Garlic pills and codrals kept my cold from turning into the flu it was trying all week to become, so I could go catch the fun at the Empress on Friday.
Friday 13th made it a mini-Halloween for the night, with an appropriately themed night. The Empress didn’t need much of a makeover, with the usual red velvet and candleabra giving it a gothic feel to begin with. Various bits of cobweb, and a huge spider web (complete with spider) stretched across the back of the stage was enough to set the mood. Early on very few seemed to have dressed up for the occasion, but as the place filled up more zombies, devils and ghouls began to appear in the crowd.
The first band was the Homewreckers, an all-grrl punk/hard rock band vaguely in the vain of the Velvet Hammer or the Mystaken. Only the singer-guitarist seemed to have dressed up in the horror theme, with a dead sexy Bride of Dracula look, complete with a trail of blood from the jugular. The music was pretty straight ahead rock, tightly played with snarled vocals reminiscent of the Lunachicks or perhaps a female Lemmy (same thing, really). They did a version of the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” which fitted pretty well with the rest of the set, if that gives you an idea.
Next were folk-punks Mutiny, who came out dressed in army uniforms with zombie makeup (in Mr Thicky mode, Elaine had to point out to me that they were dead soldiers). They later said that’s something we’d better get used to seeing more of. The music was an odd cross between hardcore punk and a bush band, which worked surprisingly well (imagine a cross between Conflict, the Pogues, the Dropkick Murphys and the Bushwhackers). In a voice somewhere between Joe Strummer and Shane McGowan, the singer ranted about the depression and gold rushes and war, while the band rollicked along like an Irish pub brawl. I’m pretty sure the line “heave away, haul away” got a look-in somewhere, but if I imagined it it wasn’t that much of a stretch.
No Idea were who I most wanted to see, though they came on saying they didn’t know how they were going to follow the performance of the first two bands. The singer had a real Misfits thing going with his look, in a skeleton body suit and skull face paint, while the guitarist appeared as a Grim-Reaperised version of their unsmiley-face No Idea logo. After a bit of banter and heckling of the crowd and each other, they kicked into a fairly raucous set, which was lacking a bit in the tightness department and also in the more melodic, Rancidesque songs (the ‘gay’ songs as they called them) that i find more catchy than the hardcore Oi stuff. The tightness seemed to pick up a bit when they got up to that Zit Remedy song (some interesting bits about Spike being “up the duff” in there) but then they stopped for ten minutes while prizes were given out to people who dressed up. It was all good fun but, much as I enjoy the heckling and banter between songs, I did end up wondering how many more songs they could have fitted in if they hadn’t spent more time slagging each other off and making jokes about the singer’s name (Dik) than actually playing (having finally gotten a No Idea CD and knowing what songs I wanted to hear didn’t help). But that’s punk rock for ya.
I was still a bit sick (and hence only drinking light beers at a punk gig – the shame!) and a six minute walk home was more tempting than a double taxi fare to and from any of the night’s clubs, so we called it a night.
Not a bad start to the weekend.