Of all intimate gigs I’ve been to, ex-warehouse JT Soar made this show the most personal. With the stage simply a carpet without a platform, and seemingly random household furniture scattered across the room (a lamp shade here, a sofa there) there was a decisively homely atmosphere to the venue. Somehow, though, this performance space leant itself easily to the variety of punk set for the show. It’s timing enhanced this DIY vibe, a matinée gig with a line up three bands…
Hailing from Canterbury, two piece Holy Pinto began the show in a fantastically promising manner. Opening like some bizarre mix of Big Sixes and Empire! Empire! I Was A Lonely Estate, the band quickly bulked the music up into something more punk and electric. After commencing their set to a mostly empty room, it was a consolation as the room began to fill, their music deserving a crowd far larger than the one available. Despite having an obvious disadvantage, the band’s drummer, Ryan, lead the performance in terms of enthusiasm, the frontman and session bassist seeming immobile in comparison; that said, the show was the bassist’s second live show with the outfit, so was all in all a triumphant effort.
A psychedelic hint crept into the show with Phantom Limb, before personal favourite of the show came in the form of penultimate Hospitals; picking up from spoken word to the band’s full volume, they demonstrated the degree of control they held over the music. So prompt and staccato was the pace of each track, if it were a studio version, you’d think someone had edited it.
Things took a rapid turn for the loud with Laughing In The face Of, the frantic chaos of the music so starkly contrasting the previous act. Half shouted half spoken vocals only just pierced through the rest of the combined electric and percussion backing; in such a small venue, the force of the music was near-on overpowering, and most certainly a force to be reckoned with. Too hardcore – almost metal – to be classed as straight-up punk, but too punk to be classed as anything else, the aggressive energy of the band quite literally knocked me a step back – yet another act deserving more attention.
Headliners of the show came in the form of London feminist punk band, Petrol Girls. What began as a fair balance between the two previous acts quickly developed into harsh melodic rock; for such an intimate crowd, the cheers each song received were impressive. The band’s no holds barred approach lead to a high level of honesty, in turn making the music genuine. Frontwoman Ren Aldridge did a fantastic job of enthusing the crowd, making light of the darker matters in the set (“this song is about me having anger management problems but they’ve got a bit better since I started doing this”).
Being a DIY show meant more than just unusual furnishings to the venue; Ren gave a special mention to their new EP, not only available on vinyl, but with handmade cases (which seemed a regretted decision). Music plugs came right along with plugs of the band’s message, with Ren taking a few moments before Five Bottles to promote the awareness of the necessary clarity in consent, and again before Big Man to describe the track as “for anyone who’s ever felt patronized because of their gender”. Angry, angsty and ridiculously fast, their show not simply impressed, but overwhelmed.