REVIEW gig Knuckle Puck Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff 31.03.16

It's Knuckle Puck Time!

Similar in ways to Alexandre Dumas famous historical novel, the three bands ready to play Clwb Ifor Bach seemed to have formed a close-neck brotherhood, playing alongside one another multiple times in the past. Almost as inseparable as the three men known as Aramis, Porthos and Athos, the three set of musicians have become close friends in the process.

Climbing the steps up to the third floor of the venue, the first thing noticed were the merchandise flags adorning the open brick walls along with a wide collection of shirts, albums and colourful vinyl editions ready to be offered out to the incoming collectors. The second would have to have been the luscious crimson drum kit setting camp on stage with its transparent body reflecting spots of rig lighting, ready to lead into the commencement of cranked amplifiers and punk attire.

After a small delay, Boston Manor climbed up on to the platform to quickly set up before delivering their bouncy introduction to the pop-punk filled evening. The singer quickly admitted in his opening announcement that “I have a bad throat so feel free to sing along” but luckily did not hinder the front man in being his energetic self, along with the remainder of his entourage.

Each musician came with their own stage temperament which brought an interesting personality to the Blackpudlian band. Some were content in their technique while others had it in mind to follow in example and build the liveliness up by crowd surfing atop their eager fans. Popular tracks of the evening included “Driftwood” and the more recent “Peach State” which proved more than enough to energise the young audience nesting at the front.

Although Seaway may have abdicated their headline title from their last visit to the popular venue, the Canadian quintet was no less entertaining or proficient in their performance than they always have been. Mr Locke seemed to have found a fantastic fluidity in his movements while touring and the warmth that emanated from their relationship with the audience really gave the impression that they still love what they do.

Opening on the head-bobbing “Airhead”, crashing through much-loved material like “Your Best Friend” and finishing on the vigorous “Slam” introduction to their album, ‘Colourblind’. By the end of their set, a collection of the crowd had begun hanging from the overhead rigging like orang-utans in an enclosure. One lyric stood out as a metaphor for their time in Cardiff, strongly emphasising that “Everything is cool man!”

It was time for Knuckle Puck to shine as the Chicagoan five-piece rolled out, exchanging friendly nods to their patient supporters as they moved in their gear and went through the typical check, 1, 2’s. Leading in with the hard right hook of “Wall To Wall (Depreciation)”, it was quickly apparent how ecstatic the throng were to see them in person. Like most shows, the back of the room consisted of those “too cool” to step forward and let their hair down but the front was practically pulsating with life.

Releasing five EP’s since 2011 and then bringing their 2015 debut, ‘Copacetic’ to the table, there was a fair selection of material to choose from. Popular tracks such as “No Good” and “True Contrite” were met with screams of joy as well as presto and allegro drum beats which had the front row rocking from side to side.

Throughout their allotted time, Joe Taylor had an unusual set of fascinating seizure-like movements when singing, but every twitch and every smile looked as natural as the vigorous response from the spectators. ”In Your Crosshairs” served as the emotional high with closed eyes and swaying thighs before revving the engine and sending everyone into a joyful frenzy with “Pretense”.

The structure of the “double-time” drumming was a main instigator for the majority of circle pits that formed through the gig but each one was under moderate control, as there seemed to be a mutual interest in simply clawing to the front and enjoying the music.

Leaving the front on “Untitled”, there could not have been one attendee who was not departing sweat-ridden, exhausted or generally pleased for coming out on a school night which was worth its weight in bruises and hearing impairment.

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