BrainFreeze III - Ebbw Vale, Institute - 24/25 November2017 Print E-mail
Written by Nev Brooks   
Saturday, 02 December 2017 04:00

In these days where festivals seem to be multiplying at a rate of knots, and more and more franchises are being rolled out UK-wide, I think the excitement we used to feel, the sense of excitement at going to what was a unique event, giving you a chance to catch bands you hadn’t or wouldn’t normally watch, has maybe become dulled.


BrainFreeze III poster


For me, music is at a real high within the underground: there are new bands, new styles and, more to the point, a real sense of excitement and anticipation building at a grass roots level. That's why events like BrainFreeze, now in its third year, are so important - and, fair play to the Pity My Brain crew: they haven’t wavered in their support for the underground, refused to bow down to the quick buck and all the time have maintained a sense of integrity.




Driving over on the Friday nite, thinking I’m going to watch Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind in a small valleys town, in a small intimate venue, I couldn’t help but smile.


First up for yours truly was the main hall to catch Joe Kelly, lead vocalist/guitarist with a personal fave, The Johnstown Flood, fronting a very different outfit; but, this guy is very definitely on the up, putting on a cracking rock/rhythm and blues set, and getting the event off to a flying start.


Moving swiftly on to the acoustic stage to catch Aled Cummins, half of Henry’s Funeral Shoe and a real local hero, as the large crowd showed: and, fair play, he went down a storm. Staying on the acoustic stage you realize how far Pity My Brain’s head honcho has gone in pulling this line up together, because next up was one of my highlights of this years Camden Rocks festival, Brandy Row. Now if you haven’t heard or checked out this guy, you should do yourself a favour and purchase the latest single – or, in fact, any of the earlier singles you can get your hands on: part poetry, part punk, part folk… but, can you really pin the music down? I’d be more inclined to say he presents the stories of everyday life. Live, tracks like ‘Oblivion’ and ‘Hold No Shame’ really draw you in with the vocal imagery. Again, a blinding set.


virgin marys


Leaving the acoustic stage and back to the main to catch The Virginmarys: one of my bucket list bands ticked off. The crowd just exploded, and what a performance from one of the best bands on the UK scene? Flat out, in your face and full of attitude… just as music should be. ‘Into Dust’, ‘Just A Ride’… need I say more, as the venues roof was well and truly raised. In fact, they lifted the bar so high you just wondered if the headliners could match them.


Fuck me, though: talk about showing you how to do things! Jim Jones And The Righteous Mind take no prisoners. ‘Boil Yer Blood’ absolutely floors you, as does ‘Aldecide’… as does ‘Heavy Lounge’ - and that's without ‘Shallow Grave’ in the armoury! At times tonight they were absolutely devastating and just nailed you to the floor: what a performance! Friday nite well and truly done.


jim jones




Now I have to hold my hands up I’m heading into the unknown tonight, with the bands playing, apart from one, not really fitting into my usual fayre.


I missed the start tonight putting together an interview with Brandy Row (it’ll be up soon), so missed the Malcolm Young tribute. So, tonight started for me with an Über Rock faves Stay Voiceless: these guys are just getting better and better, tighter and tighter. Reminiscent of a surging early doors Manic Stret Preachers, they really nailed down the set tonight and are destined for bigger and bigger things. Watch them take off in 2018 and, if you get the chance to see them, take it.


Taking some time out to check out the record fair and sample some of the local ales, the next band up for me were a band I had yet to experience live but have reviewed here on Über Rock: The Dead Shed Jokers. Talk about a band that typifies the excitement of the current music scene, they exist on their own terms, doing their own thing. Frontman Hywel is an absolute dynamo live: he didn’t stop - the ringmaster of the maelstrom coming from the stage, sat at the centre of the sonic storm. These guys are insanely tight, playing a set of mainly new material. I really can’t wait to get my hands on the new LP.


Church Of The Cosmic Skull 1


Now tonight’s headliners, Church Of The Cosmic Skull have really piqued my interest and if you read the hype being built, as they themselves say: “Church Of The Cosmic Skull are not only one of the most exciting rock bands in the world today, but also an ever-growing spiritual organization, spreading the light of the cosmic rainbow across this planet and beyond.”


Watching them on stage, they are the consummate live act, with the image, power, musicianship, gorgeous vocal harmonies: throw in a Hammond organ’ and place it to the forefront of the sound, you automatically think prog; but in fairness they are a great deal more.


At times draping heavy ‘70s psychedelia, a la Uriah Heep or early Sabbath, over Queen style showmanship, they really made the crowd pay attention, drawing you in and making you part of an ever pulsating whole. It takes you back to that oil lamp lightshow that was so favoured through the ‘’60s and 70s, draped in LSD inspired imagery. You can really see these guys in a huge arena, a spaceship coming down and the crowd, as they’re converted, taken aboard.


Church Of The Cosmic Skull 3


And with that thought, BrainFreeze III comes to an end. What an event - putting the excitement back into the music, raising anticipation into what’s next: “Join Us” is the subliminal message… we are not a cult, support new music.


PHOTO CREDIT: Photo © Jamie Richards


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