Live Review: Garlic Bread Club Punk Rock #3: Retro Bar, Manchester, UK, 25th January 2020

  • Adam Pytro posted
  • Reviews

Garlic Bread Club #3

Retro Bar, Manchester, UK - 25th January 2020

There was more than the obvious scent wafting up from the basement of Retro Bar this Saturday. The third (sold out) Garlic Bread Club Punk Rock show had more than a whiff of inclusivity, DIY ethic and community about it too. 

Liverpool trio Falaun kick off proceedings mid-afternoon with their brand of brash, anarcho-hardcore. “Sorry we’re out of tune and out of time,” they present as a disclaimer.  They play at speed, but also show some dexterity in their songwriting through the male/female vocal interplay and occasional flashes of dissonant melody. For the most part they serve up socio-political blasts of anger that encourage us to not only listen, but join their call to action. Songs about fracking and deportation invite chant-alongs of “Leave it in the ground!” and “These walls must fall!” – direct and uncompromising.

“Where’s everybody gone?” asks Plot 32 frontman, Stash, as the Leeds ska party-punks squeeze onto the stage. The 7-piece bring an immediate sense of fun and energy to the room, imploring the crowd to smile and skank through numbers such as ‘Get Your Knees Up’. It becomes impossible not to be swept up by the horn blasts, humour and heroics – who else is brave enough to take on Vengaboys’ ‘Boom Boom Boom Boom’? There’s no denying set-closing anthem “Go Hard or Go Home” though, as the crew decide maybe one more beer should turn into six, though I’m later assured, “We do support responsible drinking.” 

DAVES are up next, offering a scuzzy, grungy edge to their set. There’s a relentless pace from the stripped-down Leeds threesome – guitar and bass layering up on positive, well thought out progressions. They also deal a great line in hooks that capture an ‘everyman’ feel: “I’m not ready to admit I think I’m a piece of shit,” and “What makes you think you’re good enough for her?” resonate relatably opposite walls of chords. It all reaches its peak with “I Drank the Beer” which swells and fizzes and carries the crowd with it in a splendid sing/shout-along. Glorious.

Almost in retaliation to the Yorkshire representation, Manchester itself provides its own trio, Aerial Salad, in the following slot. They’re in a confident mood, choosing to play through the entirety of upcoming album ‘Dirt Mall’.  “Let’s ‘ave it!” they decree and swag their way through tracks that depict the trials of growing up, working shitty jobs and figuring the world out. Neat, compact arrangements and anthemic choruses demonstrate more muscle to their sound, and elevates them above some standard pop-punk outfit. There’s something scrappily, brilliantly, Northern about it all. 

Incisions are also on home turf. The self-described ‘faux-crust heartcore’ that the quartet impart is harsh. It’s short, sharp stabs of brutality and truth.  In one bizarre but beautiful moment the lights and PA quit, only to blare back into life via ‘Rock the Casbah’. Bewildered, Inscisions take the only appropriate action and conduct a band outing, crowdsurfing across the room. Normal service eventually resumes, and they close out the set with ‘The Wreck’ – the opening line, “Everybody’s leaving…” only telling half the story, as it seems it’s time for a human pyramid. Succinctly epic.

This is the 50th gig for Hastings 4-piece, Haest. Emerging from a hail of feedback, the band alternately lurches and then thrashes their way through their set. Tactile vocalist Dave Cullern decides that the stage cannot contain him, and instead writhes and twitches from within the crowd. “Do you wanna headbutt?” he asks those closest, as he convulses slowly to a savage, doom-laden breakdown. Songs from upcoming album ‘Anomie’ such as ‘I Want To Get A Chicken And Call It Shawn Michaels’ seem almost contradictory in their heaviness, compared to the light humour of their titles. “We fucked it up!” bellows Cullern repeatedly. It’s chaos.

Bristol’s Martyrials are an inspired choice for the line-up, bringing some electronic-glam-fuzz to the day. Their unique setup of drums, bass and keyboards gives them license to bleep and buzz their way through songs such as ‘Serotonin’, which gives the impression of a condensed suite of music in itself as it moves through changes in tempo and dynamics. Being stationed behind the keys doesn’t stop Sammy Martyrial throwing moves, as the trio drown the crowd in day-glo thrash which sees them strut their way to a thunderous finale and raucous reception.

Grand Collapse do not let up from the moment they hit the stage. The Cardiff quartet clatter along at breakneck speed, powered by shredding guitars and demanding a lung-busting, throat-burning turn by vocalist Calvin Sewell, who launches himself over and over into the pit they’ve incited. We’re reminded of where the unfiltered anger of the songs is directed: ‘Omission’ targets arms traders, while those endorsing immigration policies are told “..refugees are welcome..”. Within the onslaught, there are flickers of deftness – melodic overtones, churning breakdowns, galloping drum patterns – which amplify the fury and frenicity of their all-out assault. 

Pizzatramp close out the day in spectacularly shambolic style. There’s a ridiculous quantity of songs – speed, muscle, rumble – all wrapped in a modest amount of controlled sloppiness. As simple as it seems, the Caldicot trio are tight and fun and energetic. It’s bound to end in beautiful disaster, and after calling out Tories, jobs and other bands on the bill, it descends into some twisted acapella rap-battle (‘You’ve Got the Love’ vs. ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’) involving pretty much everyone in attendance. Joyous.

Live photography courtesy Hold My Pint Photography, they can be found on Facebook and Instagram. You can click on any of the photos to view a slide show of the images

Tickets for all Garlic Bread Club Punk Rock shows can be purchased here