‘68 + Trophy Scars + The Crimson Star @ O2 Academy 3, 9th December 2014

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On what is a dreary, cold and wet Tuesday evening in Birmingham, former The Chariot and Norma Jean vocalist Josh Scogin brings his latest endeavour ’68.  The duo formed quickly after the disbandment of The Chariot, a band known for their intense live shows and noisy, non-linear hardcore. Scogin recruited his friend Michael McClellan on the drums and the duo started releasing music pretty much immediately after The Chariot ended. They have been busy touring the states and the UK as well as releasing a brilliant debut album ‘In Humor And Sadness’.  They bring with them tonight New Jersey blues, psychedelic rockers Trophy Scars and local boys The Crimson Star.

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Birmingham foursome The Crimson Star kick things off tonight; the local boys having recently released a promising EP of their own. I have to admit that their brand of hard rock never really appeals to me, but there are two things about their set that anyone can appreciate. For one, their energy levels are consistently high throughout the set and two, they’re quite obviously having a good time. The fact that there are only about 30 people in the room also doesn’t seem to faze them as they still pour every ounce of energy into their half hour set.

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Next up are Trophy Scars, a band I knew nothing about before tonight, so as always I went into it with a completely open mind. But that would not prepare me for what I witnessed, it was strange, yet completely entertaining. With what looked like a band made of the most mismatched looking musicians around, came a sound I don’t think I could have even prepared for. Their experimental, psychedelic, bluesy brand of rock is all tied together by one of the most unique voices I’ve heard, from front man Jerry Jones.  All combine to create a very captivating performance from a unique band, one that I’m keen to listen to on record.

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’68 took to the stage soon afterwards, and I could see from the array of amps that it was going to be a loud one. ’68 also tend to play with the strange set-up of the drums facing to the side and Josh playing facing Michael, meaning that neither was facing the audience. Not that there was much audience, to say tonight’s turnout was a massive disappointment would be an understatement. I’m sure the weather and the fact it was a Tuesday night had an effect, but considering that ’68 are one of the most exciting up and coming hardcore bands around right now and the fact that Josh Scogin could easily be considered a legend within this scene, the turnout was really no more than 30 people, with only about a third of these even bothering to come to the front.

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Nonetheless, the few people who witness tonight’s set they were in for treat. ’68 clearly don’t let the small turn out get to them, they play with an extraordinarily amount of vigour and passion throughout. Though set was only five songs long, each track was extended with numerous unrehearsed sections. As the set went on the intensity within the songs was increased, so that by the end of the set Josh was atop the drum set more than he was on the actual stage, it was all very entertaining.

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While no doubting the duo’s talents at making high octane, throat shredding hardcore I have to say, its drummer McClellan who really impresses me. His ability to keep up with Scogin’s, near enough, jamming at some points during the set was really impressive and it’s clear that he has some considerable talent.

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So despite the short set list, I’m positive that the small amount of people who turned up felt like they got their money’s worth. I just hope that the next time ’68 play these parts that more people know about their music, as they’re a band that I really admire.


Review: Francis Sebestjanowicz

Photographs: Lee Allen

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