‘Mutations Festival’ – Closing Party report
‘VARIOUS ARTISTS’, DAY FOUR ‘MUTATIONS FESTIVAL’ – CHALK, BRIGHTON 6.11.22
We have finally arrived at the final day of this year’s Mutations Festival with its ‘Closing Party’ which is taking place at Chalk hand features a handful of exciting acts, SNAYX, Heavy Lungs, Grove, SCALPING, and to close the event Bob Vylan.
Kicking off the final day (which is solely based at Chalk) at 4:52pm until 5:21pm were Brighton and Seaford based punk rockers SNAYX, who are renowned for their ferocious live sets and visceral, hard-hitting bass riffs. Back in May they unleashed their ‘SNAYX sit on my FAYCE’ EP which contained ‘Deranged’, ‘Cigarette’, ‘Body Language’ and ‘False Friends’.
An audio montage of snake-themed film dialogue heralds the impending arrival of our serpentine heroes. They arrive with a different drummer than when I last saw them. There’s massive energy from the very first note. They are clearly setting the bar high for the following acts to follow. New drummer Lainey is certainly hitting seven bells out of the kit whilst both lads, tall vocalist Charlie and bassist Ollie parade the Chalk stage like predatory cats eyeing their prey. We are immediately in their sites and putty in their hands. Not surprisingly an early afternoon mosh ensured. As always, there’s tons of noise emanating from the stage when this upwardly mobile outfit is on it, despite there only being a Fender bass and drums, accompanied by ‘Sussex Cockney’ vocals.
Charlie pointed out to us that this is the Mutations Festival ‘Closing Party’ and then he immediately jumped from the stage into the crowd and the music switched to the Vengaboys ‘We Like To Party’ and he and some punters had a merry dance. This was followed by an ear splitting bass and drum intro as Charlie went on walkabout amongst the crowd. For the final number, we bounced! SNAYX are a must see live spectacle and no doubt many fans are looking forward to the arrival of an album full of their enjoyable material. Worth checking out before they get too big!
Charlie Herridge – vocals
Ollie Horner – bass
Lainey – drums
Prior to the onslaught of Covid, it seemed as though the Bristol based, 2017 formed, noise quartet Heavy Lungs were always popping up in Brighton. First it was Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (RIP) in March 2018, then there was their support slot to IDLES at the Concorde 2 in October 2018 (Review HERE) where at the time, the IDLES lead single from their Top 5 album ‘Joy As An Act Of Resistance.’ was the pro-immigration anthem ‘Danny Nedelko’, who is a Ukrainian immigrant and close friend of the band, as well as being the lead singer of Heavy Lungs. Appearances at the Latest Music Bar (January 2019) and the ‘Utopia’ all-day at the Green Door Store (June 2019) and back again in November 2019, all happened, but then radio silence! Until they played the Green Door Store for a third back in February and now thankfully they are back on a larger stage tonight that they deserve.
Heavy Lungs are very much carving their own riotous path and tonight at Chalk is no exception. I was wondering whether the quartet have mellowed or changed somewhat since my last encounter. There was still the vocals, Fender Precision bass, Fender guitar, and drums format in use during their energetic 29 minute tea-time slot set, which ran from 5:51pm to 6:20pm. Amusingly, Danny was sporting a pair of Alvin Stardust leather gloves during the performance as he took command of the room with his arms flailing, and stomping around the stage and through the crowd in virtually equal measures. As before, it’s an entertaining and fierce performance with an urgency which feeds a very eager and receptive crowd. From guttural squalls and pounding drums, pummelling guitar and bass riffs and fierce vocals, Heavy Lungs produce a clever wall of sound – it’s on the borders of punk and metal, I would say and even near Motörhead territory at times.
Not only did Danny join us in the crowd, and then rolled around on the floor whilst still singing, but he climbed atop the bar as well and even drummer George briefly abandoned his kit to take to the mic at the front of the stage. Prior to these events I had the feeling that the punters weren’t warming to them as much as they had with SNAYX, but afterwards they were firmly on an even par. We weren’t quite sure what was going to happen next and it kept the photographers on their toes. When behind the kit, George was certainly going for it, and when their material was sounding similar to Discharge, I liked it, but when it wandered off elsewhere, I could have taken or left it, but having said that, I did enjoy them more than my previous encounters. They are clearly wearing me down!
Danny Nedelko – vocals
Oliver Southgate – guitar
George Garratt – drums
James Minchall – bass
Next up was the one act of the day who we have not witnessed before. They are another successful act coming out of Bristol, (although Cheltenham born) namely “queer as folk” vocalist and producer Grove, who began dropping dark dance, hip-hop and dancehall-infused beats in 2020. Their 2021 breakout 5 track EP ‘Queer + Black’ tells you exactly where they are coming from (although they are a person of dual-heritage) and it includes the ‘F*ck Ur Landlord’ earworm. After which there was the ‘BBB’ (“Big Bad Bitch”) collaboration tune with Lynks, who I had the pleasure of seeing live yesterday. Latest tune ‘Feed My Desire’ dropped back in May. Clearly Grove is inspired by the likes of FKA Twigs and Shygirl and the thought process for live performances being “crowds won’t know what hit them” as in their performance this year at the Reading and Leeds festivals.
Their 29 minute Chalk performance ran from 7pm to 7:29pm and there was a trio of people on stage, Grove, EJ:Akin and Ro. Grove was sporting dungarees and socks was on vocals and laptop duties, EJ:Akin was taking care of the Novation and Korg keyboards as well as backing vocals and Ro at the back of the stage was on electronics by the look of it. The very much in-yer-face performance opens with ‘Stinking Rich Families’ which is a loud rap and drum and bass number which goes down well with the increasing crowd. Shame that they couldn’t have all got here on time to enjoy all five acts!
The head nodding and foot tapping heavy bass beats continues with cries of “off off off with the head” for ‘F*ck Ur Landlord’. Grove suggested a “wall of death” near the end of their set. That’s when the punters split in two and leave a gap in the middle and then on Grove’s cue they all run at each other and bounce around. Their set was very well received by the punters but was not my bag.
Grove (Beth Griffin) – vocals
EJ:Akin – keyboards, backing vocals
Ro – electronics
The penultimate ‘Mutations 004’ act was yet another product of Bristol, who self-describe themselves as “a live band playing industrial techno”, namely SCALPING. For their live performances they are an audio-visual EBM group of the truly highest order, but I’m rather worried about finally plucking up the courage to give their debut nine song album ‘Void’ a listen, as it was recorded remotely during Covid and that doesn’t fill me with confidence, as I can’t imagine how on earth the guys working along can come up with the same brilliance, energy and cohesion that they achieve when performing together on stage. I could be wrong, but I guess there’s only one way to find out isn’t there!
I have had to pleasure of witnessing SCALPING live and direct before, the last of these being at this year’s Great Escape when they squeezed onto the small stage at Coalition back on 13th May. My colleague at the time noted that SCALPING were: “A tour de force of dark electronic techno, samples and serious bass was set against psychedelic strobing visuals, the sound literally reverberating from every single surface and into the ears and minds of every soul present at the capacity Coalition. No vocals required, this was easily the most powerful and certainly loudest gig I witnessed at this year’s TGE and definitely one of the most enjoyable”. Tonight’s 40 minute performance was more of the same, but on the bigger stage that they rightly deserve.
Clearly, the Mutations team were blown away by last year’s SCALPING performance here at Chalk, as almost to the day, they are back in action! For last year’s performance I wrote “SCALPING offer up nonstop heavy instrumental rumblings akin to PERTURBATOR and HEALTH, and meets recent Gary Numan. Industrial dance rock anyone? Trent Reznor would love them. Expect Ibiza meets Gothic Wave Treffen. The surprise package of the festival for me. Absolutely awesome. I need to see these guys live again”. A year later and my thoughts are still exactly the same!
The house lights are terminated at 8:06pm and the cyborg style backing films by Jason Baker are run throughout the set as the only real lighting. The faceless musicians disappear with the music and images take centre stage. As far as I can make out there is a Schecter 6 string bass, and another bass in action, which would account for half the rumble, the other half comes courtesy of a Moog and other various keyboards, plus a laptop and the drums. The songs are instrumentals, but the only words spoken come from recorded material. The tunes all flow into one another rave style, which heightens the packed audience’s experience. It’s like being at a Prodigy concert without the lasers. I danced like I hadn’t danced post-Covid before. I had a wonderful experience as did those around me. It was awesome beyond belief. For me it was far the best performance of this year’s Mutations. It’s a shame that it ended at 8:46pm.
SCALPING are set to return to Sussex on 6th January 2023 for winter’s biggest alternative weekend, where they will performing at ‘Rockaway Beach’ at Butlins Bognor Regis with the likes of OMD, Self Esteem, Peter Hook & The Light and Yard Act.
Jamie Thomas – guitar
James Rushforth – bass
Isaac Jones – drums
Alex Hill – electronics
Jason Baker – live animations
Closing this year’s Mutations Festival were grime/punk rock/hip hop duo Bob Vylan who were coming at us from London via Ipswich of all places. If you cast your mind back, you may recall that it took IDLES eight years of hard graft to get out there and make it big. It’s only five years into Bob Vylan’s career and they are now well on the way to achieving similar heights. Clearly Manager ‘George The Professor’ has his work cut out, but tonight he graces the stage prior to the main event in order to whisk the crowd up to even higher plains. To be honest, it didn’t need doing
Modern day poet Pascal Robinson-Foster and Bobb13 grace the Chalk stage for a 59 minute extravaganza starting at 9:12pm. That’s Bobby Vylan and Bobbie Vylan to you and me! Bobbie, the shorter of the two, takes his position behind the drum set and drum pads, whilst frontman vocalist/preacher Bob Vylan graces the stage with a Go-Pro in hand. He informs us that they are making a documentary and the crowd waves their arms and loudly cheers accordingly. Before the songs commence, there is the small matter of “Guided Meditation And Light Stretching”. Most acts do this behind the scenes, but with this duo, it’s part of their process.
Bob Vylan are now into their third album release ‘The Price Of Love’ which crashed into the official UK Album Charts at No.18 back in May. This was preceded by 2020’s ‘We Live Here’ and 2019’s ‘Dread’. That’s 33 tunes in total and more than enough to plunder from for tonight’s finale.
When the first bursts of air from the opening number ‘I Heard You Want Your Country Back’ (as heard on the Netflix ‘The Bastard Son & The Devil Himself’ series) hits us lot parked at the front, it was quite astounding. Bobby, like Charlie (SNAYX) and Danny (Heavy Lungs) beforehand, jumped off of the stage and mingled with the happy punters for that up-close-and personal experience. Although, he wasn’t a fan of being stoked by a girl when he was on the stage. “I’m NOT a pet!” he announced….more than once!
Bobby seemed adamant to cover as much of the stage as possible, whilst unloading his modern day rap. Bobby informed us that they had been on tour in the US of A for six weeks with Amyl & The Sniffers, but he hated the country on the account of some folks not liking “his type”. In other words racism. Something which I’ve not experienced in the Brighton music scene for many decades. Clearly there’s still work to do over there then!
Thankfully, Bobby loves the UK, but is not a fan of the ‘Northern Line’ as that was a rant about the tubes. The tune reminded me of The Prodigy and the place was going wild. It was hot and sweaty and Bobby kindly handed out a few bottles of water to those in need at the front. Things got even hotter with the arrival of ‘We Live Here’, before which Bobby spoke about the asylum seekers situation. No doubt Danny (Heavy Lungs) approved of the solidarity. I noted that there was no customary baseball bat prop in evidence this evening. It was replaced by a drumstick, which wasn’t quite the same.
We learned that they only have four more shows until the end of the year and so this one had better be a good one. On strolls a young lad by the name of Noah Lonergan, who it turns out is the vocalist Brighton and London based teen punk outfit Noah & The Loners. He enthusiastically informed us that his band is playing The Brunswick this coming Wednesday, 9th November. Those wishing to attend will like to know that the event is free entry and kicks off at 7:30pm in the venues downstairs Cellar Bar. If you inadvertently wander into the street level concert room by the bar, you will be witnessing Funke & The Two Tone Baby instead. You can check out 2 minute 8 second ‘Teenage Tragedy’ track by Noah’s outfit HERE. Noah shared vocal duty with Bobby and gave a very good account of himself.
For the final number of the night, Bobby invited the crowd to join him on stage. A large majority of them took him up on the offer. It dawned on me that was why there was no crowd barrier/photographers pit in place this evening, as the invasion was pre-planned. Unlike The Specials concert I attended at Brighton’s Top Rank Suite on 10th October 1980. There were so many folk jumping around on the stage tonight, I was beginning to wonder if it was going to collapse, but all was well with the world. It was a fitting climax to Mutations 004 and will live long in the memory for many present this evening. Eleven minutes after the ten PM curfew, they were done! It was far from my favourite performance of the festival, but as DJ Zane Lowe used to state “You gotta respect what they are doing!”
Pascal Robinson-Foster (Bobby Vylan) – vocals
Bobb13 (Bobbie Vylan) – drums
Noah Lonergan – guest vocals
Read our review of the Mutations Festival Day ‘Opening Party’ HERE.
Read our review of Day One of the Mutations Festival HERE.
Read our review of Day Two of the Mutations Festival HERE.
Read our review of Day Three of the Mutations Festival HERE.
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