Low Derive / Joe McMahon / Question the Mark / The Insomniacs
Death or Glory Records, Redditch, Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Whilst Redditch town centre on a damp Tuesday night may feel like Silent Hill surrounded by a one-way system so impenetrable and incomprehensible it feels surreal and somehow aggressive, it hides a secret. A wholly DIY secret. A live music venue that hosts a record store. Seriously. Just go to this place. Death or Glory Records. You can take my car. Your life will be better for it.
For this was a night of handsomely gruff melodic punk and acoustic. Featuring acts from Italy and the USA. In Redditch. On a schoolnight.
Openers The Insomniacs kept things grounded, though. With the shorts, spiked hair and anecdotes about tapping off with drunk girls in the bogs this band largely took their stylistic cues from that bouncy American Pie pop punk thing – Sum 41, New Found Glory, Green Day. And the Macc Lads. But didn’t quite have as much penetration or textured emotional depth as those bands. But hey. They had fun.
Question the Mark were a step up. Crisply delivered, pacy, hooky – this was a gravelly and quietly vinegary Welsh valleys take on the ever popular and oft-recycled melodic hardcore style. Think HDQ or Leatherface fronted by Chuck Ragan (he of Hot Water Music). The melodies and the vocal harmonics were simply and powerfully done, and if I am not mistaken there may have been the occasional social comment in there too. Naughty.
Speaking of social comment and consciousness, discovery of the evening was Joe McMahon – frontman of US East Coast political melodic punkers Smoke or Fire, doing a solo short acoustic set. For various reasons the current crop of singer songwriters carefully steer clear of orthodox protest or politics. These, in contrast, were songs that gave a shit about more than just the state of the human heart – much more. Inequality. Hope not Hate. In all, not unlike an unplugged Propaghandi. This man is also long-time collaborator with the wonderful Billy the Kid (google her. She is ace). And we need more like this to make the protest song credible again.
Proceedings were closed by the Milanese gruff neo-emo whirls Low Derive. This lot were good-looking lads, with the devilishly stylish edge common to the current crop of touring European punk and post-hardcore outfits like Astpai and Ash Is A Robot. Having recently played the Fest in Florida (along with our own Guerrilla Monsoon), this was sweetly executed stuff that knew it’s hardcore punk history. But that was also not afraid of the odd rock flourish. Sexy and accomplished.
All Images by Indie Images Photograhy – https://www.facebook.com/photosbyindieimages
Words: Ed Ling