Phinius Gage – Nottingham Rock City

By paul

So it was about three months in the planning, we went through numerous line up changes and no-one really knew if there were enough rooms for the Travelodge crew. We needn’t have worried though, everything went rather swimmingly. Infact Punktastic Bash 2 went slightly better than swimmingly – everything was just perfect. Well it was after we started anyway, there’s nothing more panicking than to turn up on time only to find half a band have arrived and are sat in the pub next door and the venue is shut as the landlord is in the bath…

Still, the biggest bash yet was certainly the best and I can safely say everyone went home with a smile on their face. Whether this was alcohol related or not I couldn’t possibly say! But with a bill as diverse as any you will find at a UK show this year, there was always going to be something for everyone. And that is what we all got.

Local band NONE OF THE ABOVE kicked things off with a vicious set of songs which got everyone in the mood. Frontman Mike is a bundle of nervous energy, spending more time in the front rows than on the stage while the rest of the band contort themselves to great effect. It’s all rather good and hard hitting, and I for one was left more impressed at the live show than their ‘Them vs Them’ EP they released last year. Definitely a band set for bigger things, they are well worth checking out if they come to a town near you. (7.5)

I have absolutely no idea where FOUR DUMB KIDS are from – I’ve been lambasted for suggesting they were from Nottingham and Sheffield, so who knows where the place they call home really is. It’s also hard to categorise exactly what FDK want to do as well, aside from entertain, something they do reasonably well. With songs that aren’t the most memorable, you have to have an extra something to keep everyone focused and FDK have that in abundance. Missing a brass section for the evening, one lucky punter (step forward Jam) gets onstage with a blow-up saxophone and continues through a song or two to take his place. No-one has the heart to tell him no noise is coming out the other end… It kind of sums up FDK’s performance – a lot of hot air, not too much substance but lots and lots of fun… (7)

SIX FOOT NOTHING are blagging a lot of support shows right now and with Punktastic good egg Ross at the helm, it’s certainly a good thing. Easily the most charismatic frontman on show tonight, as at the first bash Ross is far more comfortable telling jokes than he is singing. Confident and laid-back, his opening salvo on skate-punks Whitmore is particularly funny, but musically the band cannot live up to expectations just yet. A humourous cover of ‘The KKK Took My Baby Away’ gets a few laughs, but other than that there’s little to suggest there’s much of a career in the business. Am I too harsh? Yep… but it’s only Ross and he’ll no doubt get me back later! (6)

MILK2SUGARS nearly didn’t make it. First they weren’t sure if they could play, then they could, then they were offered a bigger gig they turned down, then vocalist/guitarist Venus went AWOL. But after a slight delay everything is in place (brass merchant Matty Pee aside) and M2S get things going. Getting the best crowd reaction of the night, the front ends up a skanking mess as the likes of ‘El Speakaro’ and ‘Games’ sound impressive. Having seen M2S a dozen times already I wasn’t expecting too much new, but some of the songs have been re-worked and they sound tighter than on the last few occasions. Finishing with goldie ‘Washing Machine’ sends the sweaty throng at the front into ecstasy and the evening’s staple ska diet is well and truly fed. Most impressive. (8)

You know the first time you listen to Jimmy Eat World‘s ‘Clarity’ album you get that little spine-tingly amazing feeling that has the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end? Well I get that every time I hear MY AWESOME COMPILATION. As stunning an emo band you’ll find on these shores, I dare anybody to find me a band that betters them at what they do – it’s just impossible. Tonight ‘Turning Leaves’ is absolutely immense and ‘Our Lives: The Sequel’ and newie ‘Wish You Well’ are nothing short of spellbinding. Darius and Chris are the perfect frontmen, trading vocal blows while guitars and bass parts scythe through each other; new boy Woody tinkers with his ivories to add an extra layer and drummer Andy thuds his way through the set with a massive smile that lights up his face. Not afraid to have fun, MAC are a band that have the world at their feet. Not only am I and a number of others singing along with gusto, but I get two (count ’em) song dedications. I’m proud to say that these boys are not only a fantastic band but friends too. Possibly their biggest fan, I could gush about them all day, but merely listen for yourselves – discover them for the first time and watch those hairs stand. (9.5)

It was always going to take one hell of a performance to match MAC, but JERRY-BUILT almost manage to pull it off. Infact I actually thought they did, but neither vocalist Andy or bassist Sami were happy with their performance, and so they lose out marginally. Still the best band in the UK right now, it’s not hard to see why Kerrang has jumped onto the JB ride. Mixing all the best melodic bits of the Replacements and throwing them into a big post-hardcore melting pot, the likes of ‘Receivers’, ‘Marriage’ and ‘A is B’ are behemoths of songs that quite rightly are making people stand up and take notice. Tim and Andy are a fantastic front pairing, with Magnus and Sami keeping rythmns in check. And that of course is not to forget keyboard/sample supremo Tall Dave, who makes his way across the stage and into the crowd with gleeful abandon. It’s all fantastic stuff, especially the gorgeous ‘Near You’ which again is dedicated to myself and my girlfriend. It’s a beautiful song by a brilliant band. Bigger things are only just round the corner and I for one can’t wait to see this band fly… (9)

Ross was desperate for MYBE to be on the bill and having not heard the band before I was intrigued as to what the fuss was all about. Coming across like Route 215 juniors, their brand of tongue-in-cheek skate punk was well received. Tighter than a badgers arse, it is a mystery why the band haven’t been snapped up yet by a label. But with jokes and bag fulls of stage presence under one arm and a clutch of singalong tunes under the other, it won’t be long before crowds of 150 are the norm. (8)

Punktastic goes way back with PHINIUS GAGE. They were one of the first bands that sent us their demo to review, and we’ve been there for each other ever since. No-one was more thrilled for them than me when they inked their recent Deck Cheese deal, and ever willing to repay a favour the Brighton punks jumped at the chance to close the bill. Despite a few people heading off to Rock City, PG battered their way through most of their upcoming ‘More Haste More Spped’ opus, which is set to mark their territory on the UK scene. With a sound that is tight and hard hitting, it’s not difficult to see why they’ve been signed. Although I’m sat cradling a pint a short distance away, vocalist Ade forcefully screams his way through the set, with (i think) ‘Sick Mick’ really standing out for me. They’re on tour with Not Katies very soon and it would be a mistake to miss out. (8)

And that was that. Of course there was so much more, but those memories are for another day. Eight bands rocked our collective socks and some of us retired to our beds, while others loaded up their vans to begin the long journey home. One thing is for certain, nobody left unhappy and I for one can’t wait until we do it all again. There’s only one score I could possibly give this gig…and it rhymes with hive…