The Indie boys of Aussie Land:
Skeggs, Gaffa Tape Sandy and Ratbags
Clwb Ifor Bach, 13.8.19

A part of the Australasian invasion of bands from down under coming out on top in the UK music scene, Skeggs are sweeping west fast. Concluding their UK tour at Clwb Ifor Bach, they moved straight onto a European tour and, if my calculations are correct, are currently tearing it up somewhere near Cologne in Germany. They’re part of a wave of bands from Australia who feel distinctly- well, Australian. Skegss, The Chats, Amyl and The Sniffers all have the accolade of going global with the Australian flavour, keeping it simple, free and full of character. I was looking forward to a night of chilled goodness. Skegss’ recorded material had a softness to it. I thought ‘Just a good night of head bobbing tonight’.

Then I saw the opening act…

Pic - Facebook

Decked out in tattoos, vintage ware and a guitarist with leopard print hair, Bristol based punk band Ratbags made their way to the stage. Trailing behind them was an entourage of punks who looked like they all owned Siouxsie Sioux posters. Not very Indie pop indeed. My interest was had. Who were these people, what would they be like?…

Exciting - Really, REALLY exciting.

Sonically, they had a simple four chord punk style that had a ferocity to it through the aid of a Big Muff pedal with an upbeat rhythm on the drums that kept you bouncing till your knees burst. I was expecting a night of light indie pop, yet already Ratbags had got me searching for the undercurrents of a pit in the crowd. Alas, the 501’ers were too coy for them to not care about getting their Vans dirty, yet the fact remained the foundation of atmosphere was laid. Would Gaffa Tape Sandy lean into the more rugged sound of their previous recordings to build upon this or pull back to the softer feel of their most recent release ‘Family Mammal’?

When they stride into the ring, Gaffa Tape Sandy pulled no punches. With an opening track from their 2017 EP that bordered on grunge, it was clear the feel they were going for. It sounded raw, violent. The guitarist beating into his strings with the plectrum, a feral sound was spat from the speakers and we were stood transfixed on it all. Even if you got dragged into the crowd for a burst of slam dancing, your eyes never left the stage. The three piece were throwing everything into their songs. Faces made red and stage made sweaty by the power exerted on mic and instrument.

Pic - Bury St Edmunds May 2018 by Rosey

The bar was now set. Every other track following this hailing from Family Mammal had the same raw texture masked onto it, keeping the essence of the lighter new tracks but with a boosted intensity driving the atmosphere skyward. Breakout single Beehive was met with a total roar from the audience. A track that feels loose and in the moment. They play with the pacing of it constantly, cranking it from 5-11 and back again without warning. No element of the song is repeated exactly throughout, constantly evolving as the track runs on. It made a great introduction to the new material on the record, and the same effect is had in the live show. Closing on Kill the Chord, people were left drenched in sweat and adrenaline.

Up next: The indie boys of Aussie land.

To begin with, things were as relaxed as I had expected at the start. People dancing, head bobbing, singing along. The second song comes in and it’s like someone just flicked a switch. The band had warmed into their performance and were now hitting us with everything they had. Similarly to Gaffa Tape Sandy, Skegss had turned the intensity up with their songs. Same song, more punch, greater atmosphere.

And people loved it.

Pic Dani Hansen

Down in the crowd they moved in a constant flow of dance, the intimate venue meant no one could sit out on the sides away from the action: you were amongst it whether you intended it or not. It’s rare you see a venue at full cap where everyone’s getting involved, yet I think that was one of those nights. If you weren’t dancing, then you were one of the ones stage diving into the arms of strangers below. These were the indie pits I love so much. Overall it was a strangely comfy vibe in the room. Be it Skegss’ open confessions of adolescent confusion in the lyrics, their at ease stage presence or the pit friends you ended up making after three songs, it all felt so homely. Things took a turn for the high octane following a much chanted cover of The Pixies - Here Comes Your Man. From here the band felt like your friends who you’d known forever. People shouted their song suggestions and they were ones to oblige them. In fact I’m quite sure I heard one track three times - I felt blessed.

In all honesty, I don't think I’d smiled so much in a show before, the perfect line up with the perfect crowd came together in Cardiff’s most iconic venue to give us a story to be told. Beaming like the rest of the crowd, I joined the makeshift queue for a picture with my partner in curtains.

‘Can I have a picture man?’
‘Ye, twenny quid’
‘Sod off’

He’s a cool guy.

If - like me - you’re already scouting out for the next signs of Skegss in sheep shagger territory then fret not. Going off their word we’ll be seeing much more of Skegss in in the new year. So keep your eye’s peeled, your ears open. We’ve got much more Skegss to come.

Dom Waters

Thanks to Joe Weaver and Matty at Supercat for sorting things out for us.