Live; Nothington (USA) / Bonehouse / Shatterhand / Andy Chainsaw – Edinburgh
Walk The Plank Promotions hosted their second show of a very busy weekend on Sunday night at The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh which saw San Francisco punks Nothington return to Scotland for the first time in over three years. “Borrowed Time”, their last LP, is one of my very favourite punk records thus far this decade and I hadn’t seen them since Fest 10, so I was very excited. Papa D and Jonny Domino picked Abbie and I up around half 5 and we made our way to the capital. We met up with Jamie and found our recommended-by-Boab falafel shop closed, so settled on the old favourite that is The City Cafe; always a good choice for pre-show scran. Once finished, we headed round to The Banshee (my mozzarella, tomato and basil bloomer was excellent btw).
Our good friend Andy Chainsaw opened the show playing purely acoustic on the floor to the side of the stage and had (I think) already played a couple of songs before we appeared, but we arrived in time to catch the majority of his set. Andy was in full voice and belted out his grizzled punk tales of woe with ever-present passion and gusto that seems to grow with each performance. Nervousness may masquerade as self-deprecating humour at times and ending on a new song then forgetting how it goes isn’t the ideal, but Andy pulled it off with his usual charm and provided a warm, fitting opening to a mixed bill in the cosy confines of The Banshee. Andy will be touring later in the year so keep yo peepers peeled. You can get the “High Windows and Low Tides” EP for free from here.
Next up were those nutters in Shatterhand who were wrapping up a weekender after playing with No Contest and Sink Alaska in Stirling on Friday night then running the first all-ages matinee show in Falkirk on Saturday (check out Tub Thumper Promotions) and they were on fire. Seriously, Shatterhand exhibit more passion and energy than most bands half their age, marrying gobby snarled punk rock with incredible guitar-work and some of the wildest, hardest drumming you’re ear likely to see. Honestly, Brian “Big Baby” Hastings is an absolute beast on the kit, sitting in tight with the thumping running bass underpinning the whole thing. In between booze-fuelled bangers like “Brewdog Nights” and “The Tenpercenters”, Shatterhand are also a fiercely independent yet thoughtful entity, something often missed, as evidenced by the discussion and subsequent reaction to the song “Paradigm Shift”. Rather than regurgitate or paraphrase, here’s what the guys had to say about it (from their facebook);
“Mike’s Tattoo – The words are from our song “Paradigm Shift” which was written with a genuine positive intent and to show support with a friend struggling with suicide issues. It is intended to reach people in kindness and we hope that people can talk openly about the subject without judgement and know that they are not alone when they are at their darkest moments. If you’re at one of our gigs and we try to start a discussion about suicide before playing this song it is in no way intended to upset or offend, but rather to bring it into the open and to just talk about it like rational human beings who all have failings, limitations and face their demons every day and we hope it gives the song some context. Respect and Unity!”
A punk rock show isn’t a class room just as a stage or floor isn’t a pulpit, but I guess the ideal is that the best parts of punk rock are about the open exchange of ideas, safe spaces for all and tolerance. The key word there is “ideal”; if you’re going to be tolerant of ideas that you support, you have to be prepared to be tolerant of those ideas that you don’t support. Freedom of expression means freedom of expression for all. Punk rock should mean freedom across the board. I don’t know exactly what I’m getting at (well, I do, I’m just not articulating my thoughts very well), but I can only describe my perception of an atmosphere; there were some WEIRD VIBES BRO. Regardless, Shatterhand were rocking and Dave is a wizard of a guitarist and was playing slide with a Brewdog bottle at one point. Rare!
The Banshee was getting progressively busier as the evening rolled on and the place was pretty much packed by the time Bonehouse hit the floor. While they may have initially seemed a strange choice of support for a gruff punk show, there is no denying that Bonehouse are one of the finest bands in the country and their blend of intricate guitar work, soaring harmonies and paint-stripping screamo vocals really hit the spot, as always. Vocalist Dave was apologetic about his vocals, complaining of a sore throat (full sympathy from this guy) but he needn’t have been; the band were tight (as always), with drummer Iain laying the strongest foundation you could hope for with his solid, technical and progressive style. He makes it look so easy too. This was another exemplary performance from the lads and watching Sean writhe and wriggle whilst the band belt out the three-way vocals is always a treat. A whole room singing along with “The Bonehouse Summer Jam” and it’s hook of “In spite of it all she’s unable to tell the time” is always a goosebumps-inducing moment, this night being no exception. The crowd was increasing in rowdiness by the end of their set and I’d say it was a solid victory across the board.
Bonehouse are heading out on tour in Europe this summer with Brighter Arrows from Chicago this summer and will also be dropping a four-way split with Canadian punks Polina and Todos Caeran and Dundee heroes Kaddish, so keep your eyes peeled for that dropping on various labels in the next couple of months.
The place was rammed by the time Nothington arrived to blast us with their road-worn tales of loneliness, isolation, heartbreak and hope with a bunch of excited punks congregating at the front (okay; Jonny, Jamie and I on our side!) and certain members of the crowd were more drunk than others. Nothington have been in Europe for almost a month now and the band have that special “tour tightness” and didn’t miss a beat, although it was clear that the guys were a little road weary and are on the home stretch of tour. You couldn’t tell in their performance though as they ripped through their set with the same drive and enthusiasm of a band that has toured the world over and played the main stage at Groezrock a couple of weeks ago. It’s that kind of dedication that is inspiring; it doesn’t matter if it’s in front of thousands of people at a festival or a dark room in Edinburgh in front of sixty people on a Sunday night; the delivery is the same. That ethic is something a lot of people could learn from. Anyway, I spent the first half of the set pretty much screaming along with Chris and pumping my fist in his face as the band belted through the likes of “The Escapist” (a very close personal favourite song of mine) “I Should Stay” and the banger that is “Where I Stand” with it’s incredible woah’s and Leatherface-esque riffage from their debut LP “All In”. I’m pretty bad at remembering set lists as I’m usually singing along, this case being no exception.
The band played a good mix of material from their discography and were inspiring sing-a-longs and fists in the air from the start. The crowd were getting pretty rowdy and there was plenty of dancing, rocking out and pushing and shoving going on. I moved to the back as I wanted to film a little bit although it’s so dark in The Banshee at times that’s it’s difficult to see a thing at times. It also wasn’t ideal that the lights kept cutting out at various moments. Still, it all added to the atmosphere and the rowdiness, which soon got a little bit out of hand. Obviously everyone wants to have the best time at shows and enjoy themselves, but people also need to posses some self-awareness. I’m not going to tell people how to act and how to behave, but people need to be accountable for their own actions; there were a lot of elbows being thrown around at the front with some people acting like roasters and at one point it all kicked off and a pull apart happened, with people being knocked over, pushed around and escorted to the doors. Abbie got stomped on by some roaster and covered in beer and I had to pick two folk up off the floor at the door; not exactly what you’re looking for when watching one of your favourite bands. As I mentioned before, punk rock is not a church or a primary school, but there’s a line when it comes to acceptable behaviour and levels of drunken roasterism at shows. Far be it for me to call anybody on this as I’ve been that dick many times, but it was an unfortunate end to what had been an amazing show. It’s also not the first time that this has happened with these particular individuals. Between the rukus in the crowd and people getting up in the band’s collective faces, there was definitely a bit of an unsavoury atmosphere and this was reflected when the band stopped playing during the fracas at the front/at the door. Still, these things happen and it shouldn’t be allowed to tarnish the night as a whole, even if it did take the shine off things a little bit.
After the show was over, we spent some time catching up with our friends Ryan Weber of Spanish Gamble / Boneshakers fame who was doing merch on the tour and Adam Bilboa who was driving. I acquired the new Nothington / Paper Arms 7″ which is a little cracker released on Cargo Records in Europe and features a particularly amusing answering machine message from a certain Ryan Young of Off With Their Heads. I also managed to blag a shirt with the last of the money in my pocket before we packed up and hit the road. It was good to see so many people venturing out late on a Sunday, even if more than half of the crowd were Dundee cowpunks. Thanks to Raph for putting the show together. Raph, under his Turtle Lamone guise, is touring the UK next month and is also putting on some killer shows across the summer, the next of which being Spoonboy with Delay, Martha, Joe Listen and Turtle Lamone (record release show!) on June 5th. All in, this was a great show with a fair few talking points and, while perhaps not the greatest display of togetherness and unity our little scene has ever exhibited, it’s good to know that there are still some things that can stoke the fires of passion and discontent; something to which Nothington are pretty much the perfect soundtrack.