The best way to sum up tonight’s gig is to live in the moments just after tonight’s headliners have left the stage. The Exchange’s walls are not dripping sweat they are running with it, like the venue had just sprung a leak (thank heavens we aren’t on the Thekla eh?), the stage too looks like it’s just held a heavyweight boxing match that’s gone the full 12 rounds, and all around me my fellow punters look positively shell shocked as we amble out into the cold night air.

There was part of me that wanted to send RPM pics of the sodden stage and drenched walls and leave it at that, but then you wouldn’t get the context, and with OFF! it’s always all about the context.

But let’s start at the beginning, and Washington D.C based duo Teen Mortgage who are opening for OFF! on this short run of UK shows. They’ve also just been announced as the opening act for Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer’s 2024 enormodome tour here in the UK, so they are obviously a band going places. And to my ears at least, that place is somewhere around the dawn of the 1990s, as their fuzzed-out brand of sub pop draws on equal parts Sabbath and the Stooges just like most of the US bands that graced the cover of the NME and Sounds did back then. Teen Mortgage’s members weren’t even born back then though, so it’s probably only older bastards like me who will feel the need to make these comparisons, and to their credit they do quickly turn The Exchange’s (at the time) ice-cold live room into one that is at least warm enough for me to take my beanie off. It’s just I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this done many times before and it all kind of reminded me of noughties UK trio The Zico Chain, only they had more instantly memorable songs. Perhaps it was the prospect of what was about to follow that meant Teen Mortgage caught me with my gig guard fully up tonight, but I do wish them well, whatever happens next for them.

My guard was up because with OFF! you can never really predict anything; I mean who would have ever thought that after three jaw stinging LPs packed full of short sharp punk rock punches that their fourth record, released just over a year ago now, would not only contain some of the heaviest music known to humanity, but also free form jazz segues? And whilst the latter (in its truest sense) is nowhere to be found tonight, as the band quietly amble onto the stage and frontman Keith Morris unfurls a set list that extends the full height of the PA’s side fills and to his left guitarist Dimitri Coats begins to unleash some truly bizarre sounds from a box of electronic tricks he has tucked away side stage whilst bassist Autry Fulbright II and (returning) drummer Mario Rubalcaba start to limber up by tinkering away of their respective instruments, you do get the feeling that the sense of musical adventure contained within that record is still very much alive within this most exhilarating of punk rock bands.

It’s only when the full force of ‘Slice Up The Pie’ hits me straight in the chest that the gig really takes off though and for the next hour or so we are all taken on a whirlwind adventure, initially through the pysch punk delights of the aforementioned ‘Free LSD’ LP before a selection of (I think) nine older songs really do take the roof off the place. It’s intense and mind bending at times, especially during album number four’s title track, but by equal measure tracks from that record like ‘War Above Los Angeles’ and ‘Worst Is Yet To Come’ stand as some of Dimitri Coats and Keith Morris’ best work to date. Yes, I’d have loved to have seen Justin Brown working his drum magic on said tunes tonight but make no mistake, Mario totally owns these twisted beauties too. Likewise, during the older songs played tonight, the looming lanky presence of one Steven McDonald is always going to be missed on the bass, but once again my beanie is off for what Autry does whilst playing these brutal beasts with his fingers and not a plectrum. Insanely talented each and every one of them.

At times you could be forgiven for thinking that someone on OFF!’s crew has half-inched one of the Concorde engines from the nearby Patchway museum, hotwired it and stuck a microphone straight into its boom, such is the transonic quality of the band in the here and now. It’s no easy night out that’s for sure but isn’t that really what has always been at the heart of what punk rock has always been about?

See what I mean about context now? Tonight was totally OFF! the scale, make no mistakes.

Author: Johnny Hayward

Following my recent enforced 3-month layoff from attending live shows I really wanted something special to usher in my 43rd year of going to see bands, so, after finishing off 2022 with the symphonic goth pomp of the Death Songbook, what could be more suitable than a night in the company of Swedish goth rockers Then Comes Silence, playing the final night of a short two date UK jaunt in conjunction with the Reptile club.

It’s the fact that this was going to be a dedicated goth night that really got me excited about a trip over the Severn estuary, with the promise of a night spent drenched in dry ice chicken dancing  my way into the wee small hours instantly taking me back to my days of going to see the likes of The Cramps, Alien Sex Fiend and Sigue Sigue Sputnik in the mid-eighties, when going to watch a band was just as much about meeting the characters that attended the shows (in fact its how I first met RPM’s main man Dominic Daley) as it was as seeing the bands themselves. But would there be a goth youth here in the 2020s to help keep the flame alive I wondered?

Entering Zed Alley I really need not have worried as with the mandatory dry ice lapping under the door was already a reassuring sign, once past security I immediately felt exactly how I did back in (what some might consider to be) the scene’s heyday, albeit these days I myself feel more like how Colin Robinson (grown up version not the child entertainer version) must have felt when walking into Nadja’s nightclub. Reptile DJ Vade Retro is blasting out an eclectic selection of electro tunes via the club’s excellent sound system, and yes indeed the next generation of goths are all present and correct and enjoying the ambience (and very reasonably priced libations) of the club itself.

Of course, it’s the live bands we’re all here to see tonight and Aux Animaux provides the kind of Nice Inch Nails to Bowie baton pass that occurred when those two giants once toured the US together, by which I mean the Swedish hauntwave star sets the scene perfectly for what is to follow by providing a kind of Danielle Dax meets Bjork by way of the (song)book of the dead set of ambient theremin driven electro tunes, something that holds the audience in perfect reverence throughout. The fact that this is an artiste singing over backing tracks would probably have most classic rock heads foaming at the mouth, but to a goth audience this is all par for the course and the reaction Aux Animaux receives come the end of her short set is one of total respect.

Something I have long since held for tonight’s headliners Then Comes Silence, the Stockholm-based gothic post-punk rockers, ever since I first heard their ‘III – Nyctophilian’ album all the way back in 2015. This is my first time seeing them live though as their intended 2020 UK tour (which included a Cardiff date) in support of their excellent ‘Machine’ album got blown out by the Covid pandemic, but having lost guitarist Mattias Ruejas ahead of a US tour towards the end of 2022 I was hoping by high expectations for tonight really weren’t about to be dashed after all.

Hitting the venue’s tiny but (for a trio) perfectly sized stage with ‘Flashing Pangs of Love’ from the band’s 2017 ‘Blood’ was certainly a surprise as I was half expecting them to open with the number that actually followed it, ‘Tickets To Funerals’, from last year’s amazing ‘Hunger’ album, but what this did was allow the sound to level out, and for the backing tracks used on certain songa (like on the latter) to really cut through and make a difference to the overall sound.

Singer/bassist Alex Svenson is also the man in control of the box of electronic gadgets and whilst he is a man of few words between songs he’s someone who lets the songs do all the talking with the likes of ‘Apocalypse Flare’, ‘Chain’ and ‘Worm’ all sounding totally imperious here tonight. The ‘Eighties’ (excuse the intended pun) Killing Joke influence I’ve mentioned in previous RPM reviews is also huge tonight thanks to guitarist Hugo Zombie, someone who literally doesn’t stop moving even when things slow down for an epic Bunnymen-esque rendition of ‘Mercury’ whilst turbo-riffing his way through the likes of ‘We Lose The Night’ and possibly my all-time favourite track by the band, ‘Rise To The Bait’.

When drummer Jonas Fransson (who is also Mr Aux Animaux) has some unexpected trouble with his snare stand it actually acts as a natural comfort break for a few (myself included) and the sounds that emanate from the remaining two members helping plug the inevitable gap evokes memories of Cronos’ bass solo during the Seventh Date of Hell tour, yup even when they are messing around these guys exude an air of doom and melancholic cool many can only dream of conjuring up.

As with all great gigs though they all unfortunately have to end, and after an intense ‘We Lose The Night’ its left to ‘Warm Like Blood’ and the epic ‘The Dead Cry For No One’ to send us off into the cold night air with just the echo of ‘Bella Lugosi’s Dead’ still ringing in our ears as DJ Vade continued the party well into the witching hour.

Gigs like this really don’t come along that often that’s for sure, tonight was something very special indeed, and reading just hours later that Reptile may now not be moving forward in 2023 due to a variety of reasons involving their current London haunt, it makes me truly sad to hear this. Let’s hope that after 15 years of promoting bands and club nights like tonight this really isn’t the end for them, because as tonight proved goth is very much still a musical force to be reckoned with and is also one that seemingly never grows old. Timeless stuff indeed!

Author: Johnny Hayward

Let’s not hang about here ‘War’ is the sound of bombs dropping from the sky and panic on the streets. Idles are on it and as a unit won’t be stopped by conventional weapons or pandemics it would seem.  Taking it to the next level after the joy of the Glasto performance and it would seem being taken into the bosoms of the press beast and being hailed as the saviours of alternative post-punk rock and roll all by themselves. Idles have taken it in their stride and just gotten on with it, seemingly oblivious as to the outpouring of adulation currently being heaped upon them.

I liked ‘Brutalism’ and I liked what they offered as the next step on ‘Joy As An Act’ so it was with an intake of breath I pressed play on this their third long-player as the band lock-in and pour out what is inside them onto the black grooves.


Frontman Joe Talbot says of “Grounds”: “We wanted to write a song that embodied self-belief, and gave us self-belief – a counter-punch to all the doubt we build up from all the noise we so easily let in. We wanted to make the sound of our own hearts’ marching band, armed with a jackhammer and a smile. We wanted to make the sound of our engine starting. So we did. Thank you.”  Talbot sounds like he knows the score. top tune and instantly recognisable and more honed in, more finely tuned.  Sounds like they know exactly where they’re going with this lark.

If you thought the band had hit the peak on ‘Joy’ and the worm might turn from here on in, well, think again this album is more vibrant, focussed and raging than the previous offerings.  Across all twelve songs, there is a brutality as the band continues the social commentary of their past work, with themes of class, gender inequality, nationalism, community, and toxic masculinity and empowerment and ultimately fighting back.  Its not preachy it poignant and informative that there are people who think just like you!


Produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Arcade Fire) and Adam ‘Atom’ Greenspan (Anna Calvi, Cut Copy), ‘Ultra Mono’ sounds huge. The album also features guest vocals from Jehnny Beth (Savages), and additional guest contributions from Warren Ellis (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), David Yow, and Jamie Cullum like it needed any.

The constant touring sounds like it has galvanised the band and they’re locked in as one and the twists and turns of the opening few tracks are epic and brutal but quite beautiful as well.

Safe it isn’t but I’m sure there will be a hipster backlash along anytime soon saying something along the lines of them selling out or commercial this and that and not being the same anymore (not with these lyrics).  Tosh, I say this is where they’ve been striving to get for the last two albums and this is excellent.  Even after a few plays I’m easily enjoying it as much as the previous offerings if not more due to the production and songs being a lot tighter.

I’ve not read any of the reviews yet but I’ve seen the comments to the videos released so far and I like it and it would seem so do the punters (those that matter anyway).  Hopefully when all this pandemic strife is sorted and we can get back to live music being a thing I’m sure these songs will take on a new life as they get performed and dissected more by the public as we break them in.


Its a pummeling album and songs like ‘Mr. Motivator’ has taken things to the next level without a doubt.  I’m sure reviews will champion them as the soundtrack to the revolution, Well, the likes of the Guardian and Mirror will and The Mail will hate it. Fuck em!  This album is demanding another spin and I’m already liking it a lot “How D’you like them cliches?”.  To be honest,  Idles have managed to create music that is pretty much universally recognisable which is always a bonus and something bands strive to achieve – sure they borrow bits here and there who doesn’t but the magic when they are in full flight is awesome.

Ultimately ‘Ultra Mono’ is a document of its time and a bloody good one at that.  They look destined to get bigger and bigger.  From their Rebellion Festival appearance to their Glasto triumph and now this release and the raft of enormadomes they will play once it’s safe to do so is proof that alternative music is alive and kicking and screaming.

Crack on Idles I love it.  Some will love join me – some just won’t get it and others will shy away because they’re too popular. fuck that if you can’t love ‘Anxiety’ then why not? Talbot hits the nail on the head lyrically and when he states our government does hate the poor he means it but not to be cool or trendy but because it matters and people need to wake up maybe this is the sound of the fightback.

It’s not all crash, bang, wallop mind.  Well, I say that ‘Kill Them With Kindness’ has a polite intro before Talbot barks his best Iggy Pop. ‘Carcinogenic’ has a lovely throbbing bassline as does ‘Reigns’ as they push the envelope a little further again. A dozen songs later and I’m thinking that Idles have penned a classic of its kind it’s easily their best twelve songs thus far (no seriously) Check it out.  Stream it (if you have to) buy it on tape if you’re hip but turn the volume up for others to hear and sing along. ‘Ultra Mono’ might only have just been born but it sounds like a band has grown in stature and become a real force to be reckoned with – alternative music always needs bands like Idles so let’s enjoy them here and now – Buy it!


Author: Dom Daley