Neale from the Birmingham Live team went to check out Gnarlwolves. I arrived at Mama Roux’s early to check the venue out as I have never been here before. Located in the industrial yet arty Digbeth, it is a good location for the live music scene. The venue itself is intimate and with nice decor, holding roughly 250 people maximum.
Rough Hands I found to be a gem; the heavy riffs were slow and juicy with hard hitting lyrics. I found them to be a nice blend between Deftones with ‘Swim in The Blues’ and heavier bands such as Terror with ‘Relapsed’ and ‘Let Me Win Your Hearts and Minds’. They currently have an EP out called Nothing’s Changed.
Kamikaze Girls consisted of two band members, a drummer and a guitarist. They resembled the headline bands style more, punk rocky with a more indie undertone. Vocals from Lucinda Livingstone were admirable and confident and the drumming was consistent and well timed from Conor Dawson. Their band deals with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, with Lucinda even venturing into personal experiences with addiction.
Gnarwolves took to the stage and the venue flooded with people. Gnarwolves rose to prominence with their two EP’s CRU (2012) and Funemployed (2013) being reviewed highly by Rocksound and Kerrang! Radio. Since then they have opened for Blink-182 on tour in Italy and toured the States with The Story So Far and Modern Baseball. Having released their new album ‘Outsiders’ (2017) a mere 3 days earlier it was no suprise that they included a few in their setlist.
Jumping straight into Outsiders (2017) they opened with the fast ‘Straitjacket’ before going into ‘History Is Bunk’ and ‘We Want The Whip!’ from ‘CRU’ (2012). There sound is very difficult to label in one particular genre but bares the most resemblences to punk with it’s non chalant attitude and energetic vibe. Shouty and up for a good time; the crowd got involved straight away and in such a small venue it was hard not to; crowd surfers ended up with the band on stage.
Heading to their well known debut album ‘Gnarwolves’ (2014); ‘Boneyard’, ‘Everything You Think You Know’ and ‘Smoking Kills’ added to the energetic vibe seamlessly; with the crowd getting more and more vocal. It’s easy to see the comparisons between Gnarwolves and Pop Punk yet I find their sound more raw and less contrived.
‘Car Crash Cinema’, ‘Paint Me a Martyr’ and ‘Wires’ saw out the showing for their new album; with the catchy hooks from ‘Wires’ and a less shouty nature the band are showing maturity with the new record. I was dissapointed they didn’t play ‘Shut Up’ from this album as I felt the darker nature of this song could’ve really added something to their set.
The band waited right up until the last half to play ‘Coffee’ which saw the crowd erupt; lyrics again focusing on the everyday ordeals with modern life in England. This song breaks the mould from most punk songs by slowing down to almost a halt in the middle and the rest of the lyrics are almost whispered; highlighting the creative control they have in their music and just how personal it is.
‘Bottle to Bottle’ was their final song and it was a banger. Again the band sums up why they are so successful and that’s because they don’t follow the rules; they could’ve easily gone for a bigger venue tour but no, small venues throughout. Not every song has to have a positive message and the message of this one is drinking can help you deal with your problems.
They are ones to watch for sure. I expect to see big things from this band.
Review and Photographs: Neale Hayes