Nicky G and I had been trying to meet up for years, we calculated that the last time we had seen each other was around 7 years ago so when he hit me up to say that he was going to a gig and would I be interested the answer was a firm ‘yeah sure, why not’.
I had no idea what I was in store for and Nicky G’s description did not help and so, in true Shonk style I decided to go in Earblind. We were already excited by the years of catching up that we had between us (that didn’t take long) and the last rock band we had seen together was Deep Purple in… 2004?
As we got to Bristol we both realised that neither of us knew where we were going, Bristol roads really haven’t set into my brain and Nick G is a valley boy so any city is overwhelming to him! Regardless we found a space with relative ease and as we were early we decided to hit up Three Brothers burgers.
Our meal of food was delicious and I even braved a beer (of which I am paying for today), we then made our way over to The Fleece for our dose of ROCK.
First up was Lionize from Washington DC, their stage prescence was strong, their frontman flambouyant and their entire set filled with nuanced and energetic anthems with just the right amount of ingredients. They ticked many of Duke’s boxes what with the little fiddly bits, their ability to span genres within each tune (a little bit of prog, a dash of funk, a sprinkling of ballad and a thundering of WVAOAROWEW-GUITAR). There was one point where the guitar sounded weirdly like a 303 and I thought they were going to break down into some sort of techno-rock (please try this) it sounded incredible… also when the drummer went off on his pre-penultimate drum solo using some of the strangest timings that I couldn’t get my head around, real hypnotic.
Despite not being a rockhead I was absolutely drawn into these guys as my brain connected and compared, ooh a bit Rushy, ooh wait, is that dub rudements I hear in there? Where are they going now? – Very exciting. I moved my head and neck accordingly and now I ache all over.
Following on from Lionize was Planet of Zeus (such a rock name) and they are rock, rock, rooooock… after the first track the singer literally said ‘we are playing rock’ affirming their stance withing the genre. And that’s what they did, each track a thunderous rocky-rock rock track with chugging guitars, elaborate solos, roaring vocals, gruff vocals, ROCK vocals. I think that being a Greek band might allow them access to some sort of godly power that enhances the rockedness, I’m sure I read that somewhere.
They absolutely killed it, both incredibly tight bands who are exceptionally proficient and adept in their craft and play to have a good time and get other people moving… that was one of the biggest highlights for me, seeing the crowd move. British folk seem so hung-up on standing around with their arms folded and gently nodding like the child of a librarian and driving instructor… at least at rock shows people actually MOVE… the most pit exists in front of me as opposed to in my teenage memories. (I didn’t participate because I’m spastic and I wear glasses, somewhat hypocritically I know).
After a night of jigging about, nodding (between mild headbanging) and secretly making little air guitar gestures because it’s really fun but not if you get caught we exited The Fleece to discover a new extreme of Tinitus… horray for loud bands, boo to shit ears!
We headed back to Wales, most of the time responding to whatever each other said with ‘WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY’ – All in all it was a top night, thanks to two bands for entertaining us and taking us to a nostalgic place. I think for our situation of meeting up for the first time in years it was the perfect line-up, Nicky G very much a rock and metal person and me, I listen to anything…