Having impressed while sitting third on the bill for GLUM a few months back, tonight was the turn for another of Brighton’s hottest bands, Ragweed, to step forward and take the lead role in a show of their own. The launch party for their new EP Breathing Holes took place at The Prince Albert in front of a small but vocal crowd, with support from fellow Brightonians KLAE and Happy Couple adding to a great atmosphere. Once again, it confirmed their potential as one of the next big acts to burst from these fertile soils.
The night begins with an aural onslaught from Happy Couple. Pounding drums combine with a deafening guitar sound to create a volume that serves only to pin audience members back to the rear of the room. With vocals from the female singer bellowed and screamed, it is an abrasive start to the show – and potentially one that would have resulted in anyone sitting downstairs nursing half a pint to head to the bar again rather than coming up. Eventually, the noise subsides revealing a dreamier aspect with a driving rhythm section that flirts with a motorik beat at one point. The final track in their set finally soars into a heady mix of shoegaze and post-punk, signalling what they could yet become.
Next up, KLAE, for the last time in their current line-up. Very different to what had come before, at times there is a slight Americana tinge while at other points they are surprisingly funky. One constant is the extreme tightness of the band, with Lizzy Coulson as a fantastic front woman. She gives an assured presence on the mic as well as a throaty, gritty voice that contains plenty of power. New single ‘Fake’ is the highlight of the night, and shows more than enough to hope that the change in line-up doesn’t throw them off too much. Watch out for these ones.
Then came Ragweed. Like a clap of thunder that comes from nowhere, their set begins with no introduction except for the sudden sonic boom of ‘Grey Matter’. Following up with an equally explosive second song, it’s instantly apparent that frontman Tom Adamson is a true force of nature on stage. Slamming his head backwards and forwards, dynamic and propulsive, he is a hard man to take your eyes off. On the opposite side of the stage, Callum Regelous-Cooke carries himself with that effortless chill that bassists always seem to have, while drummer Josh Pingram forcefully slams each song onwards and upwards. ‘Thought This Through’ may slow things down slightly, but it is only an incremental drop in pace before Ragweed hit top speed again.
Stylistically the band straddle a centre ground with definite slants towards grunge, but possessing a harder edge at points. Unlike many Brighton bands however, these are springboards rather than templates – ‘Backbiter’ could come straight out of skater punk compilation videos from the 90s, while ‘Canzema’ is a dirty, sleazy beast of a track. There are snippets of the greats buried in their DNA as pieces of a genetic code, the raw material transformed here into something new. As they finish on seismic versions of ‘Silver Spoon’ and a thrashy ‘Up N Under’, it’s clear that they are onto something special.
Nights like these are always the making of bands at this stage in their career, where the potential is still greater than the audience number. As they continue to grow and evolve, and the set list solidifies, Ragweed are going to be a true force to reckon with. Already, songs like ‘Silver Spoon’ have the feel of anthems that circle pits and mad scenes will form around – it is just a question now of plying their trade, building their name, and letting the inevitable word-of-mouth from shows like this work its magic. Ragweed are clearly a band on their way to somewhere, my advice is get in early so you can brag about how long you’ve liked them in years to come.