Who’d of thought it all those years ago in the late 1970’s that the loud and raucous sub three minute punk movement would have lasted so long.
With the much reported implosion of top bands such as The Sex Pistols and The Clash, it looked as though that might be that. Compounded with the fact that many of the punk faithful had either grown up or moved on into pastures new courtesy of ska bands such as the Special AKA and The Selecter.
And yet here we are in Brighton and in Sussex, more than four decades since those first heady days of 1976’s self titled releases by The Ramones, Blondie and The Modern Lovers and there appears to be plethora of new punky types stepping out from each street corner. Indeed the scene right across the country can be described as particularly buoyant.
There are a majority of the first wave acts who are still plucking away at their guitars in one form or another. If some original members don’t wish to come to the party or are unavailable or sadly no longer with us, then most punk bands seem to have a queue of fresh young talent wishing to join their ranks. The new blood, in turn, brings a fresh new look to the acts and they recruit their mates along for the ride, who in turn have told their mates in the pub or on social media. Social media eh…..didn’t have that when the famous punk fanzine ‘Sniffin’ Glue’ was running in 1976 and 1977.
To prove the point, we simply had to look at this weekends local gigs and it was an easy job to select a punk bash for each night from the first, second and third generation acts. So what did we get up to?
Day 1 – Friday 19th October:
CONTROL + PUNKA + THE BARRACKS – SUSSEX HOTEL, BEXHILL-ON-SEA
We headed over to the Sussex Hotel in Bexhill-on-Sea to witness three acts, namely Scottish punk stalwarts Control, who were admirably aided by two Bexhill area acts in the form of Punka and The Barracks.
Not having previously been to this venue, I was unsure as to what was awaiting us. On entering the venue, a number of people might have had serious second thoughts about staying, as the downstairs of the hotel had obviously seen better days and let’s face it to be honest, the punters looked a tad threatening to say the least – How wrong I was!
The room was filled with an assortment of mainly local punks, who were aged from around 20 right up to 70, who appeared to be rather menacing with their stares and the way they presented themselves. But the minute we started to talk to people, we immediately discovered that in fact they were a blimmin’ nice bunch of people. This was a classic case of never judging a book by its cover! But I could be forgiven I guess, as the organiser Shawnie (who incidentally certainly knows how to party hard) had advertised the event as “Hooligan Rock’N’Roll”.
This event was a casual affair, with only guideline band performance times, but in the main the first act, The Barracks, got their set together from 9pm and trio Punka were on from about 10pm and Control were on from about 11pm to midnight.
The Barracks quartet certainly got the evening off to a fast start, and I would have travelled over to Bexhill just to see these lads if they were the only ones on the bill. Their tattooed appearance and dress was more akin to the fans of Green Day and Linkin Park. Find out more about these Eastbourne and Hastings based lads HERE.
It was the turn of the more mature Punka trio next, although I believe they have only been together since 2014. These geezers were most of the time even faster than The Barracks and reminded me of The Exploited, but not in looks just music. With these Hastings lads, I too would have travelled across the county to see them play live. Find out more about what they are up to HERE.
It was time for mainly Scottish Highlands based Control to get up on the slightly raised stage and do their thang! Clearly this lot have a fair following with over 11,000 Facebook followers, but amazingly they were just happy to turn up and have a few beers with their mates and the punters and play punk rock music.
These boys are punk through and through, as I am not sure that I could be bothered to travel the whole length of the country to play to a compact crowd in Bexhill, but Shawnie had charmed them down, or their Sussex based band member did, but anyway, it was a fine effort and a most enjoyable set, with standout track ‘Punk Rock Ruined My Life’ being the highlight of the night. Learn more about the band HERE.
A spur of the moment decision to venture across to Bexhill had actually yielded some fine punk bands and also a chance to meet some new genuine acquaintances – a great start!
Day 2 – Saturday 20th October:
SHAM 69 + ANGELIC UPSTARTS – CONCORDE 2, BRIGHTON
Back on home soil, we ventured to the fantastic Concorde 2 venue, to get our fix of genuine ‘back in the day punk sounds’ that were kindly being supplied by none other than Sham 69 and the Angelic Upstarts.
This was to be a repeat of their previous outing to the same venue back on 11th June 2016, when I witnessed the guys exciting live sets instead of going to the pub and watching England’s sad draw with Russia at the Euro’s footie.
I knew exactly what to expect and indeed it was just like the other gig had been cloned. Both nights had easily sold out, yes that’s correct, it’s 2018 and punk is still selling out venues and packing them in! This was an early event, thus allowing me to be able to watch two decent bands and to leg it home in time to watch Brighton beat Newcastle on ‘Match Of The Day’.
Once again this time around, the South Shields Oi!/punk legends, the Angelic Upstarts (who formed in 1977) took to the stage first. Singer Mensi and the boys ploughed through their classic hits set at a steady but not rushed pace. These included the wonderful ‘Two Million Voices’, ‘Solidarity’ and ‘The Murder Of Liddle Towers’.
Mensi is always one to offer up some friendly jolly banter with his bandmates and the crowd, and this evening eluded to the fact that Newcastle had been beaten by Brighton. Oh pants! I had been avoiding the result all day.
The highlight of their set was when Mensi brought on a mini-Mensi on stage to sing his favourite Upstarts track, ‘I’m A Upstart’. The packed crowd thought that he did rather well for a little lad. More info on the band HERE.
After a short break in proceedings, it was time for Jimmy Pursey’s rowdy rabble aka Sham 69. I really don’t know how, but these guys formed back in 1975 and Jimmy is still slender after all these years.
The Concorde 2 crowd were well up for it as Pursey, Parsons, Tregunna and Guy, went full throttle through their many chart hitting Oi! singles, which included all three of their Top 10 sing-along-gutter-anthems, ‘If The Kids Are United’, Hurry Up Harry’ and ‘Hersham Boys’.
No Sham 69 gig would be complete without ‘Angels With Dirty Faces’, ‘Questions And Answers’ and ‘Borstal Breakout’ and tonight they were all dutifully dispatched with the usual vigour with a majority of the crowd happily singing along to them.
Back in the day, like the Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, used to unwittingly court the wrong type of gig punter, who was only there to kick somebody’s head in. Thankfully those days are long past and a ‘Sham’ gig is a much more less tense affair than they used to be back in the day. Another great night out! More on Sham 69 HERE.
Two fab evenings down with one to go.
Day 3 – Sunday 21st October:
THE COATHANGERS + DITZ – STICKY MIKE’S FROG BAR, BRIGHTON
Our third and final punk adventure, took us down to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Middle Street, Brighton, to witness a set from all girl US garage punk trio The Coathangers, who were supported by Brighton’s very own noise rock merchants DITZ.
As far as I can recall, I believe that I first saw the post punk DITZ quintet perform live when they supported Sextile back in January at the Prince Albert, but I’m a tad vague about this. However, I am certain that I saw them (again supporting Sextile) a month ago at the Hope Ruin and this local Brighton band are certainly ploughing their own furrow within the music world and reflect the diversity of the City within their look.
I have to honestly say that tonight’s DITZ performance was a million times better than the previous ones! I have no idea why this is the case, but it can’t be the fact that singer Cal slapped me around the face with his glove, as that was at the end of their set and the improvement had already taken place.
Maybe they were vastly improved or it could possibly be that I suddenly got what they are endeavouring to achieve. These lads have suddenly become Brighton’s answer to IDLES. More on DITZ HERE.
And so to the final act of our marathon local punk fest, Atlanta’s tireless garage punks, The Coathangers. These girls have been in existence for 13 years now and were in town as part of their European tour to plug their latest offering – which is a fab 14 track live album entitled, yep you guessed it ‘Live’.
I have to say that it’s a great album, although I think that the bands portrayal of them on the cover doesn’t accurately portray what goodies are inside. It’s a bit 3 Degrees as opposed to three Coathangers. Surely they could have got a fab live shot of the girls strutting their stuff in their trademark ‘A Clockwork Orange’ droog style white boiler suits?
Over on this side of the pond, it’s fair to say that these ladies aren’t as well known, but the fact that they have accumulated over 50,000 Facebook friends is testament to what they have been achieving in their time together.
Tonight, Crook Kid Coathanger (Julia Kugel), Minnie Coathanger (Meredith Franco) and Rusty Coathanger (Stephanie Luke) were certainly bringing the house down with their blend of US style garage punk. These ladies are fab!
Their set was entertaining and slightly reminiscent of back in the day post punk combined with elements of The Slits. I honestly wasn’t expecting them to be this good.
Towards the end of the set, the girls swapped instruments and during ‘Squeeki Tiki’ Crook Kid climbed over the barrier and joined the punters for a spot of singing and when Rusty was on vocals for another number, she laid on the floor – entertaining stuff and the perfect way to round off the weekend! Find out more about The Coathangers HERE.