No idea on start times so I took a risk that it might be later, and picked Dean up at 8.30 for the trundle up the hill. I was right! We had time for a drink and chinwag with the arriving Nudy boys, plus tonight’s promoter Dave Franklin (who, rather handily, kept popping out of the backroom venue to let us know when bands were due on!), before slinging some coinage into the donations bucket for entrance, and checking out openers, Cheltenham’s Oui Legionnaires. A young trio, they kicked off with the tousled vocalist playing a Dashboard Confessional-like impassioned acoustic opener from the floor, in front of the sparse crowd, before joining his bandmates onstage and hitting the “rock out!” button squarely. They kicked up a high-octane thrilling post-hardcore/ thrashy EMO collision of noise and driving riffery, in a Seafood locking horns with Rival Schools and Husker Du kind of way. Some splendid strident choruses with conflicting/ competing harmony lines, as well as some Biffy-like tempo changes, also impressed, as did their onstage humour (viz. the vocalist being shy about introducing a number called "Fuck You Nottingham!”). Their set finished as it started; on the floor, with an acoustic Frank Turner-esque duet to eternal youth, with a hook of, “you’re just jealous cos we’re young and in love”. Impressive stuff. I’d have bought a CD if they had any (“our ex-guitarist still has them around his house in Gloucester!”), but rest assured I‘ll check this lot out again.
Port Erin, next up, were a different proposition; another trio, they started off intriguingly with a windswept US-alt country sounding opener evoking Shearwater or Grizzly Bear, but then their intricacies and fiddly riffery veered for me too uncomfortably close to Proggy clever-cleverness for the sake of it. A final, straight-forward rocker, showed better potential; they’re another band I’d happily check out again, if they kept things simpler!
Beef eventually turned up and we caught up, hearing his recent Spanish holiday horror story, before wandering in for headliners Nudy Bronque about 10.30. Introduced onstage as, “3 idiots with guitars and drums,” they were clearly playing to familiar faces and delivered a relaxed, fun set from the off. Opener “Luggage” set the tone early, a Pulp-like glam kitsch opener delivered with a swish and a swagger by vocalist and rivetting frontman Aiden. Clearly a big old showoff in his youth but finding the perfect outlet for his flamboyant tendencies and deep, old-beyond-his-years vocals, Aiden’s stage persona is part Jarvis Cocker, part Russell Brand, but all entertaining. The 60’s tinged kitchen sink drama of “No Wives, No Children” saw some yodelling vocals and squally guitar in equal measure, but the subsequent “Peachy Keen” was a real early highlight, the Orange Juice “Blue Boy” drumbeat gallop dovetailing into the hooky chorus and more thrilling discordant noise. Superb stuff, although the onstage banter (“in 10 years’ time they’ll say the world wasn’t ready for Nudy Bronque!”) and switching on of the drumkit’s striplights received as many cheers from the crowd as the song itself!
This lot don’t ever stray too far from the quirk (surely if “quirky” is an adjective, “quirk” should be a noun!?); even during their most straight-forward number, the upbeat Vaccines-fest indie rock of “Juliet Ottewell”, they stripped back the middle 8 to feature more of Aiden’s deep, resonant vocal histrionics and some comedic stage-prowling and menacing stares into the crowd. Again, final number “Space Travel 2013 By Phone” started with an art-school stomp and ended in a thrashy cacophony of noise, with Aiden delivering guitar riffery whilst rolling on the floor. They squeezed in an encore, the splendid and ridiculously catchy “Bottled Blonde”, which was introduced by the boys as, “the best song ever!” and was tonight’s excellent exclamation point on another little gem of a set from a band who deserve wider recognition. Hopefully they’re not too far from getting it!