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…
Cowboy & The Corpse have been good friends with The Shonk for many years. We have seen them evolve and change over the years, we have seen them travel the European continent bringing joy to hundreds of people. We have seen them play many stages in venues and festivals across the UK and we even once drove them to Manchester in a clapped out Land Rover Discovery with a stereo that only played three songs on one CD.
Setting aside our well documented list of antics CATC have never failed to perform an incredible show. Their high energy, no nonsense psychobilly is a sight to behold. They’re one of those bands where to hear them you’d expect more members given the level of sound they provide.
Front man Sion Bailey caresses the double bass neck like it’s a feral snake and he’s wrestling it into a bag. He has an incredible ability to lure the audience in by adopting a number of personas who tell surreal stories between their super fast based topical tunes.
Jamie’s guitar playing has long been some of my favourite, he is a tone king and the sharp valvey notes cut over the thunderous wall of wild bass beasts that drive towards you from the stage.
Their Facebook page is here
Opening the night for Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts this Bristol-based duo warmed the audience up by using one of the most hypnotic and dance-inducing forms of music to be coined by Bristol, a wonderful blend of drum n’bass, dub, grime and jungle… the likes of which sends you back to a field in Hampshire, dancing by a bin with a pint of cider and a giant penis hat on, my body began to skank without my permission, ITS NO USE I cried as fellow hipsters watched in horror as I began to do more than just nod my head approvingly. ‘He’s moving his feet’ they observed, gazing at their winkle pickers, before realising that they to had been bitten by the skank bug.
Don’t fight it… never fight it, let it take hold of your body and soon you’ll be at an illgal rave, sucking balloons and feeling the love – at least you should be!
The guys have been kind enough to send The Shonk a copy of their album and now that we have an actual device to listen to it with we shall be giving it a go and saying more words on the matter!
Awaiting wordular upload…
I’ve caught these guys twice now and both times I could leave afterwards under the assumption that they’re the headline act. Their music is outstanding, it takes you on an exciting journey that unwinds in your brainhead like a music video. Their sound is dominating and a weird kind of unnerving, not unsettling but something just below the surface, they lure it out of you and you envisage the whole trip.
When I saw them open for Tera Melos a little while back I pictured a steam train traveling through a lush green valley, rocketing through forests and around mountains, the sound conjured a very natural and rolling terrain that this very mechanical, relentless locomotive that passes over it with ease.
This evening the journey went through a more urban space, like the loomy dream scenes in Brazil, littered roads, drowned in neon and fog, like a John Carpenter film but with a Port Talbot steel works backdrop. There was the occasional beam of sunlight and clear sky, brought in by the beautifully warm tone of the guitar but these moments were fleeting as I was taken down a dark alley, claustrophobic with fire-escapes, furnace flus and filthy windows… was my deep-set unconscious ‘stuff’ beginning to surface through some magical urban journey created by instruments? I hoped so.
After the gig the drummer helped me out with a lighter (even offered a Rizla but I was saved by a man with a bike) I told him I went on a journey, he liked that. They seem like very nice people and I certainly advised you go see them.
Band’s Facebook page: Here
Band’s Bandcamp: Here
Prior to this gig I knew nothing of TTNG, a dear friend of The Shonk asked if I’d like to come along and I said yes. I did however forget to put it into the diary so until a couple of days prior I had completely forgotten about it!
TTNG were headlining, following on from Steve Strong and Chiyoda Ku (see other reviews). It soon became clear that many of the dense crowd were familiar with this band. Thus ensued a wonderful performance of incredibly tight math rock sitting on the part of the venn diagram overlapping emo. The singer and frontman was very polite and unassuming, occasionally sipping tea and encouraging and responding to the heckles. They even sang happy birthday to a fan and played his requested song. The comedy of the in-betweeny bits broke up the melancholy of the tunes, it was an emotional rollercoaster!
Mathrock is still a new area of music for me and I’m really enjoying the intricacy and synchronicity of it, what I loved about this band in particular was that it was difficult to tell what was going to come next, the songs would always go in a different direction to what you’d think and it would catch you off guard.
We have a saying here at The Shonk HQ about how some music sounds wrong in the brain and right in the heart, to me this band certainly fits that category.
Their facebook page is here.
Discovered these on Tuesday, listened to around 1 minute of them and decided to go and see them! The plan was to go to Cardiff but it clashed with another gig so off to Bristol it was!
What caught my ear was that there was something in their sound that alluded to Stump a band I very love, that sold it for me.
Overall their sound is what you’d achieve if you placed !!!, Stump, a small toddler with scientific curiosity (and powetools) into a blender and then somehow poured the blended result down a cable into Satan’s pedalboard (Satan has been listening to stoner rock & Parquet Courts and that’s what his kit is set to) the signal chain includes a JamMan, then it all feeds out the other end and the sound of Tera Melos is what comes out the other side.
Throw in the thoughts you have when your mind is racing at 1am and you’re trying to sleep and you’re there.
I mean all of the above as an immense musical compliment because I fucking loved it, all the unpredictable sounds, the clicking, crashing, which-way-is-it-going-to-go-mania of it all… sublime. Tempted to go see them again tonight, as you all should.
Following the train analogy used to describe the opening act these guys add another carriage of jazz to their locomotive and employ the mind-blowingly exception skills of a drummer who I imagine eats other drummers to gain skill (he later confirmed it’s more of a Highlander situation)… holy shit, more signature changes than a high-end fraudster, intricate, fragile, at times jarring but not musically, just the way that it tries to wedge multiple memories together as the music grows… The whole set was autumn and something about the sound was nostalgic but I don’t know why, it was like it was trying to take me back to somewhere I’d never been, but I loved it all the same.
Connecting a carriage of jazz onto the locomotive of math-esque post-rock these guys will take you on a magical winding journey across a soundscape of built-up, ashen cities, before delving underground into eternal tunnels of sharp pin-like guitar attacking you, before snuggling you up in a rich bassy-pillow and casting you out into a thick woodland, winding and snaking across an unstructured terrain, at times all aspects of sound were perfectly symmetrical and synchronised in such a way that you could easily imagine the locomotive operating and the mechnics of same generate the music. Take your own journey by listening to them with your aural brain-doors!
The Shonk just love it when our Canadian Ambassadors come over to party with us and play us their wonderful anti-folk, indie narrative, stream of consciousness, nostalgia-rap (that, by our standards is a genre that Mathias has invented).
We first met these guys in the Clwb Ifor Bach about 4/5 years ago, Mathias & Ariel had braved the trip alone to carry out a sort of recognisance tour before decided whether or not it was saw to return with the band. It’s nice that despite meeting Duke and listening to him witter on about rubbish they DID decide to come back regardless.
Since discovering these guys through the ever-wise recommendations of DukeofMum (Duke’s mum) we have travelled to see them no less than… 5 times! (with at least one time being a disaster due to the car melting).
The Burning Hell straight up is a misleading band name, it brings to mind some kind of metal or shouty band that detests the government or smites religion. But be fooled not fellow Shonkers, The Burning Hell are lovely and soft, like rebellious kittens who’ve been locked in a craft brewery for a weekend. There’s anarchy in those lyrics, but there’s also apathy, Mathias’ ability to project the message ‘be livid, but manage your expectations and have a good time’ provides you with well-balanced music that doesn’t send you into a raging tizzy where you want to push over post boxes and yell at PCSOs and it doesn’t make you think ‘what’s the point in anything’ but rather, ‘yeah fuck the government! Isn’t love great?’
The Burning Hell are fun, super mega awesome fun, the gigs are chill and it feels like everyone is very much together and on the same page. Mathias will put the RAP into rapour at any show with totally non-awkward witticism and responses to what is usually top notch heckles. You just want to take him home and keep him!
Examples of niceosity demonstrated by this band are: allowing me to buy them beer and talk rubbish upon first meeting, signing my first purchase from them, phoning up and speaking to my mum who couldn’t make the show as she was ill. Playing my all time favourite tune not once but TWICE (one time on my birthday!) Ooh and they signed my parking ticket when I didn’t have the right pen for anything else!
Now for a band of super popular, super attractive Canadian rock-stars you wouldn’t expect that level of generosity, not because of their status but because they’re massively popular and there’s a lot of people to get through, but these guys display it always, there’s no shortage of stories illustrating how wonderful The Burning Hell is to their fans it is a wonderful thing to witness and experience.
If you ever have the chance to come and see this band we implore you to, there will be plenty of songs with delightfully peculiar references to things that you’ll say ‘ooh I know that’ or ‘ooh that happened to me’ – whether it’s about going to the arcade as a kid, attempting something impossible, going to a library, giving up or abandoning the clergy for a life-changing risky escape from crime-lords there is something to relate to and connect with in their songs.
You’ll be able to witness the wonderful jazz-stick playing of Ariel Sharratt, the luscious guitar licks of Darren Browne, the chocolately goodness of Nick Ferrio’s bass caressing and the inner-workings of my all time favourite bearded Canadian man’s mind Mathias Kom. Sadly their drummer went on to do other things (like I don’t know, drum?) elsewhere so now they take it in turns which adds a very exciting new layer to their live sets; the live drumming change around (go see it for yourself).
In the meantime watch our video, listen to their stuff, buy it, buy T-shirts, fly to Canada, track ’em down, give them gifts – they’re the best. They have an upcoming UK tour and yes, we will be there!