A late change of plans led me to this one tonight; I actually had a ticket for the Frightened Rabbit gig at Bristol Trinity tonight, which I booked up before I heard their current album and found it, well, a bit rubbish actually! Monitoring their lists suggested they were also omitting my favoured tracks from their last albums as well (including, criminally, easily their best number in “Backyard Skulls”), so I was looking forward to said show with scant relish. However, Brooklyn manic punk thrillers The So So Glos then announced a short tour in support of current album “Kamikaze”, a darker, more “mature” sounding album than their previous deliciously chaotic affair (and by “more mature”, I simply mean, “the songs don’t sound as if they’re going to collapse over themselves at any moment…!”) with a Joiners Arms date on the same night. After a debate with myself about the ethics and economics of an unemployed man booking 2 gig tickets for the same night, I looked into this gig and discovered tix were only £7! Result!
So a dilemma suddenly became a no-brainer, and I took a drive down in inky blackness to Southampton, parking up a stone’s throw from the venue on free-after-8 street parking. Yay! A band were already on, so I popped into the sparsely-attended and smaller than I remembered “L” shaped pub back room to catch the last half of their set. 4 Days Out, for such they were, had a very Welsh sounding vocalist who was initially set up on the dancefloor, leading his band through a decent line in stripped-back impassioned verses and dual vocal attack, tumbling into more discordant choral noise – very emo-esque. After asking for a, “follow the leader conga,” as he re-took the stage, they played a final number, “Long Way Back”, which was a more straightforward indie rocker, almost recalling Ash in a driven, hooky “na na na” chorus. Not bad!
I then popped back to the bar, and enjoyed a chat with So So Glo brothers Ryan and Alex, manning the merch stand, before checking out Scarecrow Boat, next up in short order. A painfully young 2 girl, 2 boy combo, they announced, “we’re gonna play some songs about Star Wars!”, but actually plied an effervescent brand of youthful, spunky C86-influenced pop bounce, with tough, crunchy guitar power chord overlays and bratty choral hooks. A lot like recent finds Martha, I thought (a point I made to the vocalist afterwards, who seemed to take it as a compliment), and I enjoyed both the song about spaghetti, which was delivered in an impassioned vein by the blue-haired female guitarist, and their thrashy, yelping cover of Brand New’s “Seventy Times 7”, both numbers epitomising a set played with vim, vigour and enthusiasm. Smart and spritely if a little shambolic around the edges, but hey, that’s the essence of rock’n’roll, right kids?
A couple of bright support sets in the books, and So So Glos next up… this was shaping up to be a good night! A shame the clientele didn’t reflect my enthusiasm, as the venue was still sparsely attended as the Brooklyn boys set up, Alex eventually calling, “get those people from the back up here!” before kicking into their set at 9.20. Straight into wild, thrashy opener “Dancing Industry” and the more drum-dominated “Longview” sound-alike of “ADD Life”, the double whammy openers of the new record, and they were immediately “on it”, Alex wild eyed and kinetic, throwing Johnny Ramone poses with his low-slung bass and exhorting the crowd to, “come down the front, I promise you’ll have more fun!”, and his swarthy sibling Ryan all rock star leathers and bandana to his right. I was already down the front, giving it as many as my dodgy knees would allow, in prime position for the likes of the joyous Ramones-ish “Going Out Swingin’” and its’ multiple goodbyes, the powerpoppy “Diss Town” with its’ skyscraping hook and “whoa-oh” mid-song pause, and the galloping, almost “Charming Man” beat of “Lost Weekend”. Mature and darker newer material or no, The So So Glos tonight delivered a fast, frantic and superfun set of Black Flag meets Dickies US punk rock, manic and amphetamine fast, the raw ragged edges as ever enhancing the experience.
“We’re a dysfunctional band of brothers!” Alex announced, which summed it all up, before a slightly shambolic but still ace “Wrecking Ball”, then a breathless 50 minutes concluded by Alex remarking, “we’re on the Brexit from the USA tour! We see your Brexit and raise you a Trump!” before the joyous punk romp of “Son Of An American”, probably the set highlight and a fitting closer. More chat with the boys during “headliner” Faux’s reasonable if more formulaic indie rock set, and an (eventually!) fully signed set-list was the punctuation point to a great night. Drove home very buoyant – this was definitely the right shout!