Milk2Sugars – Leeds Packhorse

By paul

It seems quite strange that an American ska/reggae band on Drive Thru Records can only attract 68 people when a motley crue of Wakefield skanksters can rattle up a similar number in a room above a pub… but that’s the beauty of punk rock I suppose. Billed as Punktastic Bash 2.5, three of the four bands on show at the Packhorse are part of the Punktastic Family, while the other is almost related by the fact my girlfriend’s brother plays for them. So the Packhorse, literally a room above a pub no bigger than a living room, is treated to four bands of completely contrasting styles and crammed with people who visit the site on a regular basis. Who said the scene was dead?

First up are Leeds’ ALL ITS WORTH, highly rated in the local scene for their Placebo meets 3 Colours Red brand of rock. Unfortunately being on first means that the band suffer from the worst of the PA problems and on top of that guitarist Pete has been in bed for a week with illness. The omens did not look good, but the band managed to pull of a set that does show promise. Vocalist Becky is the band’s secret weapon with a fantastic voice that takes bits of Brian Molko and twists them into her own nasal style. Pete is a younger version of Chris McCormack with a low slung Gibson guitar and for the first two songs throws the shapes of his hero, but then illness catches up with him, and becoming agitated with the hecklers at the front, his personal performance slowly falls away. On their low-budget EP, All Its Worth suffer badly from some poor drumming, but I’ll take that back as Joey is possibly the hardest hitting and most animated drummer on show all night – gone are the simple, repetitive beats and the sound is all the better for it. On the downside, a few songs in and the pint-sized frontgal is still singing in the same tone and any kind of variation would definitely take the band to the nest level. There’s no doubting she can sing, but an ‘x’ factor is missing. On this performance All Its Worth show enough to make it as a solid band on the Leeds circuit, but there’s currently something missing that will deny them of a route out of the city. (7)

Having not eaten since lunchtime, pizza called and I missed the entire SIX FOOT NOTHING set. I’m told it contained the usual variety of skate-punk madness and comical behaviour from frontman Ross, but I didn’t hear a note. So on to Scunthorpe pop-punkers TOMORROW NEVER CAME, who were added to the bill late on but fully justified their inclusion. It’s still a wonder to me why this lot are unsigned as their EP is superb and tonight is their best performance yet. TNC sound like the best bits of The Starting Line and Rufio, with heart-on-our-sleeve lyrics, and while it’s still all very raw you can sense there is a bit of confidence building up. Lead guitarist James churns out lead riff after lead riff, looking like a future Jason Audio Karate or Clark Rufio; drummer Phil holds everything together with some faultless drumming, while bassist Tom jumps around like his life depends on it. ‘Face In A Photograph’ is an awesome song and the catchy ‘It’s All Gone’ has a fantatsic singalong chorus. On the downside, if I’m being super critical, Paul seems to be singing within himself. Like Jordan on the early New Found Glory material, you can sense a voice waiting to break out and Paul appears to have the same problem. It’s nothing that can’t be fixed and gigs like tonight can only aide the confidence he needs to improve as a frontman. That’s not to say his performance is bad, far from it, but again there’s an ‘x’ factor missing that would take the band to the next level. This was the third time I’ve seen them and their best performance yet. If TNC can practice more and get more gigs (I think this is only their second or third this year) then this lot can really go far. The songs are already there and their stage presence is coming along nicely – it’s theirs for the taking if they want it. (7.5)

The onus on tonight has certainly been fun and MILK2SUGARS carry on the festivities in fine form. Recent performances have, in my opinion, been slipshod and disappointing. Maybe I’ve seen them too much or maybe they’re getting bored of their songs, who knows. But tonight the band are at their fun best. They know they’re not the world’s greatest musicians and so make up for it with a hugely entertaining set. ‘Games’ is their best opening song and so it’s good to see it promoted to the top of the set. ‘Hanging Around’ and ‘I Don’t want To Be Lonely’ are crashed out with bodies and limbs flying everywhere, both across the makeshift stage and in the crowd. Matty Pee, dressed rather nattily in a blonde wig and denim mini-skirt, and Chris hold up one side of the stage by gurning and contorting themselves, while Cookie and Mackie balance everything out with their own madcap presence. The ‘Ghostbusters’ theme is a clever addition to the set now that ‘Santeria’ has been done to death and getting crowd members up to sing is a masterstroke. Back to their best M2S thrive on nights like this. The PA and sound may have been dodgy and the room no bigger than a cupboard, but when it’s all about fun, this is a band more than willing to hold a party. (8)

It’s hard to believe that these bands, and the majority of attenders, met through this very site. I think it’s testament to the UK punk scene that bands can still put on DIY shows, get their friends and some beer in, and put a massive smile on everyone’s face. The carnage at PB3, when we do this all again on a bigger scale, is going to be amazing…