair, it will also apply to our ‘headliner’ – is that they do need a larger stage to really get showcased, and preferably one with better lighting. It was so dark it was difficult to distinguish their lovely face paints, and on such a tiny stage the group’s stage presence feels a tad muted.
If I didn’t love the Old Angel so sincerely I’d be calling for a bigger venue.
Headstone Horrors are one of these groups that really ticks our boxes for a visual and auditory experience. Fun sound, fun visuals, and lots of punk and B-movie thrills simultaneously. This is a band that could very easily go full theatrical and make a big impact in the process. Not that I’m trying to make suggestions…
Our chums at Trioxin Cherry are next. And..well, what can we say that we haven’t already laid upon them already? They’re simply, to our ears, one of the best at what they do. Vincent Price, Bill Murray, shouty sweary stuff and rats. It’s like a combination of everthing good in the world, and calling out shirt parts of it very loudly.
They’re charismatic and anarchic, but very polite and amiable both on stage and in person. They’ve got a great range of themes, ranging from their favourite actors to their least favourite parts of society, and they do a fine job rendering their emotions and glorification in each.
Ultimately, after reviewing them – and watching, listening, chatting to them – so much, it becomes difficult to bestow anything but praise on them. It’s not so much of a bias – it’s simply that after two years of doing this stuff non-stop, they’re one of the absolute best home-grown groups we’ve seen on stage.
If you haven’t heard Trioxin Cherry yet, you really are missing out on a lot of fun and some music you won’t quite find with the same bombastic qualities anywhere else. Do with that information what you will…
Now we ran back outside again due to steam rising from our foreheads, and tried desperately to reach a normal body temperature again. When this was eventually satiated, it was time for our final act of the evening, The Army of Walking Corpses – our first time seeing the group live. It feels like eons since we interviewed them, bless their hearts.
It has to be said that if Army of Walking Corpses sound good on record, they sound legendary on stage. This group is simply one of the best ‘horror’ bands we know – great make up, great sound, incredibly loud, heavy and thumping good fun that’s bound to resonate with metal and punk fans in equal quantities. With blue-grey faces reminiscent of Savini and a charisma of equal veracity, the group are genuinely one of the finest in their locale and genre.
It must be said, however, that they really need much better hardware available to them – the Old Angel is used to old fashioned punk dynamics, four members, simple sounds and the like, and the speakers were audibly struggling with the fair larger sound present in the Army’s set.
The Angel has a fantastic techie, but requires a strong update before it can provide the finest for those festering, but very musically talented, bodies on stage – and they do deserve the finest. There’s few groups that can master the same energy and strength – and their title as ‘Nottingham’s Heaviest Punk Band’ seems all the more validated when they’re making the Angel’s walls vibrate so roughly.
The fact is that they need a stadium, not a little pub. They’d very easily fill a stage the size of Download festival without a bit of bother. They deserve ten times the recognition they have already, and, frankly, ten times the space most independent venues can offer. With five members, they’re already at least one member larger than your average punk outfit, but their equipment, make up and thematic all need a far larger, better lit space to interact with the audience and eachother – something to spread out the zombification a touch and infect a larger audience.
Lovely stuff, a pleasure to finally see it myself, and definitely worth a repeat witness. The Corpses are golden.
July the 4th was a fantastic gig for a great cause, and we’re happy to have been a part of it – and eagerly wish for another. The only weakness, as is often the case in hot summer evenings, was our venue, but the Old Angel is unique and ultimately fitting as a staple of rock and punk history; there’s simply few places quite so fitting for some good, old fashioned noise.
Ian has really outdone himself here, and I understand that with upwards of £150 earned on a free-entrance gig, this has been proven by the audience’s willingness to unfurl pockets.
There’s few experiences that have quite matched this one for temperature, but, perhaps more pertinently, there’s been none with that same sense of community spirit.
The groups and the audience are all friends here, the techie is a friend, the organiser is a friend, and the bands are friends. There’s a real sense of solidarity, of genuine support and enjoyment of eachother’s causes, and the result was, in its own, dirty, sweaty, drunken, sweary way, quite lovely.
A hugely satisfying and immensely enjoyable evening of horror punk and rock and roll.