Whilst most of the rest of the UK is seemingly trying to cram itself into Cardiff tonight to watch some talent(less) show pop singer we’re (thankfully) heading in the opposite direction on the M4 (which is like a car park going the other way) as we breeze into Bristol unfashionably early, just in time to catch the first of tonight’s three band bill… which really is the antithesis of everything going on back home.
Seven Crowns from Bath who’ve been shoehorned onto the bill to give maximum value for mayhem get to give those of us in early doors an immediate bloody nose as their brand of punk/metal kind of reminds me of that time I once put an Eyehategod LP on at 45rpm by mistake (go on, try it). It’s fast., brutal and as heavy as a million burnt out suns. The fact that they have been together for 20 years and released multiple albums is quite staggering for yours truly as I really don’t think I’ve ever heard of them before, but in saying that when their singer Jonny Bainbridge admits they can’t be arsed to promote their new single, or in fact name it when they play it live, then perhaps I shouldn’t be that surprised after all. The locals must be aware of them though as they are all crammed around the doorway of The Exchange’s live room, making it almost impossible to get out for a pint or indeed a piss, all seeming positively terrified of the four piece, and there is an element of S.S.S meets Poison Idea like danger to their performance, but me I’m happy to be front and centre savouring every moment of discovering yet another great punk band.
I discovered The Hip Priests, Nottingham’s nefarious purveyors of black denim blitz-rock a long, long time ago. In fact, I’ve probably seen them live more times than any other band, but tonight is the first time I’ve seen them post the release of their fifth studio album ‘Roden House Blues’. Thankfully those who had been cowering in the corner of the venue for Seven Crowns pack the dancefloor for opener ‘Stand For Nothing’, the Jugend pleasing “woah oh woah-ing” chorus hitting the garage punk bullseye straight from the get go.
Whizzing through a set containing some of the band’s best singles (‘Jesus Died So We Could Ride’ and ‘Cheers To Me’ take a bow) along with a tasty smorgasbord of tunes from the aforementioned new album (‘The Best Revenge’, ‘Can’t Abide With Me’ and ‘Shakin Ain’t Fakin’ all getting the faithful dancing) it’s impossible to fault the boundless energy and commitment of the five guys up on the Exchange stage. Guitarists Austin Rocket and Gentle Ben trade licks like Kramer and Smith on speed at opposite sides of the venue whilst in-between them giant of the bass rumble Lee Love along with frontman Nathan Von Cruz tease and please those diehards draped over the monitors. The surprise performance award tonight though must go to drummer DP Bomber who is like an East Midlands Tommy Lee behind his kit, and as we all know great bands all start with a great drummer.
The Hip Priests most certainly have a tiger in their tank right now, but they save the best until last as they thrash through ‘Juiced Up And Loose’ and leave everyone hot, sweaty and wanting more. Now, talking of which, where was ‘Zero Fucks…..’ Only joking lads, I know it was a support slot and time was tight, although in saying that, tonight the world revolves around Zeke Time.
Zeke really are like no other band in the world right now, as tonight they play for around 40 minutes and in that time bludgeon their way through somewhere in the region of around 25 songs. It’s not fast, its fucking hypersonic hardcore, and the fact that they do all it without a single set list on the stage is nothing short of a modern musical miracle.
Whilst trying to track said set list for the purpose of this review I just had to give up and simply enjoy the moment, as the band, as always, chaperoned by singer guitarist Blind Marky Felchtone, thundered through the likes of ‘Holley 750’ ‘Two Lane Blacktop’ and their as always awesome cover of ‘Shout It Out Loud’ like they were on dreaded a club curfew (they weren’t by the way) and my fellow gig-goers hurtled past me with expressions on their faces like they were trying to escape a zombie apocalypse, by way of some sort of twisted appreciation.
BMF is certainly a man of few words between songs (its normally just a series of noises and grunts, that to my ears have always sounded positively West Country-like) but when he tells everyone that drummer (and band co-founder) Donny Paycheck is playing everything a little fast tonight, the affirmative roar he receives in response should be proof positive that what Zeke do they do very, very well indeed.
Special mention must also go to bassist Jason Freeman and guitarist Jeff Hiatt, who put in a towering shift on the opening night of this extensive European tour, and I can just feel it in my bones that the upcoming album that this line up has just recorded is going to be an absolute headfuck.
With The Exchange situated deep within Bristol City Council’s recently introduced Clean Air Zone I can’t help think the enforcement agency employed to collect the tariff for noxious vehicles travelling within it perhaps missed a trick with Zeke in town tonight, because this eight legged punk rock juggernaut is easily the most toxic thing on the road anywhere in the world right now, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.
Author: Johnny ‘ZFG’ Hayward