Bob Vylan // Rattlesnake // CurbDawgz // Live Review // O2 Institute 3 // Birmingham
It’s just a part of my routine at this point to rush to the train station and run over to Birmingham for shows (come on cov, get more gigs). Tonight, I was back in the birthplace of metal once again, but this time for Britain’s best new Punk act Bob Vylan, who were headlining the o2 Institute 3 while out touring their latest release The Price Of Life. Supports for the night were Rattlesnake and CurbDawgz.
Up first was Rattlesnake, a Psychedelic Punk 5 piece from my home turf of Coventry. While it took a song for the band to warm up and the room to fill out, it wasn’t long until they found their groove. With great vocals and instrumentals, I think Rattlesnake will be a seriously great band, they just need that little bit more experience. Still, a great opening set, If you’re into Psychedelic Punk, give them a shot, definitely a band to keep an eye on.
Next up were the main supports, Curbdawgz, a 5 piece of oi-punk/hardcore project. With an incredibly energetic set, filled with blast beats, mic grabs and crowd surfing from the band’s vocalist. Despite how good the band were, they weren’t really to my taste, I’ve just never been a fan of the style of punk they play. This isn’t a critique of the band, as they did put on a great set, but it’s just not my cup of tea. If you’re a fan of the Oi-punk/hardcore punk scene you’ll love CurbDawgz though.
After constructing a classic British pub as a stage, we finally had the headline act, the band I would class as the most important to modern British Punk, Bob Vylan. I’ve always admired the band’s approach to punk, and the focus on both systemic issues but also self-improvement, so when they started the set with a series of stretches and meditation, it felt right at home. After the warm-up, the audience were treated to an incredibly tight performance from the duo, with my personal highlight being Take That from their latest album The Price of Life. One thing that caught me off guard though was the lack of live instruments aside from drums and an acoustic guitar during one of the two performances of He Sold Guns. While Bobby manages to make up for the lack of energy, it still felt as if something was missing due to this. Finally, the impact of hearing some of these songs live was indescribable. During a time of financial crisis for so many working people, hearing songs that perfectly encapsulate the sadness, anger, pain and confusion that so many across the country are living through is a surreal experience. These songs are genuine art.
As I set off back for my train, it was a weird feeling for me. I didn’t have that post-gig buzz, I didn’t have that energy from being in a collective all experiencing a shared interest. Instead, I left angry. Angry with the conditions and system that we’re forced to live under despite the damage it causes to our physical and mental health. The music made me feel like this shows that Bob Vylan not only achieves exactly what they set out to do, but truly is the birth of a new wave of punk within Britain, and I’m glad I’m seeing it first-hand.