HOLIDAY GHOSTS + THE ATOM JACKS + TRIP WESTERNS + HUTCH + DAGGER DEBS + THE DAMN SHEBANG + HANDCUFF – THE HOPE & RUIN, BRIGHTON 31.12.22
HOTWAX + D.L.D + MCAPATH + NIL BY HABIT – THE ROSSI BAR, BRIGHTON 31.12.22
There are so many options of where to go for New Year’s Eve that it can be seriously daunting as well as extortionately expensive. However, two local Brighton based promoters have got together with The Hope & Ruin at 11 Queens Road in order to put on a free entry live music and DJ set event.
Stay Sick hand Acid Box staged a ‘Heroes vs Villains New Year’s Eve Ball’ from 7pm on 31st December until 3am on 1st January. The event was spread across both floors of The Hope & Ruin, namely the downstairs bar area as well as the upstairs concert room.
A mere three doors down at The Rossi Bar at 8 Queens Road, Brighton, there was a New Year’s Eve party running from 9pm to 4am, which also featured a free entry live music and DJ set event.
This was being co-ordinated by Change The Fvcking Records / Stoned & Starving and I F***ing Hate Clubbing, and running in conjunction with the good people of the Green Door Store.
The order of the day for both events being to highlight new and up-and-coming local bands, interspersed with DJ sets filled with choice choonz, and offer folks a real good time. The Brighton & Hove News Music Team simply had to attend both events and we can wholeheartedly endorse right now that both events were spectacular successes!
The plan of action was for us to whiz between venues in order to cover as much as the action as possible. We were rather successful with this and hardly missed any tunes between us. Thus we would like to share our experiences of the night in the order that it happened. So without further ado, here goes……
HANDCUFF (THE HOPE & RUIN BAR)
Handcuff are the new kids on the block, having formed at the end of July and previously only played two gigs. Their first was at Guildford’s Boileroom supporting Crows on 6th November, and the second was on 8th December in London at the New Cross Inn, and here they are tonight opening up proceedings at The Hope & Ruin.
Being a new outfit meant that their 20 minute set (7:02pm-7:22pm) was approximately half original material which they started with, before going on to play a diverse range of covers. The fancy dress two boy-two girl quartet consisting of Ayesha Linton-Whittle as a female devil (joint lead vocals/guitar), Duncan Smith as a FBI agent (joint lead vocals/guitar), Mazz Gambardella as a priest (drums), and Anna Titov as a nun (bass). They were an amateurishly wonderful discovery.
Handcuff were offering us a pop punk vibe that initially sounded like it was 1977 all over again and then their sound moved on to the turn of the century sound. Their self-penned material was the more enjoyable, which is encouraging, but their renditions of The Hives ‘Hate To Say I Told You So’ from 2000 and Cornershop’s ‘Brimful Of Asha’ pre- Norman Cook mix were both welcome additions to their all too brief appearance. They were amateurishly wonderful and it was well worth venturing out tonight in order just to see these guys. Let’s hope for a swift return to Brighton!
THE DAMN SHEBANG (THE HOPE & RUIN UPSTAIRS)
The Damn Shebang were our second act of the night. They performed a 34 minute set from 7:30pm to 8:04pm. Despite these guys forming back in Brighton in 2015, tonight was surprisingly to be our debut encounter with this quartet. Back in 2019 they dropped their ‘Goths On The Beach’ single, but Goths they are not! Their debut long player ‘Damned If You Don’t’ dropped in 2021.
Their fancy dress choices of the night were roughly speaking, leather trousered cowboy Dead Seany on vocals and keys, going for the criminal look was JJ Symon on guitar, another cowboy look from Dan Brown on drums and calling on the assistance of Lyn Gasper from The Atom Jacks on 6 string bass who was sporting an Edvard Munch ‘The Scream’ look.
Judging by tonight’s performance, here is a band that are fans of the rock ‘n’ roll trash psychobilly style, especially that of The Cramps and The Birthday Party. There were twangs aplenty from the guitar and bass, but the keys were almost always drowned out by the other instruments. Punters were encouraged to send in live snippets of tonight’s performance to the band as the group were shooting a video for album track ‘Let’s Get Pleathered’. A Tom Waits cover was performed during the set by these accomplished musicians. My son’s mate was particularly taken by The Damn Shebang, so clearly their sound crosses multi generations.
THEE DAGGER DEBS (THE HOPE & RUIN BAR)
Thee Dagger Debs are a female trio that originally got it together back in 2011 and are purveyors of power rhythm ‘n’ blues and good old-fashioned pub-rock ‘n’ roll. Included in their ranks is Letty Gallagher on bass from the boy-girl duo The Mandelbrot Shakes. The other half being Jules who was in attendance in the crowd this evening. In fact it was encouraging for the Brighton scene to spy quite a number of characters from other local bands who weren’t actually performing tonight, but had come along to support their mates and maybe check out the opposition. These included Chloe Howard and Leila Deeley from Lime Garden, Catt Jack from Lambrini Girls, Smalan Moleman from Fruity Water, Calista Morgan from Harper, and Shea Harding from Epsom Salts, to name just a few!
‘BISH! BASH! BOSH!’ is the name of Thee Dagger Debs trio’s 16 page, black and white, photocopied music fanzine, and I can see why it’s called that as their ten or eleven track 29 minute set (which commenced at 8:10pm), was literally that – these cats can swing! There’s also an underlying skinhead girl edginess given off both by the aforementioned Letty as well as guitar/vocalist Laura Anderson, whereas drummer Delia with her ‘drum cymbal drum cymbal’ combo beats has clearly leant her skills so much that she could probably drum in her sleep.
60s and 70s surf rock and rock’ n’ roll littered tonight’s set, but my choice track was called ‘Ain’t Worth The Time’, which had more than a certain ‘Devil Gate Drive’ glam rock vibe going down and the crowd handclaps added to the enjoyment. If only more of their set sounded like this.
HUTCH (THE HOPE & RUIN UPSTAIRS)
Hutch formed over lockdown in the Sackville Road area of town and define themselves as “yacht-rock soft-psychers”. Or as we previously noted in a 2021 review, that “Their ‘sound’ could possibly be conceived as an amalgam of the final work of The Jam interspersed with The Beatles with the 1965 hit ‘California Dreamin’’ from the Mamas and the Papas”.
They are certainly no strangers to the Brighton & Hove News having witnessed their live sets on several occasions from their personnel consisting of Jack Pritchard (lead vocals/guitar), Dan Shepherd (guitar/bv’s), Charlie Bogg (bass/bv’s), Owen Bullock also of Sad Dads (drums/bv’s) and latest recruit Eva Lunny (harp/keyboards) who is the sister of Phoebe from the Lambrini Girls – can two sisters get any more different from these two?
It’s encouraging to see that the venue is absolutely rammed for tonight’s performance that commenced at 8:50pm. They are clearly developing a strong local following. Vocal harmonies along with the psychedelic soft sounds characterise Hutch’s performance. Every time I walk up Trafalgar Street to go to gigs at either The Prince Albert or Green Door Store, or to catch a train from Brighton mainline station, I smile to myself as I pass ‘The Radiator Centre’ shop as Hutch have a tune all about the shop – watch the video HERE.
NIL BY HABIT (THE ROSSI BAR)
Nil By Habit, who formed back in 2014, were the first of four acts appearing tonight at The Rossi Bar. Their set ran from 9:16pm to 9:52pm and this evening was our debut encounter with this quartet that have gravitated to Brighton from elsewhere in the South-East as well as Leeds and Scotland. They state that they offer “Bone rattling post punk from the heart of Brighton”.
They were rather active prior to lockdown, having dropped their ‘Electric Imposter EP’, ‘Sleep Of Reason’ and ‘Inheritance’ singles back in 2018 and ‘The Fall’ single in mid 2019. Check out their Bandcamp page HERE. They came out of lockdown guns a blazing and have thus far dropped four singles: ‘Television’ (2021) and ‘Flowers’ (March 2022), ‘Spiegel Tent’ (June 2022), and ‘John Cusack’ (October 2022).
The first thing noted about Nil By Habit is their striking Kraftwerk ‘Man Machine’ album style clothing, namely bright red shirts and black trousers. Then as the first few notes are played on the Korg Monologue keys, bass, two guitars, and drums, you get that quirky post punk Gang of Four and Devo vibe along with the Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) style lead vox. For tune two, the latest single ‘John Cusack’, the drummer and vocalist swapped (and later swapped back after their ‘BBC’ tune) and this reminded me of Warsaw’s ‘Leaders Of Men’ with its bass with Korg atop, this was rather good. On the downside, one of the mics was a tad distorted, which was a shame, but on a big plus, their final number sounded very much like the first Tubeway Army tunes, plus the below street level room was full with others queuing outside the venue. Nil By Habit are a hard to pigeonhole outfit, but that’s part of their charm. I would like another chance to see these in action again.
TRIP WESTERNS (THE HOPE & RUIN BAR)
Trip Westerns are a 5 piece rock ‘n’ roll band formed and based in Brighton with “their roots comfortably buried in the soil of mid-20th century rock and R&B, intertwined with lashings of surf and psychedelia – revelling in the twangy notes of spaghetti western soundtracks (see Ennio Morricone).”
Before lockdown the Brighton & Hove News covered a debut live set on 15th February 2020 at The Hope & Ruin from an outfit going by the name of ‘The Psycho Relics’, that released two singles ‘Rocking Chair’ and ‘War’/’Heavy Cherry’ and featured Harrison Baird-Whitman (vocals/guitar), Joseph Devine (guitar), Daniel Stirrat (bass), Ed Prideaux (keys) and Sam Morley (drums). After lockdown and suddenly the Trip Westerns appeared featuring the very same Harrison Baird-Whitman on guitar/vocals, and Joseph Devine on guitar, now accompanied by Ellis Dickson (aka ELLiS⋆D) on drums and Luciano Narcisi on bass. At the end of April, their ‘Free Mind’ single appeared, it was followed by ‘No Clues Blues’ at the tail end of October.
On re-entering The Hope, the venue was rammed and Trip Westerns were well into their stride of a highly addictive mixture of rockabilly, psychedelia and soul. As with their previous The Psycho Relics incarnation, the cowboy attire was prevalent and they were going down very well indeed until they had to call it a day at 9:59pm.
MCAPATH (THE ROSSI BAR)
McApath (stylized as ‘McAPATH’) took to The Rossi Bar stage a minute or so after Trip Westerns had finished at the other joint. Tonight was to be our first encounter with London based Joseph, Indre and Luca aka McApath, who back in 2019 finally dropped their seven tune ‘Balaclava‘ album, which had been completed two years prior when they were students at Falmouth University in Cornwall.
Tonight sees the trio offering up the guitar/vocals, keys/vocals and drums format. The vocals are bellowed at us as in early Siouxsie & The Banshees style, with the same equally jaunty off-kilter sounds atop. Jaunty off-kilter being the key words here, you know like The Slits were or some of those long-forgotten bands you used to listen to late at night on the John Peel Radio 1 show, where you didn’t really know what was coming next and couldn’t possibly describe what they sounded like. Is it noise? Is it music? Is it new or a long lost forgotten art?…..Well that’s McApath.
McApath are certainly the most out-there band out of the four bands to play the Rossi Bar tonight, and soon as they kick off, you are instantly drowned in an uncompromising sound that takes in everything from electronica, post-punk and experimental art-rock with the feel of free-form jazz. Jazz punk, anyone? Joseph? left of stage looks slick in a dark suit, white shirt and tie, wringing the life out of what appears to be a French Lâg Jet JM200, whilst Indre, stage right, blonde with looks that kill is teasing a Roland Gaia keyboard, and Luca sits at the back of the stage keeping the beat together. Together they create a bold sound, with the twin vocals melding well over the wall of sound. McApath aren’t something I’d typically play at home, but I’d definitely give them another try on the live circuit. If you are looking for something, a little off-kilter, check them out.
THE ATOM JACKS (THE HOPE & RUIN BAR)
The Atom Jacks are a Civil Défense detachment formed to spread information to the general public on action when under atomic threat. Through music. For science and your own safety. Nuclear Power Surf. Kaboom!. They started their 30 minute intriguing nuclear surf from the bunker set, eight minutes behind schedule (at 10:18pm), but this was always going to be the case as a mere ten minutes for the Trip Westerns to clear their equipment from the downstairs bar stage area and then The Atom Jacks to set their gear up wasn’t going to be sufficient. This had a knock on effect as Holiday Ghosts were going to start their set upstairs bang on time and so we were going to miss the beginning of their set. Thankfully D.L.D at The Rossi Bar were to grace the stage 18 minutes late as well, so that was in our favour.
We have been totally blown away by The Atom Jacks on several occasions during the past year or so and we knew to expect a truly top notch performance this evening. We weren’t disappointed! We were somewhat surprised as being a fancy dress ‘Heroes vs Villains New Year’s Eve Ball’, we had assumed that the instrumental trio featuring former BIMM Brighton students Jamie Hewitt on guitar, Lyn Gasper on bass and Sam Hoare on drums, would simply turn up wearing their hazmat jumpsuits which will protect them from any nuclear fallout and flying champagne corks. But no, they were in disguise! Lyn on 6 string bass was still sporting the Edvard Munch ‘The Scream’ look that had been worn earlier in the night when playing with The Damn Shebang, and spokesperson/guitarist Hewitt had morphed into a member of Devo who was wearing the same style spectacles as The Riddler supervillain in ‘The Batman’ movie.
They began their set with a cover of The Specials ‘Ghost Town’, a number which they have previously finished their sets with. Clearly it was all change this evening. As always, their set was a real bum shaking foot tapping bonanza that really rocked and both Lyn and Jamie ventured into the crowd, who were unreal and continually whooped and shouted joy throughout their whole 60’s spy movie music vibe performance. This was the performance of the night! Can’t wait for their debut album to drop this coming April. But before that, fans are urged to attend ‘Lyn’s Trans Fundraiser’ event at the Green Door Store on Saturday 25th March from 7pm as The Atom Jacks will be playing live along with The Damn Shebang (see above), Electric Cowboy Club, and Gene Pool. There are no tickets as such for the event as there is a suggested £5 or more donation per person. You can learn more about this HERE.
HOLIDAY GHOSTS (THE HOPE & RUIN UPSTAIRS)
Holiday Ghosts were originally formed in Falmouth in Cornwall, but now have seen sense and are one of our many Brighton based outfits. Drummer Katja and guitarist Sam Stacpoole share lead vocals and are I believe partners. The outfit is now cemented with the addition of B. Spanks on guitar and Morgan Lloyd-Mathews on bass. The original lineup released their debut self titled 12 song album back in September 2017, which was followed by their ‘West Bay Playroom’ album in February 2019. After relocating to Brighton, the ‘North Street Air’ album was dropped in May 2021. The ‘Milk Cup’ single followed in August of that year, and then the six tune ‘Credit Note EP’ was unleashed in July 2022. Their latest recording is the ‘B. Truck’ single that came out in November.
The Brighton & Hove News have witnessed several live sets from Holiday Ghosts, including at the Green Door Store’s ‘234 Fest’ in September 2021, as well as their support slot for Penelope Isles at the Concorde 2 in December 2021, and a month earlier at Patterns as part of the ‘Mutations Festival’, where we reported thus: “The venue was busier than earlier on and the punters set about rocking to the sound of their swinging, shuffling rockabilly style drum tapping surf beats. They performed the title track of the new forthcoming album which could have easily been in a spaghetti western. These katz are purveyors of twangy guitar pop can certainly swing. There were to me elements of ‘Good Vibrations Records’ post punk sounds with the addition of a tiny smidge of The Undertones meets The Shadows played at 78rpm (ask yer grannie)”.
Tonight at The Hope & Ruin, was very much in the same mould, with the room absolutely jam packed with fans enjoying the band’s swinging tune set that commenced at 10:45pm. Although one of the outfit ventured into the crowd, which I hadn’t seen done by them before….must be New Year’s Eve! Sadly, we couldn’t get to see this evening’s full set as we wanted to ensure to catch the somewhat mystical D.L.D at The Rossi Bar.
D.L.D (THE ROSSI BAR)
D.L.D were one of tonight’s bands that we knew absolutely nothing about and so were keen to investigate. We timed our arrival perfectly as the very second we were in place, the six piece commenced their 35 minute set at 11:03pm. I’m unsure whether they were just a sextet for this evening or whether their number has been recently expanded, but the instruments on offer tonight were trombone (via Alfie Beer who is the vocalist and guitarist of The Famous People), bass, two guitars, drums, and Nord Electro 3 keyboard plus a mini keyboard. Four of the outfit were on vocals/backing vocals at various stages during the performance, one of those being Billy Marsh from Our Family Dog, who’s guitar connection was problematic during the set. Wires were exchanged, but the dodgy connection was still there despite other band members holding in the wires at various stages. Maybe should have asked for another guitar for his birthday on 25th November methinks.
As you would expect, the venue was extremely busy throughout the event, and poor old Alfie couldn’t even get on the tiny stage and had to sometimes stand on the seating to play. The upshot was that punters enjoyed this. Also, when Billy gave up his guitar, this allowed him to solely concentrate on his vocals and new dance moves, and I reckon that this was funnily enough an improvement.
I particularly enjoyed their second number as its intro reminded me of ‘Elegia’ by New Order, before Billy’s vocals hit in. These were somewhere in between The Streets and Siouxsie & The Banshees. D.L.D have a definite post punk vibe going on, although they describe themselves as “Post-Spooky Knitwear Rock”. They finished off with a snippet of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’, during which there was a mass crowd hug and then it was all over at 11:38pm.
HOTWAX (THE ROSSI BAR)
HotWax rounded off tonight’s celebrations by starting at 11:53pm and rockin’ us into 2023, with their 39 minute set. They are a trio consisting of Tallulah Sim-Savage (guitar/vocals), Lola Sam (bass/vocals) and latest recruit Alfie Sayers (drums). They were originally going under the banner of The Kiffs when they were thirteen onwards and we reviewed them twice in early 2019. They are still very much a young outfit, but the sounds they make with their instruments are mature for their years.
HotWax are finding themselves on more and more folks’ radar, due to the fact of their energetic live performances. Tonight is no exception, with woeful songs of teenage angst, ferocious love, and tunes so beautifully innocent yet so poignant with an energy inspired by life. Suffice to say that bang on midnight, HotWax christened a bottle of bubbly on stage as the up-for-it punters kissed and cuddled each other in order to welcome in the next year. The band then debuted a brand new number for a brand new year. It was a statement of intent to let everyone know that 2023 will be their year.
The band make good use of loud and quiet contrasts, as Nirvana did, but I must say that when Tallulah’s vocals are screamed or shouted and the music is heavier and more in your face, then this is a better prospect, as opposed to the quieter bits where her vocals are sadly weaker in contrast. I rather enjoyed Lola’s funny bass slapping action on one or two numbers. They ended with a tune called ‘Mother’, but I wish that they had concluded with ‘Rip It Out’, which features lyrics like “Rip it out of my arm and rip it out of my chest and rip it out of my hair”, as this number offred a quietly menacing snarl over bouncing bass octaves that built to a crescendo of venomous screaming. It was great. At 32 minutes into the new year the live music had concluded for the night. It had been a wonderful experience and congratulations to the venues, organisers, the bands, DJ’s, and the punters for making it so special.
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