LIVE: Milk Teeth @ 2 Pigs, Cheltenham

By Rob Barbour

The album launch show is a strange beast; so often no more an opportunity for music industry types to be seen at that night’s hot ticket event, only unfolding their arms to tweet about watching a hype band in a tiny venue. In a world in which punk has long since been co-opted by guitar-toting boybands and preening fashionistas, Milk Teeth aren’t so much a breath of fresh air as a highly-pressurised canister of pure oxygen.

Tonight is branded with the Stroud band’s DIY ethos: they’ve handpicked the support acts, which we unfortunately missed, and the event is being promoted by an independent promoter who put the band on back when they were starting out. And if there’s a sure-fire way to build a defence against the music industry into a gig, it’s to hold it somewhere beyond the reach of the London Underground network. Cheltenham? Isn’t that basically Middle Earth? Do they even have electricity?

Indeed they do, and there’s as much in the atmosphere at The 2 Pigs tonight as there is powering guitarist Chris Webb’s comically-oversized full Marshall stack. This launch show, for debut album ‘Vile Child’, marks the debut of Milk Teeth mk.2, with Billy Hutton – formerly of Hindsights – taking Josh Bannister’s place on guitar and vocals, and Becky Blomfield formally stepping up to front the band.

There’s no fanfare, no portentous intro music. Just four young musicians setting up their gear to Craig David’s ‘7 Days’ (prompting an audience singalong), giving a thumbs up across the crowded room and launching into recent single ‘Brain Food’. From the off, they exude energy; feeding off the genuine passion of the proud hometown crowd and throwing themselves around the stage without missing a note. Webb’s distinctive, squealing guitar tone dominates the room while Blomfield’s growling bass tone and disaffected drawl are captivating. There’s something undeniably invigorating about watching a band so clearly having such a great time on stage. Milk Teeth are a blur of hair, headstocks and overwhelmingly fuzzy guitars.

The set’s obviously heavy on material from ‘Vile Child’, barring the songs which strongly rely on Bannister’s vocals. Hutton’s immediately at home, though, and while there are aspects of the set which have been amended to accommodate the line-up change – most notably the call-and-response section of ‘Melon Blade’ – there’s nothing here to suggest to the casual observer that this is anything other than a tightly-knit, well-rehearsed unit.

“We’re saying goodbye to our families, as we’re off on tour”, Blomfield says while issuing heartfelt thanks to the crowd. When that tour – supporting Australian chameleons Tonight Alive – hits London’s Forum, you’ll likely read plenty of enthusiastic elegies echoing the sentiments here. But there’s little to touch the sensation of watching a band on the verge of blowing up, blowing off the roof of a venue they’ll imminently outgrow, in front of people who actually care.