THE BRIGGS/STRAWBERRY BLONDES/MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE - Newport TJ's 09/09/09
My recollection of gigs at Newport TJs is always somewhat hazy as the venue seems to inhabit its own time zone. Not for them is there the necessity of an eleven oclock curfew and so when opening band MIDDLE FINGER SALUTE are only just starting their set at a quarter to ten I know that later events will be clouded by a sea of Strongbow.
I had actually recently seen lead singer Calum Sutton play an acoustic set at Rebellion, but other than that I knew little of them. However since forming in 2005 they seemed to have built up a creditable reputation as a touring band sharing stages with such luminaries as the Angelic Upstarts, Rancid, Misfits, Stiff Little Fingers and the Towers of London, and were recently to be seen on the US 2009 Vans Warped Tour. I cant say that I knew any of their numbers but certainly their enthusiasm was not dampened by the sparse crowd. Whilst I believe they originally hail from Blackburn, for my money they have more than a US/So-Cal punk feel to them. Theres nothing wrong with that, and in truth the pop punk bands are the only ones that sell in any great quantities in this genre. I guess only time will tell if they can manage to make a big breakthrough but once they end this tour they are straight into supporting TV Smith, Goldblade and Cock Sparrer, so they are certainly going about matters the right way.
Next up was local heroes STRAWBERRY BLONDES who were guaranteed a good reception by the crowd that had by now noticeably increased. Again they are a hard working band who appear to tour constantly, and like the opening act, seem to have attracted the interest of some heavyweight US punk bands like Rancid, Bad Brains, The Unseen, The Aggrolites, Anti-Flag and Millencolin. They were promoting their second album Fight Back, an album that featured a guest appearance by tonight headliners The Briggs. For a band with only three members they make a big noise, and lead singer Mickie Stabbs dementedly prowls the stage, occasionally standing on the monitors to tower over the adoring home town audience. Whilst they undoubtedly write catchy punk songs (a la Rancid) they contain lyrics that reflect the darker side of urban decay. Also songs like Beat Down Babylon show that they have the confidence in their own abilities to deviate from the norm and introduce a lady trumpet player stage left. Heres hoping they get the break that their performance tonight warranted.