Tonight's a strictly local punk showcase in rainy Digbeth. And the bands that appeared at this tiny but thriving inner city pub venue had a bit of everything that's for sure! I was treading on new ground here as far as the 3 support acts were concerned. Lashed up I'd witnessed some 18 months previous when they were still tied to their umbilical chords supporting G.B.H. and wasn't really knocked out by em. Floppy Disc were totally un-chartered territory for me, probably coz for some strange reason they bought to mind stooodents! And lastly The Crap Shags who were definitely stoodent orientated but recommended fiercely by Becca Puke. And Ben their leader who I knew from his late 90's based Seal Club days had dropped hints that they were worth checking out when I bumped into him before Christmas at this same venue. Any band with a name that bad has gotta be worth viewing at least once! So with the background scraps of info outta the way, here I am ordering my first pint downstairs. Still can't help thinking to myself have I really made the right choice? It was Friday night and it was FREE admission which can't be sniffed at, but what were the alternatives.....a night on the prowl round the bars of Wolverhampton with the young trendies itching for a fight or watching a 60 second segment of the Pistols '77 boat trip on Timewatch???......ahhhh decisions, decisions as the Bears once droned. By the end of the night I knew I'd made the right choice.
It's about 7 as the rain subsided outside. A pink mohican walks in the bar and it's P.K. from local oufit Dogshit Sandwich. We discuss punk rock as the Adverts 'Gary Gilmores Eyes' hits the jukebox, but I think it was a bit too tame for his Macc Lads tastes ha! Amongst band tales about the time the Dogshits played London and only 2 punks turned up (JJ from Active Slaughter and Blue take a bow) I laughed heartily, coz I knew how he felt from first hand experience. It's tragic these days that most urban punk bands are met with so much apathy, but noble how the bands take it all with a pinch of salt. We are then joined by Contempt's stand-in bass player who has taken over while Trogg gets some drug rehabilitation (snigger). Didn't quite catch his name but he's happy in his new Contemptuous role and I can tell he'd stay the duration if he was asked to join on a permanent basis. Two birds (Bernie and Ally from Camden) arrive and ask us if the vacant spare seats are taken, I say go ahead. Amazingly they have just landed from the London train here to check out the Crap Shags. Now that is some fan base for probably the second gig in their shagging career. Maybe the Shags hide hidden depths than their slapstick name suggests? Right on cue Vicky from the Crap Shags shows up in multicolored hair and socks to match. She comes over and immediately flashes her daubed knickers at her London contingent of fans which read amusingly...'KISS MY BUTT'. A Bit too fast for my camera, but you get the picture. The omens were looking good as Ben arrives and informs us they're on in half hour. More punks are arriving by the minute including Gaynor singer out the other local curios, Cupid Stunts. She has her new 'Bo' in tow, my old sparring partner Ade who writes the 'Toxic Stress' newsletter. Seems he's relocated from his drab Derby suburbs to the drab Brum metropolis and he likes it!!! I fill his head full of tales of the web site intrigue which I highly recommend and I can tell he's interested in a dabble. As more pints arrive the first sign of commotion is heard from upstairs and with the arrival of the accoustic/fiddle duo downstairs in the bar doing that famous song about the devils fiddle?....it was time to check out what I really came for.
Jezus wept....it's fucking packed up here tonight, 6 deep at the bar and the atmosphere is very, very hot 'n' sweaty indeed, just like all good punk gigs should be. The Crap Shags have just started copulating on stage and are ripping through their first couple of sticky numbers. And straight away Ben their bare chested gigilo is sweating like a dog on heat. The party mood is in full swing and they seem to have created their own hedonistic atmosphere which makes a change for a bottom of the bill band, who most totally ignore or avoid. The Crap Shags are a witty, entertaining 4-piece with Ben steering the bumpy shagmobile on gritty vocals and rifferama guitar. And with the fluorescent co-shagger Vicky adding more spicy tones to the fray it's a good mix. The rhythm section is the old Seal Club drummer John and the 'amazing Keith' on bass who keeps the beat as Mr & Mrs Crap Shag hold domestics up front. First impressions remind me of a raunchy less serious West Midlands X or a less frantic Rezillos as they swap dialogue and innuendo with each other like on 'Your Brains Are In Your Dick'. And they almost croon together on other songs like 'Anne Widdecombe' (UK MP) and the 'Opposite Sex Is Fucking With My Head (ow) (ow) (ow)'. The Crap Shags have got something extra special about em even on this early showing, and it ain't the heavy body odour in the air but what it is exactly I don't rightly know duhhhh? You can tell they are a brand new band and they're a bit untogether, but on tonight's performance and with a few more gigs and rehearsals they show plenty of spunk!
3 Half Inch Floppy are in total contrast and from a different arena. Instead of wimpering on stage like I half expected by their ill fitting limp wristed name, they immediately sent out sonic shock waves of attack to the four corners of the room. They're enthusiastic, very enthusiastic! Their lead singer decked out in a black leather is their best weapon as he continuously for 40 odd minutes sunk his madman, jumping around antics into the front rows necks like some Tasmanian devil on speed. I think he touched the stage lip only once but raw nerves were going off all night. They sound like a younger version of the New Bomb Turks and with as much energy but with a more hardcore edge. Didn't catch any of the song titles? Maybe there wasn't really one standout track coz they all sounded pretty similar but what they did play was all good powerful stuff. They certainly kept the crowd on their toes as they belted out a set full of intensity. Yet another newish band to watch out for I predict. Punk is looking up in Brum at the moment!
Lashed Up have improved from the last time I seen em when they were still in dipers. They've still got a long way to go coz they're now a scowling, screaming toddler with a singer who demands your attention like the spoilt brat that she is! It could be irritating for some but I like em, coz they're the snottiest bunch on stage tonight. What they lack in finesse and tunes they more than make up for in attitude and swagger. The lead singer decked out in riot grrrl pig tails ain't quite so pissed up tonight but she's still pissed off in that Nancy Spungeon irritant kinda way. And she spits out some entertaining inter song banter as she ridicules her teenage peers. I like her style even though she ain't by any means the best vocalist in the world, but she can still create a reaction with her mouth alone. The spiky red headed guitarist to her left is another plus point in this young band. He sets the pace in the musical department and is destined to be a guitar hero somewhere sometime as he practices his Johnny Thunders facial contortions. Couldn't say for sure if they still did the Cindy Lauper cover of 'Girls Just Want to have fun' but if they did I'm sure it was one of their most memorable. Second on the bill but still the youngest band tonight by about ten years so they're earning respect even though some of em still look like they should be tucked up safely in bed instead playing in sweaty punk rock dens. Lashed Up have stuck to their guns and like the Crap Shags can only progress with the tunes and delivery coz confidence which the singer oozes in bucket loads is at the moment their best quality.
The young crowd seem to have dwindled drastically for the arrival of granddad's Contempt, but that could be due to catching the last bus or strict parental guides (snigger). So to not take any credit away from Contempts performance we'll leave it at that! For anyone who ain't quite seen em yet (are there still people out there who ain't?), Contempt are about 18 years old in style and an institution in the West Midlands punk scene. They're probably the same age as an average member of Lashed up and they've been around the block more times than the 126 bus. However they can still deliver an arsenal full of political, street punk, protest songs with enough tunes (c/o Martin) and suss that so many other less likely outfits fail to deliver. And when you've got a monster of a singer to convey em there's just nowhere left to run or hide. I just might be a touch partial coz I remember em from day one when they were spotty teens, but it's always good for young and old to sample yet another string to tonight's 4 sided bow. And anyway their songs are still as relevant today as they were when they were originally penned back in the 1980's. I still find it hard to recount their newer material alongside the old faves though? Highlight of the set was when Trogg was kidnapped outta rehab given the bass and forced to play on 'Are You Listening' and 'I Hate Tories' (New labour). So a good solid end to a healthy showcase of local punk talent. Peter Don't Care