Brighton & Hove’s Mutations Festival – day three concert reviews

Working Men’s Club live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)


The music Brighton music venues for day three of the Mutations Festival were The Hope & Ruin, The Folklore Rooms, Green Door StoreThe Prince Albert, Patterns and CHALK.

The Brighton & Hove News Music Team yet again collected our wristbands (for day three) from the same place that we did on day one in East Street and would again do so tomorrow. It would have been far easier for us to just collect them once on day one, but hey-ho!

We referred to our Mutations Festival programmes for the plan of action and headed off to our chosen venues.

Mutations Festival

Here are our reviews of day three of Mutations Festival and they are shown in earliest to latest order. Enjoy………

SCROUNGE – 12:50pm to 1:10pm at The Hope and Ruin
ODD MORRIS – 1:10pm to 1:40pm at Green Door Store
DEADLETTER – 1:00pm to 1:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
WIFE SWAP USA – 1:20pm to 1:50pm at The Prince Albert
SPRINTS – 1:40pm to 2:10pm at The Hope and Ruin
KEG – 2:00pm to 2:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
LAUNDROMAT – 2:10pm to 2:50pm at Green Door Store
THE GOA EXPRESS – 2:40pm to 3:20pm at The Hope and Ruin
THE JACKDAW – 2:50pm to 3:20pm at Patterns
WYCH ELM – 3:00pm to 3:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
TV PRIEST – 3:20pm to 4:00pm at The Prince Albert
COURTING – 3:20pm to 4:00pm at Green Door Store
CHEAP TEETH – 3:50pm to 4:20pm at Patterns
LEGSS – 4:00pm to 4:30pm at The Folklore Rooms
SOCIAL HAUL – 4:30pm to 5:00pm at The Prince Albert
MOA MOA – 4:30pm to 5:00pm at Green Door Store
PILLOW QUEENS – 4:50pm to 5:20pm at Patterns
PORIJ – 5:20pm to 5:50pm at Chalk
FAMOUS – 5:30pm to 6:00pm at The Prince Albert
MUSH – 5:50pm to 6:30pm at Patterns
SINK YA TEETH – 6:20pm to 6:50pm at Chalk
YARD ACT – 7:20pm to 8:00pm at Chalk
WORKING MEN’S CLUB – 8:30pm to 10:00pm at Chalk

Punters were notified by the Mutations team that sadly JOHN and Podge were unable to attend the Mutations Festival due to illness, so we took those off of our lists.

Sadly we all missed Scrounge performing live at The Hope & Ruin, which was a combination of trying to find a car park and queuing to get into it and also having to go elsewhere to get our new passes for the day.

Odd Morris live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Mark Kelly) (click pic to enlarge)

Saturday at Mutations for me starts at the Green Door Store with Odd Morris from Dublin. I’ve seen them described as post-punk, but to me they sound more like ‘traditional’ indie. They’re not necessarily doing anything new, but that doesn’t stop them from being interesting. The drummer is particularly impressive, with a busy but effective style that reminds me of the late Martin Gilks from The Wonder Stuff (a hugely underrated band in my opinion). Additionally, the bassist occasionally plays chords, which is something that you don’t see every day. Lemmy would be proud…. Overall, Odd Morris gave us an enjoyable and worthwhile half hour. Find them HERE on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

DEADLETTER live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

There’s quite a queue up the narrow stairs to The Folklore Rooms, above The Quadrant, for the 1pm start. Originally from Yorkshire, DEADLETTER are a six-piece now based in South London. They’ve had train trouble, which explains the late sound check. Inside, it’s a nicely decorated but rather compact venue, and I’m impressed the band can all cram onto the modest corner stage. A backline amp is balanced on a window ledge. The sound is ferociously passionate and angular, with twin guitars, sax, bass and drums. I’m reminded of early 1980s agit pop like the Gang of Four. Vocalist Zac has a strong and mesmeric presence. In terms of his artily wasted look, he’d fit right in with Fat White Family, but he’s agitated and very animated. He stamps his feet, whips the microphone lead, screams, stares manically, and makes worrying forays into the audience. The band are disparate in appearance, but their playing is tight as you like. Guitarist Will is at least a foot taller than bassist George, and second guitarist James rocks an elegant, if slightly incongruous, mod style. Drummer Alfie is jammed in the corner, warmly lit by a snuggly standard lamp. Completing the lineup is Tom on sax, whose playing is notably vibey on ‘Monday Night Terrors’. The songs are strong, and have something to say. ‘Fall Of The Big Screen’ is a standout number with a Bad Seeds vibe, and the chantalong ‘Fit For Work’ has a very obvious contemporary political relevance. The excellent set concludes with a massive playout on ‘Zeitgeist’, with Zac energetically taking his message to the crowd, in a close up and personal kind of way. For me, this has been a most impressive start to the festival, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the day. Check them out on Bandcamp.
(Richie Nice)

Wife Swap USA live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

There’s absolutely no point in me writing anything new about the awesome fun punk outfit Wife Swap USA other than, just go and see them for yourself! No really, just go! Honestly! The Prince Albert again witnessed a legendary performance by this unit who today were down to a quintet instead of a sextet, as Matt the Cowboy was playing at a wedding elsewhere…yeeeharrr! It was nice to see all the top photographers present for this exciting lot. As usual, lead vocalist Harry was down to his shorts and he joined the crowd on several occasions. He climbed on the bar, he laid on the floor, he even went out into the passageway outside whilst still singing. Meanwhile, Phoebe eventually disrobed down to her panties and bra. This was a fabulous set as ever and ‘Lipstick’ was such a meaty track that it really should be a single. A must see band! Enjoy their work on Bandcamp.
(Nick Linazasoro)

Sprints live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Mark Kelly) (click pic to enlarge)

I go down the hill to The Hope and Ruin to see Sprints, who are also from Dublin. Must be something in the water over there. The Liffey, after all, has a lot to answer for. Sprints dispense raucous, grungey stuff that is guaranteed to blow away any cobwebs that may be lurking. They are not loud / quiet / loud as such – mostly just loud! Having said that the songs are surprisingly tuneful and there is some impressive musicianship on display, especially the melodic bass lines. The lyrics are quite pertinent, largely dealing with modern life, and the vocals are often spoken. They left the audience wanting more and I shall certainly be investigating further. You can find them on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

KEG live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Richie Nice) (click pic to enlarge)

I decide to stay in The Folklore Rooms and I’m glad I did as it has filled considerably to the point of being jam packed. Next band up are KEG, who somehow manage to be even more angular and cram even more players onto the stage. They are a seven-piece, with twin guitars, bass, drums, synth and trombone. It’s a mighty sound, with powerful songs, interestingly played with an urgent intensity. The obvious comparison is Devo, though there’s a hint of the manic energy of early XTC, especially in the excellent ‘Presidential Walk’. The jacket of vocalist Albert’s elegant brown pinstripe suit is quickly discarded. It’s incredibly warm in the room, and soon he’s so drenched in sweat that he does an amusing shake in the manner of a wet dog. Moustachioed keyboard player Will is busy wrangling crazy sounds via the rotary knobs of a pair of Korg synths. Charlie has somehow found enough room to extend the slide of his trombone, and his playing lends a jazzy element to the sound. His facial expressions and dancing are funny and engaging, and at one point he whips out a conch shell to play. Bassist Joel couldn’t quite fit on stage, so plays from the front row. Guitarist Frank has his shoes off to facilitate more deft operation of the effects pedals, and drummer Jonny is crammed into the corner berth. Musically, the overall vibe is arty and avant garde, and I find it tremendously entertaining. The lyrics tell amusing tales. I’m rather tickled that “Priscilla’s au pair, thinks it’s unfair, that her Alpen is served on anything other than earthenware.” This has been another cracking set, and KEG are a band well worth checking out. It’s time to get some much needed fresh air, and move on to another venue. KEG are on Bandcamp HERE.
(Richie Nice)

Laundromat live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

I ventured across the road from The Prince Albert to the nearby Green Door Store to see what Laundromat had to offer during their seven song set. Having witnessed the outlandish behaviour of Wife Swap USA a few minutes earlier, it was certain that this performance would not be able to compete. It didn’t. We were served with inoffensive melodies that like their first track ambled along, although their second number with its Germanic guitar and drums riffs throughout was an improvement. Laundromat operated a vocals with guitar, bass, second guitar, and drums with drum pads format. Everyone couldn’t fail to notice one of the band members sporting a covid safety mask, but I wonder how many clocked that the singer was wearing odd socks! They will be appearing at the Concorde 2 on Friday 10th December as one of the two support acts for Penelope Isles. The other supporting act being Holiday Ghosts, who are also taking part in the Mutations Festival. Purchase your tickets HERE. Find Laundromat releases on Bandcamp.
(Nick Linazasoro)

The Goa Express live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

THE GOA EXPRESS set at The Hope & Ruin clashed with the The Jackdaw performance at Patterns, so we were unfortunately unable to see the latter on this occasion. THE GOA EXPRESS was most certainly a breath of fresh air after the last band I saw. These five guys were this afternoon utilising a Nord Electro 6D keyboard, guitar, bass, drums and another guitar along with vocals, tambourine and harmonica format. These lads certainly have tons of oomph, so it’s no wonder that this young band are touring with ‘Shame’, but not on the Brighton date this coming Monday. These guys gave us plenty of rocking numbers and I had decided that I liked them……liked them a lot and will certainly be investigating them in the very near future. So it’s no surprise that the revue is totally rammed. Their third tune was the slowest of the set and reminded me of Oasis. Their fifth tune reminded me of Buzzcocks and they offered us jangly guitar pop of the highest order. Every track was a corker! These are a very tight unit who I would top for playing much larger venues in the near future. Find them on Bandcamp HERE.
(Nick Linazasoro)

Wych Elm live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Another band, another venue. I had great difficulty finding the Folklore Rooms as the programme said it was at 12 North Street. It isn’t. It’s actually above The Quadrant pub which is on Queen’s Road. By the time I’d finished traipsing around trying to find the place, the band I was hoping to see (KEG) were just finishing. However, I was in plenty of time to bag a spot to see Wych Elm, who were one of my ‘must see’ bands of the weekend. Wych Elm are from Bristol, and are reminiscent of the Pixies and The Breeders, and also clearly very much influenced by Nirvana. They are tight, taut and melodic and are skilled applicants of the loud / quiet / loud doctrine. They play their new single ‘Executioner’ which is also available on their ‘Rabbit Wench’ EP. The song apparently tends to descend into a “wall of noise” when played live, but this certainly didn’t happen today. Everything sounded very much under control. Wych Elm show plenty of promise, and I shall be seeing them again. Wych Elm are on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

TV Priest live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

I’ve allowed plenty of time to get into The Prince Albert to catch TV Priest. I’m relieved that I did, as the room is soon very full, and by all accounts hopeful punters are queuing up the stairs. This London band has built a considerable buzz, signed to Sub Pop after playing just one gig. Their debut album is properly impressive, and it’s heavy rotation on my playlists makes the songs in the set instantly recognisable, opening with the magnificent ‘Big Curve’. If you’re not familiar with their sound, I’d put them right in the vanguard of the current wave of post punk bands who don’t like to be compared to The Fall. Alex on guitar, Nick on 6-string bass, and Ed on drums are collectively a rhythmic juggernaut with unstoppable momentum. The bass sound is massive enough on single notes, but chord playing renders it earthshakingly seismic. Frontman Charlie Drinkwater owns the stage completely, prowling relentlessly and snarling menacingly. Baseball hatted, he wears a baggy coat that is clearly unsuited to the prevailing conditions in the room, but he’s not taking it off, despite eager encouragement from the crowd. Every song is a winner: “Through to the next round,” as the haunting refrain from ‘Decorations’ goes. I’m surprised to find them scheduled into one of the smaller venues for the festival, but pleased for the chance to catch them in such intimate surroundings. It’s a standout set, and I’m glad I got in. Check out TV Priest on Bandcamp.
(Richie Nice)

Courting live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

As the queues stretch out of the door for TV Priest‘s set at the Prince Albert, I take up an earlier tip and check out the next act at the Green Door Store. It’s another full house as witty, Liverpudlians boys, ‘Courting‘ fire up their show, and they’re an unexpected joy. They are a guitar-driven indie-pop 4-piece and have a lot in common with Sports Team and another of the new wave of recent Brit-pop bands. The show’s highlight was the cracking track ‘Grand National’, but props go out to frontman Sean Murphy-O’Neill to get down into the crowd for ‘Slow Burner’ and get audience members to bang along on a cowbell in time to the song. That’s a new one for me. I also loved the argy-bargy punk stomp of the closing number ‘Football’. If you’re a fan of the previously mentioned Sports Team, you could do a lot worse than checking these boys out. Courting are on Bandcamp.
(Cris Watkins)

We strived to cover as many acts as we could today, but sadly none of us attended the Cheap Teeth at Patterns and Legss at The Folklore Rooms performances as we were gigging elsewhere.

Social Haul live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

The unenviable task of following on at The Prince Albert falls to Social Haul, a three-piece fronted by Leigh Padley of The Tramms. He is joined by Daniel on bass and Richard on drums. The first couple of songs have a straight, tight beat overlaid with rather plain strumming on a Gibson SG guitar. They move along nicely enough, with a pleasing urgency, but I find myself quietly willing the music to become a bit more interesting and varied. Thankfully it does, with some angular lead work on the amusingly titled ‘I Have A Pen’. The standout number for me is ‘The Bayou’, which makes strikingly effective use of unfeasibly long stops, rendered comic by Leigh’s quizzical facial expressions during the pregnant pauses. It was worth staying for the whole set as closer ‘Prized From The Rot’ is particularly impressive, and throws in everything they’ve got: a lively shuffling beat, frenetically busy and mobile bass lines, and plenty of variety on guitar, with insistent strumming alternating with chiming flurries of clipped lead. I wasn’t sure at first, but this set really grew on me. Social Haul are on Bandcamp, find them HERE.
(Richie Nice)

moa moa live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

I wandered over to the Green Door Store to see South London individualists moa moa go through their paces. I guess that they know their way around Brighton, having supported Demob Happy at Patterns twice last month. The five-piece are set to drop their latest work in the form of ‘Drive’ which will be unleashed next Wednesday. Their format at Mutations was quite a busy one as they used a number of instruments including Akesis keys plus M-Audio Axiom 25, two guitars, drums, bass, saxophone and tambourine. The crowd enjoyed their synthetic pop sounds, but to be honest I wasn’t really sure what to make of them. Maybe decide for yourself by checking them out on Bandcamp.
(Nick Linazasoro)

Pillow Queens live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Mark Kelly) (click pic to enlarge)

Next up it’s a wander down to the seafront to Patterns for yet another band from Dublin! What is going on there?!! Pillow Queens have been around for a few years, have released one album, ‘In Waiting’, and apparently have another one in the works as I type. They are purveyors of adventurous, melodic, inventive indie, although I understand that they don’t like to be described as such. One thing that is particularly striking is the quality of their harmonies. They return to the UK in May next year, having had a North American tour earlier in the year. They play Kings Cross Scala on 11th May. I rather suspect that I’m going to have to be there. Pillow Queens are on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

porij live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Sara-Louise Bowrey) (click pic to enlarge)

A leisurely stroll on to CHALK to see porij who hail from Manchester. They are responsible for some interesting semi-electro dance music. Whilst synths are to the fore, namely a Prophet 12 by Dave Smith instruments and a Pro 2, there is also some really interesting guitar going on too. However, I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who wears a Google-coloured baseball cap with a helicopter rotor on top. That notwithstanding, a fair amount of genre-hopping occurs within porij’s music, and they’re well worth investigating. They are extremely accomplished musicians for such a tender age, which is very impressive. I particularly loved the deep drone of the bass guitar and the energetic drumming. Find porij on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

Famous had missed their allotted earlier in the day time slot (2;20pm) up at The Prince Albert due to the trains and they were now due to appear at 5:30pm. This was the exact time that Mush were performing across town at Patterns.

Mush live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

Art rockers Mush are based in Leeds, and have released two well-received albums. The tragic death last year of their guitarist and friend Steven Tyson must have been a severe blow, so it’s good to see them back touring and great to catch them at this festival. They’re playing in Patterns on the seafront, which has a nightclub vibe with black walls and coloured fluorescent tubes behind the stage. The band are a four piece, with twin guitars, bass and drums, and have an interesting and varied sound. Dan Hyndman is the lead vocalist, sporting a shock of dark curly hair and playing a Jazzmaster guitar. Centre stage, Nick has a similar look, and gets a lovely rounded tone from a short scale Musicmaster bass. Phil drums fast and tight, and sports an arty look. The second guitarist plays a white Strat and has a baseball cap pulled down over his face. I can’t find his name anywhere, so I’m hoping his identity is an exciting secret. Opening numbers ‘Blunt Instruments’ and ‘Gig Economy’ have the urgent intensity of Devo or The Fall, whilst ‘Seven Trumpets’ lollops along with a pleasantly languid feel, at least until a half-speed breakdown ushers in a guitar line worthy of The Cardiacs. I’m really taken with Dan’s lead work. He wrangles some impressive sustain, but his best trick is bending multiple strings in a style reminiscent of Graham Coxon from Blur. It’s a particularly strong set, and ends with the powerful ‘Drink The Bleach’, presumably referring to one of the less sensible healthcare tips that cropped up during the pandemic. On the strength of this performance, I’d be keen to hear more from Mush. Find them on Bandcamp.
(Richie Nice)

Sink Ya Teeth live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

I walked back over to CHALK to witness the last three bands of day three of the Mutations Festival, the first of which were Sink Ya Teeth, and they were followed by Yard Act and Working Men’s Club. First up then were Sink Ya Teeth a.k.a. Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford who hail from Norwich. The eager punters were most certainly rewarded with a masterclass in nostalgia-tinged post-punk retro-electro. Their combination of shared vocals and guitar as well as use of MacBook Pro, Korg keys with Roland drum pads during their seven song set was a joy to behold. There were many influences in their performance from the trademark New Order bass through to Grace Jones, Depeche Mode, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer, all perfectly packaged into their unique and evocative brand of melodic synth electro-pop, deep bass grooves and post-punk funk which had the crowd dancing from the very first note to the last. They began with ‘Shut Me On Down’ and ‘Hot House’ and track three ‘If You Seen Me’ had an absolute killer deep base probably from the MacBook Pro, which continually pushed out air from the understage speakers which made your ear drums rattle. Their yellow vinyl album available in Brighton’s Resident music was plugged. ‘Sweetness’ from the latest album was a corker and ‘Substitutes’ had some decent Numanesque keys in it. Their closing number ‘Somewhere Else’ certainly had a banging beat and I would love to see them performing live again. You guessed it, they’re on Bandcamp.
(Nick Linazasoro)

Yard Act live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

At this festival, all roads lead to Chalk. I make sure I’m there in time to get to the front ready for post punk hot-shots Yard Act. The Leeds four-piece are on a roll just now, and are to be featured on ‘Later With Jools Holland’ on TV, which will doubtless help their cause still further. Their debut album, scheduled for release in January, has apparently clocked impressive numbers of pre-orders. The opener is a massive chugging instrumental called ‘Strip’. Ryan on bass, wearing retro specs in the house style, lays down a groove with Jay on drums, who pounds at a kit nicely badged with the band’s logo. Long haired guitarist Sam strolls onto stage and unmutes his Telecaster with an enormous howl. I notice he is still wearing a wrist brace, presumably after the moped accident he suffered back in August. Frontman James Smith nonchalantly strolls on in his trademark Michael Caine mac and specs, and immediately starts goading the crowd. “You’re all cheering for austerity,” he scoffs, during a pause in ‘The Trapper’s Pelts’, and continues the wind-up. “We’ve driven a very f*cking long way for one show…. so make some f*cking effort and make it worth our while as well as your own.” It’s an unconventional approach to getting the audience on side, but his cheeky Northern charm does the job, and from ‘Dark Days’ onward, there is much vigorous dancing, moshing and crowd surfing, which seems to meet with the leader’s approval. There’s a funny moment where Ryan has to open a can of beer for James, who apparently lacks the necessary fingernails. Recent single ‘The Overload’ sends the crowd into a frenzy of ecstatic dancing. “Jump!” James yells at a stage invader – who was the drunken bassist from Sprints – who seems reluctant to launch his crowd surf. The lyric showcases the frontman’s penchant for singing in character, and this is highlighted further in the excellent ‘Fixer Upper’, whose narrative voice is provided by “two homeowner” Graham. Final number ‘Land Of The Blind’ sees the audience enthusiastically passing money and other items to James for a dubious magic trick. “You do know you’re not getting any of this stuff back?” At the climax of the song, he predictably makes himself and the money “disappear” by running off stage. It’s been a most enjoyable set, and I have no doubt at all that Yard Act are going to be huge. Find them on Bandcamp.
(Richie Nice)

Working Men’s Club live at Mutations Festival, Brighton 6.11.21 (pic Cris Watkins/PunkInFocus) (click pic to enlarge)

I’d heard a great deal about Working Men’s Club, and how having started as a guitar-led band, they whole-heartedly adopted a new electro direction. So when they take the stage with no drummer, a bass player and two keyboard players, I am not in the least bit surprised. On offer were an Apr Odyssey, Mono Poly, Akai, Korg Prologue, another Korg, and several more keys. After the first song I note that they are one of the most interesting electro bands I’ve seen for a long time. However, for the second song everything changes as the keyboard players swap their keyboards for guitars. This I wasn’t expecting. This sets the scene for the rest of their set, with instrumentation and musical style often changing from one song to the next. They make it nigh on impossible to genre-define them, which is fine by me. With extremely thought-provoking lyrics and unexpected key changes, they are one of the more interesting bands around at the moment. They even play at being pop stars: the singer takes his shirt off and the crowd go wild! Maybe the crowd were being ironic. Find them on Bandcamp.
(Mark Kelly)

That’s all the reviews for today. Let’s see what the final Mutations Festival day brings us tomorrow………….

Mutations Festival Day Three flyer

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