Sunday, May 2, 2010

Show Time!

SUBHUMANS - THE DEAD BATTERIES - THE FANNY PADS - TOE, Royal Oak, Ipswich, UK 30th August 2009
When I was at high school there were three bands that mattered: CRASS, who changed everything; DISCHARGE, who sounded the best loud; and SUBHUMANS, who were a more approachable Anarcho band, not as scary or clandestine as the crew from Dial House. I never saw CRASS live, due mainly to the fact that I’m too young, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I never will. A couple of years ago a few of us travelled to see DISCHARGE, who were massively, though predictably disappointing. When rumours started circulating that SUBHUMANS, who I’d never seen, were playing at the Royal Oak, my local pub on and off since I was 15, the received wisdom among most people I know was to take these rumours with a pinch of salt. As the date fast approached, however, it looked more and more likely that this might actually happen. Approaching the pub on the night and being greeted by a murder of punks smoking in fitful anticipation outside the front door, confirmed that there was substance to the stories after all.
First up were TOE, an Ipswich three-piece drawn from the more avant end of the DIY scene. Between them they make quite a retro din, something akin to SCRATCH ACID or RAPEMAN with vocals manipulated electronically into something akin to what you might hear on a WHITEHOUSE album. Cool stuff, I thought, and I’m looking forward to catching them again. The FANNY PADS were up next but suffered badly with sound, their guitarist turning up way louder than everything else could compensate for. We made for outside to grab a breath of fresh air. The PADS were followed by The DEAD BATTERIES, who were largely responsible for organising the night. I’d seen this lot before, a year or two ago, and they’ve improved a lot, getting tighter and faster, and clearly having a blast when the audience responded.
After a short set-up the SUBHUMANS came on and immediately the Oak erupted into a flailing mass of people. And, out of nowhere, came the old-schoolers, people I hadn’t seen for years, singing all the words and taking their place in the pit. The set was largely drawn from 'The Day The Country Died', 'World’s Apart' and 'EP-LP', with a couple of new songs and the odd 'From The Cradle To The Grave' track making an appearance. And they were brilliant! By the time ‘Mickey Mouse Is Dead’ made an appearance I was in the pit, too, arm round my brother, singing my little heart out. ‘Religious Wars’ ended the night in fine style, another classic that I couldn’t resist getting stuck in for. And that was it, all over, an amazing night where the Oak really came alive. Afterwards I’d lost my voice, which was a bonus for most of the people who know me. Now, if we could just get CRASS down there . . .

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