Johnny Is A Stiff

Stiff

Tracey Edges visits Anarchy Entertainments’ inaugural Anarchy Fest at The Yardbirds.

There’s something ‘bout you baby, I like. At least, this Girl About Town likes the Yardbirds Club. It’s off the less salubrious end of Freeman Street but don’t worry about that – there are plenty of big butch bikers to make you feel perfectly safe. I was able to easily park on Church Street, itself and if you need a taxi home there’s a taxi office just at the bottom of the road. Only 2 minutes away, even if you are zig-zagging by that point. On Saturday 27th June, Yardbirds played the part of convivial host to: Johnny Is A Stiff – Anarchy Fest 2015. A veritable feast of an ear-cleansing punk fest.

Promoter Anarchy Entertainment is headed by the lovely, helpful, and very popular, Ross Stark who does a great job.

As the first band kicked off at 5.40pm, it was fairly unlikely that I was going to make it and, unfortunately I didn’t. I totally missed Dead Dads who were billed as ‘Grimsby’s very own, no nonsense punk rock’ and, rather disappointedly, rocked up just in time to catch the final song from Not Tonight and the Headaches. From what I heard of the catchy, pop-punk “Goodbye Kiss”, I would have liked to have heard more.

Next up were The Reverends, from Derby, who, according to Anarchy are: “Unashamedly old school punk that’s hard hitting, honest, and in your face with a fast growing reputation for catchy songs that tell the world exactly how it is.”

Frank Strident, on lead vocals could have been the bloke from down the local allotment, when he went from army jacket to grey trousers, red braces and white vest. I wouldn’t want him in my face though if he was holding a rake! It was a bit like watching Die ‘Ard, though the vest didn’t last long either. Saying that if you’re covered in tattoos you probably do want to show them off. With tracks from their album, “the New Addicted,” Frank lived up to his name with strident, raspy vocals and he was backed up with hard unrelenting guitar. Fast paced, snarly and in your face. Definitely old school punk , maybe falling somewhere between the Sex Pistols and the Damned. With catchy tracks such as “Take The Money And Run” and harder more frenetic songs, it was a well balanced set, that was performed out, making The Reverends firmly on my to-see-again list.

They were followed by Vanilla Pod, a five piece, ska-punk band from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, who have been together since 1995.

“You Wanna Rock n Roll? Let’s Party” and they did. The first song of the set was Saturday Night. I didn’t know this track but by the end of it I felt that I did.

Bassists are usually fairly somnolent in their demeanour but the Vanilla Pod’s one was the opposite – he was enthusiastically all over the place. They had been ribbing him about being from Cambridge and being a bit health shoppy. The way he was moving I think he’d been on the quinoa!

I liked the band, the banter and the attitude but wasn’t familiar with the songs and it would have been better to have had some familiarity to distinguish the tracks. One had a great title though: Deaf Lugs! With 5 albums to their name Vanilla Pod have plenty for the new listener to discover and a quick flick through the albums shows a variance of style and plenty to get to know.

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Next up – The Franceens who I had recently seen when they supported the Talks at the Matrix, Grimsby. I really like this explosive, garage band, from York, and a fair few tracks were now recognisable so I probably enjoyed this outing even more than the first time.

With only Dan Oliver Gott on lead vocals and guitar, Naomi Westerman on backup vocals and bass and Miles “Les” Morrison on drums, they manage to make an incredible, but coherent, racket. Dan said “Only Motorhead are louder!” The initial stand out tracks for me were Pledge, which happened to be the first song that they wrote as a band, and Attack, about nuclear war. Try is a good example of how the to and fro vocals of Dan and Naomi complement each other. They have a preppy, Beach Boys, retro sound which is overlaid with a more frantic punk rhythm.

The Franceens have a frenetically lively, tinged with madness, set which makes them a band that you really need to see live. Buy the music, get to know it and then lose yourself in one of their performances. They are one of those rare bands that you could see on a regular basis and keep on enjoying. The Franceens have a self-titled 4-track ep which as well as Try also comprises the tracks: Wish, Stone and Alarm. All strong which keep up the energetic pace held together by the crashing drum work.

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Dan and Naomi are huge supporters of indie bands and local talent. They got fed up seeing the same old, same old by dull promoters, whose only passion was fiscal, and set up a non-profit organization, called ‘Behind The White Door’. They put on weekly shows for underground bands to give them a chance to play in York as it can be hard for people to get shows in that city, unless they have a mega-bucks management label, a serious online presence or are prepared to pay-to-play (don’t get me going on that one…) They work with rock and roll and garage/punk bands. The first night was in May 2013 and since then have built up a reputation for great nights with a friendly atmosphere. From August 2013, BTWD events became exclusive to The Fulford Arms pub which they now term the home of the real rock and roll underground. Information can be found about, Behind The White Door and the events by going to www.behindthewhitedoor.co.uk and all else Franceens is at thefranceens.co.uk

Following on from The Franceens were a duo, from Leeds and Guilford, Love Buzzard, whose noise argued against The Franceens claims of being next loudest to Motorhead! For two people they were LOUD and I have rarely been so fascinated with a drummer. For a start, Al Brown looked like he had escaped fresh out of a series of The Sweeney and just did not stop beating the hell out of that kit. I’m not sure where all that sweat went but there was plenty of it!

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I have to admit that these weren’t for me, on a first listen (hold on, hold on – read to the end…) and I did start to zone out. Nothing to do with them though, just my personal taste and probably as they followed on from the Franceens. However, they seemed to go down well with the audience. To use a highly technical term the vocals of Kevin Lennon were too waaaaah-shouty for me. Saying that, I felt that there was something about them and there were hints of the less-psyche-o-pathic which made me prick up my ears. Did a bit of Led Zeppelin creep in there?

On the other hand, combine their music with their videos and my interest is ramped up. A new single release in July 2015, Cash, is a great mad watch, directed by Youth Hymns and illustrated by Russell Taysom, it is a colourful clash of real and cartoon. Insane brilliance. Cash is from the Love Buzzard’s debut album, Antifistamines, released 7th August.

After enjoying the video I had a listen to their Soundcloud page and really like “Showtime” but with titles such as Heaven’s Got An Electric fence, Pop Tart (a good example of Love Buzzard’s signature diiiirty guitar here), and Guns Before Butter you want to investigate further. I found the more I listened the more I liked them. I think live you probably lose some of the more subtle nuances and you get more detail from a recording. There is a lot to find interesting here – you just have to find your way in sometimes and it was the video for cash that opened the door for me.

I don’t think that I will be zoning out next time…

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The Penultimate band were one that has been highly recommended to me so I was looking forward to seeing them. I like a band with humour and Wonk Unit has humour in spades. Wonk Unit are fun with no arsey attitude. I hate to say this but, with Alex’s vocals, and the glint in his eye, I kept getting reminded a bit of ‘Jilted John’ and “Depressed” reminded me of a more sweary, John Otway, but I’ll swiftly pass on from that as Wonk Unit are definitely their own, almost, ‘genre’.

Their songs are stories. Day-to-day stories with the quirky Wonk Unit spin to them and some punk poetry thrown in for good measure. They don’t sugar coat though and maybe a few people squirmed when they played their single, Je M’appelle Alex, with lyrics such as “Things were going so well until you asked me for guest list and I said sorry I don’t speak English… Je M’appelle Alex. Do I look rich??? And I would love to indulge your ego but suddenly you appear dead to me…”

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Be warned!

The most recent Wonk Unit album is Nervous Racehorse and, among others, were played “Nan”, “Lewisham”, one of my favourites, and I have to admit to rather liking “I Love My Nagging Wife”. I tried hard not to but it is hard to resist this band so I just laughed instead and kept in the spirit. Plasterer, from the 2013, Muffy album was also a stand out track.

Head to wonk-unit.bandcamp.com where you will find plenty of Wonk-music and also seek them out on You Tube as, well, I’ll just say that their videos are of the same level as their music. Enjoy.

Finally and FINALLY, I got to see Immingham’s own blues-punk, love-child of AC/DC and The Ramones: Ming City Rockers. I’ve seen them flitting about gigs, watching other bands, like black-clad Dementors (as in they have a swooping presence and distinct image, but they do the absolute opposite to sucking life out of the dark places that they inhabit). Up to now I have never actually seen them play. That can be a pain and lead to disappointment. Thankfully I wasn’t disappointed and thoroughly enjoyed the whole set.

I already feel that I am listening to classic Ming tracks that in 20 years time (hopefully!) I will still be listening to on their Greatest Hits album. ‘Get Outta Your Head’, ‘Twist It’ and “I Wanna Get Out Of Here But I Can’t Take You Anywhere” (my favourite track/brilliant title) all come under this heading.

With their strong image and masses of attitude they, along with other favourites, Barb Wire Dolls, embody the renaissance of real punk – the good old school stuff. They don’t give a toss, they are wired and, most of all, they are damn good. Listen to them online, watch their videos on You Tube and buy their records.

Ming City Rockers are: Clancey Jones – Guitar & Vocals & Harmonica, Morley Adams – Lead Guitar & Backing Vocals, Jakki Walsh – bass and Wan Marshall – Drums
www.mingcityrockers.co.uk

Someone buy Ross Stark a few drinks for putting that lot together on one stonking, loud, adrenalin-busting bill.

Excellent night.

Tracey Edges is an artist, writer and presenter. Her website is at traceyedges.co.uk and she can also be found on Facebook and at Siren radio
sirenonline.co.uk/section/shows/sunday-girl.

This review appears in The Peoples Issue 35 Web Edition