LIVE: The Smith Street Band / Gnarwolves / Drug Church @ Audio, Glasgow

By Samarth Kanal

Audio Glasgow is quickly becoming a favourite venue, not just because of the pretty solid sound, but also because of the numerous memorable bands that they seem to get through the door. Of course, a line-up like The Smith Street Band, Gnarwolves and Drug Church firmly cements that status.

Drug Church is an enviable name for a band, so well done to them for that โ€“ still undecided about their latest album, the unfortunately (and pre-emptively) named ‘Paul Walker’. Either way, Drug Church stamped their mark on the gig almost instantly. Lead singer Patrick Kindlon is animated on stage โ€“ wide-eyed and expressive โ€“ and it’s effective. ‘But Does It Work’ was a highlight, showing how Drug Church can erupt into a furious tempo and then settle back into a grungy, indie-tinged groove so easily. The bass sounded heady mixed with the fuzz of the guitar – the sound at Audio is generally great, and Drug Church’s set proved no exception.

It was clear that the crowd at Audio were mostlyย there for Gnarwolves and Smith Street Band, and after witnessing how great Drug Church were live, I probably huffed about this during the break before Gnarwolves came on. The skate-punks from Cornwall, who you may well have seen live by now, are explosive โ€“ they didn’t need an introduction, as the mosh pit which instantly engulfed half the room suggested. Gnarwolves chose their set-list so well that it felt as if the three-piece were playing their own version of The Decline, with just a couple of well deserved breaks as everything slowed down just a tiny bit for ‘Bottle to Bottle’ and ‘Hate Me’. The drums really shined through, with Max Weeks nailing the whole set. The way Gnarwolves stormed through their concise, yet wide-ranging set-list โ€“ including tracks like ‘Community, Stability, Identity ‘ and ‘Party Jams’ โ€“ was awe-inspiring. Never again will I huff about anything to do with Gnarwolves (apart from the fact that I will be missing them support NOFX later this year).

The Smith Street Band have achieved that cult status within punk music (the highest status a punk band can reach), but Gnarwolves could well have headlined. Either way, we were all fortunate to be able to witness both bands in one small room, thanks to the promoter. The space at Audio which has, on many occasions, felt so dark and empty, was absolutely electric. Once again, this was a seriously well thought-out set-list. Tracks like ‘Surrender’ and ‘Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams’ waned into ‘Ducks Fly Together’, with the introduction to the latter song sending the crowd into a momentary hush โ€“ it was slightly chilling, yet so satisfying to see The Smith Street Band headline. Lead singer Wil Wagner grinned throughout, and every deserving chorus or memorable line was belted with so much passion and volume โ€“ from both Wil and the crowd in front of him. When songs like ‘I Love Life’ and ‘Throw Me In The River’ are delivered with such sincerity and honesty, venues like Audio don’t seem so small anymore.