Big Business/Whores./History of Sex – Birmingham, Mama Roux – 4 April 2017 Print E-mail
Written by Rich Hobson   
Saturday, 27 May 2017 04:00

Bills don’t come much noisier or more furious than the double-bill of Whores. and Big Business, two of the hardest-hitting, noisiest punk bands from the US. Put on by premier Midlands promoters Surprise You’re Dead, the gig represents an opportunity to get eye-wateringly, ear-splittingly close to the harsh crème de la crème of modern noise punk. In a stylish, New Orleans inspired bar. Yeah, it’s a strange setting for a raucous night of punk rocking glory, but Birmingham’s Mama Roux has fast become one of the best venues in the city for catching the best up-and-coming acts and cult favourites, especially since the future of the city’s esteemed Rainbow venues looks to be uncertain.


History of Sex


Driving this fact home are our first band for tonight, local howlers History of Sex. Previously seen supporting similarly noise-minded locals God Damn, History of Sex kick off proceedings with a punchy blast of old style punk rock n roll. Perfectly suited to the brick heaven and industrial expanse that is Digbeth, History of Sex are rough-throated purveyors of the swinging punk rock riff, bouncing along with riffs that sit somewhere between The Stooges and Gun Club.


History of Sex exist in the oft-overlooked fringes of the British punk scene, away from the pedigree punk stylings of Brum punx like Brassick, Angry Itch or even Drongos For Europe, the band play music of a decidedly more metallic bent, throwing in a bit of indie oddness for good measure. Their set is short but sweet, betraying plenty of potential for a band that (seemingly) haven’t even got a full EP release under their belt yet.




While History of Sex might elude classification within the British punk scene, tonight’s main support Whores. have no such problems, slotting in comfortably with the US noise punk sound that has been championed by everybody from Shellac to KEN Mode. A series of EPs and a frenetically furious debut album (reviewed here back in January) has proved that Whores. aren’t a band to be taken lightly, their brand of ultra low-end driven punk rock nothing short of devastating to the ears.


A whirling cacophony of limbs, snarled lyrics and venomous musical content, Whores. are everything that you could hope for in a punk band, masters of a style of punk which is only now gaining traction in the UK thanks to the likes of IDLES, God Damn and Youth Man. Songs from the band’s debut album are conspicuously (and slightly disappointingly) absent in their set, but Whores. still crush the ears as they rattle the skull repeatedly on the likes of ‘Daddy’s Money’, ‘I Am Not A Goal-Oriented Person’ and ‘Participation Trophy’.


Like saccharine cyanide, Whores. tread the line between all-out damaging nastiness and addictive earworms, their choruses begging for a snarl-along. As a first exposure to the band, tonight’s set is a (literal) crash course in what Whores. do and exactly who they are – utterly uncompromising and hugely enjoyable, easily worthy of a headliner spot in and of themselves.


However, tonight the headliner spot is taken by the similarly noise-minded brutish punk stylings of Big Business. Most notably associated with legendary proto-grunge, sludge and just pure fuckin’ greatness band The Melvins, Big Business have earned a reputation as one of the finest bands in the metal-punk crossover world, dancing the thin line between genres. Sounding utterly monolithic, the band drive home that they have one of the Biggest sounds in the Business (geddit?).


Big Business


A steady serial-killer stomp of riffs from bassist/vocalist Jared Warren provides plenty of headbanging opportunities, while the ubiquitous assault of drummer Cody Williams is nothing short of spectacular, making the band sound like they are at war with silence. Opening with the decidedly familiar riff of ‘Regulars’ (think ‘Anarchy in the UK’ turned into a war anthem), the band fill the entire room with power and energy – more than making up for a slightly lacklustre turnout. Power is the buzzword of the night, Big Business sounding supercharged like the Hulk on steroids and PCP, smashing walls and roaring with the best of them throughout the set.


Bills like tonight are why well stacked bills are a necessity in the music world, offering an opportunity to find bands that might not share obvious sonic blueprints but somehow inhabit the same creative space. The similarities between History of Sex, Whores. and Big Business are minimal at best, each band only sharing a propensity for punk-laden metal-infused fury, yet together they create a cohesive line-up of ear-drum rattling brilliance that feels perfectly complimentary. Whilst the Iron Maidens and Black Sabbath’s of the world will waste time on label-decreed supports (Rival Sons, Shinedown? Pull the other one!), the world of independent punk, rock and metal bands thrives through well-stacked bills put together by promoters who really know their shit.


Kudos to Surprise You’re Dead, for consistently putting on great bills, and bigger kudos to Big Business for being quite possibly the best discovery of this year and bringing along a tour support that can go punch for punch, song for song with themselves. Long live noisy punk bands.


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