Live Review & Photo Gallery: This Is Tmrw vs. PNKSLM ft. Distophia + Elephantine + Black Mekon + The Castillians @ Bull’s Head, Moseley – 18/12/2014

Hosting a Big Smoke/Second City throw-down between two leading labels in PNKSLM and This Is Tmrw, the intimate top room of the Bull’s Head gradually recruits four different bands-worth of fans.

The trio of Elephantine are first to the stage in something of a homecoming show as they return to their venue of origin.  “Erm, this is the practice, shit happened and we decided to do the set backwards…” offers frontwoman Anna Palmer. An admission which holds no weight, belying their convergence as a trinity of individually hyper-proficient musicians hawking a conflagration of gritty punk rock. Songs from their recent EP, Glimmer, see each of them in their oils, with tracks Glimmer and Chewing On The Bit building from picked guitar and subdued vocals before coalescing into all out sonic warfare. Whilst Tom Ford is playing every part of the guitar known to man, manipulating it into submission, Seb Maynard-Francis busies himself contusing the drum skins with terrifying ease and efficiency.  Add to the alloy Anna Palmer’s volatile, vocal volley and Elephantine are the perfect breach to the show.

It’s the turn of The Castillians next, another high octane trio with a hint of Best Coast about them.  Pop before it flopped, Matt Smyth begins plying his trade on what is without question The Virgin Mary in guitar form. With material from their latest EP Sunny Wycombe, I’m In Love offers a great crosssection of the band’s influential make-up; it’s like The White Stripes have spent the day surfing with The Beatles through the Manchester ‘77 Punk scene.  With amps at 11. On drums, Dan Finnemore urges the band on, burgeoning with impetus whilst providing doo wop, close harmony, surf rock style backing vocals that offer The Castillians their distinctive sound.

With the room full and the score tied, Distophia enter the fray.  “We’re all in our thirties now but this was a good band….about 19 years ago” jokes frontman Pete Dixon.  That they are back at all represents a real coup for the genre, their full LP Beat Dyslexia tragically never saw the light of day, yet remains a champion amongst indie rock records that never were. Having lost none of their pizzazz, they assail the crowd with favourites from Robert Redford to What The MILF.  Harmonies become shouts and are immediately taken up by the mob, with streaming guitar breaks backed by blood-and-thunder drumming from Tom Whitfield.  That their sound is still current after so many years only testifies to how progressive it was in the first place.

Distophia make way for Black Mekon who, for all intents and purposes, appear to be dressed as the by-blow love children of Santa Claus and Zorro.  The Mekon brothers and a slightly befuddled looking drummer who they claim they had “kidnapped from a local office Christmas party” purvey a special brand of suicide garage blues.  Intentionally abrasive, the duo drive hammer and tong into their set, piling coarse vocals atop caustic guitar riffs all undercut by a muddy blues refrain.  Bourbonese Girl and Black Mekon Must Die the archetypes of their sound stand in stark contrast to the almost tender Darling Christina. Careening through tracks from their album Stolen Bible 2, the kidnapped drummer is deserted on stage while the Mekon duo ‘mingle’ with the audience.  Black Mekon aren’t just a sound they are an entire notion, maintaining their mysterious back story whilst lambasting the audience. “I was stealing money from people just like you….then the money was gone and James Brown was dead.”

As the dust settles on the four-way-free-for-all, the only winners of this monstrous showcase of talent are those in the crowd who are still able to stand.

Words: Will Pace | Photos: Sam Wood


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here