Wank For Peace (+ supports) at JT Soar, Nottingham

Last night saw JT Soar turned into a box for kooky acoustic jams to accompany local pop punkers The Rutherfords and melodic hardcore headliners Wank For Peace. George Gadd opened the night, with an acoustic set complete with amusing anecdotes, akin to the likes of Rob Lynch or early party-hard Frank Turner. Twangy and melancholic, George’s show was one interspersed with laughter, and a friendly, homely vibe settled into the night.

Although Tom Lee – frontman of Hora Douse and better known under his moniker of Tea Leaf – promised a “chilled” set (even getting the audience to sit on the floor to reinforce the fact), he did his fair share of delivering impassioned, feisty tracks among the atmospheric numbers. Cheerful chatter backed up the talent packed performance and despite the odd forgotten lyric (well, half a song), there was a feeling of the set being something very special and though lacking the intricacy (and extra six strings), there was a very John Butler Trio-esque intensity to the instrumentals. Winding the set up with Kevin Vine’s Ballgame and a few lines of Brand New’s Tautou, the kooky acoustics came to their end.

A far cry from the meandering gentleness that had thus far lead the night, Nottingham trio The Rutherfords made themselves at home and comfortable in front of the filling room. Heavy with feedback solos and distorted vocals, the pop punkers put up a fast, unwavering show with all the weight of being slammed in the face by a door – in a good way. Somehow, the intimate and hidden away venue seemed to highlight the garage edge to the music, and with frontman Glyn putting in enough energy to power the national grid, the band made themselves to be an unstoppable force.

Coming all the way from France on the back of the release of their most recent album, Fail Forward, Wank For Peace took to the stage with more enthusiasm that the room was designed to handle. With their no holds barred impact and rapid, relentless attitude, leaping from one song to the next with scarcely time to catch your breath, they gave most melodic hardcore bands a run for their money.

More than once the band took a few moments between blasts to break the fourth wall and express their gratitude, not only for those gathered but for the opportunity to play a venue that’s almost unique in it’s own way – not a room in the back of a bar, JT Soar’s homely atmosphere creates a whole new feel to the music. The cheers that greeted this speech mirrored those the music received, and come the show’s close the crowd’s demand (almost politely) for an encore was unsurprising. Closing the show with Five Steps To Nothing (“let’s say it’s a sad song”), Wank For Peace’s spectacular, pumped and manic show was bound to have won over fans this side of the channel.

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