First up at the Flapper were local noise-punks Female Smell [3/10] – with an actual female bassist in the band, no less. Sadly, she, the guitarist and the phenomenal drummer were the best thing about this band, demonstrating excellent technical abilities and some damn sweet riffs. Though Female Smell had the potential to be a great new Birmingham band, they were let down by the topless (and quite probably inebriated) singer aggressively moshing on his own amongst the crowd – who moved as far away from his screams and flailing fists as it was possible to be. Midway through a song, he proceeded to pick up a bass drum skin and lob it into the audience, where it hit several members of the crowd. This generated some ill-feeling and prompted a somewhat lukewarm response to the band; who in all fairness deserved a lot more. This band may be something that appeals to the more hardcore fan and are definitely worth a listen; however they seemed a little excessive for an 8pm second support slot in the cellar of a pub.
Next on stage were PUP [6/10]– a fairly bland name which hides a terrifically enthusiastic Canadian band, who were clearly stoked to be playing in the UK. They were almost as excited as the one extremely loud and opinionated heckler, who seemed to enjoy them and traded a lot of drunken banter with the lead singer.
The majority of the set was energetic and very solid, though a couple of the songs were lacking punch, so the atmosphere was a little less uproarious that it could have been. However, the standout song of the set was “Reservoir” – an incredibly catchy and chorus-driven song which was played last and absolutely cemented this band at the forefront of modern punk. Definitely ones to watch.
Though there had been some polite nodding and head bobbing for the two support bands, Slaves [8/10] whipped up the small basement crowd into a relative frenzy. Their short set was half anarchic punk, and half bad jokes and humourous anecdotes. Though Slaves remain unsigned, they are fast-rising legends in the underground punk scene. Imagine Frank Carter of Gallows crossed with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. That’s a little like how Isaac Holmon of Slaves sounds (although I’m sure he’d have something vitriolic to say about that) simultaneously sneering into his microphone while beating the ever-loving daylights out of a battered snare and a floor tom. Laurie Vincent provides the melody, a low gritty guitar and the occasional howl, but what the minimalist set up lacks in instruments it more than makes up for in raw power and rhythm. “Where’s Your Car Debbie?” is a fantastically listenable example of their chanting choruses and tribal drumming… and is also apparently about Bigfoot if that floats your boat. However, if you lead a busy life and for some reason don’t have the time for a 2 and a half minute song, try “Girl Fight” – a 15 second rant about a vicious catfight Isaac saw once outside a chip shop in Royal Tunbridge Wells. “Girl Fight! Girl Fight! I’m not gonna get too close; my shoes are new, my shirt is white!” Abrupt, fierce and sardonic – Slaves all over.