Mallory Knox – Cathouse, Glasgow, 23/4/13

Taken by Lisa Matthews

My preparation for this gig was less than adequate. I’d been up all night several nights beforehand frantically typing uni coursework and had completely forgotten that my cousin invited me to it, and had to drive 50 miles from Edinburgh to Glasgow running on energy juice to make it! But we made it in time, and commencing proceedings were Evarose (4/5), a four-piece all-female rock/pop outfit from Oxfordshire. Now I know the cliché with any band with a female member in it these days is to instantly compare them with Paramore, but these girls definitely have a similar vibe. Punchy, anthemic pop-punk is the score, and they don’t hold back at all on stage – at one point bassist Connie Raitt was so into it that she nearly clobbered singer Danikka Webber in the face. A special mention as well for the steely-eyed determination not to acknowledge the drunken heckle from a punter at the back of the room which had something to do with an ‘embarrassing boner’ – make of that what you will, but I wouldn’t mess with this quartet. BASS TO THE FACE OOOOOH – keep an eye oot.

Next up, Natives (3/5), whose set positively flew by. Four lads from Hampshire who clearly eat their porridge each morning dealt out a further foray into pop-punk but seemed to focus more on crowd participation – in a 35 minute set they only managed to fit in 4 songs, though this may have been somewhat due to the dance-off which broke out halfway through where anyone with moves slick enough to impress lead singer Jim Thomas cab win a photograph of the crowd doing the band’s apparent signature symbol ‘The Point’. A decent set but nothing terribly exciting.

Natives certainly got the crowd whipped into a frenzy for Mallory Knox (4/5) whose gig this is after all. Currently promoting full-length release Signals and buzzing from being announced as one of the main stage acts for Reading and Leeds this year, the quintet makes the tiny Cathouse stage seem more crowded than the room they’re playing to. This audience is as captivated by the bands newer, more radio-oriented tunes as by their older stuff; the room positively erupts at the mere mention of mellow ballad ‘1949’ from Signals, proving this is a group who can do heavy, moshable pop-punk alongside less pacey works, all the while pushing their audience’s buttons. A cracking display, and many happy returns to guitarist Joe Savins who celebrated his birthday onstage!

Crash Doubt Festival – The Showroom Lincoln, 3/6/12 [pt 2]

The Sunday started off wet and miserable. On our drive into Lincoln, Kitteh and I stared gloomily out of the windows at the grey skies and thanked the hardcore gods that the venue was indoors. When we were inside, they tried to foist off some Powerade onto us instead of Red Bull. Kitteh was perturbed, I was ecstatic. Full of sugar and a new found zeal, we stumbled upon Towering Heights (3.5/5), a pleasant surprise for the first band of the day. Instead of the screamo-esque sort of thing we were expecting, we were hit by some “Faith No More times Guns And Roses taking a segway via Neil Young and being pretty good” rock and roll. A soulful start to our Sunday, Towering Heights had some great musical talent on show. The bass in particular was magnificent and the vocalist had some powerful lungs on him. It was an odd fit, but one we were very happy with. With a bit more confidence, Towering Heights will be incredible. They Say Fall (2/5) were another story – kiddie hardcore but without the typical screaming vocals. While the band played some highly recognisable but relatively tight melodies, the vocalist wailed over the top like a banshee who’d been impaled with a flaming spear and had just been told their cat had died. Best to be avoided unless they get a new vocalist.

Never Cry Wolf (2.5/5) were yet another of the bro style hardcore bands we stumbled in on (and usually promptly walked away from) throughout the weekend. They played fine but unenthusiastically and failed to grab us, there being nothing particularly individual about their style at all. Brotherhood of the Lake (3.5/5) were a great improvement on this, assaulting our eardrums with their furious yet doomy hardcore. Peppering their set with movie quotes started off cool but got a little bit stale as it happened before every song without any real concept behind it, but ignoring that, they were solid, if requiring a little more movement (personally, we were just a bit upset that the hammered guy from the day before wasn’t pulling some moves in front of them).

Upstairs, Astpai (3.5/5) played some great gruff punk. Bouncy and heartfelt, it was the stuff of Tony Hawk games. While we only caught half a set, they made for a fine interval in between bands on the Big Cheese stage. Then downstairs, Mallory Knox (4.5/5 from Ripper, but a resounding 5/5 from Kitteh) blew us away. A fantastic deviation from the identikit hardcore, Mallory Knox are heartfelt, honest and catchy as hell. Their fine-tuned melodies flooded the venue and were received by an enthusiastic and highly grateful crowd. Woody from POLAR also made a far less threatening appearance, which was nice.

Above Them (5/5) are never, ever anything short of amazing. On Sunday, on the Punktastic stage, it was simply a joy to watch them perform. Above Them have brought out my favourite record so far this year (and if you haven’t got Are We A Danger To Ourselves, go and get it now from Specialist Subject Records, one of the best decisions you’ll ever make) and while only a few songs from that made it into their set, their positively electric performance showed them at the best I’ve ever seen them at. Melodic punk rock at its absolute best.

Departures (3.5/5) were pretty good fun. Good melodic hardcore. A clear Parkway Drive influence coming through, and I’m sure if they were on a bigger stage, they’d be a bit more lively but were a bit too timid to step off and parade in the pit like a few of the other bands. Nevertheless, I’ve heard their album is great and based on their performance, I’ll be bound to check it out. TRC (4.5/5) were possibly our biggest surprise of the weekend. Absolutely crushing hardcore with a rap element to it. Incredible breakdowns too. Kitteh and I were left scratching our heads, holding extremely hot cups of tea, thinking “how have we not heard of these guys before?” Now we have, and we’re happy that TRC are in our lives.

Our final band of the weekend was Random Hand (5/5). Random Hand are brilliant wherever they are. But on the Punktastic stage this weekend, in their own words, they KILLED IT. The best performance of the weekend, Random Hand made us all dance, skank and lose our minds at their simply sublime ska-punk. Ever the masters of banter (“I once tried to reach the French town of Evian on a novelty pedalo but didn’t get there cause I only had an hour and had to take it back”), there were dual circlepits, police sirens, general mayhem and I thought the floor was going to collapse. The lads were on top form. And with that, Kitteh and I decided to be not-so-punk, go home, get a cup of tea and a cheese and tomato pizza and watch The Cowboy Way in our pyjamas because we were absolutely knackered and The Skints are supporting Less Than Jake later this month anyway. But there wasn’t a better way we could have ended the weekend, and we couldn’t have celebrated the end of our degree anywhere better than Crash Doubt.