Another evening out and rocking with a diverse three band bill in a less than sunny Manchester. All were bands that I had never previously seen so a keen air of anticipation bordering on excitement was how I was feeling as I approached the venue. Due to a late work finishing time together with early Christmas celebrators and traffic meant I was just about making the scheduled start deadline as the first band hit the stage.
Unfortunately, many others were clearly experiencing similar issues as Bullets and Octane began their set. One sign of a band’s character is how they perform in front of a small in number audience. That was the challenge facing Bullets and Octane as they got the night’s entertainment underway. Lead vocalist Gene Louis is a complete whirlwind of energy as he attempts to cover every square inch of the venue, from the stage to getting in the face of the audience right down on the floor. The band themselves look to be having a complete blast as they serve up a hard-hitting raw and gritty rock sound. Despite crowd numbers being very low, the few that saw them and arrived early enough certainly won’t forget their visual and engaging performance. Bullets and Octane triumph in very difficult circumstances.
Next on the bill were the suitably named Sumo Cyco, a band that I had heard a lot about as they had particularly impressed many of my friends on their previous Manchester visits. They decided to follow the previous bands lead and adopted an approach of using the venue floor space as well as the venue stage to deliver their show. The lead singer is a striking and very powerful visual presence. However, it’s not purely all about aesthetics and the band’s songs actually stand up well on a first hearing. Style and sound wise it’s close to pop-punk in that the powerful energy of punk rock is fueled with a catchy pop sensibility and sense of melody-with catchy hook-driven choruses. Definitely impressive on a first showing both sonically and in terms of stage performance, though I definitely think that they should drop the System of a Down cover from their short set.
The final act of the night are the strangely monikered CKY – a band that have been plying their musical trade for many years. The band regularly visit the UK on their tours and have built up a strong following. Their musical sound has changed quite dramatically from their earlier skate-punk roots to today’s garage /stoner rock groove. The vocal harmonies add depth to the band’s sound which is immense in a live setting for a three-piece band. Following up quickly to their recent dates with Skindred it was good to see that CKY clearly valued their Uk fan base with a rapid return and some headlining shows. They have long since created their own identity outside of the much-publicised link to Bam Margera of Jackass notoriety. A nice mix-up of tracks from their debut release right up to more recent songs from The Phoenix. The three-piece like the two bands earlier in the evening provided an enthusiastic show with lots of crowd interaction (now swelled thankfully to healthier numbers) Another band that I have enjoyed- a great package and one that has subsequently led me to explore all of the 3 bands previous musical catalogue. A convert if you will, and for someone that has been around the musical block several times that alone stands as quite an achievement.
Photos by Richard Nurse