When I was growing up and trying to get my head around music, I had my twin brother to bounce ideas off. I used to mock him about bands he liked, but in retrospect I had little right to as he was listening to Green Day whilst I was listening to Aerosmith (we had a deal where we didn’t allow each other to put those albums on when we were in the same room). I never did manage to get in to Green Day, but he did get me into other punk bands like the Offspring and was always the first to play me new punk stuff.
Last night I headed off to see Face to Face in Bristol, who’ve over the years developed into my favourite punk band. The night kicked off with Louise Distras playing some acoustic punk, and she was very good. A very lazy comparison sound wise would be Brody Dalle playing solo, but the lyrics focus on more leftwing topics than the Distillers have focussed on, with songs looking at workers rights and class, and her last song looked at our patriarchal society as she sang “what we look like means more to you / than what we say and what we do”. It was quite cool to see a lot of ladies smash up the mosh-pit for later bands too – when I first went to see a gig the mosh pit was the most macho place imaginable (and still is to a degree), so it’s always good to see gigs and pits get a bit more diverse.
Criminal Mind played some punk, and some ska-punk songs sandwiched in the middle. They had some classic sounds with vocalists shouting “oi, oi, oi”, and fair play to them they were very tight. They continued the left wing theme at times, as they sang a song about the riots.
I’ve seen Streetdogs live a few times at Reading Festival, but I’ve never seen them in a smaller venue, which definitely suited them. Mike McColgan’s latest band sound quite different to the Dropkick Murphy’s, but there was still a touch of Irish Folk in Not Without a Purpose, Not Without a Fight and Toby’s Got a Drinking Programme, which included a harmonica intro and a quarter time middle 8. The crowd was definitely getting amped at this point. Again their left wing politics meant they fitted in well to the line-up.
Hook Line Riot were an interesting proposition, with their driven vocals and a drummer who refused to play standard punk beats. Despite having an organ, they weren’t really ska-punk, but ska influenced punk, and they delivered a pumping set. Just a shame for them that they were on between Streetdogs and Face to Face, as a lot of people were unwilling to make their way to the basement for their set.
Face to Face headlined, and in my mind are one of the tightest punk band there is. Their rhythm section is insane. Your don’t see bass solos at punk gigs very often, but Scott Shifflett is one of the best bassists I’ve seen, in punk or otherwise. Both guitarists kept their melodies tight too. Their classics are made for singalongs, with the crowd well keen to pitch-in on songs such as I’m Not Ok.
If you want to check a punk band out live, you could definitely do worse than Face to Face.