BitterSweethearts // Skinny Knowledge // Live Review // The Thunderbolt // Bristol


It was back to Bristol tonight for Rock ‘N’ Load and this time, for a more intimate gig at The Thunderbolt with a double headline act.

The doors were a little belated opening due to the sound check, but the Bittersweethearts took their place on stage bang on time to warm the cockles of every punter in the place. This young 5-piece band fresh from sunny California commence their ‘Kisses from USA European Tour tonight, and what better way to start this dark and dingy night than with an electrifying set, headed by blonde bombshell Zoe Infante.

Dressed for the occasion, Infante stood centre stage in her leopard print faux fur coat and a bright red fascinator to top her look. But that didn’t stay on for long as the band took to their set with ‘Buttercup’, which saw her gracefully parade around the stage dressed like a ‘lady in red” with white ankle socks and red Mary Jane heeled shoes. Instantly lighting up the room and most definitely attracting all those in the crowd, Infante led the band through their huge set, including covers of Talk Talk’s ‘It’s My Life’ and Blondie’s ‘One Way or Another’; both sang with ease in her sultry, smooth vocals. Not only did she have the vocals down to a tee, but her mannerisms and looks on stage were much akin to those of DebbieHarry, with her heart-shaped features, captivating moves and a seductive twinkle in her eye.

Their tracks were full of 80’s 80-sounding basslines, exciting guitar solos and smashing drums, and with a remarkably tight sound, it’s hard to believe that the formation of the band had only been a few years ago.

What’s even more astonishing is that Maria Ono on guitar and keyboard player Olivia Malbran have only been with original members Zoe Infante, Daniel Jun and Zach Andrews for just one month. It was most certainly apparent that the band were having a blast onstage, despite the intimacy of the venue. Infante was quite the hostess and spoke fondly of her time in Bristol, tasting the local ‘Rattler’ cider and eating Cheddars, Monster Munch and Curly Wurly’s.

“Ya’ll be excited to see Skinny Knowledge? They’re gonna kill it”, she said to the cheering crowd. “So we’re from America, LA in California, and we’re gonna do an American song now”. The band then hurled into their rendition of Kim Wilde’s ‘Kids in America’ as Infante twirled around the stage, spontaneously popping out into the crowd, asking them to look the band up on their socials.

Polly Plastic’ was the last track on their hefty set and the night was now in full swing. Infante made some daring moves within a small space on the stage before thanking the crowd as the band wrapped up their set. The crowd were merry and the Thunderbolt was now full of folk on this cold Saturday night. On comes the Thunderbolt’s jukebox for the night with some tasty tunes such as The White Stripes and Arctic Monkeys, whilst the Bittersweethearts vacated the stage with their gear. Most folks moved to the bar to get another pint as a few shot outside for a quick smoke and some fresh air.

With one of the smallest stages in Bristol to perform on, the band shone like a star. They were full of colour, and flawless musicianship, and Infante was the cherry on top of the cake. It was easy to see just how this band were becoming hugely popular with their new-wave sound and retro looks. And they will go far. The tour continues on 14th March in Hengelo, Netherlands. And if you’re in that neck of the woods, go check them out.


Official Website







Photography: Emma Painter // Pacific Curd Photography




Skinny Knowledge

The night had overrun a little but it was all gravy when the second headliner of the night, Skinny Knowledge, hit the stage.

Dressed in loud and brash Hawaiian shirts, these lads from Bournemouth have surfed their way through some of the best festivals and had their tunes blasted over some monumental radio airwaves since their formation during the pandemic. They’ve quickly gained a reputation for lively energetic performances and are sure to raise the roof of any venue fortunate to have them.

‘I Wonder’ is first on the list which instantaneously sets the scene for the rest of the night. With thundering drums, thrashing guitars and thumping bass, these guys sure know how to party, with strong vocals, and definitive beats, their raw punky sound is soaked up by the crowd. As they launch into the second mammoth setlist of the night, vocalist and guitarist Andy Smooth fiercely strums his guitar with long arms and keeps his head high to brutally scream into the mic.

“How’s you, Bristol? How’s everyone doing on a Saturday night?”, he asks, when a loud Bristolian accent hurls “Alright my lover?” straight back at him.  It just had to happen in Bristol!

“We’re from Bournemouth but the Bittersweethearts are all the way from America!”.

Members Max Harris on guitar and Rob McGowan on bass all line the front of the stage with Smooth, looking like The Shadows about the embark on their version of ‘The Walk’. But with a beastly setlist to contend with, there was still time to squeeze in a bit of plugging of their merchandise to raise some dosh. This expensive being in a band, don’t ya know.

Tracks on the set included hits from their last album ‘TwentyTwo’ which was released in 2023 such as ‘Disobey’ and ‘Strike Out!’, including the short but sweet ‘a Song About Lunch’, which led to Smooth bringing out an almighty cowbell to play before having a bit of banter with the crowd about Tesco Meal Deals and the lack of a Tesco Clubcard during a recent purchase. No songs about ‘depression’ or ‘anything like that’; their songs were all about getting ‘****ed up’.

By now, the crowd were well and truly lubricated and were gradually creeping closer and closer to the stage, pints in both hands and getting more and more raucous as they sang along to a few tracks.

Skinny Knowledge was now over the halfway line and next came an infamous track by none other than The Sweet.  You’ve only got to hear the drum intro to know what it is. Yep, we’re heading back to the 70s with the band’s version of ‘Ballroom Blitz’ which innovated into ‘I Wanna (rock n roll)’; another hit taken from their album ‘TwentyTwo’, both ludicrously brilliant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

‘Sayonara’ took the band in a different direction for the night with a much heavier sound. Dastardly riffs and rockier drums, this tune portrayed them in a more serious light showing just how adept the band can be (and how eardrums could get perforated!).

As the night moved on, Smooth announced that McGowan’s birthday was the following day. “Let’s have a little sing-song shall we?” And before a quick verse of ‘Happy Birthday’ was played he shouted,  “Let’s see some hands; it’s our last ***ing song!”

‘Keep Me Out Of It’ was their final tune for the night, and what a banger it was. A tune that sums up the band; fun, fast and furious. And there wasn’t a rubber glove in sight!

For anyone that hasn’t had a chance to see these guys live on stage, get your arse to one of their gigs.  They’re in yer face, punk-pop rock n rollers with storming tunes, catchy attire and plenty more up their sleeves.


You can catch them at the following;

05/05/2024 – Station 18 Festival Hangar 18 Music Venue, Cardiff

07/06/2024 – Dookie Greenday Tribute Yarbirds, Grimsby

21/06/2024 – Love Rocks Music Festival St Leonards Farm, Dorset

29/06/2024 – Wildfire FestivalWanlockhead, Scotland



Official Website






Review + Photography: Emma Painter // Pacific Curd Photography