ARCH RIVALS/GRADE.2/The CRASH LANDINGS/HARD WAX/VATICAN ROMP. Underground, Plymouth

Words by Kevin DaviesPhotos by Arturro Misiek

As usual, I’d long been looking forward to this, and thankfully this time I didn’t fall asleep and miss this one.

VATICAN ROMP opened proceedings, a strange band, very strange indeed, some great tunes and all in good humour, but it’s kind of hard to nail what they’re all about, a singer who looked and sounded like a demented Tenpole Tudor crossed with that bloke from Talking heads singing along to an English Dogs backing track. Interesting or weird, I don’t know, weirdly interesting perhaps.

Hard to believe that tonight was HARD WAX’s debut gig, absolutely outstanding set from this Plymouth trio, tight as a gnats chuff and great tunes, reminiscent of proto-punk bands such as Jook and British Lions to boot. Comparisons with early Sparrer and Vicious Rumours are also there to be made. Outstanding.

The CRASH LANDINGS came next, another band new to me, they did not disappoint with their UK Subs-esque tuneful sing-along punk. Proper Streetpunk this and The Crash Landings are definitely a band I’d go out of the way to see again if I got the chance.

Heard so many good things about GRADE.2 but, to be honest I heard practically nothing by them before tonight. From the moment this young (and they are young, average age 12) three piece took to the stage they totally owned it. Brilliant, nothing short of brilliant. Grade.2 have the potential to be a great band and to be around for a very long time to come. I hope they achieve that.

Grade.2’s ownership of the stage was short lived tonight tho because next up is the main event, ARCH RIVALS and right from the get go these lads bossed it. Tunes to die for, sing-along anthems, crowd involvement, plenty of drinks, plenty of laughs.

Think early Business gigs, think early Condemned84 gigs. Yes, Arch Rivals are the definitive Oi band. Can’t wait for the Ejected vs Arch Rivals in December, and believe me it won’t be long before these boys are headlining gigs in their own right. They deserve it.