Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach
November 1 2010


Going to see a gig by bands that I know little about is a bit of a journey into the unknown. Therefore, in an attempt to produce a review that constituted more than “they all had beards and played loud”, I enlisted the assistance of my son Tom for the low-down on the Cancer Bats, and my Bristolian mate Gashead to shed light on Trash Talk.

However, first up was French band Vera Cruz, who had the unenviable task of opening the evening. Nonetheless the already sizeable crowd in the venue seemed to appreciative their attempts at getting the ball rolling. I think they sang in English but, given that this genre of music is not known for its articulation, it was difficult to tell. Several requests for the crowd to start a circle pit unfortunately fell on deaf ears, but this didn’t seem to dampen the bands enthusiasm. Given the reaction to their songs I’m sure they left with a few more fans than they had at the start of the evening.

Next on was Trash Talk from California.  They've toured relentlessly to promote their latest album 'Eyes & Nines'.  Led by singer Lee Spielman, they crash through their set and only slow down for 'Hash Wednesday' sung by bassist Spencer Pollard.  As you'd expect from track upon track of hardcore punk, the drumming is ferocious. They make threats of being “Your worst fucking nightmare" on 'Walking Disease', and make a rather scathing attack on their home city in 'Sacramento Is Dead'.  The highlight track was recent single 'Explode'.       

Pic Charlie Two Hats

Spielman spends most of the time in the crowd rather than on stage.  If you're going to stand near him, then make sure you know the words because his microphone will be thrust in your face and your vocal contribution required.  For the rest of the crowd, it's advisable to wear gum-shields as Spielman instigates circle-pits, stampedes, crowd-surfs, stage-dives and even crawls along the ceiling via the scaffolding and lighting.  His band mates shuffle along walls and straddle amps whilst playing.

Spielman is in his early twenties and it's plain to see his battered body won't be able to tolerate this intensity later in life.  At the end of their set, you'd expect them to go backstage and relax with a spliff.  No way, they jump into their van and head to nearby Newport to do it all again at a free gig they put on at Le Pub.

Afterwards, they travelled to Ireland via Coventry and Spielman tweeted on Twitter 'In Ireland. Both shows in Dublin were wild. My eye got busted open again. Waiting to get to Belfast for some stitches. Shit is free there'.  With their own headline UK/Europe/Australian tour imminent, I hope they don't burn themselves out too soon. 
And so to the headliners... Born out of the grimy hardcore scene, CANCER BATS are touring to promote their latest CD “Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones”. The name apparently is derived from the nicknames of each of the four Bats – drummer Mike Peters (not the bloke from the Alarm!), guitarist Scott Middleton, vocalist Liam Cormier, and bassist Jaye Schwarzer, respectively. Having been originally formed in 2004, from the ashes of Toronto heavy metal band At the Mercy of Inspiration, they now describe themselves as a hardcore punk band, with elements of southern metal, sludge metal, stoner metal and death punk, so it seems everybody is catered for.

Pic Kattie V

To say that the mostly teenage audience lapped up their set is an understatement, as the band banged out one crashing number after another.

Unfortunately to old ears like mine the lyrics were undistinguishable, but it seemed to matter not to the swaying humanity that made up a circle pit immediately in front of the stage. I’m reliably informed that they included,'Sorceress’,’ Lucifer’s Rocking Chair' and 'Deathsmarch' in their repertoire, as well as liberally sprinkling in tracks from the new album.

However, even I was able to recognise their rather unique cover of the Beastie Boys' 'Sabotage' which I’m sure would have made Ad-rock and Co smile.

Their set was brought to a finale with 'Hail Destroyer’ and the sell out crowd departed happy, if not somewhat harder of hearing.

Whilst these bands are not normally the type that I would go and see, it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Certainly the audience lapped it up and it was refreshing to see that not all teenagers are listening to the saccharin sweet, X-factor type dross that it constantly pumped out on TV and radio. So if you fancy your music loud and with a harder edge, check out these bands if they come to your locality. Oh yes, and if you are as ancient as me, don’t forget to take cotton wool!!


Thanks to Ian Cheek for arranging entry, Gashead for his expert analysis of Trash Talk and Tom Jones (yes really!) for a steer on the Cancer Bats