Trespass – Oi Polloi On The Beach Of The Thames

Oi Polloi
Mark Thomas
Flowers of Flesh & Blood
Thames Beach (Gabriel’s Wharf)
London – 26/9/15

tresspassoi_polloi_thames_beachWhen last week rumours began circulating of a proposed gathering of punks somewhere along the Thames near the Southbank and Waterloo that was to be hosted by comedian, presenter and political satirist Mark Thomas and included live sets by Scottish Oi/Punk/anarcho legends Oi Polloi and London punx, Flowers Of Flesh And Blood, it was debatable whether this would be allowed to happen in one of the busiest tourist areas of South London.

Yet, sure enough, come the day the event had been revealed as ‘Trespass – Oi Polloi On The Beach Of The Thames’ and as we walked down to Gabriel’s Wharf, next to Oxo Tower, onto that small beach area where I had previously built sandcastles with my kids (up the punx), a huge hardcore punk roar was already rising from the beach area up onto the bank and Flowers Of Flesh And Blood were housed on a small stage in the sand, surrounded by two hundred or so punx as the band carved through a tight set of metallic anarcho thrash to bemused and amused looks from the tourists looking down on the beach.

We quickly headed down and joined the crowd, bumping into many friends equally bemused by the surreal situation as Flowers kicked into a Minor Threat medley of ‘Filler’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Hear It’ as the sand-mosh-pit exploded. There’s a small girl on the beach building a sandcastle, she flattens it with her shovel. Up on the bank two young kids with giant teddy bears make them pogo in time to the music. An old fella looks down onto the crowd of punks falling over in the sand, laughing and grinning from ear to ear. The atmosphere is great, pure fun. There are no police here yet, no trouble. The organisers had the foresight to hand out a few yellow ‘official’ looking security vests to give the appearance of some kind of official organisation, which amazingly, works.

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But there is a point to all of this. As Mark Thomas takes to the mic, among many jokes about gammon nonce David Cameron, he talks about how it’s people, not buildings and corporations that make cities and we have every right to reclaim public areas for protest and events to cheers from the crowd as Oi Polloi take to the sand and kick into ‘Resist The Atomic Menace’ from the first single back in 1986. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Oi Polloi (probably not since the early 90s), but they’re as good as they ever were. Frontman Deek is irrepressible, funny, charming, energetic yet still railing against the world.

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As ‘Punks Picnic’ bellows from the PA, there’s still no sign of any police to break up the party and as the sun starts to descend and the booze is flowing, Oi Polloi inspire bedlam in the sand as the pit reaches fever point and the crowd piles in, singing along to every word, punching the air as the tourists above take photos and film what they can to take back home to their friends and family…”you’ll never believe what we saw in London today”.

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Then later that evening, the so called ‘Fuck Parade’ organised by Class War, kicked off in Shoreditch. A supposed protest against the gentrification of London, it saw an angry mob of so-called anarchists target an independent business and scare, frighten and intimidate people. A total contrast to the positive, fun vibes felt earlier in the day by the river where the message was delivered in a good and uplifting way, educating the public and making them think. ‘Fuck Parade’ was an ugly event that achieved nothing but to terrify the public by acting like thugs. A sad end to a righteous day of protest and music but the fun memories will remain for those that rocked on the beach that day and the public that stumbled across it.

James Sherry

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A visit to Banksy’s Dismaland with Sleaford Mods

Words: Steve Cotton from Art of the State and Zac
Photos: Nice ones by Steve, shit phone snaps by Zac

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The hype on Banksy’s latest art project Dismaland became justified before we even managed to get through security. The woman’s smile in front of us was deemed to be too wide so she was sent to face the wall until the happiness drained enough for entry. “Who are you here with?!”, the security woman demanded, looking at my wristband. “Sleaford Mods”, I replied, trying not to smile as my pockets were frisked with a make shift cardboard bomb detector. “They’re shit”, she barked from her taut face and I was finally let through to the next check point – leaving the poor womans’ happiness, still draining against the wall.

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There was not a smile in sight on entry from the staff apart from the one on Steve Cotton’s face, owner of Art of the State, promoter of many infamous hardcore punk shows who has managed to get close to Banksy’s work for over a decade now. Luckily we were about to get an inside tour of Dismaland with someone in the know.

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Featuring work by more than 50 artists from 17 different nations Bristol’s finest street artist has assembled a mass of thought provoking, topical and challenging art at Dismaland. The exhibition occupies the site of the disused and derelict Tropicana Lido on the sea front in Weston Super Mare. Through a clever piece of deception, its existence was kept quiet right up to just a few days before the show by claiming that a film entitled ‘Grey Fox’ was going to be shot there. A perfect excuse to explain all the construction work and to have security stop prying eyes.

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One of the pieces that gave the game away was when Mike Ross’s Big Rig Jig piece loomed above the walls of the Tropicana. It’s an eye catching sculpture, born out of “reckless optimism”, that required a fairly hard to conceal crane to put it in place.

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Another colossal vehicle is this security forces truck from Northern Ireland repurposed as a fountain and with a a children’s slide sticking out the other side. It appears beached in the Lido pool which is full of weeds and worse. Definitely not a place for a dip.

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Dismaland installations often relate to animal themes. On the fairground carousel one of the horses has been hoisted by its hind legs while a slaughterhouse worker takes a break underneath from preparing lasagne – a clear reference to the horse meat scandal of recent years. Round the other side a marauding bunch of anarchists who seem to be part of the show jump on the ride waving banners whilst standing on the backs of their steeds.

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Near the back of the venue where the arched diving boards structure used to stand an orca whale jumps from the confines of a toilet through a hoop into an unfeasibly small paddling pool full of dark liquid. A personal view on these beautiful creatures being trapped performing tricks in pools that are microscopic in comparison to their natural habitats.

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Again from Banksy, is this over the top illustration of seagulls attacking humans. Seemingly referencing recent media stories about the “menace of seagulls” but taking it to extremes it also provides a photo opportunity for anyone who cares to sit on the bench. A miserable member of staff obviously reminds you not to get close to this savage pecking of human flesh.

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Animals aside, tonight is Friday, which means there’s more than just art to admire. With Portishead’s production master Geoff Barrow taking care of the artist invitations to play live, his inclusion of Sleaford Mods proved triumphant who played alongside The Pop Group and Savages on the back of a truck.

The Nottingham duo have moved from strength to strength over the last two years with their unique brutal attack on the greed that has seen this country fall apart at the seams and they were in no mood for apathy once again tonight. Stage right hung a huge billboard poster of David Cameron’s smug face holding a glass of wine, parading like a red rag for frontman Jason Williamson’s bullish outbursts. He ripped into Piglet (as he’s always named him) with a butchers knife throughout the set whilst the crowd bayed for more. Monday morning’s pig fucking scandal only made this part of their set more legit, as if the band knew that the Mail was about to drop a bomb on his reputation well in advance.

As red flare smoke filled the skies and the smell of skunk wafted around the crowd in Bisto-like trails, the Mods steamed through an hour-long assault. Williamson’s anger raged into the mic as Andrew Fearn stood smiling, nodding, double fisting two bottles of lager, admiring the carnage from his laptop. Dad dancing was encouraged throughout that aided at least five new tracks from their Key Markets album, barked out so aggressively that Williamson’s throat clearing job almost became part of the show.

You could not have picked a more fitting band to play this exhibition, they speak for so many people with belly laugh humour and shocking truths that none of today’s culture would dare to get involved in. In your face, savage punk rock, rapped, poetic and proud. Fucking exemplary too, get on it.

Of course this show is not all about Banksy (more from him later) – there are around 50 odd international artists who have either contributed work or are actively engaged on site during the show. Time for a whistle stop tour around some of the other works.

Nettie Wakefield was working on site producing portraits in pencil of the back of guests heads. This really gives her the opportunity to show off her stunning technique in capturing every last detail including the way the light falls on each strand.

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Wasted Rita from Portugal has a wall of her dark advice at the rear of the castle. The power of the simple written word.

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Dotted around the site are a series of yellow signs to make you think about the your stay in Dismaland.

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More direct thought provocation is provided in the form of these bus billboard take overs. A nearby stall provides instruction leaflets on how you can open these ubitiquous advert stands and place in your own posters. We were even given a demonstration of how to break in. A selection of special spanners were on offer, all made to fit the various corperate companies’ bolts that bring you the dogshit you don’t need in advertising form.

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Ben Long’s scaffolding pole horse dominated early pictures of the exhibition and it’s easy to see why. Now dwarfed by the nearby big wheel it has plenty of competitors for the most iconic image of the show.

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Vying for ‘best in show’ in its scale and detail is Jimmy Cauty’s (ex KLF member) simply breathtaking ‘Aftermath Displacement Principle’. 23 crates worth of riot torn city featuring around 3000 1/87th scale police officers all uniquely made from modified model railway workers. It’s an exhibit you can stare at for a very long time and still find something new. Can you find one of the royals making an official visit?

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Moving inside for a bit you enter what is essentially a gallery space but first you walk past illuminated display boards from Jenny Holzer and Banksy’s reaper bumper car installation. Every so often disco music pumps out, the lights come on and Death attempts to escape the confines of his electric prison by slamming into the edge of the arena all to no avail.

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Entering the main hall there’s a plethora of different style on show. Damien Hirst’s standout piece ‘The History Of Pain’ has a beach ball held constantly aloft over a bed of blades by the push from air being blown upwards. If it ever stops, the balloon will surely drop and burst.

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Some of the painting technique on show is exquisite. From a distance Lee Madgwick’s paintings of urban buildings in idyllic countryside settings look like photoshop creations. A closer inspection reveals their intricate detail.

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Paco Pomet’s Cookie Monster painting should win an award.

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The message within this bleeding trees painting also hits home with a jagged nail.

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Nearby is the embroidery of Severija Inciraauskaite-Kriauneviciene. Instead of being encased in wooden samplers, her cross stitched work has been punched into the bonnet for the threads to go through. Incredible detail.

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Banksy has an almost unnoticed piece near ground level, and to the left of it is his tribute to Russian graffiti artist P183.

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Outside again there are yet many more highlights to see. The Cruel bus has an exhibition showing how design is used to maintain power and control over us all whilst a large tent contains a mass of both beautifully painted and hurriedly scrawled protest banners and signs. Of particular note are the ones by Ed Hall who has a long history of providing trade union groups and others with memorable protest art and the much publicised anti Arms Fair posters that were found on the London Underground last week.

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There’s a wide variety of untypical fairground attractions with loaded outcomes – I tried my hand at both the duck pool (hook the duck from the muck) and Insect and Bast’s bling stand both to no avail, but it was still a lot of fun. Elsewhere there are rotating caravans, rickety big wheels and a children’s sand pit with a sandcastle so large that Dad’s on the nearby Weston beach will struggle to impress their kids in comparison.

Australian Dietrich’s Wegner’s mushroom cloud tree house dominates the central room capturing a moment of beauty borne out of destruction. In that cloud are the debris of peoples lives, the structures they lived in and everything they held dear to them.

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Then you have the finely detailed tattooed ladies by Jessica Harrison. So tiny you need to get up close to take in every single one.

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For me the most haunting exhibit from the exhibition was the boating lake. Looking like it’s set in front of the white cliffs of Dover, you put your pound in the slot and take control of either a boat full of “migrants”, as the Daily Mail like to call them, or a patrol boat. In the water, bodies float by conveying the deadly serious plight of those still breathing on board the boats.

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On the wall of the lido buildings down the left hand side is this ingenious painting of a woman taking a shower while a boy peeps in. Is the other boy on look out duty or is he still more interested in his childhood toys? Either way he is not joining in on the other’s curiosity.

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Of course everyone wants to go into the Castle and here Banksy has a surprise in store. If you are asked to have your photo taken do as instructed and look to the right. Maybe even crouch a little and pretend to take a photo while doing so – you’ll understand why when you exit this scene of a princess in a coach crash being photographed by paparazzi, an obvious reference to the death of Princess Diana.

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Despite the length of this post there is still much more to see in this place, including Banksy’s take on the Little Mermaid.

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Oh and of course, knowing this is hosted in Weston Super Mare, the nightly burning of Jeffrey Archer’s novels is a popular team sport.

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Fireworks, thought-provoking imagery and very talented artists aside, Banksy’s bemusement concept for Dismaland is a truly unique experience, there to remind us of the trappings of a capitalistic and brutal world that unfortunately most people voted for. You have one week left to make it down there and get some for yourself, plan nothing else.

Note that This Friday’s final show with Leftfield, Pussy Riot, Kate Tempest, De La Soul
and DJ Premier (not Massive Attack as they have had to cancel unfortunately) has a dress code. Due to the amount of paparazzi staking out the park in recent weeks Banksy has requested people come masked-up so he can attend the event without being photographed.

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Etnies Jameson SC – The Supreme Comfort Collection

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The good folk at SoleTechnology, the company behind the Etnies brand, have spent the last 29 years researching and developing skateboard shoes. This maybe longer than your entire existence, but they have never seemed to tire in their quest to lead the way in skate shoe technology. If you look back to the beginning of this impressive reign it’s easy to remember that they pretty much invented the traditional skate shoe look, that has evolved over the years.

Now in 2015, the scene has changed tenfold, with the intrusion of transnational sports brands dominating technological developments in skateboarding. Independent skate shoe companies have had to dig even deeper to provide not only ground breaking, unique designs, but to also produce high quality products on a par with these sports giants who have pioneered the lightest and toughest materials for those who want to break records.

Knowing that SoleTech have spent more hours since 1986 prepping these materials than you’ve probably spent skating streets, the flame could not have been passed to a better team to give the ‘athletes’ a run for their money In the Jameson SC, that flame should hopefully torch some sense into those who think that funding sports brands and allowing money to leave the skate scene is acceptable.

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I must be honest here and admit that when Etnies started bringing out The Scout and similar sports-looking skate shoes, my heart sank somewhat. They looked from here like they were designed for non-skaters. I personally chose skateboarding to avoid mainstream sports and the tracksuit-clad knobheads who liked beating up skaters for fun in my local area. I certainly had no desire to dress like them. Skateboarding was, and still is unique; or is it anymore? Sports brand culture has infected the scene so badly that even skate shoe companies have had to re-address the balance of their designs to compete with the onslaught, but Etnies have brought their usual class to the table, spun my head with their use of man made materials and delivered Supreme Comfort to my feet like I’ve never felt before. Yeah, it sounds crazy but these shoes are like walking in space.

So the question is, can you skate in them? These arrived in the post for review the day before a weekend camping and skating trip. I took one look at the sole and immediately packed a pair of vulcs to skate in, as the foam-like undercarriage didn’t look they would cope with griptape whatsoever, but I was so wrong. They stuck perfectly allowing me to move freely on a cruise and suddenly skateboarding felt totally different for the first time ever. Another first was feeling a breeze in 28′ heat through the breathable mesh. These were the happiest feet I’ve had skating in years. I’m not sure if they would last forever if you skate daily and love your flip variations, but to cruise around in, they were perfect. Like any other skate shoe, the mesh is durable, but no shoe lasts forever if you are out there pounding it. Saying that, your heels feel well protected in the Jameson SC as there’s an inch of STI foam built in to assist the impact; technology that SoleTech are very well known for.

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The Jameson has always been my favourite Etnies shoe as it’s a proper chiller, being simple in its design and one of their best sellers. It was never a ‘sports shoe’, but this version that mixes parts of The Scout, feels like what I’d imagine a sports shoe to feel like. That’s if you can remember they are actually on your feet, as they are seriously lightweight. Perfect to chuck in your bag for a trip and ideal for wearing after a session to give your feet some much needed loving. There are no rules to say you even need laces in them thanks to lycra spandex tongue straps inside the shoe. It holds together well and allows great movement too.

The greatest part of skateboarding is that us skateboarders don’t have or need rules as such, we all set foot on a deck for the first time with only one simple code of honour: that we support skater owned. One day, when skateboarders wake up and remember that worldwide, they will hopefully thank Etnies for being there; for caring about skateboarding and spending every minute of their day thinking about your feet.

Zac

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Bl’ast

Bl’ast
‘For Those Who Graced The Fire’ EP
Rise Records

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In the mid-eighties, iconic Californian hardcore demons Bl’ast took Black Flag’s menacing heavy-fusion template created on their ‘My War’ album and ran with it, unleashing three albums from 85-89 on SST Records that blew minds, and the genre, apart. In 2013, with Southern Lord having just reissued the bands back-catalogue, Bl’ast took to the road again with original vocalist Clifford Dinsmore and guitarist Mike Neider playing alongside Nick Oliveri and Joey Castillo from Queens Of The Stoneage and the results, unsurprisingly, were devastating.

Re-inspired by the power of the music, the band hit the studio and have now recruited Dave Grohl and ex-Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski to fill in for Nick and Joey who had touring commitments, to record two new tracks for a new 7” EP. Now, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out that that little combination can only be one thing, utterly explosive!

Sure enough, when first track ‘For Those Who Graced The Fire’ kicks in, Grohl’s unmistakable pounding drums detonate into life and the band lurch through a weird, contorted time signature that jars and splutters, uncomfortable and unsettling but powerful and addictive. ‘The Pulse’ is next, igniting with a churning signature Dukowski bass run before kicking into 60 seconds of prime nasty hardcore. Perfect.

It’s so good to hear Grohl back behind the drum kit and in good company, rather than the mainstream pap he churns out in his day job. His involvement will shine a lot of light upon this release. It’s deserved. The world needs to hear Bl’ast.

James Sherry

Pre-order the 7″ here or on iTunes.

Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC

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We’ve waited a long time for this one. Crowd-funding for the making of ‘Salad Days’, a look at the incredibly fertile hardcore punk movement that exploded out of Washington DC in the early 80s, first started over four years ago when brief snippets and enticing trailers started to work their way across the internets. And now it’s finally here…

We live in an age now where so many bands, movements and artists are getting to tell their stories in film. Every week there’s a new music documentary to see, a story to tell, but Salad Days is something special. From the very start, the Washington DC punk scene documented itself. More than any other punk scene in the world at that time, the participants took care to photograph, film and record everything that was happening. They knew what they were doing was important and special and wanted it preserved. “I didn’t want to own the scene, I just wanted there to be one,” explains Ian Mackaye, who through his work with Minor Threat, Fugazi, Dischord Records and many more is understandably the lynch pin and constant through the whole movie. So the upshot of this is that there is a wealth of incredible footage in this film. It rushes past, much like the music, in a high-speed, high-energy blur. This is not any easy film to sit still and watch in a cinema, as each band and song crashes by, every moment made me want to leap out of my seat and explode.

Ph: Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat, Wilson Center, DC, 1983 by Jim Saah

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Film maker Scott Crawford has done an incredible job of capturing the spirit and energy of the time. Having been involved in the scene in DC from a very young age (he was just 12 when he started going to gigs and making fanzines), he was trusted to tell the story and help the various participants open up.

Running chronologically from when Bad Brains exploded onto the scene and everything went FAST with bands like SOA, Void. Teen idles, Minor Threat, Untouchables, Youth Bridge, to the mid-80s ‘Revolution Summer’ years with Rites Of Spring, Embrace, Gray Matter, Dave Grohl’s first band Mission Impossible. They then move onto the end of the 80s as the alternative rock explosion beckoned, and Grohl, fresh out of Dischord legends Scream propelled Nirvana into the mainstream, bringing Fugazi attention they never expected, Jawbox a major label deal and the rest is history.

There are so many magical moments in ‘Salad Days’ that it’s difficult to know where to start but here’s a few. The footage of Void is utterly off-the-hook insane and demonic, the bit where MacKaye talks about Straight Edge and how he still gets people, to this day, phoning him at the Dischord office and screaming “hey Ian, I’m drunk, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT!!” before slamming the phone down, the self-belief, politics and conviction that run through every band, the thought that they really believed they were making a difference and could change. Subject to change. The realisation of just how young everyone one was when this started…

“Salad days” is a Shakespearean idiomatic expression to refer to a youthful time, accompanied by the inexperience, enthusiasm, idealism, innocence, or indiscretion that one associates with a young person.”

That says it all.

James Sherry

You can pre-order the film on Vimeo as it will be Video On Demand from August 4th.

Supra Avex review

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Supra‘s new team model for 2015, the ‘Avex’, incorporates new tech into the traditional skate shoe we already know and love, making it skate like no other. After sessioning in these over the last few weeks these shoes didn’t disappoint as there’s no shortfall in the balance between style and durability and by exploiting hot melt technologies, they’ve created a nearly seamless outer cage which will go unscathed. It’s built like a tank whilst maintaining ultimate flexibility.

From the second I pulled the laces tight I understood what all of the fuss had been about. The Avex didn’t need to be broken in, that’s right, not a hint of new shoe ankle roll, allowing me to shred from day one straight out of the box.

Encased within the outer cage is an internal mesh bootie, this makes the shoe feather weight, whilst allowing the shoe to breath with maximum efficiency. However this inner bootie provides only one downfall, where it is exposed from the outer cage along the side, for any Heelflip or Nollie enthusiast this exposed mesh will surely dissolve quicker than most. However if this mesh panel were simply placed a little more cautiously the shoe would have no complaints whatsoever. Despite this slight downfall in durability the toe area of the shoe held up extremely well as there are little signs of any thinning in the super-strong suede.

The Avex is neatly tied into one with the support of its EVA foam which spreads throughout the sole, absorbing elephantine amounts of force, whilst upholding board feel as it thins towards the toe. All of Supra shoes are now fitted with Suprafoam insoles further adding to this absorption and comfort.

Overall this new model performed exceedingly well, securing them as one of my go to shoes from this day onwards. I think we have a game changer here in the overall design of many modern skate shoes and I believe Supra are ahead of the times at this moment.

Henry Calvert

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Poison Idea live at the Borderline, London

Poison Idea
The Borderline, London
May 7th

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Poison Idea have history right in the centre of London. All of their 90s appearances in the capital exploded in the centre; from that first incendiary performance with the Hard Ons at ULU in ’91, to the legendary Marquee and Astoria gigs, tonight Poison Idea returned to hit the centre dead-on again at The Borderline. With pretty much all of the rock n’ roll now flattened and demolished in Central London, the heart ripped out of it, it’s fitting to have Jerry A and his kings of punk return to the ruins and re-charge it once again with their vital metallically-charged hardcore punk.

As we climb down the stairs into the pit of punks crammed in to The Borderline, the first thing that hits you is the stench of puke and sweat, the deathly aroma of punk. The room is buzzing (and gagging on the smell) with anticipation for the return of Portland’s legendary Poison Idea who are very much back. Their new album ‘Confuse & Conquer’ is the best they’ve recorded since 1992’s ‘Blank Blackout Vacant’ and Jerry finally has a line-up that is committed, settled and does the music justice. Currently three-quarters through the longest and most gruelling tour they’ve done in many years, Jerry’s punished voice may be raw and ripped but from the moment the band hit the stage, they are bone-tight and packed full of power. With ’87 era-guitarist Eric ‘The Vegetable’ Olsen back in the band and stick-thin drummer Nathan Richardson pounding the skins with more power than his appearance might suggest, Poison Idea kill it tonight.

Yes, it takes a few songs for Jerry’s voice to settle in but once it does, it’s as snarled and powerful as it ever was. “This one’s for Nigel Farage,” he says as the band steam into ‘Discontent’ (“listen Nazi, never again,”) and the entire room detonates into a flurry of limbs and sweat. And the hits just keep on coming. They play pretty much every essential song you could want to hear – ‘Just To Get Away’, ‘Getting The Fear’, ‘Punish Me’, ‘Taken By Surprise’ and ‘Give It Up’ , all of which square up well with the sprinkling of new ‘Confuse & Conquer’ tracks the band play tonight.

At the end a woman’s boot is thrown onstage. Jerry picks it up, empties half a bottle of cider into the bottom of it and swills the contents into his mouth. “Tastes like a size 6,” his says before the band wind the set up with a double stab of Johnny Thunders and Avengers covers. A perfect punk rock night. We’re so fucking glad Poison Idea are still here.

James Sherry

Swervedriver

Swervedriver
I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
(Cherry Red)

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Nostalgia has never played a bigger part in music than it does right now.With decades of music to draw from, and with literally every band from the past still active or reformed and playing again, it’s a cluttered world of music that we all occupy, and it’s a wonder how new music even gets a look in. How many of these reunited old bands, however, can return eighteen years after they last made a new album and come back with a set of songs that is as good as, if not better than, the prime of their original material? The answer is of course, not very bloody many. Apart from Swervedriver.

I Wasn’t Born To Lose You is testament to how talented Swervedriver are. Initially lumped in by the UK press in the early 90s with the whole dour ‘shoegaze’ scene (Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse etc), it was a label that never sat well with the band. They were tougher, harder and more psychedelic. Swervedriver’s swirling, charging, dusty-road-wasteland rock had its roots and influences in the highways of American blues, the sonic white noise pop of Husker Du, the psychedelic freak-outs of Sonic Youth, the slacker fuzz grooves of Dinosaur Jr. Their debut single ‘Son Of Mustang Ford’ (released in 1990 on Creation Records) wasn’t the sound of a band gazing at their shoes, this was a band tearing down the highway, peddle to the floor, blowing sand and dust in our faces as they tore through the music scene, creating some of the most sublime and addictive psychedelic rock the nineties had to offer.
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By 1998, however, their tank was running out of fuel and the band went on hiatus, going their separate ways. By 2007, with their cult status at an all-time high and with the music scene coming around again and catching up with their style, they performed at Coachella and played intermittently for the following years. By 2013, we got out first taste of new material in single ‘Deep Wound’ and the flavour was good! Now we have the whole album in our hands and in our heads and it doesn’t disappoint in any way whatsoever. Tracks like ‘For A Day Like Tomorrow’ and ‘Setting Sun’ are as good as anything, if not better, than the band have created before. Singer Adam Franklin’s voice drawls, whispers and croons, chiming and shimmering against Jim Hartridge’s motorised guitar-weaving to perfection. And then there’s ‘Red Queen Arms Race’ which sees the band ploughing headlong into heavier waters, brandishing tough stoner-rock-Black Sabbath infused riffs to brutal and punishing effect.

Ignore some of the average reviews of this album that have appeared. These people obviously didn’t spent enough time with it. Or they don’t know Swervedriver like we do. The longer you spend with this album, the larger the melodies and grooves grow. Open your minds. Let Swervedriver in.

James Sherry

Nike SB Chronicles Vol.2

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I’m not even going to try and flex my « core » beliefs on Nike this time around because their latest chapter of the Nike SB Chronicles Volume 2 is pretty flawless in my opinion. In previous video productions this mainstream sports brand has tried too hard to impress the skateboard community with expensive camera equipment, fancy skits and bizarre story lines. Thankfully the message got through that all that was unnecessary and this time they put their money to good use and more importantly let the skateboarders shine bright.

Firstly, hats off to Jason Hernandez who filmed and directed this film using high definition cameras and editing equipment of an above average professional standard. Cutting shots from multiple angles, using graphical layers and taking it easy on the slo-mo switch gives this video the right amount of pace and length to actually make you sit through from start to finish and then run out the door to skate.

Secondly, hats off to the skaters on show: Donovan Piscopo, Theotis Beasley, Daryl Angel, Luan Oliveira, Justin Brock, Shane O’Neill and Ishod Wair. There is a good mix of styles here even if the transition side to skating is kept at a minimum. Some of these skaters like to keep, things simple whilst others seek technicality, but either way everyone is very smooth and stylish.

Speaking of style, it was a pleasant experience to see a proper section from Donovan Piscopo who has been floating low on the radar of late but has finally broken through to the forefront of one of the amateurs to keep a firm eye on. His greaser look is also going to appeal to the fashion crowd. Another stylish skater is Shane O’Neill who jumps, slides and grinds around with incredible nonchalance whilst his skateboard spins itself into new dimensions of technical wizardry. Sorry for the spoiler but the bigspin fakie salad grind bigspin flip out is a brain melter.

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On the burly side of town, Justin Brock proves that having a kid did anything but slow him down from attempting hair-raising tricks into rough as fuck banks. Minor Threat provide the soundtrack for his annihilation. Daryl Angel takes a slightly smoother approach to wrecklessness but isn’t afraid to throw down frontside nosegrinds on nipple height hubbas and blindsided fakie attacks to handrails. Luan Oliveira proves his versatility as he takes on rails, ledges and manuals with confidence and dexterity. Theotis Beasley isn’t far behind even if his bag of tricks remains a little more limited. Backside flips and halfcab flips are a staple element to his diet and he really does them better than the rest of them.

The main stand out of Chronicles 2 is Philadelphia wonder-child and happy go lucky guy Ishod Wair who deservedly gets the curtains and a deserved SOTY award. Death’s ‘Politicians In My Eyes’ sets the tone to Ishod’s casual yet dangerous lines and flowing style. Second spoiler alert: the frontside 360 over the infamous Los Angeles triple set looks way too easy for him just as the kinked fifty to midway pop-off and quick backside bigspin down a 10 stair. Amazing section.

It would be a bit like nit-picking to say this video doesn’t deserve recognition and applause. I can’t wait for Vol. 3. Available to download now at iTunes.

Ralph Lloyd-Davis

Watch it here: