Mattstock 2006: Newport Le Pub, 23/09/06

A first point: music was a big part of tonight, but so were rum and socialising. So this review will be far from objective, and probably misses out a couple of bands.

A second: as well as raising money for kids' hospice Ty Hafan, this mini-festival was originally thought up as a joint birthday celebration for two blokes called Matt (hence the name). I've no idea who Matt and Matt actually are - I just turned up for the bands - but they appear to have (mostly) decent taste in music.

I arrive just in time for some muscular rock from locals The Elephant Rescue Plan, who make up in energy and noisy powerchords for what they lack in stage presence and (ooh! dirty word!) originality. They're followed by some nameless purveyors of the sort of bland widdling my Dad would call dad-rock, so we head to the downstairs bar for More Rum.

On returning to the fray, we're greeted by the sublime lounge noir of Smokehand. This band really don't get shouted about enough. They come on like Danny Elfman in a smoky jazz dive (no, really), layering lyrical tales of sleaze and despair over a creepy funk that fills the dancefloor even as it sends shivers down the spine.

Newport's favourite sons (and Boobytrap's newest signings) Frommars may look like football hooligans, but they sound like Robert Smith's delinquent nephews, playing with the tightness that comes from a long apprenticeship on the toilet circuit, and an electricity that comes from just being generally ace. From the frenetic, paranoid intensity of "More Land To Build Houses On" to proto-anthem "Fallout," these songs are classics in the making. If there's any justice in the world, you'll be hearing them soon.

After another band missed through alcohol… er, I mean circumstances beyond my control, things rattle to a rather disappointing conclusion with Kent's The Mockingbird Nightmare. They might have come a long way, but on this evidence, they really needn't have bothered, because they sound like My Vitriol without the tunes or the chaotic onstage antics that made MV's early shows so exciting. In case you were wondering, this is not a good thing. Time for a taxi home…

Jessica Trash