Braving the Arctic conditions, I thought it would be a good idea to remove myself from the comfort and warmth of my abode and venture to Hitchin to see some rock action happen. Arriving late I miss nearly all of The Grass Is Hairy’s set (sorry lads) – by accident. I do catch the last 10 seconds of their gruff, obstinate punk-core shouting as I make my way to the bar.
I like a bit of screaming. Seasons Calling seem to second that and are pretty angry. Tight and direct, this quintet power through some intricate metallic hardcore. Their vocalist spends a great deal of the set striding and snarling around the empty and intimidating space he’s created. Whilst there’s a lot going on, some nerves seem to be in the air and it’s only to the end of their set that the keyboardist looks up and starts becoming more animated, as do the guitarist and bassist. Props to the drummer, who’s demolishing the kit like I go through packets of chocolate hobnobs. Promising set guys, good job.
It’s Arms & The Man’s penultimate gig (their last show EVER will take place at the Red Lion in Stevenage on 26 February – go, because it’s going to be off the chain) and they’re a bunch of dicks for splitting up. Not really because I love them. No but seriously, what’s the problem? Splitting up when you should be out rocking? The awkward stilted banter between vocalist Ben Davies and his brother Matt (guitar) is ever present – “You’re going to miss this when you’re not in a band” says Ben. “If you wish for something hard enough, you’ll get it” replies Matt.
Sounding more and more like Every Time I Die partying with The Bronx; songs from their modest but impressive catalogue are stripped apart in furious, guitar-shredding glory. Vocalist Ben is a whirling dervish of snapping energy, racing around the stage as though it’s on fire – and the rest of the band feel the burn as well, hardly keeping still. Notable highlights include the brief bludgeoning hip-shaker that is Blood Junkie, the mic-dropping groove of Welcome To Whore Island and the gnashing punk rock fever of Riff Riff Repeat. Awesome scenes all round. Remember, it’s cool to reform now, so maybe see you guys in 10 years, yeah?
After speaking to several people, the general consensus seems to be that Ash Is A Robot are “fucking brilliant live.” About 7 seconds into the first song and I couldn’t agree more. This Portuguese four-piece are utterly captivating, both from a visual and musical perspective. Channelling the same revolutionary caterwaul last heard on Refused’s The Shape Of Punk To Come; Ash Is A Robot’s post-hardcore screech is refreshing and brimming with pulsating and vibrant intensity. If their bearded, wiry vocalist isn’t leaping, bounding and throwing himself off of things, he’s hunched over a small synthesiser, adding that bending and chaotic electro-pulse to his band’s raw-power. They even slip in a cover of Refused Party Program, which, predictably, everyone goes fucking nuts for, once they realise what’s happening. I cannot stress how much you need to see this band live – this is hardcore taken to a new level of spiralling, magnetic, glorious wonder.
Also, they’re top blokes to chat to as well.
Couldn’t find a bandcamp for The Grass Is Hairy, so this video of them pissing about will have to do.
Noisy lot Seasons Calling have got a bunch of tracks up on their bandcamp for name your price – so what’s stopping you, eh?
Wolf-punching lads, lads, lads, banter, banter, banter-merchants Arms & The Man are flogging their EP if you really need it (guess what: you do.)
Stream/buy/absorb Ash Is A Robot’s self-titled album from their bandcamp.