Slugfest 4 : Sunday - Abertillery, The Doll's House - 31st July 2011 Print E-mail
Written by Gaz E   
Sunday, 07 August 2011 05:00




The creaking noise heard on a glorious Sunday morning is not the sound of a warm Summer breeze gently pushing its way through the trees of a picturesque former South Wales mining town. It is, in fact, the sound of a thousand aching bones swung out of bed by owners who treated the night before like it was the last night on this rock 'n' roll planet.


Forgetful of age, of responsibilities, of inhibitions, the die-hards who donated skin, bone and blood to the strains of white-hot rock on Slugfest Saturday are in desperate need of winding down before the coming evening's winding up, and what better place to do this than back at The Mount for a chilled afternoon of acoustic rock. Poetry too, both poignant and84a comedic, cleanses both body and soul while the stripped-down tuneage from the likes of Drew's Blues entertains. The pick of the afternoon's songs is a dust-up between a Boney M medley and a cool version of Johnny Cash's cover of NIN's 'Hurt', before Trigger McPoopshute gatecrash the subtleties with their lounge versions of tales of anal attack. Pseudo Giants close the afternoon in style with a proper set of jingly-jangly melancholic material.


To The Doll's House then, for the third and final act of this fucked up weekend o' fun. The numbers have dwindled after the chaos of the previous day but those in attendance, some 100% sluggers who have seen every moment of this fourth essential event, aren't letting this year's rock 'n' roll go without a fight.


Rock 'n' roll, you say? Introduced as possibly the drunkest band on the planet, 8.4% get things moving with their sloppy brand of punk 'n' roll, and a great ice-breaker it is too. With strategically positioned cans as important to the performance as amps, this three piece play low-slung rock 'n' roll just as their maker intended - their maker, of course, being a Mr J Thunders. Throwing a raunchy cover of Del Shannon's 'Runaway' into the mix, the trashy trio - drummer Sid, guitarist Dixie and bassist/vocalist Pouls - never take themselves too seriously, although their set is now tighter than a pair of drainpipes. These dirty fuckers never fail to entertain me and tonight was no different. Gawd bless 8.4%......and their pickled innards.smiler2


Smiler are the Bridgend hardcore outfit featuring a couple of members of George Annihilation and the Legion Of Hate, the band who tore a few ear drums at the second Slugfest event in 2009. As with this year's mini-album, 'Con-Demned', offering nine songs of a vintage DRI-style sound, the band spit out frenzied and furious political scatter bombs disguised as songs and are noisily brilliant. 'Deadbeat' is the only song title I manage to catch and this closes an excellent, intense set. Another great band to add to your must-see list.


Much has changed since the last time Outgunned graced a SlugStage. With a new bass player and vocal duties now being handled by guitarist Tom Damsell, the band sound better than ever, excelling with their rapid brand of modern metal. Both punishing yet melodic, songs like 'Catharsis' are the kind of hook-afflicted noise that goes places these days. Seriously, of the many young bands in South Wales currently impressing while shredding ears, Outgunned are the ones....I hate to say 'most likely to' as we all know this business is a treacherous fucker. The first of these bands to nail a killer look (check out last night's legends The Hip Priests for the ultimate example of how to get your band looking like a gang) to their sound and performance will soar - could it be Outgunned? Without doubt, as they have all the attributes needed to succeed. Great stuff.


Appearing next, without fuss or headlines, are Goat Leaf. This band feature a guitarist named John Hodgson who some of you may know (but all of you should know) as Johnny H, guitarist with the incredible Warrior Soul. He should not, of course, be confused with the Johnny H from Uber Rock who decided he would rather go on holiday than watch twenty five awesome bands thrill hundreds of awesome people at the best ever Slugfest. But I digress. Goat Leaf released the excellent 'Colorscene' album earlier this year and, in bringing its fuzzed-out stoner-eoutgun3sque grooves to The Doll's House, they impress upon everyone in attendance that they are one of the finest acts to ever play at this festival. Vocalist Jonny Maycock has sex pest facial hair and, well, a sex pest's tracksuit top yet his performance is up their with the lunatic best; a perfect voice for this fine ear candy and a suitably crazed onstage persona. Goat Leaf have brought a piece of the desert to Slugfest and everyone here is happy to get sand in every orifice. A class act.


Someone tell Sam Shiers, vocalist/bassist with Tempestora, that wearing a sultry Uber Rock shirt while performing isn't a sure fire way to guarantee a positive review...oh go on then! Joking (and stunning piece of apparel) aside, Tempestora never fail to impress and their full-length debut album, 'The Battle Begins', is highly anticipated. Tighter than ever and looking evermore comfortable on stage this young three piece have plundered the history of classic thrash metal and, with their gruesome gains, fashioned a sound that is both technical (seriously, Shiers has, like, seventeen strings on his bass) and handsomely heavy as fuck. Fans of old school thrash metal will harbour memories of box-fresh, white Hi-Tec basketball boots while younger peeps can marvel at this frenzied aural attack. Another great band who I heartily recommend to all.


If you know Uber Rock then you know that we are allergic to tribute bands. They are the sunlight to our vampire, the water to our Gizmo, the chives to our Les. Yet, how could we not enjoy a Slugfest-closing set by the Rhondda Ramones, the Welsh tribute to one of the greatest bands to ever grace the meat people of this planet with their legend. You already know what songs they played, that you know at least some of the words to every one of ttempestorahem. The remaining mutants going crazy at the front of (and on) the stage appear to have morphed into a rabid pack of middle-aged bald men - whether the insanity of the weekend has caused all of their hair to fall out is unclear, what is clear though is that Slugfest 4 ends in hilarity alongside some of the greatest punk rock songs ever written.  


......and it's over. Hearts, like Saturday's bones, are broken. Tears, like Saturday's clothes, are shed. Lumps, like Saturday's heaving man-cocks, are in throat.


It is tough to fully get Slugfest's aura, attraction and awesomeness into words. It is, quite simply, a unique event that has to be experienced to be truly believed. Everyone who attends leaves breathless, inhibition-less possibly. Yes, it is messy. Yes, it will scare the bejesus out of the naïve, the non-believers. People are scared of the unknown. If Arthur C. Clarke was still alive and brought his TV crew to check out the Mysterious World of Slugfest then he would surely have spent his final years in Abertillery Rock City rather than exercising the relaxed rules pour homme that he craved in Sri Lanka. Like the Jersey Devil, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Slugfest is a legend that people who have not witnessed it are, naturally, sceptical of. But those who have seen it, have touched it, have tasted its raw, salty goodness, never forget.


Do you want to believe? Then you have to be at Slugfest 5 in 2012 - no excuses....       




[Photos by Ian Cates]