Five Knuckle – Cleethorpes Beachcomber

By paul

The Winter Gardens is a very odd place to put on a punk rock show. It’s more used to putting on under-18’s discos or holding pensioners afternoon tea dances than having Dan from Five Knuckle screaming his bollocks off. Still, makes a nice change I guess, especially seeing as this should be the hottest ticket that Cleethorpes will have had so far this year. Except that point seems to have been missed, because only about 40 people had the decency to turn up. About 3 of these 40 (myself included) are over 18. Most of the 40 leave before the end (past their bedtimes anyone?) whilst the vast majority treat the gig like a youth club. It’s like a school playground as eleven year old boys and girls play kiss chase around the toilet areas. Ever get the feeling that you’ve grown too old to be into punk anymore?

Add to that the idiot security people who refuse me entrance to the bar because ‘I don’t look 22‘ and the night doesn’t get off to the greatest start. And anyway, I only need to be 18 Mr Security Man to get into your precious bar and I’m slightly older than that (try 4 years older…). And I only want to buy a coke anyway – infact just get me away from those fucking kids. Aaargghhh…

So I think you get the point. Shitty venue, shitty turn out and shitty security. Doesn’t bode too well does it? Still, tonight The Foamers, Redlightsflash and Five Knuckle roll into town as part of the nationwide Household Name Records Tour, an adventurous tour that sees the label’s bands put on shows every day in different parts of the country. And having never seen any of the three bands before, I thought I’d pay my ΒΆΕ“6 and see what talent HHN have on their roster besides Capdown and Lightyear. But first we have to endure the envitable local support band – y’know, the usual college kids who formed a band because they were disillusioned with their peers who like hard house and r&b. The kids who smoke way too much weed in their parents garage instead of practising…

CONTROL FREAK are the local version of that stereotypical band, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that they won’t be going very far outside of Cleethorpes. Although technically good musicians, the ‘singer’, and I use that in the broadest sense, sounds as though he’s a cat being strangled. He cannot sing at all, and in choosing to attempt Thom Yorke style warbles, makes himself look like a fool. I don’t like to slag off bands unnecessarily, but Control Freak have no future whatsoever with their current vocalist. A cover of Radiohead’s ‘Just’ is played well enough until the singer opens his trap. From there everything goes downhill fast.

So it’s a good job THE FOAMERS finally hit the stage to bring forth their brand of Snuff-esque punk rock. Certainly cheeky chappies, the band deserve to be playing in venues with more than 40 people in them. Although the songs aren’t particularly memorable, the foursome carry it off in reasonably good style, holding good stage presence. Their pleas to get the audience off their arses and onto the dancefloor falls on deaf ears and they visibly become pissed off at playing to no-one. Which is a pity as the likes of ‘Popstars’ and ‘Titanic’ are reasonably good ska/punk songs in the vein of Capdown or Snuff. And with a metal pastiche towards the end of their set The Foamers have convinced me that this is a band on the up. Their parting shot, “fuck off Cleethorpes,” basically sums everything up. NOFX couldn’t have said it any better – ‘Fuck The Kids’.

The only reason I came tonight, other than trying to support the local scene, was to see REDLIGHTSFLASH, who instantly impressed me after their last album arrived on my doormat not so long ago. This Austrian foursome deliver some of the best political melodic hardcore that I’ve heard in a long time and with three vocalists there’s more than enough to keep you interested. Unless you’re at the Winter Gardens on a warm Saturday evening, because again no-one seems acutely aware that a band is playing. But that’s their loss because it has to be said Redlightsflash are nothing short of awesome. ‘The Stones Unturned’ is a ballistic opening, and the likes of ‘The Red Tape’ and various other songs from their first record sound fantastic. Despite the complete lack of energy from the crowd the band seem to create their own and dare I say it, enjoy themselves. Heaven forbid in this town… The highlight for me though was the fantastic double whammy of ‘No Reply’ being battered by ‘P(owerful) C(hoices)’ – a double barrage of politically charged hardcore. This Austrian quintet have enough melody to appeal to even your poppiest punk kid, without ever losing any of that hardcore charge. Well worth checking out if you haven’t already.

Which is more than I can say for FIVE KNUCKLE. Maybe they were having an off-night. I’d like to think they were, because there are words to describe a performance like this – and ‘shite’ is one such word. I’ll be honest and say that this is the first time I have come acros this Bristol mob, but how on earth they got signed, on the basis of this performance, is a mystery. More to the point, how on earth did they get to headline parts of this tour? Vocalist Dan certainly has more than a touch of Henry Rollins about him, but Five Knuckle‘s hardcore leanings are far too much for me. The guitars sound bad and the vocals are awful – shouting is fine if it’s in tune with the music, but this isn’t. Infact Five Knuckle are so bad that I left after 15 minutes of their set. Bear in mind that this year I have already sat through Jesse James and 311 for their entire sets, and you’ll know exactly how bad they were. As I said, maybe it was an off day, but tonight Five Knuckle are nothing short of terrible.

So, what did I learn. Well, Grimsby and Cleethorpes don’t deserve to have bands stop on nationwide tours if no-one will go and support the bands, and the promoters, for putting the show on. HHN have one fantastic band in Redlightsflash on their roster, and everyone should check them out. Oh, and kids, it’s not ‘cool’ to go to a gig and pretend it’s a youth club… it’s not, it’s a gig. At least watch and listen if nothing else…