@G_Morph GOES PUNK @thenestbath

People often ask me why I chose Bath. In an ocean of galaxies, containing an ocean of stars, containing countless habitable (and not so habitable) worlds, I Galmorphagorph chose a small town in the west of England in which to avoid those who seek to imprison or destroy me. The reason is simple. Earth is unfathomably dull.

In the trans-galactic community Earth is a lonely waterlogged ball of mewling infantile civilisations, so bewildered and in awe of the shape and function of the universe that most seek to avoid thinking about it altogether. Extra-Planetary beings such as myself visit this place much in the same way you’d visit the Lake District or hike up one of your several unremarkable mountains. It’s just a thing to do on the weekend and for the most part you’re just ruining the scenery with your loudly coloured wind-breakers. Bath reflects that dullness in its beige architecture and its unique absence of any kind of meaningful struggle. If you seek a space criminal, you wouldn’t start by checking the information centre at the base of this galaxies ‘Ben Nevis’. Though… if they ever do, Humanity is of course doomed.

It was therefore a surprise when, perched as I often am in a tree, I was slapped in the face by a flyer for a ‘Punk night’ caught in the gusts of Hurricane Doris. The small square of paper greeted me with four middle-aged men grinning goofily and with a subtle mischief that suggests they’d just urinated in my drink and were waiting to see if I’d noticed. ‘CULTURE SHOCK with special guests Best of British Suicide, Skinners and Atterkop. I am at best only glancingly familiar with the concepts, music, culture and history of Punk, so what better way to inform myself then to dive into the belly of this particular Uuthyan Fangbeast and destroy it from within? That Friday night, I made for The Nest.

The Nest remains unchanged from my last visit, save for the puddle on the floor which has since been downgraded from ‘Gushing torrent’ to ‘Minor Spillage’, though charmingly it still remains. Having observed a laughable attempt at science fiction through a strangers window, I was inspired to disguise myself as a human by wearing ones skin. It didn’t take me long to find an Estate Agent. Wearing his skin took some trial and error, and while I may not have looked particularly appealing, I was passable. The Nest is dark, and I quickly discovered that at Punk events, a healthy complexion is, if anything, a sign of weakness. Tattoos, dreadlocks and faces seemingly hewn from the living rock were rife. I wonder that I may not have even needed the skin suit after all.

The man on the door requested 10 English pounds for entry. I whispered to him one of the ‘9 Cosmic Truths’, and in his incapacitated, frothing moment of supreme comprehension I slipped in without paying.

The first band on were SKINNERS, who the flyer described as ‘Spazzed-out hardcore punk from Bath’. All of those self-descriptors were appropriate, but the one’s I’d use would be altogether more accurate. A frizzy haired drummer thundered away behind his drum kit, the guitarist and bassist seemed like children nervously looking at their parents during a school play. The singer, shirtless and lithesome screamed inaudibly through their songs which lasted about as long as it took to introduce them.

‘Right, this song is about going to London, sleeping on people’s couches and getting scabies’

‘This song is called Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck’

This demented and near orgiastic display of cacophonous noise and offensive language was so blatant in its intention that I almost had to respect it, until I realised it was going to be quite a while before they stopped. This was truly a singer at war with his audience, and a backline at war with themselves.

Following that was BEST OF BRITISH SUICIDE, a band name inviting you to roll your eyes so hard that it gives you a headache. The Drummer, while impressive, showed disproportionate commitment to the music being performed, however his deft drumming and relentless work ethic left me impressed. The bassist looked to the singer for guidance, and the guitarist/singer proceeded to bathe the room in tuneless passive aggression for 30 straight minutes. Like a Payroll Accountant and Jarvis Cocker got fused together in a teleportation accident, the songs were listless and decidedly lacking in bite. If the first band were all about assaulting your senses, this band were all about sighing loudly until your senses move out of their way in the staff kitchen.

The main support was Atterkop, a deft and extremely well rehearsed ska-punk band: the musicians were tight, the singer was energetic, the whole thing was completely unmemorable. If punk is so known for its messy, raw passionate expression, seeing a band play with such mathematical precision seems to rob the music of that which defines it. Sometimes music can be too perfect, and no better example is there than Punk that greatness can be found in imperfection.

Finally, the headlining act, CULTURE SHOCK! The four middle-aged grinning flyer-men took the stage and began to play. They, I understand, are legends in the scene, forged in the fires of an era ruled by a cold and merciless, inexplicably elected sub-queen who’s profound effect on the economy and society are still felt today; an era that you seem to be willingly repeating out of some sort of perverse masochistic nostalgia to a time when there was something fun to culturally kick against. Seeing these weathered, gnarled men giving it their all stoked my appetite. Truly this is a Band who’s mere physical countenance makes you yearn for cured meat.

What they also sated was my hunger for knowledge, and in watching these four pieces of pale screaming chorizo howl jubilantly through their 80s punk oeuvre and routinely rebuke the audience for their addiction to ‘The Media’, I found myself stirred. I looked at the young men and women hurling themselves around and on top of the audience, the old Punk stalwarts in grimaced and focused meditation as they swung their heads and felt for the first time my wanting to join them. They awoke in me my sense of righteous anger, at the Galactic Parliament who’s lies are poisoning the minds of the outer systems. Of the sycophantic Th’uls and their pathetic appeasement of the Star-Eater. Many may disagree with the actions I took that led to my exile, but for once I realised that in some form, each band was speaking my language (though not literally, for humans lack the trifurcated tongue), the language of rage. Also the music was pretty good.

I walked the streets that night for a while, gazing upon the homogenous limestone that comprises most of Bath’s structure, bathed in sodium street light under a starless sky. This time, however, the City had a different and more vibrant hue. Earth may seem a dull little marble in an infinite cosmos, but its lowly inhabitants can paint their music with a colour that even I, until tonight, had yet to see: the colour of rebellion. It’s bold, its messy, and it’s always in their palette so long as they never forget to use it, and I believe there’s never been a better time to begin wetting their brushes. I, Galmorphagorph, shall enjoy watching that.

Written by @G_Morph

Reviewed on 24 February 2017

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Matt Woosey performing at The Nest, Bath, December 2016

As Matt Woosey and his band assembled on stage at The Nest, I pondered on what I was about to hear. Considering how talented he is solo, I was bemused as to what need he had for a drummer, bass player, a lead guitarist and another fellow on piano and sporting an extra lead guitar?

Matt Woosey’s prolific gigging has garnered him many exquisite musical partnerships, resulting in different line-ups each time he’s visited Bath, but I’d never seen him perform with a full band. I expect it to be good, but how good?

The old crowd favorite Cruel Disposition was the first track out the gates and immediately it became clear what these extra musicians were bringing. I hadn’t thought Matt’s music could get any better than I’d heard in the past, but I was glad to be surprised. In fact, I was more than surprised, I was gobsmacked.

Matt Woosey singing British Blues, The Nest, Bath, 2016

Matt now lives in Germany and he’d brought three German friends on tour and roped in Dave Small, an old drumming friend. Even with the heavy compliment of Continental songsters, this was far from any EuroVision song entry.

Over the proceeding hour Matt’s ensemble disgorged a set which mesmerized the crowd. Yes, there was a fuller sound provided by the band, but there was more than that. The two additional guitarists nearly stole the show with their dueling and the piano, bass and drums really enriched Matt’s British Blues sound.

Many of the songs are written from the heart, stemming from Matt’s personal experiences and this emotive material was borne out in sometimes gritty, sometimes smooth songs which changed in tempo and mood, drawing the audience in and then exploding out. Matt’s slightly rusted vocals were still there, but this time backed by Dave who showed that his talents extend further than just percussive deftness.

Matt Woosey guitarPossibly the greatest sign of how hard Matt works is shown by his guitar, not necessarily his great playing, but by the actual worn area around the sound hole. This is clearly a man who will play till his dying day.

You might’ve been put off by The Nest‘s £8 entry fee for this gig, which when compared to other cheaper events would appear steep, but this was definitely a case of getting what you paid for and then some.

We have Max Webster, promoter for RMT Music Promotions to thank for this superb gig and yes, if you weren’t there you have indeed missed a truly spellbinding performance, but do not despair, because Matt returns to the UK in March 2017. Till then you will have to make do with listening to his music online. Black Smoke Rising definitely made one of the best encore numbers I’ve seen in a long time and probably left more than a few audience members feeling they’d experienced something exceptional.

Hopefully, with the right people taking notice, coupled with his unyielding dedication, Matt will go on to be one of the true greats of British music. People in years to come will say things like “Remember when we saw him play at The Nest?”.

Support for Matt Woosey was provided on the night by Luke De-Sciscio.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 15th December 2016

Photos courtesy of Jamie Worsfold

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@TheButtcheeks at @TheNestBath

Satan's Buttcheeks back stage at The Nest, Bath

Like Christmas, Satan’s Buttcheeks appear but once a year and like moths drawn to a UV painted glowing appendage the crowd assembled at The Nest, to “Get weird” as the lyrics of the opening song go, with a band who jokingly, but some would argue deservingly, call themselves “Bath’s ‘Greatest ever band'”.

This was a one off gig at The Nest, not part of their usual weekly schedule and full credit to them for booking a band who rehearse once a year, seldom have the same line up, stick their lyrics to the lighting rig, come with NO support acts and have a rider of chicken breasts, whiskey and tabasco sauce. It was a gamble on their part and one that paid off, because there is no better way to describe this band other than, awesome!

Ross "The Boss" Brown drummer for Satan's Buttcheeks
Ross “The Boss” Brown

If you’re expecting poetry exploring the nature of being then you’re going to be disappointed. “Breath in, breath out, eyes front, balls out!” that’s the level we’re at. However, when compared to James Arthur’s cryptic love yodeling, “I held your hair back when you were throwing up” Satan’s Buttcheeks can be considered veritable laureates.

It was clear what type of gigs this was going to be as audience members started to cheer while the band, though obscured by a curtain, took to the stage. “Buttcheeks!”, “Whoop, whoop!” “You suck!” were the calls; showing there was to be a definite degree of in-joking and audience participation.

Whether on purpose or accident the farce began immediately as “Balls Out” started, then crumbled as various members of the band came in at different points, then stopped; and then started again, paused; and then carried on as if nothing had happened. Whether this was accidental, due to the aforementioned one day of rehearsal or intentional to add to what is a chaotic mass of day-glow shenanigans the crowd loved it.

However ludicrous they may seem their music is astonishingly good with ear-bending guitar solos, complex song structures and dynamic and progressive melodies which build up to earth-shattering crescendos, with added penny whistle. Whatever weird voodoo they’re transmitting, it seems to be working as the audience threw themselves about in euphoric adulation.

Oli Fenton, Ross Brown and Dan Gildersleeve from Satan's Buttcheeks
Oli Fenton, Ross Brown and Dan Gildersleeve

At one point, the band attempted a vocal harmony… The least said about that the better.

With names like “Satan is my osteopath”, “I am ham”, “Rot in Pieces” and “Rambo McMango chutney” their songs could be likened to pre-pubescent school yard limericks, however they clearly weren’t written to be analyzed by literary scholars, so who cares?

But that’s enough generalization, lets get personal.

The lead vocalist, Alex Good, while not demonstrating a fantastic range is a great front man and will happily play the ring leader when it comes to peer-pressuring audience members into performing acts of a questionable hygienic nature. (I’m just going to leave that for you to wonder about)

Satan's Buttcheeks audience members
Some of the audience

Next up, the lead guitarist, Oli Fenton, whose guitar work is extraordinary. Many of Bath’s music adoring public will have seen him performing his magic in other outfits, such as: Thousand Monkeys and The Guitarlai Lamas, but none of those acts compare to the ferociousness of his finger-play when soloing during the song “Put it in your mouth”. Don’t believe me? Listen to it here from 1:25 – 1:45. It could very well make you appreciate having ears more than you ever thought possible.

Oli’s grandstanding is only made possible by the solid lump of muscular rhythm that is Dan Gildersleeve who is as staunch in appearance as he is in his underpinning of the songs. Though it has been said he can benchpress anyone and for years the band have been threatening to have him do it on stage, yet again the audience were not to witness the feat.

Since the departure of Ben Butcher, one of the founding members of the band, who went to Sydney to scare patients of ERs by greeting them with the line “Hello, I’m Dr Butcher”, there have been a number of bassists who have donned the war paint and stepped in to the UV light of a Buttcheeks gig. All credit to Dan Spink, who learned a full set with only one rehearsal.

Finally, Ross “The Boss” Brown, who though difficult to see, thundered away at the drums from the dark at the rear of the stage, supplying the explosive percussion that topped off what cannot be denied as being the most interesting, exciting and fun gig of the year.

It’s a pity they only come once a year, but maybe that’s what makes it so special and also how they always manage to pack out whichever venue they perform in. They named the gig ‘The curtain call’, hinting that after a decade and nearly 13 gigs, they might be calling an end to the band, but we certainly hope not as nowhere near enough people have experienced the beauty and glory of Satan’s Buttcheeks.

Written by @LordSkitch 

Reviewed on 3rd December 2016

Find more photos on the @BathGigs Facebook page

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@G_Morph goes to @thenestbath

Broken Bones Matilda performing at The Nest, Bath

The Night Club. A club at night. A nighttime club. Its a concept that I, Galmorphagorph, have grappled with of late, and one that I’ve only recently begun to understand. While perching on a shallow wall to feed on a wild local city-bird, I noticed a small group of scantily dressed young women blithely stumbling into the open road. They loudly called to their friends behind them ‘We’re going to Po’s!’. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that they were NOT in fact making a startlingly frank and public statement of intent to participate in communal defecation. They were, however, referring to one of a few ‘Night Clubs’ that occupy various cavernous cellars around Bath. They are cold and sparsely decorated, their sins hid by mood-lighting and ear-splitting music. During Halloween I was able to visit a few of these places, passing undetected and trying my best not to kill anyone. Halloween makes me paranoid. Too many Humans are dressed too similarly to my various galactic enemies. Night Clubs appear to be places that young people go to to quite literally loose their minds. They enter these dark and smelly rooms and ply themselves with elixir that drives them insane. As their numbers increase, they coalesce into a pile of writhing sweaty flesh as near as possible to the thundering speakers. They trade saliva and fight and flail and scream half-formed thoughts at the top of their lungs. Some older men stand at the periphery of the shifting meat-pile, staring hawkishly and hornily as the nubile perform their demented sex-rituals. They do this every night. These places are full to capacity every night. Humanity is, of course, Doomed.

I was drawn however to one of Bath’s less obtrusively evil venues, The Nest. Nestled, as it is, at the end of a shallow crescent of picturesque Georgian townhouses, its graffiti’d walls and well engineered sloppiness gives it a certain ineffable quality. I’m told this is what ‘Cool’ is; like getting a tattoo of an old cartoon character, or being terse and passive aggressive towards people for no reason. I can certainly relate to the latter. The musical docket featured a series of Female-Led bands. An attempt to address, perhaps, a gender disparity in what i’ve observed in most facets of human existence. Given that we are all merely children of astronomical cosmic luck, the notion that gender equality isn’t already an iron-clad clause in humanity’s social contract frankly eludes me. There is clearly much growing up to be done, let’s hope Earth isn’t destroyed before you do.

I arrived early so my cloaking device could easily blend me into the corner, emitting a glandular steam that temporarily confuses the human senses in order to pass by the lady at the door. I, Galmorphagorph, do not pay entry fees. I couldn’t help but notice upon my arrival, that a bucket was sitting in the middle of the floor collecting a steady stream of leaking water from the ceiling. A plastic catchment pouch had been constructed to funnel the water into a singular nexus from which it could drop to the bucket. This was a strong start to the evening.

The first band was Broken Bones Matilda, a haunting moniker for an equally haunting band. Led by a green haired, smokey voiced singer and flanked by a set of leather jacket wearing male models, they played a series of sleepy ballads steeped in rural americana. The songs were pleasant, the harmonies tight, the faces extremely attractive, but in context the whole thing felt bewilderingly dark, like a Gothy Steam-punk Willie Nelson. In my last review I bemoaned the west country middle-class obsession with the music of the disenfranchised working American, but I don’t mind it so much when it looks like a Levi’s Ad directed by Tim Burton.

Following that was ‘The Waterbirds’, a high energy indie-punk band led with powerful vocals and some deft drum work, despite some sadly unmemorable song-craft. The guitarist wore a white reindeer snood as he played. I caught my finger subconsciously tracing the handle of my phaser pistol. Like a pound-shop Johnny Greenwood he thrashed around violently and forced my brain to concoct a sentence I hoped I never would… ‘Good lord, he rocked so hard his Snood fell off’. Intermittently he would turn his back to the audience and do a hip shake, wagging his skinny-Jeaned arse two and fro to the music. I was ready to de-atomise this poor fellow. He was saved however when an inexplicable cloud of smoke guffed into the room through a hole in the nearby wall. The smoke gathered around me, giving shape to me. To the casual onlooker, they would see the glassy outline of a muscular alien wizard. I was forced to stay still until it passed.

At some point the Manager wearily walked up and took away the bucket that was catching the water, presumably to drain and replace. He never returned. Water from the ceiling proceeded to cascade into a larger and larger pool across the floor of the nightclub. I’m sure that that’s apt visual metaphor for something, but I haven’t decided what it is yet.

The 3rd act on was Marine: An all-female four piece from London who, frankly, should have been headlining. Their sound was mellifluous and aquatic and appropriate to the name. Bolted to the floor by a solid rhythm section, the two guitarists/singers were able to float euphoniously without the whole thing falling apart. It seemed however that the vocalists, while both excellent, were slightly mismatched. One, a more gentle singer with a choral purity and restless vibrato, the other decidedly more operatic. It felt at times like it should be one or t’other, as when put together it never seemed to gel. The other set back was the relentlessly chatty audience, who clearly energised by the furious Snoodgazm that preceded Marine, couldn’t seem to stop loudly nattering to each other while they played. No fault of the band, and perhaps no fault of the audience; to go from low energy, to high energy and back down did Marine no favours with an audience ravenous for more snood-whipping ass-shaking.

The pool of water grew on the floor.

The last band on was ‘Rachel Jane’. Rachel, presumably the singer, flanked by a guitarist and bassist. They played low key percussion-free Indie-pop, heavily peppered with Christian sentiment. It was largely forgettable, musically. She sang very well, they were all dressed very stylishly, the whole thing was very de rigueur if your singular focus is getting a record deal. I suppose theres something admirable about the naked ambition, the perfectly constructed sterile pop format that must be adhered to if you wish to make this business your bread and butter. Humanity is the only species I’ve come across in all my travels across galaxies, across dimensions, across millennia, that expressed themselves through music. Perhaps that is why I come to these things. I come to see how people express themselves. For some its a compelling, messy and unpredictable necessity to communicate in a language that is entirely emotional. To connect, to scream out the thoughts in their heads for which words alone will not suffice. For other’s its a discipline, a format, a structure to be adhered to, a Ladder to be climbed, a dollar to be made. I see merit in both, but I know which I prefer. The market seems to disagree. And with another nervous fart from the nightclub wall, I swiftly made my exit.

As I left, I looked sadly at the water pool gradually spreading and now dribbling down the steps to the main dancing floor, I, Galmorphagorph, continued to struggle to find relevant meaning to this profound visual metaphor. Perhaps in a time of global social and political uncertainty, the free-flowing progress of western society that held shape for so long now seems to be dribbling messily and hopelessly all over the floor. Could I conquer your planet and rule you as a benevolent emperor? Maybe. In fact, definitely. But frankly, I’d rather the manager just brought the bucket back.

Written by Galmorphagorph, Photo by Jasmine De Silva

19 November 2016

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The Bohemian Embassy at @thenestbath

The Bohemian Embassy performing at The Nest, Bath

We last reviewed The Bohemian Embassy at Party in the City earlier in 2016. “I’ve seen them do better” was the general notion of our review. So this was a second opinion to see if anything had changed over the last six months.

The £5 entry fee must be an attempt to get together enough money to fix the hole in The Nest‘s ceiling, which was forming a puddle on the floor.

But away from matters of roofing and on to matters of music. As the room filled, many old faces appeared; long-term members of the so-called Boho Tribe. Little has changed with the line up from The Bohemian Embassy of old. Will Jefferies has taken over from David Carlyon on lead guitar and though there have been some other additions along the way, the core of Louis Lanfear on drums, Luke Craddock on bass guitar and Ben Angel on vocals has remained the same.

Ben Angel’s ebullient enthusiasm has been a staple of the band since the early days and this was present at the start of the gig as he jumped about, at one point nearly banged his head on the lighting rig. The sound engineering was better than it was the last time we saw them, the crowd immediately started bouncing about and for a moment I thought this was going to be a triumphant return to Bohos of yesteryear.

It wasn’t. I wanted to write a post which poured adulation on them, but it wouldn’t be truthful. They get 11/10 for perseverance. Ben Angel once told me he would do anything to become famous and in Bath, they have managed to build a following, but I don’t know what it’s based on anymore.

There’s not much to shout about once you’ve become immune to Ben’s enticing, raw energy and listen to what’s being produced, as the songs aren’t hugely engaging.

Louis Lanfear is the embodiment of Animal from The Muppets and drumming-wise he can do no wrong as he throws himself at the kit like it’s his last ever gig. Luke Craddock punches out some nice bass rhythms, but they could do with some embellishment. Will Jefferies is lost in the mix. I have to admit to preferring Will’s efforts in Largo Embargo where he stood out and his guitar work was sublime.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of cohesion in the band. Bohos of old were a tight unit who played well off each other, but now they look more like Ben Angel’s backing band as he presents a tribe of one.

There was a change in tempo during the set, with some electronic synth being added into the mix, sparking my interest, but not much came of it. Other sections where I expected innovative musical experimentation turned into waffling sound with little direction.

Contrary to what people may believe, I take no joy in writing this as I’ve shared some great times with members of the band, but if we take it straight back to a fundamental economic transaction, I felt £5 was a ripoff.

Yes, it was better than the last time I saw them, but what they’re currently producing doesn’t in any way stand up to what they were creating during the time of “Built for the Future“, which sits well on my Spotify playlist. I’m going to listen to that and remember the good old days.

Written by @LordSkitch

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