How’s that for a long title?!
By Jordan Mooney.
Photographs by Matthew Sambrook.
Mythically, all bands have, in the past, had a ‘big gig’. A performance that suddenly spells great things, a big event, a big audience, or a sudden potential unlocked. In the past, the most legendary was the ‘signing gig’, one of the most important stages of a young group’s life.
This was when the next ‘big thing’ were playing at old pubs in the middle of London, eagerly eyeing the man from the big label in the audience who is smoking a cigar thicker than his wrists and raising an eyebrow with his jacket thrown over his shoulder.
In the modern music industry, of course, this doesn’t really exist. At least, not as it used to. These days, in fact, very few bands can claim to have ‘big gigs’, or be lucky enough to suddenly have that concert of triumph, of such importance it will remain with them for the rest of their career.
Not that this fact would ever stop Trioxin Cherry…
Cat on the Wall has just come back from what is doubtless to become one of many ‘big gigs’. You see, ladies and gentlemen, this was the official album launch party of our favourite punk release of 2014 thus far, Let’s Take Off And Nuke The Site From Space. Our review of which can be found here!
We’ll split this event up into sections, starting from first impressions. What’s our first impression of any gig? That’s right…
While it doesn’t take place in London, the venue for the evening, The Old Angel Inn (on Nottingham’s Stoney Street. If you don’t go there I’ll be very upset.) has all of the looks of a punk pub from the musical epicentre of the capital, complete with men wearing leather jackets, the world’s biggest collection of hob-nailed boots between them and hair so sharp it could be used for litter picking. It’s a pub that inside, the tight, cramped corridors and staircases, all decked with canvases, posters, leaflets and logos of local and nationwide punk talent from past and present serve to only further hammer to home what’s going on here. This isn’t an imitation, it’s genuine, it’s the real deal, and for any punk fan, casual, admiring or all-in-there, it’s absolutely spectacular. Unsurprising from one of Nottingham’s oldest and seemingly most haunted bars…complete with subterranean tunnels.
As we were shouted from above by Rebecca Trioxin (‘Hellooo! We’re up here!’, came shouts from deep within the dark shadows…), we climbed the narrow staircase into the dark room that made for the actual location of the concert.
It was a black, small interior, with what seemed to be wooden pews (The building was once a chapel – crikey!) across the side walls. The stage was tiny and packed with equipment, amps piled up somewhat precariously and instruments leaning from every angle. The light fittings were in the shape and design of Jagermeister bottles. Foliage-imitation camouflage that looked straight from military surplus was suspended from the ceiling. Below that was a mirror ball.
The arrangement booth at the back was painted in the same black as the walls, yet, inside resembled a faintly lit, smoky radio DJ’s booth from the 1970s, flimsy, bent boxes of records and an unemptied ash tray sat there, posters were practically used as wallpaper. What little wall we could see was in that classic beigey-cream colour.
Above the stage hung a stag’s head, completely unassuming and not being pointed out to anybody. I decided his name was Malcolm. I’m pretty sure he’ll already have a name, but…no, his name is Malcolm.
Oh yes, I like it here.
Bill Murray masks, Haribo and Trioxin Cherry’s new drummer, Nathan Hart involved in various antics made up a lot of the event’s personality. Like Trioxin Cherry themselves, the music – which to the uninitiated is no doubt rather intimidating – in no way stops it from being a very friendly milestone full of injokes, self-depreciation and basically having a lark.
Pete Trioxin branded us with a permanent marker (“It’s supposed to be skull and crossbones. I can’t draw very well.”) and Nathan tried to sell the free sweets at £4 each. Murmurs of time slots made it obvious that the organisational work was all placed in a way that was firm but comfortably open to changes if required. One of the groups in the line up, Addictive Philosophy, sadly had to pull at short notice, but this seemingly did nothing to phase the evening or Miss Trioxin’s impeccable skill at planning these things. Steadily, people started trickling in and taking hold of Bill Murray’s adorable face for their use in the performance. It all remained very pleasant, and most of the first arrivals were friends or family, which, of course, is always incredibly heartwarming to see when someone veers into a genre so often polarising as punk.
I was, as is tradition, ridiculously overdressed in bow tie and waistcoat (with additional smoking cap at the band’s request) and looked an absolute fool compared to the leather jackets, south park leggings and spiky haircuts of the surrounding peeps. Despite the usual odd looks, it’s obvious that punk is a genre that doesn’t say anything if someone looks a bit odd. We’re all a bit odd, here.
STP Records – the label responsible for publishing Trioxin Cherry’s magnum opus – had a firm presence with their big boss Stu Taylor himself appearing and joining in the celebrations. Stu is a wonderful chap, very passionate and approachable, well aware of the business to the tiniest detail. He remained roughly in one place for the majority of the evening and was constantly surrounded by people. He radiates passion for his work, and, like STP Records and the venue, he’s a rare sort of figure in today’s largely faceless digital industry.
Everything was simply comfortable. Not too informal as to become a bit of a shambles by a long shot, and never reaching the slightest border of imposed self importance. That stag’s head above the stage (who I christened Malcolm. He probably has a name already, but to me, he’s Malcolm) was the only figure above his natural station.
That was a terrible joke, but it’s true.
It’s really the perfect set up and atmosphere for a gig, so personal and yet so well executed that it all comes off rather flawlessly to the casual attendee. It’s something difficult to perfect, but with groups so talented as Trioxin Cherry and companies so capable as STP Records, it’s becoming more and more obvious this isn’t a fluke. It just fits, everything in the right place.
Actually, speaking of gigs, it might well be time to start up…
The starting group are a young one. Bad Vibes appeared on the scene in May 2013, and make up an eclectic bunch of individuals…
We have Xander, the most punky-looking punk I’d seen since I looked behind me at the audience two minutes ago (!), with a http://catonthewall.net/wp-admin/post-new.phpmulticolour mohawk and a very traumatised looking barbie doll hanging from the head of his guitar. With a chain-and-padlock around his neck and boots that look very capable of crushing even the most resilient skull, it has to be said that he makes up most of the punk look of the group. He becomes a moving centrepiece as well as an incredibly capable guitarist.
This allows the rest of the group to surround him in relatively normal dress and still ‘work’. Like a few bands we’ve had here, the single ‘centrepiece’ member gives a focus to the group’s ethic without the other members having it forced upon them. Whether it’s intentional or not in such a young group is another thing, but no doubt certain people will criticise it as a ‘lack of consistency’ in the future. They always do, and thus I feel it’s my place to tell a band to never change. You listening to me, Bad Vibes? Never change.
Max, the drummer, has a mild-mannered sort of look about him. Don’t trust it, he treats the drums with the same reckless abandon any of us could expect from a punk group. Joined by Freja, the group’s bassist, these two didn’t say a word on stage, but don’t lack the slightest bit of enthusiasm, which is entirely belied by their playing.
Georgie, the group’s vocalist, looks incredibly innocent and fascinatingly cute. Once again, appearances are deceptive. She’s got a powerful voice than most would probably expect and a fairly dominating stance, even on such a tiny stage when she has to make room for a swinging traumatised barbie doll.
What’s most fascinating about Bad Vibes is they’re a group that’s just starting their journey, and on stage it strikes as being something rather special. Their playing is incredibly tight and after a couple of songs they really ‘bed in’ on stage. After that transition, they seem to climb steadily up there with the best of them. Their songs are infectious and catchy, never dropping the ball, and they do a marvellous job of keeping an audience engrossed.
Their only issue, and it’s a small niggle, really, is a lack of communication with the audience on stage. Not enough chatter or humour – which is often a group’s opportunity for showing more personality. I think this might be as the group still establishing themselves, still experimenting on what works and what doesn’t – which I’ve no complaints about. That’s entirely necessary. I simply felt it was a little static. I don’t doubt that’ll steadily change as time goes on, and it’d make a great excuse for seeing them again, after all…
Bad Vibes are a great opportunity to see a group in the embryonic stages, a band with all of the talent they need to do something bloody brilliant, and working hard to so. It’s a rare opportunity, a time machine to the startup of punk. A group of young legends-to-be producing a rather high standard of work from the off.
If you ever see Bad Vibes advertised, don’t hesitate to attend. I can wholeheartedly see why Miss Trioxin chased them down for the event.
Brocker were the most established group this evening, or at least, one assumes so from social networking numbers. They’re less punk and perhaps a bit more Rock and Roll, carrying a certain urban flavour, albeit an urban flavour from the 1990s rather than what would be categorised as such today – which is probably just as well, ‘urban’ up North these days means poorly maintained paths covered in dog excrement.
They’re full of energy, carry a naturally high pace, and an obvious passion for music and performance. Their music is of a high standard on a disc, sure, but live, it’s a whole different ball game. This is a band that turn it up past eleven and try to blow every speaker in the house.
Built up of Pako on vocals and guitar, Janchi – Pako’s ‘little sister’ – on drums, and Ky on Bass, this trio has more talent in their three members than a lot of bands can carry in five. Combined with brightly coloured lighting flashing in such rapid spontaneity that our dear photographer, Matthew, started to swear and had to turn on his flash, you’ve got a seriously entertaining outfit that very nearly dominated the evening.
A lot of bands have different ways of working ‘live’, here a lot of it seems improvised, which makes it ten times more exciting to watch. They’re even a touch intimidating up on stage… which gets thrown off a bit when they don fluorescent sunglasses and insult Janchi while trying not to laugh.
Brocker are also a band that believes very strongly in audience participation, and their music supports it. One of their tracks, Gangster Ska, is horribly catchy in places and begging for the audience to partake in. I believe they did, but at such a small venue, however, any attempts to do so were sadly drowned out by the suffering speakers. Despite this, Brocker do know how to work a crowd, and are clearly quite experienced at raising a bit of a skuffle here and there.
Our audience was, however a little shy, and attempts to start a mosh pit floundered.
Not that I can pretend I helped. I believe the majority of audience and musicians were wondering the identity of the twat in the bow tie in a frontmost corner analytically perusing the venue, musicians and their shoes, while standing perfectly still.
Brocker provided a lot of party atmosphere, got the audience worked up and ready for the big finale, and, for good measure, provided one of the most entertaining sets I’ve seen on stage, provided by some equally entertaining people.
Now, however, it’s time for the big performance and the stars of the evening – one of our favourite punk groups in the United Kingdom and the reason we were there in the first place!
Crikey. Well, before I begin, I feel it’s worth noting that we had never heard of, or experienced, Brocker or Bad Vibes in the past, so their sections will naturally play out a little longer in this review than the stars of the evening. All the same, Trioxin Cherry are full of surprises, and as entertaining as ever…
The beauty of this little outfit is that they’re very compatible, very entertaining personalities. Rebecca Trioxin, Pete Trioxin and newcomer Nathan Hart interact and bounce off of each other perfectly, and have a very natural stage relationship with one another. One gets the impression that no matter of the situation, or talents they could have ended up with, Rebecca, Pete and Nathan would have still ended up working together on a project somewhere down the line.
They’ve also mastered the art of informality on stage, able to communicate freely and using the opportunity to explain the simple inspirations that make up incredibly entertaining songs, most of which I was completely unaware of.
“We once had to move a bookcase, and a wild rat appeared out of nowhere-”
“It was tiny. A tiny wild rat.”
“It bit me!”
“It was, it was a tiny rat, I don’t even know how it got in, but it did, it bit Pete and we had to take him to A&E at about 2AM…”
“I was in the waiting room crying ‘a rat bit meee!”
“So I decided to write a song about it…This is ‘Ratbiter.”
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…I love bands that can write songs with very little..!
I get the feeling that tonight really was a red letter day for the group – Miss Trioxin told me she felt nervous beforehand, and when playing, this importance was reflected. This was the Cherry at their best. Loud, booming, well rehearsed and hilarious. The sheer enthusiasm and massive effort they made could be heard at any angle, and so help me it was quite a glorious sight. What made it even more glorious was turning around to see Bill Murray masks at every angle, some with glasses taped over them…
And, as if to make sure Puss Johnson of Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons appears on The Wall at least twice a year, Miss Trioxin also premiered a song in tribute to her. She’s a close friend of the band and, I gather, as important to them as she is to us. It’s really touching to see such close bonds between people that appear so regularly on our little patch of the internet, and Bad Cat was a moment of tribute equal in scale to their constant appraisal of Bill Murray.
This is the first time I’ve really seen Trioxin Cherry stand on their own two feet on stage, and it was a real treat.
When listening and watching a group perform tracks from their first album live, it can become quite an astounding thing to watch. Trioxin Cherry, here, prove just how surprisingly complex their first album’s songs are, and the amount of work that goes into performing them.
That’s the key, I think. Trioxin Cherry know the difference between playing in a studio and performing. It’s this knowledge, their personality and, of course, that essential musical skill that ensured they wouldn’t be overshadowed by any band this evening. They dominated beautifully, and not just because it’s their launch.
Also, at one point Nathan decided to change his shirt into a boobtube, claiming it was to make up for not wearing a wedding dress at the album launch. Takes all sorts!
Combine all of the above, the utterly perfect venue that brings masses of nostalgia for a time I wasn’t alive to witness, a great line up to introduce them and massive amounts of fun, preparation and brilliant planning…and you’ve got a launch event Trioxin Cherry will take with them throughout their career. That big gig. A big gig that could challenge any group of any age or calibre.
This is something every guest can take with them, too. Something STP Records can take with them. Something, I believe, any budding musician can take with them as ‘the way to do it’.
All that remains is for me to thank all at the event for their hospitality. I wish The Old Angel, STP Records, Brocker, Bad Vibes and of course Trioxin Cherry all of the best for the future. Although I have a feeling this won’t be our last meeting…
Links to the beautiful folk that made it all possible…
The Old Angel Inn
Trioxin Cherry on Facebook
Let’s Take Off And Nuke The Site From Space
Bad Vibes on Facebook
Brocker on Facebook
Brocker’s Official Website
And STP Record’s Official Website
Matthew, our official photographer on Facebook