When it was announced that legendary Brighton venue Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar would be closing at the end of last year it sent shockwaves through the Brighton music scene. Firstly a sense of grief, due to lost jobs and the beautiful memories created there and, secondly, because if an independent venue can’t exist in Brighton – a liberal, music-loving city with independence running through its veins – then where can it? Thank goodness, then, for Green Door Store; a venue that has reached its eighth year by doing everything right. Showcasing excellent underground bands, as well as some of the most hotly-tipped in the world, as well as giving brilliant Brighton bands a leg up.
Their eighth birthday celebrations did exactly this, too, with a multitude of brilliant bands from across the country boasting one thing in common: a sense of uniqueness, moulded in the form of brilliant, grimey guitar-based rock and roll. From Brighton’s own frenzied heroes Guru and Heirloom, to hotly-tipped raucous punk from Girls In Synthesis, all the way to underground champions Meatraffle, who stepped in to headline at the last minute after Warmduscher pulled out due to scheduling issues, this was a night that wonderfully exhibited the necessity for independent venues and, with the venue absolutely rammed throughout, the sheer demand for it.
Kicking the celebrations off were Public Body, who produced a gritty, if a bit nervous, assembly of punchy, dirty post-punk. No doubt aware of opening an important occasion, the band’s set was anxiety-riddled but it somehow added to their frantic performance. Certainly one to watch, Public Body could be an impressive addition to many bills in 2019. A band they will no doubt look up to followed, as Guru continued their immense momentum built in 2018 to create one of the best performances of the evening. Frontman Tom Cherrill is an enormous presence on stage, evoking Shame’s Charlie Steen as he peacocks across the stage with venom. Exciting, virile, and furious, Guru absolutely tore the house down.
Likewise, Brighton band Heirloom’s performance once again confirmed their status as Brighton’s best new group. A band esteemed with a shadowy atmosphere, they’re growing in confidence with each and every performance. The likes of ‘Bunny’ and final song and latest single ‘Speak in Tongues’ are gloomy and seductive, as joint singers Jade Taaffe and Sam Rivers both diverge and coexist with aplomb. If Tom Waits starred in a Quentin Tarantino film, the result would be Heirloom. Intelligent, dark and penetrating, the Brighton band have all the tools to make 2019 their own.
Of course in a bill as big as this there was always going to be a misfire, and Italia 90 proved to be the disappointment of the evening. A perplexing band, that look as if they’ve just come together for the first time, they performed a slightly meandering set and one that certainly lacked bite. Luckily, Girls In Synthesis, the hotly-tipped band who just provided support for Wolf Alice’s huge Brixton Academy show, followed and they performed the wildest and most thrilling set of the evening. Once again leaving the stage after their first song, they joined the crowd for a raucous and unforgettable performance. There’s a beautiful chemistry between Jim Cubitt and John Linger, who thrive off each other’s energy while drummer Nicole Pinto rhythmically thunders behind the both of them. As the band so strongly state, ‘We Might Not Make Tomorrow’, and they play every show as if it is their last. It was a simply electrifying performance.
That just left oddball outfit Meatraffle to perform and, it has to be said, it was a fairly tame ending after the magnificence of Girls in Synthesis. Nevertheless, the band performed a set of what they do best: wacky pop riffs, dirty vocals and an eccentric sensibility. Furthermore, it sent the Green Door Store’s celebrations into an entirely different direction. If this night taught us anything, it’s that the people behind Green Door Store live and breathe music and it was an utter delight to see it packed to the rafters for the majority of the night.