The audience is spilling out onto the streets and this evening’s show at Bleach has a lively atmosphere, thick with chatter and anticipation. Birdskulls have never failed to impress me live, but it’s always been in the subordinate roll of the support act. As tonight’s headliners I’m hoping for the more receptive crowd that the band deserve, and by the end of the evening the audience has more than delivered.
But first support act Abattoir Blues’ have created something of a small buzz on the Brighton live circuit. Their music straddles the line between punk morphing into post-punk, but they inhabit this space comfortably and make it entirely their own. The chorus drenched and melodic guitars grate against the dissonance of the lead vocals and relentless rhythm section. Front man Harry Waugh makes for an interesting figure. Between songs he seems shy, looking down at the floor and mumbling indecipherably into his microphone, but whilst playing he becomes completely absorbed, prowling the stage almost in a stupor.
Once Birdskulls take to the stage, the fifth band playing on tonight’s mammoth lineup, the crowd wastes no time in launching themselves into a frenzy, and the intensity doesn’t let up for even a second through the entirety of their set. A song like ‘Silverface’ off the new album feels almost lethargic on record, but live it’s a relentless monster of head banging riffs and a propulsive rhythm section. For a three piece Birdskulls are able to create an impressive amount of noise, every element fully maximised to give the most impact possible. For an album that isn’t even a week old, a surprisingly large section of the audience know the words to the songs played tonight and they scream along with hands in the air.
It really isn’t anything short of total, joyous pandemonium. Stage dives happen so frequently there is barely anyone left to catch those launching themselves into the carnage. They become so recurrent people begin to add their own personal touches and elements of showmanship, whether its facing away from the crowd and falling backwards, in resemblance of one of those trust exercises, or even at one point managing to pull off a three hundred and sixty spin in mid air before vanishing into the throng. As the final notes ring out of set closer ‘Good Enough’ Birdskulls themselves give the crowd surfing a go, amongst an entire wave of other participants following their lead. They seem ecstatic at the reception they’ve received tonight. “This is the most fun we’ve ever had”, comments bassist Rory Marshall as he looks on in disbelief.
Many people (including myself) no doubt leave tonight’s show bruised, battered and stinking to high heaven of body odor. But you can be certain they would all say it was worth it