LIVE: Frank Carter’s ‘Modern Ruin’ Exhibition / Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes @ Sang Bleu

By Jess Tagliani

Photo by Jenny McCord

What do you do after being named the coolest person in the world by NME? If your artist, musician, tattooer and all-round punk icon Frank Carter you form a new band, expand your art career and launch it all in your place of work; the Sang Bleu Tattoo Studio in Dalston. We headed down to check out his art, and the first ever Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes live performance.

Art is an incredibly subjective area – show the same painting, sculpture, picture, or whatever to two different people and you’ll get two different responses. It’s as simple as that.

However, at the exhibition of Frank Carter’s artwork, entitled ‘Modern Ruin’ at Sang Bleu Tattoo Studio in Dalston, everyone can agree on this – his artwork is incredibly thought-provoking, and is full of darkness, relating back to the world as it is today. His work tells of greed, death, and the destruction of our world as we know it.

Frank’s work is very vibrant, as he uses bright, bold colours to make a stark and striking statement. What’s interesting is that his work seems to be linked to what’s going on within our society. One painting depicts two beheaded pigs, their blood staining a Middle-Eastern styled carpet, whilst a video camera stands in the corner; this seems to be linked to televised executions performs by terrorist groups, such as ISIS. Another shows a chair sitting behind a grey screen; on the other side, there’s pools of blood which link back to the chair – this suggests that, even if we as a race try and stay blind to violent deaths in the world by ‘sitting down and shutting up’, then we are encouraging this by staying silent.

A painting of a huge pile of money screams volumes about how we are fuelled by constant greed and the need to gain more and more money in order to live a ‘good’ life within this society. A painting of a school chair behind a fenced wall shows that the Government are making it more and more difficult for those from less privileged backgrounds to gain access to higher education – again, this links back to the painting of the money, as the economy is greedy.

Some of the artwork also shows how the world and nature itself is being destroyed. Two leopards are depicted around a swing set; one is lounging lazily upon the top bar, whilst the other stalks the ground. Again, this shows how we’re destroying our world as the leopards, and numerous other creatures, are losing their home, the rainforest, due to greedy corporations.

Frank Carter’s known for being a raw, abrasive, and visceral frontman, and wants to let the world exactly what it is he thinks – this comes across loud and clear in his music. However, taking the time to paint his feelings onto paper shows how Frank connects with a wider audience through a different medium. What’s rather marvellous is how he managed to condense so much anger into such small paintings. And it’s a powerful, yet poignant, move. [JT]

This was always going to be special. Frank Carter and Gallows were, for lots of people, the re-ignition of punk in the UK and hardcore music more generally. He was a refreshingly raw and true performer in a world where lots of other bands were choosing style over substance. After a hiatus from punk and hardcore with the still excellent Pure Love, Frank Carter is back to what he does best. Honestly, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe the genuine excitement at the return of this man and what he offers both lyrically and as a live performer.

Nearly a year to the day since he last performed with Pure Love, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes perform a devastatingly brilliant nine track set to 50 fans and a plethora of press in this tattoo studio, Sang Bleu in Dalston, London. It is their first ever live show, with Frank declaring, “This is my first gig for 363 days and I’m really out of shape. I have never felt so old or as fat”. He certainly doesn’t let this show, as his and his new band’s relentless energy is obvious from the get-go.

There are a few of their tracks floating around the internet and the first recognisable one and indeed the one to receive the most raucous crowd reaction was ‘Fangs’; sounding much more angry and aggressive live than it does on the current online version, with Carter saying, “If you know the fucking words, sing along”.


Carter is still the epitome of what a frontman should be – assured, aggressive in performance and unpredictable. As ‘Juggernaut’ takes off, he appears from the small, yet fierce mesh of flailing limbs with blood on his forehead, with no one quite sure who it belongs to, him jumping on a table and finishing the appropriately named song before thanking everyone for coming to this “prestigious event to look at my artwork”, tongue sufficiently in cheek.

The band rip through ‘Trouble’ and ‘Loss’, a song about having a really bad year and begin another previously heard track ‘Paradise’ which has the crowd singing with beaming grins fixed to all. People know that they are experiencing something momentous and truly unique.

The superbly named ‘Rotten Blossom’ has a serious message about what happens when you die. As Carter eloquently puts it, ‘no one fucking knows’. The crowd really start to get moving to this song and it is clear that this band are going to make serious waves over the summer with several tour dates including a Lock Up Stage performance at Reading and Leeds, which will surely be one to clear the diary for.

Even though it’s their first ever live show, the Rattlesnakes are really tight and despite the obvious attention for Frank, the other members put in a really assured performance. Guitarist Dean Richardson goads the crowd and shouts along in the faces of those on the front row, and both drummer Mem Jago and bassist Thomas Mitchener just look stoked to be part of something that is as exciting as this first offering suggests.

Frank Carter continues where he left off with his first band, driving the Rattlesnakes against the status quo. He says that “too many bands nowadays say nothing, talking about how cool it is to go out in your underpants. We know that! You fucking idiots”. He isn’t afraid to speak about what he believes in, and their final song ‘Primary Explosive’  where Carter sings, “No matter how you try, you can’t win”. Everyone in Sang Bleu tonight would disagree. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes know how to win, and everyone there knows they have by just being present tonight.

There is a surprise at the end of the set where a scaled back acoustic sounding guitar rings out as Carter sings about losing himself, his mind and his patience. A throaty and emotional repost to the sheer anger of his vocals up to now. The set finishes with Carter throwing down the mic, and indeed the gauntlet as he pushes through the crowd to cheers for a truly memorable live show, with everyone screaming in anticipation of what is to become of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. [DB]