My beloved hometown Grimsby, despite its impressive levels of knife crime and teenage pregnancy, doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it. Considering our greatest claims to fame include Ian Huntley and the battle scenes from Atonement, it’s safe to say that civilisation often seems to pass us by.
When I was a whippersnapper, the local music scene was positively crackling with excitement and innovation. Thanks to the Cleethorpes Winter Gardens (God rest her soul), local bands were given the chance to perform both at extensive showcases or alongside such established and dare I say it, legendary names as Hanoi Rocks, The Damned and even Marky Ramone. While the Winters met its untimely end at the hands of a wrecking ball, the Grimsby Matrix Club bubbled in the background. Hosting the odd gig here and there and seeing bands such as Bring Me The Horizon and Enter Shikari pass through its doors, the Matrix began to set itself up well. But as the gigs began to lessen in number, I got older and discovered city venues, leaving hometown music as far away as possible.
That was until a brightly coloured gig poster cropped up online and practically tore my eyes from my skull. A £5 all-dayer with great names, cheap booze and a BBQ? I was in.
First to the tiny stage (playing to an even tinier audience) were Ricochet (3/5), a new, local, 90’s-esque post-punk effort who were celebrating their first official gig. Despite their young ages and the unfamiliarity of a new band, they played incredibly well, with the young drummer drawing particular acclaim for his skill. Although they hardly pushed any boundaries, they showed themselves to be a solid group with the potential to create a very impressive sound should they stay together for the long haul. Next up were Hoof (3/5), a hard-to-place alt band combining the gang vocals of Sum 41 with the simplicity and upbeat pace and tone of bands such as The Headstart and NFG. Not fitting comfortably into the punk or hardcore camps, they were nonetheless a very fun support act who did well to bring up the tone and mood of the whole gig. East on Main (3/5) continued on the gang vocal theme, but used it to such a degree that it soon lost its appeal. While their set wasn’t particularly exciting or overly-memorable, their sound was something quite interesting. Imagine the bastard lovechild of Rise Against and Bullet for my Valentine was lightly washed in hardcore, and you’ve just about got it. If they stripped back their layers and rebuilt their sound, they could become something very interesting indeed. LITFO(2/5) and Darko (3/5) proved to have nailed the vocal problem that was prevalent in previous acts; great gang vocals used in bursts, but with enviable control throughout. Strong vocals and great riffs triumphed over the dodgy sound system and left themselves being the first memorable sets of the night. Despite this, there were two major flaws in LITFOs set. Firstly, the vocalist’s efforts at more guttural or screamy tones should really be confined to the practise room; the natural tone wasn’t there and drew away from his other abilities. Secondly, and this was what really tainted their set for me, their ill informed verbal attacks on more successful acts were frankly disgusting and infuriated me beyond belief. Jealously isn’t a pretty trait and malformed speeches with an ‘us against them’ attitude destroyed any lingering enjoyment of their sound. No Contest (2/5) were an odd band to place; with an atonal vocalist and no real direction to their sound, they were far from engaging. Despite this, I did find myself enjoying the basic instrumental parts of their songs. Each musician was certainly competent and sparks of innovation stopped me from wandering off back to the bar. Saying that, much more work is needed before their sound becomes something of real merit.
When Fair Do’s (4/5) came to the stage, my confidence in the evening was waning, but thank the punk lords, they brought a smile back to my face. Blasting out a solid, exciting and fun slab of post-hardcore inspired punk (like a heavier version of Set Your Goals but with less of an agenda), they earned both the attention and respect of the entire venue. With their usual vocalist stranded in some foreign land, guitarist Danny took over vocal duties and performed with such ease that a casual listener would be hard pressed to see why a separate vocalist was necessary. Almeida (4/5) followed suit with a gripping, if odd, set of prog-thrash with a smattering of synths for good measure. With their dynamism and innovation, they reminded me of a young Enter Shikari; a band made of pure energy, just waiting for a stage big enough to contain them. The Departed (3.5/5) brought the evening back down to a more familiar genre. Performing a very animated brand of melodic hardcore (similar to that of Comeback Kid) they showed themselves to be a powerful force that could really take off should they manage to get themselves a higher profile support tour with a TDON darling. Headliners and Lockjaw stalwarts The Fear (4.5/5) easily stole the evening with an incredibly engaging, impressive and professional set. Combining the power and raw passion of hardcore with a palpable upbeat energy, their very personal sound was so absorbing that I began hoping the night would be a few hours longer. Somewhere between and old Deaf Havana and MXPX, their moment of glory is no doubt just around the corner.