Two Musicians enter the stage. Dressed in black suits, white shirts and ties. They take up their positions, Nikko Yamada – behind a drum kit, Josh Scogin – complete with beaver emblazoned guitar – behind a mic stand. They are facing each other which makes for an interesting set up. The music begins. It’s a powerful blend of choppy drum playing and percussion breaks in total time with heavy guitar. The pair are perfectly tuned in to one another’s movements and appear to ‘taunt’ each other at times starting and stopping. The singer’s vocal style is a gutsy throat punch, raspy elongated screams and clever vibrating techniques. At times, his words are yelled with meaning as he physically beats his guitar into delivering the sounds he is after. The drummer alternates between, standing and sitting, casually tossing a stick into the audience whilst swiftly pulling out another for gigantic drum roll. The musicians are having fun and treating their audience to a playful display of tunes through reverb of the amps and drum kit alone, violently swinging the guitar to extend the notes and with long pauses after kicking out the drums/cymbal combination. They are quite spectacular to watch and the dancefloor, which was just half-full to begin the set, is soon full of an eager crowd, cheering them on and enjoying the comical banter between songs, such as when the singer suggests that if the crowd members aren’t already in a band, then they should just quit school and join one because touring with P.O.D is the best thing ever and they’d highly recommend taking up that opportunity. Or when the pair declare that they really don’t mind which band member you watch the most but suggest maybe splitting the viewing 50/50 so’s not to make for awkward conversations in their van later. There are mighty thuds, vocal samples of a lady singing, a guitar being almost juggled and the occasional (if somewhat ironic) peace sign hand gestures. No stage moment is wasted, even the drum kit is dismantled, piece by piece by the singer during the final song. These guys are hard working entertainers and their eclectic mix of sounds, described simply as Noise Punk is perhaps best likened to a blend of early Nirvana and The Beastie Boys with a gentle sprinkle of RATM, it just flows and works. If you haven’t already checked this band out then find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/theyare68. You are in for a treat!
ALIEN ANT FARM
The venue is packed full and the band rush onto the stage. Singer Dryden Mitchell wearing a plaid shirt and a baseball cap, hi-fives a member of the audience and the band launch into their opening song ‘Bad Morning’ from their 2006 album Up in The Attic. This has the crowd moving in a gentle yet definite swaying motion with plenty of head nodding. There is a quick check in with the crowd from DM to see how Bristol are doing – apparently just fine – before the second song of the set from the same album ‘What I feel is mine’. This has a funkier beat introduced by drummer Mike Cosgrove and the audience begin to move more energetically whilst guitarist Terry Corso plays out several guitar solos and bass guitarist Tim Peugh maintains a strong groove. There’s a rewind to 2001 for the next song ‘Movies’ from their album ANThology and the crowd are enthusiastically singing back the chorus lines whist the guitarist also jumps along and supports this. The next song ‘These Days’ from 2003 album TruANT has the bass guitarist nodding in time with the notes he plays out on his neon orange strings whilst the guitarist struts and kicks his way across the stage. This song ends with a long vocal note before the singer checks in once again with the crowd. There are brief mentions of the 2 other bands P.O.D and ’68 which receive cheers and when the next song ‘Wish’ is introduced as featuring on the Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game, there is massive applause and the crowd really get moving to the heavy drum beats and fast lyrics. AAF Technician appears on stage towards the end of the song, armed with a cowbell which he positions behind TP’s head and plays. DM introduces the Technician as ‘Jonny Beats’ and announces that not only will he be filling in on drums for P.O.D tonight, but it was also his birthday yesterday. This prompts the crowd to sing him a full round of Happy Birthday which he seems to enjoy. The 6th song ‘Never Meant’ from the album TruANT has more of a ska-feel to the rhythm. The singer playfully strokes the guitarists beard mid-song and slows things down ready for the next song ‘Attitude’ from the ANThology album is introduced as dedicated to the singers Mum, the audience and also the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park who is said to have told DM that this was his favourite AAF song. It is a slower paced song with meaningful lyrics and lots of echoey guitar effects. Then it’s straight on with ‘Courage’ another song from the same album which has the dancefloor livening up again and the singer performing a few semi-robotic movements and temporarily losing his hat. The next song ‘Lord Knows’ from the Up in the attic album, is slightly off-beat and is sung with real feeling, eyes closed, lots of hand gestures and a heavy bass line. The pace is increased once again with a fast cover of Bad Brains song ‘Gene Machine’. Then it’s back into the ANThology album with the song ‘Sticks and Stones’ and then ‘Goodbye’ from the TruANT album which the band seem to really enjoy playing. All band members joining in on vocals at the chorus. The band choose to end their set with their cover version of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ which needs no introduction and has the audience suitably hyped. Find out more at: https://www.alienantfarm.com/
The lights go down and Linkin Park’s ‘In the end’ is blasted across the PA. The crowd begin singing along. As the song comes to an end the band come on stage. “Ok my friends, let’s make the most of this beautiful day” declares singer Sonny Sandoval. The first song is the highly energetic ‘Boom’ from the album Satellite and gets the crowd going. Guitarist Marcus Curiel shouts to the crowd “Bristol shall we keep this party rolling or what?” and the band begin to play ‘Rock the party’ from their album The fundamental elements of Southtown, another chunky tune which has the singer spitting more solid rap. SS instructs the crowd to put their hands up and “bounce, bounce and after 3, jump, jump, jump!” Stand-in Drummer for the UK tour – Jonny Beats – is introduced by the singer to cheers from the crowd, who are ready to party to the chants of ‘shut ‘em down’. “Hey, this here’s a love song” states SS as they glide into the melodic yet punchy ‘Will You’ from their album Payable On Death which (perhaps unsurprisingly) ends with the band repeatedly screaming the question “Will You?”
“We have a new record out called Circles. We’re gonna’ play some new jams.” The singer informs the bouncing crowd. The next three songs which follow from this album are ‘Panic Attack’ a bouncy tune with Cypress Hill flavours as SS leaps about the stage whipping the mic lead behind him. ‘Rockin’ with the best’ which is heavy rap with powerful playing by bass guitarist Traa Daniels, then slows to a pause, before being back to full-on screaming rap. Then ‘Soundboy Killa’ which begins with a recording of singing, before landing into what feels like the heaviest bass riff of the evening and considerable movement from the band who make use of every object on the stage to perch and play on. MC casually enquires “How many people seen us before?” this is met with a loud cheer. “How many of you, this your first time seeing P.O.D?” this cheer is louder still.
“I see a few P.O.D shirts in the crowd – somebody gotta’ represent us in the street’” points out SS. “We’re from California. Tonight, we are going to take a trip back home if that’s ok with you?” The forth new song of the evening is ‘Always Southern California’ again from the new album Circles, it’s a mellow tune and has the singer ‘air-steering’ an imaginary truck/car with the crowd whilst regularly checking in with them between rapping and dancing, “Bristol, you the best!”
There’s a quick removal of jacket for the guitarist, and a quiz question for the crowd from MC “What’s the name of the new album we’ve got out?” which gives SS just enough time to adjust his trousers (which are interestingly, half rolled up) and dance into the title track ‘Circles’ a song with a much more reggae feel to it and one you can’t help but get swept into.
“Ok old schoolers’. Let’s see if you know this one, it’s brand new. We wrote it on the plane over” jests SS and there is a massive crowd response as the opening bars of ‘Satellite’ – from the bands album of the same name – are played. The crowd know this well. The lights are brought up to reveal a packed venue. “26 years making noise. Don’t forget your roots” is announced as the band begin to play ‘Southtown’ from the album The fundamental elements of Southtown. Then it’s cap forward and hood up for the singer, as he clutches his hands to his ears and takes on a frustrated demeanour. The next song is another from the new album, called ‘On the Radio’ and has a somewhat sadder feel to it. This is followed by a more ‘punk rock’ tune which has the crowd form a circle pit and picks the energy back up perfectly for the next two anthems, both from the Satellite album, ‘Youth of the nation’ and ‘Alive’. It’s clear that the audience are channelling this energy as the crowd surfing begins. Singer SS rewards one successful surfer with a quick hand grasp before the fan is ushered away by security. It’s time for the last song of the impressively lengthy set, another from the new album Circles, ‘Listening for the silence’ a slower paced song but still with a nice robust feel and a forceful chorus. A good way to end a great gig. Find out more at: http://www.payableondeath.com/
Review : Suzi Bootz
Photography : Emma Painter