Thorn In My Side

Back up to Manchester tomorrow to catch Quicksand, the post hardcore band with the impressive CV and a band I’ve been in awe of for more than two decades since I was first exposed to Omission on their self titled debut 7″ from 1990. Even though Quicksand and Broken Teeth albums would be found in the hardcore section at your local record shop, they won’t be anywhere as near as aggressive as last nights fare, but they’ll be just as intense none the less.

Ex members of bands live Gorilla Biscuits, Bold, Burn and Collapse will provide the soundtrack at my penultimate visit to the cities Sound Control venue (but more about its demise when I visit for the last time next month).

As far as I’m aware I have a 100% attendance for Quicksand Manchester shows as I believe this is only their third time here. My first encounter was in April 1995 immediately before The Offspring took to the stage at the Academy just down the road. I saw that tour twice and I was in Nottingham a couple of days beforehand. I was in two minds about going to their show in Nottingham tonight and I could say the same about that city too, but I’ve been a bit under the weather this afternoon.

My second Quicksand in Manchester show was a mere two months later when they played the now defunct Boardwalk with Stanford Prison Experiment in tow. That was the only time I visited that venue and I’m not quite sure where it was situated. I’m thinking it was in the Deansgate area near to Rebellion.

It would be a short nineteen years until I got to see them live again. I missed their Reading and Leeds Festival appearances in 2013 so it had to wait until Download the year after. I ventured down to London for their “warm up” show the night before at the Electric Ballroom, mainly because I knew I’d get a much longer set in London. They were on pretty early on the Friday at Download and I got into the tent they were playing only a few minutes before they took to the stage. I’m glad I didn’t miss them as I was only there for the day and there wasn’t much else on to keep me sated.

In the intervening three years their third album Interiors surfaced a few week ago after a 22 year wait. It hasn’t felt as instantly accessible as Slip or Manic Compression, but in the time I’ve had it, the album has received multiple plays and it’s growing on me now. I’m pretty sure I can find 40 minutes spare tomorrow to have another run through it.

Last month when Metallica played Manchester they performed a snippet of an Oasis track to placate the locals. I’m not a fan of The Smiths by any stretch of the imagination, but the band covered How Soon Is Now on their debut album and I have a sneaky feeling they’ll blow the cobwebs off it and give it an airing tomorrow. Then again I could be completely wrong.

For your aural and visual perusal today is the quirky Thorn In My Side from their sophomore release Manic Compression. A highly influential band in their time and a very underrated band at the same time (if that’s possible?). The biggest bulk of their back catalogue is very heavy in emotion so it’s good to see they can have a fun too. I’m also intrigued to see how the new songs sit live with the anthems that the undoubtedly mainly older contingent in the crowd are there to hear again.



I discovered a gig for Wednesday night that would’ve been perfect to go to. American band Touché Amoré are currently on a U.K. tour as I type. I’m not overly familiar with the Los Angeles band, but the support band is another story. 

Not to be confused with the Dortmund speed metal band, the melodic hardcore band Angel Du$t from Baltimore are in tow and I’m yet to see them live. I stumbled on their debut album A.D. a few years ago and got hooked on this hardcore supergroup. The band features members from Trapped Under Ice and Turnstile to list two. 

Within two years their sophomore release, Rock the F**k on Forever, saw the light of day. I’ve had a few plays of it through Spotify and really enjoyed it. Thirteen tracks, 21 minutes of aggressive and yet melodic hardcore in a very 90’s retro Revelation Records kind of vein. 

I pretty much discovered yesterday that they are playing in Birmingham on Wednesday evening. As they’re the support act I can jump on a train and not have to worry about getting home at stupid o’clock Thursday morning. I’d noticed they’ve previously played Manchester and Bristol – which both sold out before the event. 

When I finished work today I thought I’d check the venue’s ticket site and snag a ticket, but alas they’re unavailable, so I’m assuming it’s another sell out (or they’ve now been taken off sale and available on the door. Wishful thinking I fear). 

This is one of the many things that annoys me at times with social media and it’s seemingly random way of passing on information. I have a wide variety of artist in my iTunes library, so for me, following a Facebook page for every active band at this moment in time would be nigh on impossible to follow and keep up with. So on that basis I follow a lot of venues and promoters. I’d have to assume that the Birmingham venue has promoted it sufficiently, but with me not seeing it until the eve of the gig has to be down with social medias weird notification restrictions. Why it can’t be shown to each and every follower rather than a random selection is beyond my comprehension. 

Having said that though, I recently spent two days inside the same venue and saw nothing inside promoting the show, so maybe someone in their online PR team was lazy? 

Maybe tomorrow evening I’ll be seeing Headstone from that tricky second album live tomorrow, but I’m not holding my breath. I fear they’re going to be one of those bands that will elude me forever. They’ve not played too often on these shores, and the only other time I could have seen them live was in Leeds when they were on the Ghostfest ’15 line up, but they hit the stage too early in the day and I had to work before I headed north. 

On A Rope

Tomorrow I should have been heading up to Manchester to catch  San Diegans Rocket From The Crypt play for the first time since 1996. Twenty long years and now still waiting.

Unfortunately this weekends ATP (All Tomorrow’s Parties) festival was scrapped less than seven days beforehand. Officially it’s down to costs and a lack of advance ticket sales. Reading between the lines the promoter appears to be a bit on the unscrupulous side and it appears to be a regular thing with the guy.

I did have a ticket for their show at Manchester’s Gorilla venue a few years back, but with a combination of stupidly early wake up calls for work and feeling under the weather I didn’t go. In recent years their trips here haven’t been exactly prolific so not going was a huge regret.

This cancellation is becoming quite a trend here for UK festivals. Those that do go ahead suffer from real abject turn outs and lose so much money and never make it the following year (F.O.A.D., ‘Kin Hell Fest, Hevy and Ghostfest are a few recent examples).

Or they just appear to be competing for the same spare £150 that other major festivals are. There has been no Sonisphere Festival here since 2011, apparently due to them “not being able to deliver the quality headline acts that we deserve”. It has gone on religiously on mainland Europe every year, but not here.

Sometimes it feels like there is a two or three day festival somewhere in the country every weekend during the summer, but compared to some European festivals we do seem extremely over priced. As an example, Into The Grave festival in Leeuwarden,Holland, is a one stage two day event. Headlined by Slayer on Friday and Kreator on Saturday. For both days €55 (about £44) a ticket to see eight or nine quality bands on the Saturday it’s a measly €15! A day ticket for our biggest festivals here, Download and Reading, are £80+. I think Bloodstock for a day is around the £50 mark.

I think UK festivals need to concentrate on quality over quantity. Give me the days of the old Monsters of Rock events. One stage and eight or nine bands. You get to see every minute from every band if that’s what you want to do and no hikes between five stages to glimpse a few minutes of other bands. Oh, and keep the cost reasonable. Football fans have complained about excessive pricing structures lately and received a partial victory, but music fans appear to accept the ticketing prices and extortionate fees added on top.

And relax.

On A Rope is taken from the bands stunning Scream, Dracula, Scream! album from 1995. This song has been their highest UK singles chart entry to date, peaking at number 12. I can’t find a YouTube link to the proper, all singing and all dancing official video, so see how this Daily Motion link works.




My House

The original gig that I should have been attending last night was the PVRIS (pronounced Paris) gig in Birmingham as they brought their first headlining UK tour to an end. Most of the eight dates sold out instantly and many were upgraded to bigger venues which also sold out really quickly.

PVRIS are a guitar driven electro pop band from the state of Massachusetts that has been embraced or just pigeon holed into the pop punk or metal core shelf in the record store. I’d hazard a guess as that’s due to them being included on tours and festivals that are predominantly within those sub genres.

I’m not adverse to discovering and listening to new music, but generally for me it tends to come with a thrash metal tag or from friends recommendations, very rarely through magazines. A fair few music journos, who admittedly are much younger than I, kept banging on about this band called Paris on social media and at the time Team Rock Radio. A few tracks were played here and there. When the “new single” My House was aired  I really liked it as its so catchy. It might be an odd thing for me to like, but I see it as a watered down version of some of the more electronic industrial stuff I listen to.

Shortly after they were playing early on the main stage at the Slam Dunk Midlands festival in Wolverhampton, so I made the decision to head there early. The Civic Hall was absolutely rammed to full capacity for the second band on stage and the place went mental for half an hour.

I also got to see them early in the day at the Leeds festival last year as they were playing the Lock Up stage on Metallica day. Once again the tent was bursting at the seams.

I’m pretty gutted I didn’t see them last night, but when you’ve waited for nearly 30 years to see a band, and balancing it out, I think I’ll get more opportunities to see PVRIS again. I don’t think I’ll see them in venues as small as this tour again or for as little as £12. And they will definitely be higher up on the bigger festival stages as this band can be huge with time.

As I had the ticket to try and off load, which using Facebook was yet again unsuccessful, I signed up to the PVRIS CVLT page for some added exposure. The biggest majority of people who appeared to be attending their shows and generally being obsessive about the band are teenage girls. The whole online cult or fandom surrounding a band is something I’ve never needed to involve myself in and until the last few weeks seen this close up.

I’m sure it’s happened over the years with bands under the rock umbrella with the likes of My Chemical Romance, and for sure in the more mainstream pop world with Busted, McFly, Take That et al, but the PVRIS phenomenon looks like they’ve tapped into an often overlooked fan base, willing to spend a lot of money on records, tickets, merchandise at concerts and what some seem to see as the evil meet and greet. As someone from the “older” generation it’s good to see kids being brought into their own bands as it keeps the whole scene going and eventually they might delve back in time and discover the gems that I once did.

My House is from the debut full length album White Noise and will be the first song listed in their set list for years to come.


Obviously after Gorilla Biscuits the only place I can go now is to Walter’s next band the post hardcore Quicksand. My introduction into the band was buying the re-released CD single released by Polydor Records for Omission from the second hand bin on another college lunch time, music buying shopping trip.

The track first appeared on the self titled debut 7″ single released by Revelation Records within months of the Gorilla Biscuits’ demise and again it resurfaced on Quicksand’s inaugural major label debut Slip.

I think 1995 was their trip to the British Isles when they were special guests to The Offspring, I saw them twice on this tour, then they returned for some headline shows with Stanford Prison Experiment in tow a few moths afterwards and I paid £5 for a ticket to see them at the Boardwalk in Manchester.

It would be 19 years until I got to see them again. They did play the Reading and Leeds festivals in 2013, but there just wasn’t enough on the bill for me to justify parting with the best part of £100 for a day ticket. They were announced for the third stage at Download 2014 and the night prior to that they played a one off show in London, and that definitely wasn’t a fiver to get in! The day they played the festival also had a line up that interested me – The Offspring performing Smash in full, Within Temptation, Letlive,Tesla and Bad Religion.


I stuck the iPod on shuffle when I went to bed last night just to listen to a bit of music before I dozed off. First band up yesterday was Sleeper. No. Not the Louise Werner fronted Britpop band from the mid 90’s, but the John Lisa fronted mid 90’s melodic hardcore band from Staten Island, NY.

I’m not entirely sure where I first heard the band. I’m thinking I may have listened to their track on the Allied Records compilation Music For The Proletariat, then went and brought the Splinter 7″ also on Allied in 1993, a time when I was heavily into the melodic hardcore thing.

I also recall buying the previous self titled release via an auction ran through Armed With Anger Records from Bradford. It is a limited coloured vinyl and I have copy number two out of 500.

When I did my fanzines at the same time I did an interview through the mail with John Lisa. Way before I had a computer to type up the hand written replies it was all done on a type writer, then cut and pasted into place. Actually, it used to be fun, but ultimately very time consuming and the information would be very quickly outdated.

Those with sharp eyes might have noticed this is Splinter by a band called Serpico. I read an interview years ago that the UK band wanted to keep the name so John Lisa sold them the name and he continued the band under the Serpico banner.

Stem The Slide

My wife decorated a box with gig tickets for me to store my other gig tickets in for Christmas. A great idea (shame about a few of the tickets glued on the outside of the box though) and as per usual when I see a pile of these variously coloured pieces of rectangular paper I always seem to reminisce.

I started writing this at my parents house where we usual end up on Boxing Day – or on alternate years my sisters house. Yesterday I found the ticket below from twenty years ago!

As I’m the only driver in the family I end up driving people around. When my grandad came over on Boxing Day I’d be the one to pick him up and take him home so he could face a few whiskies whilst he was here.

For three or four consecutive Boxing Days I’d go to the Wheatsheaf in Stoke on my way home where a few local bands would play on the evening of the 26th. They were always well attended by a gaggle of friends and they always used to be a real laugh. Nothing too serious, just a bunch of people watching some often worse for wear bands play.

I often see gigs in inaccessible towns and cities advertised for tonight and often wish I could break the Christmas cycle and watch a band play. I realise how much I miss the Boxing night gigs.

Reverse, a “power pop punk” group, should have been bigger than they were which eventually should have lead to some success between 1990 and 1997. They nearly signed to Mushroom Records – one time home to Muse, Garbage and The Wildhearts – before the label was involved in a takeover by Rupert Murdoch.