BIRMINGHAM PUNKS PICNIC 2003!
Runnin Riot (Belfast Oi!)
The Suspects DC (Punk from USA)
Hardcore (Birmingham Punk Rock)
Terminal City Ricochet (ex PMT from Norwich)
Indicator (Leeds anarcho punk)
Rabies Babies (London girl punk)
Saturday September 6th 2003
@ Royal George, Digbeth High St, Digbeth
£5 entry starts 6pm...more like 8pm
Sat directly across the road from Selfridges new sci-fi store in Birmingham's new city centre Bullring refurb is the Royal George. This basement sweatbox is home to this years Birmingham punks picnic. I missed last nights opening, featuring the impressive Deadline, who put on a good show by all accounts. But I'm here tonight to see a good mix of old and new punk from streets of Britain and worldwide. When I got there around 7 there was no sign of noise emitting from the cellar but there was a smattering of punks outside including a couple of Terminal City Ricochets and Rabies Babies. I order a pint in the upstairs bar just as some geezer gets threatened with a glass by some drunken piss heads in the corner...ahhhh reminds me of Wolves. First news of the day is The Restarts and The Expelled who were booked to play had pulled out. Can't say I'm too dejected after witnessing the Expelled in Morecambe, but the Restarts brutal outbursts would be sadly missed. Oh well that leaves a slightly dilapidated lineup but with a few neat suprises in store from some of the newer more promising outfits on display. First thing that hit me was the stage area has been moved since I was last here. It's now been rebuilt with an actual stage at the back of the room which is way better for access and watching the bands from all corners of the room.
After hanging around for what seemed like hours in the bunker the first band finally hit the new stage. They are a rabble of American punkettes based in London called ingeniously Rabies Babies. With a name like that they gotta be worth a bite. Despite their opening billing they were pretty fucking good. Great attitude and in it for fun but with their teeth still showing. On tonight's performance they should've been allocated a far higher billing. But I'm sure bottom of the bill won't be their niche for much longer. These Rabid yanks are definitely worth a your attention. They feature 4 girls, two on duel vocals, one on bass and guitar, with a male drummer and one jerky geezer who was blasting away on his trumpet. Thankfully the brass section was lost amidst the blonde stick insects loud and dirty guitar workouts. She looked the youngest but made the most noise churning out some impressive snotty big chunky power chords to go along with their early 80's inspired punk rock. They may inevitably get a Slits comparison but these are a 21st century breed of punkette and seem way more powerful in sound at least. But do they have the songs? Well they were a bit rough around the edges and are prone to wobble now and again, but with a mohawk and larger than life spiky medusa screaming out the lyrics they couldn't really fail. Although maybe one vocal would've done the trick just as good? The rhythm section propelled their chaotic stage antics very well indeed before quarantine orders beckoned. They got locked back up in their cages still growling to a very positive reception from the notoriously hard to please Brummie audience.
I think it was Indicator who were up next? Now Indicator ain't a name that indicates anything exciting in my world, but with such a piss poor name don't let it fool ya! Coz these gobby teenage oiks from the Leeds suburbs were another fresh bunch to set the night alight. They literally tore up the stage with a well primed energetic attack, and look the most promising band to come outta Leeds since maybe Dead Punk? Like all Leeds bands they give us a very political bent on song subject matter. And are probably all very angry vegetarians who hate nazis and have a place at University booked. But the way they play it and deliver it, this is pure punk rock! With guitars as weapons and loads of passion as ammo, these kids can only go far. For guttersnipes so young (someone told me their drummer had just turned 16) they played like veterans. They exude bags of confidence on the tiny stage, easily commandeering an out of town audience shows guts, and pulled it off with only minor heckles. But do they care, course they fuckin don't, they've enough attitude in their amps and stance to leave tonight's Philistines back in the dark ages. As their set progresses more duel singing/salvoes get thrown around the front rows as both guitar slingers jump around like synchronised firecrackers. Indicate leave the stage giving every indication of something very new and exciting and one to watch out for.
Terminal City Ricochet had an hard act to follow and these being the main reason I'd come along tonight looked slightly edgy as they took the stage after Indicate. And who could blame em? They must've known they followed something special but once they set out their sometimes chilling but snotty punk protest they didn't disappoint. Maybe being familiar with their earlier incarnation as the Incitors could've broken the ice for me, but they just sound good despite some early sound problems or was I standing to close to the spluttering PA stack? This is a band who have the tunes, the message and a black spiky haired singer who delivers em with a cutting snarl. Decked out in black and leering in all the right directions to promote their dark subject matter he sneered his way through the set gaining more venom as they progressed. He's joined on the vicious tirades by the suitably high pitched but equally as nasty Spu Terrible (ex-PMT) on bass. She adds textured shrieks to the vocal attack. The guitarist has loads of Discharge era riffs at his disposal and rapidly shoots em off creating those monster riffs that probably ripped the speakers apart. Their best songs being off their debut EP most notably being the paranoid 'CCTV'. But it was their brilliant mid paced anthem 'Sadist' that dragged us to the scene of the crime as they take us on a ride and spitting out..."Sadistic, Sadistic, Sadistic...Scientist". Fuckin great stuff. I've yet to hear their new ten tracker they just put out and couldn't get my hands on a copy all night coz they'd all gone grrrr! But beware coz Terminal City Ricochet are coming to get ya!
It was just a matter of time before the lager content set in and the quality control began to wane. Local outfit Hardcore were up next. They boast a cousin or was it a great uncle of Colin from local legends GBH in their lineup. Well family values don't seem to run too deep coz I gotta say these were pretty disappointing compared with the 3 previous outfits. Hardcore are way too rock for my tastes. They seem to have deafed out their much healthier '77 style punkier roots in favour of a rock crossover which is a BIG mistake. And wouldn't you believe it, they werent content with that and hogged the stage for what seemed like a fuckin eternity.
Up next were rank outsiders of the night. The Suspects D.C. who had come over to entertain us from the pinnacles of world power Washington DC. These were the quirkiest bunch of the night, fronted by a hairy growly singer/guitarist who was pretty funny in a yank kinda way. He didn't connect at all with the audience but full marks for trying. I don't think the young Brummy spiky tops were ready for laid-back zany speeches in between songs that they'd never heard before somehow. The Suspects DC try hard but just ain't got it, they give us a set of short, heads down run of the mill Ramonesey songs. At a push the standout track was the hilarious one about..."gonna get me a great big car and drive up your boulevard"...but they got possibly the worst crowd reaction of the night. Maybe because they looked drab and they just didn't fit in, which was a shame. I just don't think Birmingham is ready for their weirdo, ambient variation of punk... just yet?
Next up were Order who were from Japan and come on stage complete with leather, studs, mohawks and makeup. I heard rumours they were influenced by Disorder but being as they could barely speak a word of English never mind Bristol I just had to go along with the concept. Once they finished tuning up which took all of 5 minutes (these Jap's are real perfectionists). They actually sounded more like an oriental version of GBH if my by now wacked out brain cells were anything to go by? They were fronted by a lady/boy (cheers Tom - tee hee) singer called Oscar. A kid who looks set to get his boatrace on loads of Jap hardcore mags if the punk job don't work out. Loads of energy, very tight playing and they made a definite impression on the curious Birmingham crowd but that was all, nothing really new to tell the kids.
I'm completely wrecked by now as Runnin Riot hit the stage with more of a stagger than a run. I swear to god their Belfast beer bellies are expanding with age. They seemed to put on an entertaining set wherever they play from the blur I spotted, and probably played all the good uns. Though they sound nowhere near as good live as they do on record. But by this stage of the night everyone would've lapped up a Cossack dancing routine if pressed. A guaranteed pissed up finale with everyone getting their moneys worth... all £700 pounds worth of it... can't be bad!!! Till next year.
PETER DON'T CARE
(Apologies about the lack of photos in this review. I did take some of all the bands but like a cunt lost the fuckers
when I was downloading em grrrrrrr!!!)