Wonk Unit/Beautiful Strangers/The Quisling Killers/Gung Ho/Dirty Bob - Abertillery, The Dolls House - 1st November 2014 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Wednesday, 19 November 2014 03:00

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Billed as a Halloween Hellraiser, the fact that this 5 band bill missed the haunting mark by a full 24 hours seemingly doesn’t matter to the people who have embraced the fancy dress aspect of tonight’s event with both hands and as a result turned The Dolls House into a scene reminiscent of what a Troma Films casting couch must have looked like back in their heyday. In all honesty the whole dressing up thing leaves me colder than a corpse on the slab at the infamous Knickerbocker Hospital, but a night of free music headlined by Wonk Unit, the pioneers of punk rock not by numbers, is certainly enough to get me to drag my sorry carcass back home for yet another night of drunken tomfoolery.


With Truck Shot disappearing off the bill as openers, it was left to local quartet Dirty Bob to entertain the undead who had made it in early doors, and the Valley’s very own Desert Rock specialists certainly have come on in leaps and bounds since I last witnessed them live at Slugfest 666. In just over a year the band’s vibe has moved away from the claustrophobic Sabbathy roots they displayed on that first live encounter into a whole new soundscape that is kind of part ZZ Top, and part Kyuss, It is in the whiskey soaked voice of Steven "Chippy" Carpenter however that they possess their real USP though. Having just released the excellent ‘The Man Behind The Gun’ as their debut single for me tonight it is the groovy ‘Sin City’ that really makes the band sound like true contenders.


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Having already received a glowing Uber Rock review for their recent ‘Finizo’ release I was looking forward to finding out what Pontypridd’s Gung Ho would be like live and what the Dolls House regulars would make of their toxic mix of grunge and hardcore. Stepping into a slot originally designed for Slugfest favourites Not Since The Accident (drummer Lewis is in both bands) meant a few of the spiky tops present drifted away quite early on, but for those of us who stuck around all I can say is witnessing Gung Ho live is a bit like having ‘Territorial Pissings’ played through a Super-Fuzz Big Muff effects rack relentlessly slammed down my throat for half an hour. So if that sounds your idea of fun you know where to direct your plaid shirted self the next time you see the name Gung Ho advertised.


The Quisling Killers are up next tonight, hitting the stage dressed as zombied up medics in blood splatted white decontamination suits, however wearing black pants and standing on the drum riser right next to a set of lights that make said suits transparent isn’t perhaps the best bit of gig etiquette from singer/guitarist Pickles. It is hilariously funny though as he is obviously oblivious to the fact. When the quartet (formerly known as The Guntys) do let rip though it’s with songs like Crash And Burn’, ‘Neighbours’, ‘Scream’ and set closer ‘Street Mosh’ they do literally all fly by. A bit like copies of their debut album, of which they apparently brought 7 copies along for sale tonight, for what was going to be their unofficial album launch gig. Hmm… So, when I can actually get my hands on a copy I’ll let you know if they have managed to capture this live energy on record. Until then, make sure you check them out live too.


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A debut album that had already made a huge impression on Uber Rock earlier in 2014 was ‘Forgive And Regret’ the debut long player from Swansea arena rockers Beautiful Strangers, and tonight whilst appearing (on paper at least) to be like musical fish out of water the five lads from out West (Wales) showed why a little bit of on stage bravado and some quality songs will always win through in the end. Alright granted opener ‘Shame Shame Shame’ does sound more than a bit like Guns N’ Roses jamming with Skid Row, but these guys, along with their glamourous looking female entourage, were probably nothing more than boners in their father’s stone washed stretch jeans at the time both these bands were headlining arenas worldwide. So, I’m more than willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and I’m glad I do, as tracks like ‘Crash and Burn’ and ‘Love You To Death’ certainly bode well for the future. In fact I’d expect to see these boys at Hard Rock Hell or Steelhouse Festival sometime very soon as they really are the future of UK stadium rock, right up there with the likes of Heaven’s Basement and The Treatment.


In the little under four months since Wonk Unit’s show stealing performance at this year’s Slugfest 7 I’ve grown to truly love their ‘Nervous Racehorse’ record. So much so it’s actually running neck and neck (excuse the pun) with another three or four great records for my Uber Rock album of the year. Why? Well, it’s as simple as this folks, Wonk Unit write amazing songs, tunes that defy any kind of categorization other than to dub them“the pioneers of punk rock not by numbers”. I mean there’s elements of punk, ska, hardcore, country and britpop flying around within their impressive repertoire, but never once do they sound like anything other than Wonk Unit. A truly amazing feat in this day and age I’m sure you will agree, and that’s why I simply cannot get enough of them right now.


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It’s ‘Horses’ from their previous album ‘Muffy’ that opens up proceedings tonight though and immediately the assembled Dolls House mentalists go berserk, a frantic ‘Lewisham’ also gets an early doors airing daring even the more restrained amongst us to join the sweaty throng down the front. For me though it’s during the likes of ‘I Love My Nagging Wife’, ‘Kings Road Sporting Heroes’ and ‘Go Easy’ (all taken from the aforementioned ‘Nervous Racehorse’) where Alex, Keef, Tommy and Pwoison truly hit their stride, perfectly capturing the injustices of modern life within infectious two or three minute musical stabs in the eye. Music really doesn’t get much better than this Uber Rockers, and that’s why tonight I give up scribbling down the set list and taking pictures for this here review and instead relish the moment down the front with my fellow Wonkers.


Not heard ‘Nervous Racehorse’ yet? Get it on your Xmas list right now, you will not regret it! Better still go see the band live and pick up a copy there, that is what I did just a few short months ago and I’ve never looked back since.





To pick up your copy of 'Nervous Racehorse' - CLICK HERE


Special thanks to Mark Richards for the use of his Wonk Unit photographs https://www.facebook.com/markrichardsphotoandvideo