Monday, 16 September 2019

Two Drink Minimum

A prior submission that didn't make the cut:


Two Drink Minimum

For two weeks now, I've been trying to figure out if people are laughing with me or at me.

Back in the green room there's a ton of backslapping and "oh, have you heard that new guy from out Chicago way? No, not central, just outside, he does a bit about needing a coat, you know. Windy city, just outside, he's a real hoot."

I stare down and realise my second beer has gone flat, and warm. I take it with me to the restroom and pour it down the sink before splashing water on my face. All this and there's still a goddamn two drink minimum. I shamble back out to the bar for a third, and the barman notices my shaky hand but says nothing.

I stand in the wings before the curtains part, praying the words will rise up like bubbles, but instead they just burst somewhere around my chest. I feel myself tighten and the pressure in my temples rises. Two long slow breaths as I fumble in the pocket for the Aspirin. I drown them in alcohol and swallow hard, hoping I don't choke on my own anxiety.

I can't see, but I hear the footsteps and the creak of floorboards as they all come back to their tables. It all seems so unreal, despite it being right there in front of me. The clouds part, and lightning bolts strike from the heavens at my feet. Please, please, shake me from this paralysis, I can't, I can't.

The beeper in my other pocket signals my cue. They're out there waiting for me. I take one last sip from the beer, place it on the table behind the curtain and step out onto the stage, and stride up to the microphone.

"Well, ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the second half? We've got some great acts for you..."

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Shitrockjournalist Reviews Chimpyfest 2019

Shitrockjournalist Reviews Chimpy 

FRIDAY

Rat Cage (UK) swift out of the blocks with some good old Leeds inflected pissed off fast d-beat hardcore. Only they're actually from Sheffield. And it is one guy, who writes and records everything himself, beefed up for a live show by the guys from Ona Snop. YESCOMEON!

Coproach (UK) following up nicely with some pummelling grindcore, and this time they actually are from Leeds. Not entirely sure what it is about grindcore and its Leeds fetish, but it fucking works. The crowd have been into it right from the start, which is no mean feat given Rat Cage kicked off at 2.20pm.

Coproach give us the first pit of the day, and there's a definite 'bounce' to their sound along with a hefty dose of filth. They're having a lot of fun!

Ona Snop (UK). Also from Leeds. Chimpyfest, sponsored by Leeds. Fast. Fun. Ferocious. Fuck you if you're not getting involved.

Failure. Certainly not a failure at battering the audience into submission with some savage powerviolence. All the way from Italy, the travel hasn't dulled their enthusiasm or energy in the slightest, and they even threw in a cheeky Ona Snop cover.

Farsas. Lithuanian. A little more sludgy while they're warming up, a welcome relief, but we'll see if that changes once they get going. And yes. It fucking well does. Like a fucking rocket right up the arse, with only a few drops of your last pint of lager as lube. Absolutely raging, as if Narcosis had double dog dared you to go that bit faster. When they do slow down it certainly isn't for long.

Captain Caveman shagged your mum.

Joking aside, this is some crowd pleasing powerviolence. Seemingly with a bassist and no guitarist. I'm tempted to dub it fuzzcore, because who doesn't love an overabundance of fucking ridiculous subgenre labels? Ridiculously fast and heavy, this is what you want in your ears. That and they're from Germany, which is to be strongly encouraged. ZUHĂ–REN CAPTAIN CAVEMAN DAS IST EIN BEFEHL!

Controlled Existence

Them: "I don't really like female fronted bands" 
Me: "Go fuck yourself then"

Is a conversation I've had a bunch of times in recent years, and it is bands like Controlled Existence (CZ) that exemplify my attitude on this. They'll rip your fucking face off. Tighter than a Scotsman in a racist joke  and more vicious than a velociraptor on PCP. This is exactly the kind of stuff I have come to expect from Chimpy. Razor sharp riffs, and throat tearing vocals. I'm reminded of Dysteria damn near tearing my mind out, juggling it, then slamdunking it back into my frazzled head several Chimpyfests ago. Czech bands tend to have form with grindcore and Controlled Existence are certainly no exception here. Not a wasted note, not a second of filler.

Also, the Chimpyfest beachball has returned.

Whoresnation (FR). You know a band is good when you worry about crossing the room to go to the loo lest you be dragged into the pit by accident and slammed around to within an inch of your life. Fortunately, Chimpyfest is a touch more polite than your average gig of hardcore meatheads and people actually get picked up when they fall down. Definitely more guttural than Controlled Existence, but just as effective in their brutality. 

Feastem. Grindcore fingers at the ready! Bands from Finland have a certain reputation, and the word relentless might easily be thrown around at Chimpyfest, but this is certainly justified here. I feel like I may run out of superlatives long before this weekend is over, but that is testament to the quality of the lineup this year. A level of ferocity to rival the mighty Nasum, and a hefty dose of fun. Yes. Fun. I said it, you didn't read that incorrectly. Definitely an antidote to some of the po-faced bollocks you unfortunately occasionally encounter on this scene, or any other. Always joyful to watch a band that are so clearly enjoying themselves on stage.

Dropdead (US). Despite Trump being president that last sentence wasn't an instruction. Apparently with Alan Moore on drums. Hardcore fucking wizardry, and that's before they even start. They start with a big fuck you to the Donald. Zero fucking around. These guys mean business and they do it far better than Donald Trump has ever managed in his life, Russian backing or not. First crowdsurfer of Chimpyfest 2019. More follow, and we see them rise and fall in the pit, picked up fast, well looked after, as is custom at Chimpyfest, as it should be at all gigs. I watch a paper plane fly across the crowd. Minor technical difficulties cannot stop this band. I doubt much can. The power cut out, which fucked everyone off, not least the band, but we got a great inspirational speech from the frontman, which somehow brought the fucking power back online. Fuck knows what messed with Dropdead but they will not let it stop them. Spoke to a couple of them afterwards, great guys. Headed home, so misses MensVreters (SA) but have heard great things about their live show (Horrorgore anyone?), and will try to get some feedback over the rest of the weekend. Before day 2 I checked out a video of one of their live performances and it seemed as if they are what Die Antwoord would be like if instead of being horrifically shitty people they just had a massive hardon for GWAR.

SATURDAY

Assur (BE). Punishing machinegun cybergrind, like an ice cold shower of nails rammed straight into your brain to wake you the fuck up on Saturday. I mean, who needs a gentle ease in? This is no soft fondling of the curves, this is a swift and repeated kick of the bollocks, with spiked toe-capped boots, and it has the early risers cheering for more. There's a touch of groove too, and a good dose of humour, perfect for a Saturday early afternoon. 

Implement (UK) - Pissed off thrashing hardcore. You've woken up now, and you're ready for the rage to wash over you like a quick and dirty festival shower. Let the fire cleanse you, and burn off a little of yesterday's sweat. There's melody among them thar screams, and both will carry you to salvation. When I say melody, don't be mistaken. This ain't Bad Religion getting all family friendly with a fucking Christmas album. You're not in Kansas anymore, dickhead. In parts I'm reminded of Doughnuts, with harsher vocals, which is by no means a bad thing. At full speed they're definitely not a band to be fucked with. Savage.

Disuse (NL) - Severe drumkit molestation. No, that's not the name of the hottest new goregrind band, it is the sound of Disuse warming up. Pounding, gurgling, dirty grindcore. Sally on bass also plays in Gewoon Fucking Raggen, and she fucking kicked the shit out of our ears in both bands. This is some 90's level filth, the kind of stuff that Nasum used to make Napalm Death shit their pants. Absolutely fucking superb.

The Atrocity Exhibit (UK) - Ok, before we fucking start, that fucking bass guitar. Hot pink. A bold fucking choice. Matches my pink Chimpyfest tee. And the bassists shoes. Power move. Motherfucker. Con Cremin demanded a review of the bass guitar before they start, so shout out to Con. And well, fuck me, the band will damn near rip you inside out, ramming a fist down your throat right down to your arsehole and pulling you outside yourself. JG Ballard must be shitting himself. Having met scene legend James Caygill before, I can vouch for what a thoroughly bloody nice bloke he is. On stage however, he (and he rest of the band) display a level of ferocity you might expect from a nightmare where you're being chased by a pack of rabid chainsaws, when suddenly your legs stop working, and you begin to feel the pain of being torn apart, millimeter by millimeter. Absolutely vicious stuff.

Crepitation (UK). Crepitation have really fucking dumb songtitles. Engulfed By Enjoogulation reminds me of Keep On Chooglin' by CCR, but by Christ do they not sound the same. Spunkated Rapised Enfuckment. You get the idea. Not everyone likes gore/porngrind, but they're a good laugh if you can hack how stupid it is. Given the tie-dyed Horsebastard tee the vocalist is wearing, you get the impression they're not po-faced prats inclined to bang on about the defence of free speech. As for the music, the crowd are going for it, loving the pig squeals and heavier than a ton of dead prostitutes low-end. It also appears that they are fans of french cheese. I'll let you work out the punchline. Given the explanation of the songtitles between tracks, it's almost like a slam death metal stand up comedy concept set. It's hard not to like them, and I'd imagine a tour with the likes of Party Cannon would be very well received. That, and as a (cum splattered) tribute to Horsebastard (whose drummer Trippy now plays for them), they did a song "about fucking a horse, or getting fucked by a horse, whatever..." they may not be the GOAT, but they've probably fucked it.

Mincing Fury and Guttural Clamour of Queer Decay (CZ)

Fuck me, fury is about right. A little bit more slam than I was expecting, but with a lot more speed than groove. Wearing out the drummer after one song almost, it seems a second drum stool is required. Not one of the more common breakages it seems, but once resolved, the pulverising continues. Not sure if they just went for a "fuck it this'll do" or not, but there's no noticeable negative effect on the band, despite one singer missing due to an apparent fear of flying. The idea of Mr T fronting a grindcore band is simultaneously hilarious and fucking terrifying. Like Crepitation, they're a lot of fun. That and the guitarist looks a bit like Nick from Witchsorrow. Bassist getting involved in a circle pit and some singalong vocals. Why not? Did I mention they're a fucking good laugh?

Sick of Stupidity (NL)

No bullshit grindcore. Fast as fuck, like Mick Harris if he was on PCP. Some tasty dual vocal action going on, along with that classic snare sound we know and love. A sample gives us just enough time to catch a breath and then the unrelenting assault continues. The riffs seem to be having their own little circle pit in my head, rather appropriate given what I can see in the actual pit in front of me. This has all the subtlety of repeated battering with a sack full of hammers, and I am completely ok with that. I am reminded of the relentless aural battering I got from Antigama last year. Fucking hell. Oh and did I mention that Lemmy also drums for Gewoon Fucking Raggen?

Gets Worse (UK)

Fuck off does it get worse. This band are fucking quality. Could it be because they're from Leeds? Well it fucking might be, cunt. Must be something in the water. Or whatever they fucking drink. "But what is powerviolence anyway lol" In this case, bludgeoning hardcore with gang vocals, at breakneck pace, and breakdowns that would make doom bands crywank with embarrassment. Speed that a crust punk would sell his nan for. The audio equivalent of your eyes trying to make sense of what is happening in the pit.

Voorhees (UK) 

Well ain't this some vicious hardcore? Please don't disagree, not unless you're prepared to risk a broken nose in the pit. I want to know where these guys get their energy, though I'm wary of the source, as I'd be worried it'd only make me productive by way of chinning everyone else in the office. How? How have they managed to kick it up a notch after some of the fucking vicious breakneck bands I've already seen? Answers on a postcard, and please send some plasters too, just in case. Fuck me, this will be a difficult act to top. 

BrucexCampbell (US)

As I walk in there's some heavy groove, then some top gear fucking thrash. Grindcore-a-go-go. Hard to cope with as I feel like I'm still recovering from Voorhees but this lot kick arse. I'm glad of the banter between songs as a bit of respite. Nice groove to it, and one definitely worth a follow up. 

Yacopsae (DE)

Anger distilled. Oh yes. This definitely reminds me of seeing Nasum with Mieszko. Alexa - define ferocity. A big fuck you to everybody who has ever used the phrase "anger problem", Yacopsae seem to be very much an anger solution. This is not what I expected, but I'll definitely be adding them to the playlist on a more regular basis! What Voorhees had in speed, Yacopsae have in anger. This is fucking brilliant.

Dropdead (US)

Back from the Dropdead, and losing none of last night's ferocity, it seems they may have even dialled it up a notch. The crowd are definitely ready. Dropdead are clearly showing (as did Voorhees) that anger does not dull with experience (can't spell rage without age). They also show that when directed appropriately, it can achieve great things. I'm reminded of Pantera's "when I channel my hate to productive, I don't find it hard to impress", but of course without the bullshit lazy racism that Phil Anselmo succumbed to in later years. You can inspire with anger rather than just apportion blame. So fuck Phil Anselmo and his bullshit excuses for his shitty behaviour. Find better role models. Find your bravery. Find your courage. And as Pig Destroyer's J.R.  said in 'Frailty In Numbers' "Learn to take your pride from the depths and not the surface"

Missed BBYB (CZ) and their cybergrind due to transport requirements, but wandering back past the venue after one of the stations had closed, it looked like they were having fun, and people seemed to be enjoying their Hotline Miami masked terror.

SUNDAY

Well I made it to day 3, and it is clear there will be latecomers today.

First band up are Nazi Killer (UK), a name that conjures images of Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds, only hopefully with a less ropey accent. They're not fucking about, straight in with some scalp ripping blasting. Definitely one to wake up the less chemically assisted of us, dusting off hangovers and cobwebs. Successfully demonstrating how to kill Nazis. Fast.

Hotcops (UK)

How the fuck do you write a review of Hotcops without it sounding like shitty fanfiction of Total Fucking Destruction?

Hotcops are fucking great. Best drummer face in the business this side of Rich Hoak. I'm not convinced Danny is human. James back for his second set of the weekend. 

This is fucking fast, and barely controlled. A one man circle pit sets the tone. Some great stage banter, but let's not get confused, these lads aren't some bullshit novelty comedy act, the shredding and frantic drumwork prove that beyond all doubt. If you don't like Hotcops, you're a cunt. A humourless cunt.

XLodeax (IL)

Frontman is winner of the 2019 Chimpyfest Silly Hat Competition. Rather ferocious crusty grind proving that snap judgements on first appearances are frequently bollocks, they quickly whip the crowd up, and thankfully there's a breakdown to give us all a moment to breathe. Not for long though, with the frontman diving into the crowd, howling away in the pit. 

Moloch (UK)

Sludge. Lovely, heavy, tar being poured into the ears sludge. A band playing slow enough for me to think about what to put in the write up. Imagine the full force of every hangover in the room being swung at your head like a sack of hammers. You might have time to sidestep, but it's been a long weekend, and a riff catches you on the jaw and leaves you reeling. Get up, the referee shouts, and you shake yourself groggily back into existence, banging your head and gently swaying, wondering if you'll make it through the rest of the day.

Suffering Quota (NL)

Aaaaaaaand back to fast. Very fast. Napalm Death in 1989 fast. Fuck your "Sunday is a day of rest" fast. Frontman has an excellent moustache. They launch into some new material with ease, and it may as well be their long established material, as there is no hesitation or slip up with this. No letting up, just as we've come to expect from Chimpy. Frontman is bleeding. When you're so heavy you start bleeding midset, and self flagellating... are they Catholic? Perhaps not, but fucking hell, it's quite a spectacle.

Anti-System (UK)

Oh yes. More crusty punky goodness. Tons of energy, and you can clearly see they're having a lot of fun on stage. Definitely one to listen to after a few pints of cider on a sunny day such as today. Watching the frontman stalk his way back and forth in front of the crowd, firing everyone up, you can't help but get involved and enjoy yourself as much as the rest of the band.

Gewoon Fuckin Raggen (NL)

Nice bit of thrashing hardcore to keep you going. Crowd invasions, circle pits, breakneck riffing and quite frankly I want to stop writing and just get on with it. Fucking grand stuff. Russian Nik approves. That's all you need. Well, apart from another shout out to Sally and Lemmy, who've already played monster sets this weekend already with Disuse and Sick of Stupidity respectively.

Entrails Massacre (DE)

Germans have a reputation for taking things seriously, and while there's a distinctive sense of humour in certain quarters, Entrails Massacre aren't fucking around with any jokes. This is some sharp, fierce grindcore. The riffing is fucking hefty, like a cement mixer full of breeze blocks. Try to keep pace and you feel like your head will turn to dust.

Trappist (US)

Booze themed crossover. Being called out for our love of badges. Holy shit I feel seen. I have been read for filth and I am not sure if I am ok with that. Fuck you Chris. Love you. Beer loving thrash that isn't Tankard? Well here we fucking go. To the bar. This kicks ass. Pardon me if I go full Beavis and Butthead. Get ready for a fucking bangover kids. It's like Municipal Waste if they could hold their drink and not get covered in vomit halfway through the party. I'm not ashamed to say I'm an 80s kid, I love my thrash, and this goes damn well with a pint of whatever you're drinking. Just hold it down long enough to survive the pit. And don't you dare spill a drop, that's not what beer is for. The "covers" ruled. You had to be there. Fucking hell, Trappist are incredible. Go fucking see them whenever you get the chance. Or make a chance to go see them, and raise a glass when you do. So yeah, Chris Dodge. That one. And Phil Vera from Despise You. Phil part of the crew of band members doubling up on sets this weekend, absolute fucking heroes, the lot of them.

Warwound (GB)

Some fucking solid crust punk, no mess, no fuss. They have a song called "Toxic Cunt" which made me laugh. The crowd are fucking well giving it some, matching the band's energy. That and the singer looks like Fat Mike went on a diet. Good lad. Also, the singer clearly isn't a "Toxic Cunt" like Fat Mike was. Thoroughly enjoyable stuff. Now it was pointed out to me afterwards how much of an ignorant sod I was being. Warwound are a bit of a supergroup, y'see. The singer? Rat (Discharge/Varukers/The Vile). The bassist? Ian fucking Glasper (do you really need the list? Stampin' Ground, Flux of Pink Indians, among others, not to mention the scene historian / hardcore journo stuff...) The guitarist? Damian (Sacrilege / Varukers). The drummer? Stevie (Hellkrusher/The Vile and a bunch of others. That's some fucking pedigree right there, and as I'd only hinted at earlier, they do not fuck around. Well worth seeing!

Despise You (US)

So American people get angry sometimes. Nobody is really sure why. Ah fuck the satirical bullshit, we get it. There's no fucking around here. This is the band that outdid Agoraphobic Nosebleed. We all know why we're here. Every prick who's ever told you that you have an anger problem clearly never listened to Despise You, and as such they have no clear concept of what anger actually is. They probably don't know what riffs are either, so fuck them. Despise You have both in spades (shovels for you English heathens). This is what happens to crossover thrash when it bothers to go to the gym and doesn't skip leg day. Fast has gone beyond abstract concept and just rips through you. This is the kind of beating you feel grateful for. The kind you appreciate for relieving you of weakness as you determine to push yourself beyond comfort and failure and drag yourself on to what you should be. I'm broken. Chimpyfest has wrecked me. Despise You have wrecked me. I am grateful, for now I may rebuild. Holy shit Despise You kicked everyone's ass inside out.

*

Shoutouts to Ben, Martin, Tony and the rest of the crew, who managed the superhuman feat of making the fest actually run ahead of time. Shoutouts to Lindsay and Kev for the support on the review and the kind words about last year's write up. Shout outs to Aloosh and Chicago Grill for tasty falafel wraps throughout the weekend, and Mughead Coffee for the grind before the grind. 

I cannot overemphasis the importance of socialising at Chimpy. Inbetween getting smashed by the bands, we got smashed on booze and chatted away, and a lot of people made new friends as well as catching up with people they'd not seen in a while. There's a real sense of cohesion here, and that may sound like optimistic hardcore frontman bollocks to you, but there was a real sense of joyful exuberance, the likes of which is often comically unseen by the casual observer. Watching confused members of the public shamble past us all and try to make sense of a group of punks and metalheads all peacefully having fun was quite a good laugh. Also shoutouts to the sound guy and the bar staff, who all did an absolutely sterling job over the weekend.

Here's to next year!