Tonight’s punk-fest is being held in the student hang-out The Registry, a venue that I never really thought would lend itself to live bands due to the awkward shape. The stage is set up in a corner by the bar next to the DJ/soundman and has one constant spectator; a bloody great beam directly in front of the centre of the stage. It seems logical to stand in front of this thing in order to be able to see, because of which all tonight’s bands enjoy a tightly packed group of spectators.
The first band to benefit from this layout is Harpoon Larsen, a band whose name conjures thought of some new Swedish soccer superstar taking the Premiership by storm. Instead I get ‘ska pop whalecore’ (apparently), producing epic 10-minute bubblegum punk songs that flow well from section to section, a style that I find surprisingly interesting (I’m not the world’s biggest pop punk fan). The odd slip out of time didn’t dent the show too much, although the very short front man’s lack of conviction with a microphone might be something to rectify for future performances.
Next on the bill on Mista Mushroom, a band who promote themselves as ‘ska hoodlum newcomers’. As they stroll on I suddenly remember seeing them once before and my previous thoughts on their performance come flooding back. My main three observations were; the singer looks very much like Robert Smith, I find them slightly too arrogant for their own good, and the music suggests more than just a small influence from madcap band Mr. Bungle. I told the singer this at the Wedgewood Rooms and it didn’t go down too well. ‘But I like Mr. Bungle’ I protested, to which he just kind of sneered and mumbled to himself.
Maybe I was too harsh on the guy. I mean they are a great band, the main plus point being that halfway through most of their tunes it gets very hard to distinguish any punk ska influence at all, and in a genre that has minimal diversity, this is an invaluable ability to practice. Despite their songs not being widely known, we were able to sing along during sections containing lyrics ripped out of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, the Mighty Boosh and Limp Bizkit. These bits are funny but drag on for a bit too long; irony is only humorous for a short while and it certainly isn’t new or witty. Despite this they played with a confidence that suggests longevity and success for the future and the musical ability shows a potential to develop into something unique and intriguing. Watch this space.
As Three Day Benda take to the stage the crowd has thinned out quite a bit, once again showcasing my biggest gripe with unsigned band gigs; the bands take their fans with them when they leave. In defiance it take 3DB just half a song to muster up a crowd, and by the middle of the set some of the most unlikely fans are skanking their nuts off up front ( i.e. skinheads who initially seem to be taking the piss but end up loving it). Classic punk banter involving penises, housemate auctions and a makeshift merchandise model fills in the cracks between songs, for which the trumpeter, guitarist and singer receive the joint front man award for tonight. There’s no actual trophy though. Sorry.
Although with tunes such as ‘Elements of Confusion’ and ‘Bar-Mitzvah’ it shouldn’t be long before this band get rewarded with a slightly more prestigious trophy; that of a shiny new record deal. These are highly polished tunes that rock, croon and pop in equal measure but in a series of wild and unpredictable sequences that keep the set lively and interesting.
I left the Registry deafened in one ear which I suppose is a consequence of being totally transfixed on an act for forty minutes. A night of crazy ska punk and a sensory injury for a measly £2 entry fee? Value I’m sure you’ll agree.
Guest article from Matt S.