Howling gales and relentless driving rain on a gloomy October evening in Southsea was somewhat ironic as the perfect backdrop for this trio of young, angry bands who took to the tiny stage at Albert Road's The Loft tonight. This small, dark and dingy upstairs venue has played host to a smattering of excellent punk and anarcho bands over the last few months including Omega Tribe and The Spitfires.
Unfortunately I only caught the tail end of opening act Violet Mud, a Solent-based quartet bringing scuzzy doom-metal ridden noise - and lots of hair! - to kick off the night. They went down well and had brought in people in droves to catch their sadly, short set.
Portsmouth's genre-crossing Battery Hens (self-described 'Pessimistic music for optimists!') were up next and gave a slick, confident, yet at times ferocious performance with their unique blend of dirgey post-punk, shoegaze and blistering noise. Battery Hens are very hard to label (always a good thing in my opinion) but they are infectiously watchable and have a way of holding you entranced. In places they are reminiscent of a punked-up Cardiacs without brass instruments! Certainly in tracks such as ‘DNR’ the vocalist surreptitiously drawls the words' Do not resuscitate’ to a steadily increasing plethora of guitar and bass distortion. The four-piece have just finished recording their debut album but a great taster of what’s to come is available on their fantastic ‘Guts’ EP.
Bad Breeding, then simply left me breathless. Lead singer Chris Dodd, reminiscent of a young Steve Ignorant was not content to tread the restricted constraints of the small humble stage. With a defiant, dead-eyed stare, he snaked through the crowd, spitting out lyrics, whilst difficult to make out in his angry rasp, but full of conviction. Whilst he was right in your face and breathtaking to watch, you could still not help but also draw your eyes – and ears – to the trio – bassist, guitarist and drummer remaining onstage whipping up a frenzy of sheer noise terror. This band are, for want of a more eloquent phrase, tight as fuck; Matt Toll's fingers are lightning across the guitar fret board and with clever use of a gold slider, he emits a habitual cool and confidence belying his years. To perfectly complement this, similarly Charlie Rose's sleazy, rolling, honey-smooth bass licks were dessert for the ears. Like he's being doing the job for 20 years, he slithered and slunk to and from the bass amp, teasing the feedback when needed. There is a brilliant chemistry here. Whilst at the back, drummer Ashlea Bennett pounded, throttled, smacked, crushed and stomped his drums like the apocalypse was already upon us.
Watching Bad Breeding for the first time unashamedly gave me goosebumps and a sense of gnawing excitement and passion, as if being back in '82 and seeing Discharge or Crass for the first time. Similarly, they gave me the same sense of excited foreboding when I first saw Gallows play a similar tiny, dark, narrow venue. These are not the stereotypical 'angry young men'; moreover they play and drive their message across like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Hailing from the grey towers and soulless London-commuter-town of Stevenage, Bad Breeding are the bastard children of post-millenium Tory Britain. However, they wield a shield of resilience and defiance against the apathy, despair, ignorance and prejudice that threatens to erode creativity and humanity.
Oh yes, BB are a dragon's breath of fire and virality into the modern punk scene, whilst drawing influences and experiences which hark back to the 1970s. Go and see them now.
Buy their debut LP 'Divide' available from