Melbourne-based punk four-piece The Smith Street Band played their last UK date (well, for April tour anyway!) at the Southampton Joiners on Thursday, prior to getting up at 5am the next day and heading to Paris for their epic tour of Europe. Playing alongside them were tour buddies Restorations and ASTPAI and recently announced special guests Apologies, I Have None.
First up, London-based Apologies, I Have None could have topped the bill themselves, playing a tight set containing two new songs from latest EP Black Everything, with some solid harmonies from PJ Shepherd and new lead guitarist Simon. They describe themselves as “passionate, energetic, punkrock”, and I can’t argue with that, with vocal audience members joining in. The overpowering bass sound worked really well alongside consistent drumming from Joe Watson and a great stage presence from angry lead singer Josh McKenzie. Definitely an enjoyable band to watch and, ending on Long Gone, a good kick-start to the evening.
Next up were four-piece Austrian punkrockers ASTPAI, who have constantly toured all over the world for the last five years (impressive!). They’ve played alongside bands including Kid Dynamite, The Crypt and A Wilhelm Scream and are apparently “still rocking the pimple stage” (hey, they said it, not me!). They started out with a fairly small crowd which multiplied as they played, just as well because they deserved the attention with their heavy rock sound. The band were dynamic, making use of all the stage space, and I couldn’t help but notice that drummer Toni had the cymbals so high he had to practically jump for them! Keep an eye out for the band’s new record, out in September, and also lead singer Marco’s solo stuff as it features his cat meowing.
I’d heard only good things about penultimate band from Philadelphia, US, Restorations and they did not disappoint. With some distinguished riffs in the mix and husky vocals from lead singer Jon Loudon, not dissimilar from bands Augustines and The Gaslight Anthem, along with periods of purely instrumental assemblages; it was easy to get lost in their atmospheric music which often floated from light to heavy during their set. It involved head banging from the band and crazy arm movements from guitarist Dave Klyman. Songs played were from both their albums, Self-Titled (2011) and LP (2013).
Finally The Smith Street Band were up, to the delight of many excitable fans. It was the most lively and animated the crowd had been all night; human pyramids and somehow even crowd surfing (the room wasn’t exactly packed) were abound. The band are enjoyable to see play live, as previously I’d only listened to their songs in the comfort of my bedroom. Punk poet Will Wagner certainly captured my attention, with every word belted with clarity and drummer Chris Cowburn just looked so happy, you couldn’t help but become engrossed with their songs. Notable crowd favourites included ‘Ducks Fly Together’, ‘Young Drunk’ and ‘Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams’ as well as new song ‘Apologies I Have Heaps’ (a wink to the special guests). The set ended to chants of ‘one more song’, and the band easily caved, playing oldie ‘South East Facing Wall’.
All bands were from different countries and all complemented each other with their individual sounds and styles. They all tour their arses off and clearly work hard so it was a pleasure to head down to my local venue (well I was dragged there by keen friend anyway) and see them all play.