No Choice - Pontypool, The Hog & Hosper - 26th January 2013 Print E-mail
Written by Johnny H   
Saturday, 02 February 2013 04:00

Ponty Punk FestWelcome back my friends to the show that never ends.”


Why I’m choosing to open this review by quoting Emerson Lake & Palmer I’m not exactly sure, but with 7 punk bands (it would have been 9 had it not been for the shite weather) all playing for the nominal entry fee of £5, I guess quoting the granddaddies of prog is probably as good as way as any to remind us all of what punk rock music really did do for music back in the seventies.


That initial seventies brand of punk however is not really the flavour of rebellion on offer here though, nah today’s line up really has much more of it’s leopard print heart fashioned in or around the second wave of punk that erupted across this country of ours during the early eighties. That not so wonderful as historians would have you remember period from our past know as ‘The Thatcher Years’. So with this in mind we kick things off in fine fashion (at just past full time around the UK’s football grounds) with a streamlined version of Hater UK taking to the Hog floor via a bastardised version of ‘Bela Lugosi’s Dead’, albeit substituting the infamous movie star vampire in the song title with the name of the infamous bloodsucker that currently resides in No.10 Downing St. With this witty ditty out of the way the Hater duo then deliver a set of bass driven tunes largely based around the band’s favourite combination in life, namely cheese and cider, before squeezing in a few choice covers by the likes of Dirt Box Disco and UK Subs, the reworking of the latter’s ‘Warhead’ as ‘Scrumphead’ raising smiles and pint glasses around the venue early doors.


Talking of which, thanks to Trigger McPoopshute’s elicit stash of cloudy west country apple juice hidden away upstairs in the bands communal dressing room area, it was a suitably refreshed looking version of that very band that was on next. Frontman and bassist Sutton immediately dedicating ‘Gloryhole Viper’ to the Burning From The Inside lads who had made it down from Manchester before then going on to name every possible service station they could have stopped in to get their bum fun on the M6/M5/M50 along the way. I’ve probably said this before but witnessing Trigger McPoopshute live these days is not just about having a laugh, okay it’s still a major part of what they do, but having gigged all over the place during the last 6 months or so the band really has tightened up a hell of a lot, and now it’s almost a disappointment when drummer Pickles doesn’t actually drop a stick or six. As a result though songs such as ‘Give And Take’ and ‘Plug’s House’ end up sounding far more musical than the raw versions captured on their ‘Coughing Up A Pellet’ EP. Thinking about it now in the cold light of a stinking hangover, this could also be down to the developing guitar partnership of Shov and Pratten who do appear to be playing off one another like a Gwent valleys Poon and Useless at times. Talking of Gluecifer, this afternoon slipped in alongside the Shute’s ever popular version of that band’s ‘Car Full Of Stash’ we also get to hear new tunes ‘Skid Marks & Spencer’s’ and ‘Vat Night’, both songs about ummm…messing your undercrackers. Trigger McPoopshute will definitely be making shit happen at a venue near you soon. Tidy!


Trigger 1


A quick change around in the running order, and next up I find myself face to face with the West Country five piece known as The Setbacks. Drawing on a pool of influences that are more US orientated than those they have followed the ten legged rock ‘n’ roll machine are soon off and running in a melodic punk direction that has pretty everyone bopping (or in some cases staggering) along quite nicely for a late Saturday afternoon. Drawing on tracks from the band’s ten years together I only managed to really scribble down that they kind of reminded me of what a Pennywise/Social Distortion supergroup might sound like should it ever happen, and that I’m sure you will agree is a very interesting proposition indeed. Now I just need to go out and get some of their EP’s, anyone able to tell me where I can get them from?


Setbacks band 2


The welcome return of The Guntys and their brand of folk influenced punk seemed like the perfect pick me up for those now flagging after the afternoon’s boozy antics. But wait what’s this? An R2D2 intro with triggered sound effects and a sudden surge in volume courtesy of singer/guitarist Southy’s double 4x12 Marshall set up that could fill a stadium never mind a cramped bar? Surely this is not the same band that once used to do Pogues covers and had a fourth member who played accordion? Well quite honestly it’s not, The Guntys these days are a much more “up for it” live experience. Hence tracks like ‘Punk Rock Debauchery’ and newbie ‘Forest Of Dean’ sound hard as nails and just ready to see a few skulls cracked on the dance floor. There is an undeniable early Living End influence running throughout the band’s set, and you know what? This new influence stirred into their bubbling hot songwriting cauldron has done the lads a world of good, the band even bizarrely ending their short sharp shock of a set with a few bars from Visage’s ‘Fade To Grey’ albeit with the R2 unit helping out on backing bleeps and toots.


TSKAs previously mentioned with the UK82 punk scene being the one influence that most of the mohawked faithful here today hold dearest to their hearts, it’s perhaps rather apt that the bastard lovechildren of that era This System Kills are the first band to really provoke a true band/crowd interaction. Declaring the proceedings to be “Scrumpy Day”, and celebrating the abundance of happy juice and sandwiches provided for the bands, frontman Pig is left beaming from ear to ear when during ’30 Years’ the dance floor literally erupts as one, spleen vented and message duly delivered to the faithful like a punk rock bullet between the eyes. Tonight This System Kills walk the fine line between being angry and pissed off (and let’s face it who isn’t right now) and playing rock ‘n’ roll music to escape reality to absolute perfection, and it takes just a few bars of the superb ‘If The Cap Fits’ to fully convince me once again that this quartet really should be viewed as punk rock legends by now. I mean what the fuck do you have to do to make it in this crazy world? eh?


Having travelled for something like six hours through some pretty dire weather conditions to get to this gig Manchester mob Burning From The Inside were always going to be guaranteed a good crowd and the utmost respect from those left still fully compos mentis. Quite what a musical surprise they also had in store for us all though was only really revealed when during an impromptu line check they immediately left everyone out front slack jawed. Imagine plenty of streetpunk rifferama, a frontman who sneers like a primetime Rotten or Biafra and a set of songs that whilst perhaps a little more poppy also retain the aggression and direct approach that all great punk rock music needs. Taking their name from the fourth Bauhaus album obviously also means there is a darker side to the band too and this was all to evident during ‘Watch The Bodies Burn’ a sensitive little number about ethnic cleansing - apparently. Gig line ups like this always tend to through up a surprise or two and today Burning From The Inside made a hell of a lot of new friends just by doing what they do best…playing punk rock ‘n’ roll albeit with a bit of a difference.




So to the headliners, and with No Choice’s third album ‘Thru It’ having made a sizeable impression on my listening habits already this year, it was somewhat surprising to see quite so many people in the same frame of mind as me as the clock ticked perilously close to curfew. I mean this album has hardly had a lot of press now has it? But that’s the strength and power of word of mouth I guess, and I’m certainly not complaining and neither are the band, who after what seems like just a few quick tweaks and taps of the exhausted backline are soon off blasting through their back catalogue wasting no time at all to ram home the likes of ‘Airwaves’, ‘Coalition Blues’ and a ground shaking ‘Rhetoric And Promises’. Mixing hardcore, metal, pop and roots can be a tricky thing because one can so easily dilute the other, turning the overall sound of a band into a directionless mess, but these guys perform musical alchemy with the utmost of ease, and given this was only their second show together this year you would have sworn they had been on the road for a good few months. Tight as Charlie Watts’ snare drum skin, fair play. Older tunes like ‘Change’ and ‘Grip’ also get thrown into the pit to keep the fans more than happy falling around on the sticky dance floor but before we know it things are suddenly all over with a riotous ‘Is This Punk Rock?’ a track so matter of fact that it even has the band’s normally “vocal” frontman Gagz is seemingly lost for words. Awesome!


No Choice 1


Goodbye then my friends from the show that I really did not want to end, but please can you also all make sure you get out there and check these bands out too, because otherwise who knows, perhaps Emerson Lake and Palmer might be back sometime soon to bore the fuck out of us all once again?


And we don’t want that to happen now do we.