Slugfest 7 - Abertillery, The Dolls House - 4th & 5th July 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H & Gaz E   
Tuesday, 15 July 2014 04:00



For those of us who were there right at the start of Slugfest, to enter its re-adopted home of The Dolls House in Abertillery) at just past 7:30 pm to find the place already doing fine trade over the bar is certainly a heart-warming sight. Remember that although the event organisers put their heart and soul into assembling this now annual event, along with its sister event The Acoustic Slug, every penny they make goes to charity (links to donate are at the end of this very review folks) so being here for its seventh year just seems oh so right…you know. And the festival is certainly starting to make headlines too as earlier in the week the online edition of Wales’s national newspaper ran a feature on the aspirations of this year’s event where The Sick Livers picture that was used to supplement the feature somehow neglected to exclude the legend ‘Bummed To Death’ from behind the bearlike frames of guitarist VJ and singer Ginge. It’s all so naturally fucked up and that’s why so many people travel from all over the country to be here for this oh so special weekend.


In typical Slugfest fashion the weekend begins with a quick blast of long standing/suffering noisecore act Gallini and immediately someone drops their pint in shock. Wait a minute though as I’m almost doing the same when Trigger McPoopshute open their set with a testosterone filled chuck of rock called ‘Hench’, a song that continues the quartet’s crusade to become the world’s number one purveyors of back door rock ‘n’ roll. Being on the road with The Chuck Norris Experiment (however brief a stint it was) has certainly gelled their back catalogue into an even more cohesive musical tour de force, and as such songs like ‘American Manc’, ‘Knob Rot’ and the band’s signature tune ‘Trigger McPoopshute’ go down an absolute storm with the assembled early throng.


Standing out a little bit against the rest of the more punk rock orientated line up of Slugfest’s opening night, Oakhaart from Gloucester are a band that sticks a middle finger in the air to the corporate heavy rock and metal festivals going on elsewhere this weekend simply by choosing to play Slugfest. You want feral technical death metal? Then you got it, as the Sam Oakharrt (ex Tempestora) led 5 piece deliver an almighty kick in the bollocks for those punk rockers brave enough to stick around for their short but not so sweet set. Closing with the almighty ‘Uproot’ Sam looks to the stars, a bit like a Brazilian striker who’s just scored with a 40 yarder, and lets out a roar that opens up the seventh gate of hell. Scary stuff indeed but for all the right reasons.




2 Sick Monkeys are always an awe inspiring prospect live and tonight Fred (drums and vocals) and Pete (bass and vocals) do not disappoint. Declaring that Slugfest is actually really Christmas the lads who aspire to live in Merthyr (its twinned with their home town of Swindon apparently) rip through the likes of ‘Never Say Never’ ‘Spontaneous Amoebic Disorder’ (their tribute to death metal album titles) and their rather splendid reworking of ‘American Idiot’ with ruthless bass driven punk rock abandon. There’s no room for any song fat with these boys and as a result their set is over almost before my first can of the night is fully consumed.


Others in attendance are perhaps not quite so restrained with their alcoholic consummation which means that by the time Not Since The Accident hit the stage they are greeted by a front row all looking to do as the Slugfest 7 event shirt so proudly boasts: ‘Drink, Dance and Fall Over’. This seems to spur singer Rhys and the lads on though as they hit us full and fast in the face. Two songs in and the ferocity of ‘Have A Go Hero’ sees guitarist Steve struggling with a broken plank he can no longer spank, but in typical Slugfest spirit he’s not left wanting for long as some kind soul simply lends him theirs. From there on in its onwards and upwards as the likes of ‘New Hope’ distil the true spirit of renegade sounds. If you’ve not heard these boys before do yourself a favour and check ‘em out.




I’ll admit it, Bring To Ruin used to frighten me when their then just singer Ross used to stalk the stage and most venue’s dance floors like some demented love child of The Killer Klowns, but now since he’s donned a bass guitar and decided to share vocals with drummer Jon and guitarist Paul they quite frankly fucking terrify me. Okay they could be accused of being all a bit one tempo but boy what a flat out and fucked up tempo that is. It doesn’t really matter what songs they play because with these guys it’s all about the guts of the performance and tonight they ripped mine out along with quite a few others too.


With the news that Uber Rock’s favourite mongoose botherers JD & The FDCs had to withdraw from tonight’s event due to circumstances beyond their control it was left to Cardiff punk rock heroes No Choice to close off day one of Slugfest 7. With a set list that covered pretty much their entire three decade plus career including their 1982 track ‘Help’ the only thing that was missing tonight, as frontman Gagz is quick to point out, is local scene legend Pig Cole to help the recently outed (as being grey haired) singer on said song’s anthemic chorus. Elsewhere the likes of ‘Sonny’, ‘Change’ and the band’s dub-tastic version of The Ruts ‘Jah War’ have those who are still fit enough to still stand dancing like there’s no tomorrow, but of course there is a tomorrow… that’s why I’m pacing myself and as ‘These Nights’ sends us off into the early hours of Saturday morning, I couldn’t think of any better way to end an almost perfect first day at Slugfest 7.


No Choice




It feels like I’ve barely had a chance to lay my horsehead on the pillow when suddenly I’m making my way back up the stairs of The Dolls House to the scene of last night’s carnage. Saturday is always the main draw at Slugfest when it comes to the more casual punter walk ups and with eighteen bands on offer (seventeen now as Burning Flag have had to cancel) throughout the day, all playing for free and with all proceeds going to charity, seriously who can blame them?


So it is at the ungodly hour of 2pm that day 2 of Slugfest begins with a full half hour set from Gallini, albeit this time they are masquerading as The Bay City Roiders reinterpreting songs from the ‘70s teen heartthrobs whilst injecting their very own brand of toilet humour into proceedings via tracks like ‘Satsuma’ and ‘Ade Fry Is A Cunt’. It is during this latter chestnut that original Gallini guitarist Chris Cross makes a fleeting appearance at Slugfest for the very first time as does one Emperor Tan for a run through of the band’s take on an old Vapours classic now called ‘Turning Into Tan U’. It’s with pint glasses raised that Gallini remember Slugfest’s very own Goobey with a barnstorming ‘Barnstormer’ before a truly awful version of ‘Bye Bye Baby’ sees the back of the four loons for another year…thank fuck for that.


Sat Brassick


It’s never easy playing this early in the afternoon to a venue filling with still hung over from the night before punters, but I’ve heard a lot about Ravenheart from West Wales so as the band line up their hugely impressive armoury of instruments (complete with guitars on fixed stands and bass guitars with far too many strings for their own good) ready for battle I’m half expecting the Welsh equivalent of Dream Theater to erupt for the PA system. What I get though is actually more akin to the Welsh equivalent of The Mentors, and after experiencing tracks like ‘Locomotive’ and ‘Better Off Dead’ for the first time I’m still not 100% sure if the band are doing this with tongues firmly in cheeks or are actually deadly serious. I for one certainly hope it’s the former and not the latter.


So after a band specialising in what many would call “classic rock” next up we have a band so young they could well be NOFX’s grandsons, as Area 53 from Wilshire bring a skanking good time to one and all with their blend of punk/rap and… err….folk crossover. ‘Chaos’ is the name of the game with these guys and as a result they go down a storm with the now rapidly growing crowd assembled on the venue’s dance floor all looking for a good time.


Birmingham’s Angry Itch making their Welsh debut here today at Slugfest 7 are also looking for a good time running headlong into the spirit of things with their bassist Richard dressed in a tutu and their drummer Luke sporting his best Animal (off of The Muppets) pants. It’s left to singer/guitarist John Hoey to play things straight down the line as the trio knock out a set of abrasive punk rock tunes, none of which I’d heard before, but it’s the steamrolling ‘Bailout’ that sticks with me most and it’s easy to see why the band have been rewarded with a slot on the new band stage at Rebellion 2014.




A band who should be doing the same, but sadly are not, are Manchester’s Burning From The Inside, returning to Slugfest for their second year, Paul, Rob, Andy and Bill are obviously mad for it this afternoon as singer Paul shoots from stage to stage firing off vocal missives during tracks like ‘Some Day’ proving that whilst rock ‘n’ roll may be a young man’s games, these old dogs still have a few tricks left in them too. Case in point ‘Only Death Can Kill Me Now’ a new song so awesome that straight after it Paul’s trousers decide they can’t put up with the tension any longer and give up the ghost, which I guess is no mean feat when you’re built like a butchers dog in the first place. Always a welcome inclusion on any bill Burning From The Inside have certainly developed their sound since we first caught them back at The Hog in January 2013, now let’s see what they do next, as that new track is an absolute belter.


With no Dirt Box Disco or The Hip Priests on the Slugfest bill this year it is left to Alex Johnson and Wonk Unit to turn up the dial marked “class’ as they deliver a 30 minute mid-afternoon set worthy of any headline band at any festival anywhere in the world right now. With drummer Tommy (sporting a Turbonegro cut off) and guitarist Keef (from Dead Identities) fitting in perfectly alongside their frontman and long standing bassist Pwoison this is certainly not the same band that first played Slugfest a couple of years back. Now almost totally devoid of the art school grunge chic that littered the band’s set back at Slugfe5t Wonk Unit in 2014 are all about the rock ‘n’ roll baby and tracks like ‘Kings Road Sporting Heroes’, ‘Nan’ and ‘Go Easy’ - all taken from their excellent ‘Nervous Racehorse’ album - hit you full in the face, just like Alex’s misguided piss taken during that train journey the awesome ‘Lewisham’ immortalises. I was expecting Wonk Unit to be good today, but not this fucking good, Wonk Unit in one word? Amazing!


Wonk Unit are not the only bunch of scruffy ‘erberts to have undergone a bit of a makeover since I last saw them and with Gaz E now at my side ready to take over reviewing duties its left to Quisling Killers (a band so new they haven’t even got a Facebook page) to send me off into the mad afternoon heat. Ok they are not that new, this is The Guntys with added Lee Nichols on guitar and vocals but boy has Pickles (as we all know him here at URHQ) put a rocket up this (already decent) band’s arse. Gone are the folk/punk pretentions of old and now in their place stand stadium rock sized slabs of punk rock and tracks like ‘Street Mosh’ now finally sound complete. Addicted To Speed’? You will be once you hear Quisling Killers, me I’m off outside for a breath of fresh air ahead of the insanity of what we know is just around the corner…


Johnny H


Sat BT


While the very spirit of Slugfest may well be about breaking things, whether it be bones or drinking records, the line-up of the seventh instalment of the festival certainly had an air of familiarity about it, with many bands returning from previous years. The Setbacks headed up a section of Saturday's bill that saw many familiar faces, either screwed up into metal gurns or coaxed into punk rock sneers on both stage and floor. The Bath outfit certainly offered more of the latter than the former and, even though their stage time was altered for the most un-punk rock reason imaginable, they didn't disappoint.


Thirty Six Strategies also returned from Slugfest 666, albeit on the generally more frenetic Saturday, and, even though they have changed vocalists - Marie Vockins replacing Kirsty Harding - the same problem that blighted their 2013 set, for me at least, remains: the vocals are, at times, as weak as Skol, and not helped by a dodgy microphone brought by the singer that looked the part even if it didn't work like it. I totally understand the band's aim of fusing a more subtle, fractured female vocal over punk rock but, more often than not, attendees were left wincing.


The only winces on faces as bruisers Black Tamanous took to the stage were caused by volume, as this serial-killer obsessed outfit attempted to murder the audience by auditory canal assault. Frighteningly loud, the band opened with power ballad 'Decapitated' and, via the vicious vernacular of the likes of 'The Red Tree' and 'Skullfucked', were hosts to the first real pit of the festival. This was one of the best Black Tamanous sets I've seen over recent years, and certainly the best received. A winning performance.


Sat SL 2


There's something about Slugfest and The Sick Livers that go together like Renée and Renato, like Turner and Hooch: I can't quite put my finger on it but, in another mess of confetti bomb, hot girls with cowbells, and glorious glunk rock, this band of misfits owned Slugfest 7. Always fans of a massive opening, Ginge Knievil led his denim 'n' leather joy boys (all decked out in matching 'Handsome in a Certain Light' shirts like some poundshop Showaddywaddy) from the massive 'Gimme The Drugs' through an eight-song set that included three white hot new cuts - 'Perfect Fucking Nothing', 'You Make Me Wet' and the divine 'Dark, Dangerous & Delicious' - that tell me that the follow-up to 'Motors, Women, Drugs, Booze & Killing' is gonna be a stonker. Catch 'em at Uberpalooza or you'll be sorry.


Doomchild, purveyors of the darkest, heaviest, most rectum-tremblingest tones in the building couldn't have been best pleased at having to follow The Sick Livers due to the car curfew of The Setbacks and the subsequent stage order reshuffle but, if they weren't, they certainly didn't show it. With a gentleman made-up to look like Rolf Harris at the mic, the juxtaposition of the band's doom-laden sonics with light-hearted mickey taking of a convicted paedophile made for some interesting moments. 'Moonshine' was as heavy, brooding and impressive as always, and songs like 'Devastation' and set closer 'Your Hell' made me feel like my heart was about to evacuate my chest and offer itself to the Gods. Another bone-rattling Slugfest success story.


Sat DC


Featuring members of 100,000 Body Bags, Dead Radio and...erm...Pretty Tame, Trackstar/Pornstar took to the floor of Slug Stage 1 and turned out a set that pretty much embodied the ethos of Slugfest. With less focus on the political side of the members' other outfits ('80s glam excepted) and more emphasis on good times coloured by good tunes the band provided the heat-afflicted audience with something cooler than many might have expected.


Hacksaw, with guitarist/singer George resplendent in a curious zebra-stripe/camouflage outfit configuration, never disappoint and they weren't about to start at Slugfest 7. Given a much healthier place on the bill due to rabid acceptance of their previous appearances, the primitive punk rock pair - George aided and abetted by the hairy lout Roy on drums and vocals - tried their hardest to usurp the attention afforded their classic anthem, 'Bog Roll', going so far as to debut a horrific set of Darrel Sutton masks that would be worn by audience members, one of whom, after seeing his girlfriend wearing the monstrosity on the back of her head, vowing to never do her from behind ever again. Names withheld, of course. It was the unleashing of the toilet paper tsunami that everyone was waiting for, however, and Hacksaw duly obliged. There can be few sights funnier than watching would-be rock stars strutting around a venue with four-foot of bog roll trailing behind them.


Sat Blunders


"Best band of the weekend," was the statement shouted at me by one of the members of a band that had played earlier in the day as The Blunders chucked out catchy tunes for fun from the littered floor of stage 1. With the spirit of '77 coursing through their veins, this band know their way around both a song and a melody and, mixing those heady attributes with a streetwise punk rock attitude, they can hardly fail when playing to a crowd such as this. The day, weekend even, had begun to catch up on people, yet The Blunders gave everyone a spring in the step of their Chuck Taylors that had previously started to feel concrete-lined.


With the audience thinning out as the witching hour approached I couldn't help but feel that those already departed were missing out on one of the bands, and sets, of the weekend as West Midlands crew Brassick tore Slugfest 7 a new one. Fronted by the impressive Nicola Hardy and in possession of a back catalogue of great tunes, Brassick fuse punk rock, ska and metal to great effect, their slug set as good as any I saw over the two days. With the opening track, 'Pelt', and the title track of the band's EP, 'Broke And Restless', bookending a fantastic set (the latter featuring the guest vocals of Angry Itch's John Hoey) I couldn't help but be blown away by the band's great songs and unadulterated enthusiasm, especially given the time and the fact that they'd been in the heat-troubled venue for several hours. Great stuff.


With the venue now in danger of becoming a ghost town as heat and ale afflicted attendees fell by the wayside, Lincoln mob Smackhandle were left with the unenviable task of closing a festival that many people appeared, sadly, to have already thought over. The circumstances certainly didn't affect the band's attitude towards their performance, thankfully, and, after a couple of songs, including the huge 'Madman's Request', the sounds emitted drew a number of still-wanton music fans out of their slumber resulting in the band playing to a suitably-crazed cadre of rock fans worthy of the alt metallers' appearance. These guys will be back in the Dolls House next month and should be checked out.


Gaz E


Sat Smackhandle


Awesome live photos courtesy of Ashlea Bea Photography;