Joe Briggs Top Ten - Static Shock Festival Special
Joe plays in Scrap Brain and has been in bands and putting on gigs for yonks.
Top 10 Records by bands that have played or are playing at Static Shock Weekend:
Static Shock Weekend has provided me some of the most memorable times of my life. Some of the best bands I’ve ever seen. And also some of the biggest mad ones I’ve ever experienced. In 2015 I got so cXnted I forgot how to speak. This year I am looking forward once again to seeing mates from around the world and meeting a bunch of sick punx. I’m also incredibly excited for my band to play it for the first time (Scrap Brain: 3:50 Friday matinee at New River before Chain Cult), and I’m also very excited for Geld, Warthog, Boss, Sial, Heavy Sentence and many many other banging bands, and of course the traditional Friday night Bad Boy Bress DJ set. See you in the pit.
Hank Wood and the Hammerheads – Go Home
21st century New York’s answer to the Mummies released their third album in 2018 and it rips, but their 2012 debut remains special. While garage-punk as a term tends to conjure up images of identikit Burger Records bands chugging through mediocre riffs, Hank Wood’s approach revels in the grot and grime and the weirdness of punk, realising that more interesting than aping the Ramones riffs, is digging into their oddball city urchin mentality, the pain and the mental pressure. Repetitive lyrics of frustration and fury. Most of the tracks have simple refrains that build and twist in on themselves, growling and snapping at you, twitching inwards and out with raw raw firehose power, like the song My House which consists almost entirely of the line “HEY YOU! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!” like that point of utter dissolution in an argument that ends a party or relationship when you just hang on to one phrase repeating it with machine-malfunction rhythm again and again and a-fucking-gain to the slippery point of semantic satiation because it’s that now-or-never separation you need right now, not any sort of showdown, not any sort of explication of issues and history you just need the lonesomeness and you can’t see anywhere, think of anything, but that repitition and the respite it seems to shape. This album is about those wormy twin feelings of city living, where you despise the alienation and industrial numbness of these human-factory farms (“I don’t belong here.” broods Snide…Petty…Fools) but also revel in the badass ice-eyed streetwise fearless cynosure cXnt you cut yourself into in order to survive. This whole record, from the clanking sewer-noise of its untitled track, to the redneck rumblings at the start of Bad Things which quickly devolving into another growling stompy scratching-at-the-seams mess, is a jittery uncomfortable grumble on urban rot and the Mega-City Dredd attitude it cultivates inside us that boots up against our smarts and dreams and failing stars and tussles there til we drown it with alcohol or cyborg drugs or abandon the fight, the blame and the corruption, for the quieter apocalypses of suburbia.
Playing in 2014, the Hammerheads, live are a writhing insistent mass of panicked guttural twitchings, those isolated breakdowns become roaring shoutalongs, flung about in deadly release.
Dawn of Humans – Slurping at the Cosmic Spine
The apogee of 2010s freakpunk. Scuzzy guitar dragged over pogothump rhythms runs Slurping at the Cosmos Spine, strapped up equally ready for an imbecilic slamdance or fresh aperture gouged into your third-eye. The vocals are the most divergent instrument here, snapping lizardbrain warbling and strained whinnies, inane whirling ditties with the cadence of playground taunts, deep dogbitten threats, panicked jolts and spasms. There’s the tapewhine and flickering spitshake of Possibility Box, the rattling of Secretion, the fleshy vellication of Painful Mountain, the restless clamor of Dug Hole, the pumpfake slobbering dronedrawl of Horseblind, slipping down into dark. All the way through to the pressing freakstamp of Foundation, Dawn of Humans snatched songs from fragments and shards. Gnomic visions of a world in flux, half-glimpsed through a mucal veil. Oblique gerunds trailing off, “As we stand on firm ground, we sink in, callousing” on Horseblind, Fixation’s repetitive sneer of “Always bending”, Dug Hole “Creeping, seeping, crawling”, Possibility Box “Knowing, not knowing”. This album tricks out the scribbly essence of thought, coalescing and tearing, tumbling off into the ether. It’s a world of traps and terrors, fears lurking beyond or within, their clammy tendrils brushing against up against you as you surge bodily and stumblemosh in the gloom. Jump-up music for aborted seances, busted headcult punks in primordial movement, dancemoves and directions sucked greedily straight from the collective unconsciousness of the puerile choir immaterial.
They played in 2014 with Emil adorned in a homemade armour made of a broken mirror, bungee cords and duct-tape, partway through their set he leapt into the pit and opened up his hat to take out bits of paper which he passed out exhorting the wildly pogoing punks to CHANGE or GROW. A mate of my received one of these after smashing his first gary and I think his head hasn’t been the same since. Meanwhile, I went home with the mirror that was hanging off Emil’s cock and it’s still on my wall.
Good Throb – The Queen Sucks Nazi Cock
Watching a band grow is one of the greatest joys, while Good Throb were already a great band when I first saw them in Power Lunches supporting White Lung a good five or six years ago, over the course of their lifespan into one of the best punk bands in the world. Their final (for now) record, features their timeless mix of scalpel sharp lyrics, sneering soul-snatching vocals, clattering drums, intricate spiky guitar, pumping bass. Best British punk band since Crass.
They played a bunch of times, but from being a fairly early Friday night band in 2014 when half the people are still hungover to one of the Saturday night main events in 2017, where people back the gigroom 30 minutes before and the air pulses with anticipation, as more and more people got caught up in the Throb, this band have never failed to kill it live.
S.H.I.T. – What Do You Stand For?
Consistently making some of the best hardcore punk in the world since they got together almost a decade ago, their first LP is rushes and reaps, ready to rearrange face and brains, fit for blowing up rooms. Vocals dragged roughly out of the depth the throat, but imbued with less echo and blunt purpose than their earlier EPs, retching over the collision of body and society, mind and matters, writhing and snatching clumsily in flat bursts of alienation. Pressing onwards, crashing forwards. They played two sets in 2014, an absolutely terrifying Friday night one which destroyed one of the speakers and ripped off the top half of Colin from Disguise’s ear, and a slightly less insane but maybe more joyous Saturday night.
Game – Who Will Play?
Though they’ve only been going a couple years, Game’s collective members who’ve played in bands like Fucked Up, Violent Reaction, Career Suicide, Arms Race and many more, have probably got a good couple thousand gigs under their collective belt. While there is an incredible joy in seeing a rough and ready bunch of kids working out their way around their instruments with simple, there’s an equally special feeling when a bunch of hardcore/punk lifers take their experience and talent and commitment and pool it into a complete hardcore statement like Game do. Actually calling to mind true greats like Gauze and other bands that people claim their band sounds like while missing by a mile, Gauze. Astonishing riffs, bloodied vocals, perfect hardcore. They played the last one and they’re tour-tight and on the main stage at this one.
Una Bestia Incontrolable – Observant Com el Món es Destrueix
It’s rare to find a hardcore band with so few direct forebears, Una Bestia Incontrolable’s shares little in common with most adherents of the genre, maybe only in the percussive seductive weirdness of Hungary’s Vágtázó Halottkémek can you find such a melding of danceable rhythms and scratchy uncomfortable noise. Also, while most hardcore bands, like Hank Wood, focus on the urban, UBI often draw on the deep terror, the choking awe of nature’s darkness, to infuse their songs, the childhood fear of the woods run through rumbling hardcore punk, dirt-infected guitar tones. Pernicious smirking forest knifepucks, or a deadfaced stalker, unseen, always pacing behind you with the rustle of brushes, the whip and crack of branches and twigs. An endless evil in the woods, deeper than the roots of the biggest fuck-off trees. Fuck the communion with nature, fuck the Growth of the Soil, don’t trust the earth. This album is the sound of cold streams, mini-eschatons, phobias of the dark that stretch back further than childhood, stretch back right into some deeper human dread, primal terror, shadowy places that have existed for a long-ass time. It’s an album of fire, winds and flamewhips. Echoes. Shit. Crepitations. Threat. Pounding rocks, nasty fucknoise built into looming boulders and packed into mud since the coalescence of the earth. Violence until now. Let us in. Let us out. We were right to be afraid.
UBI played their first gig ever at Static Shock 2012 and returning as headliners in 2015, a set I actually didn’t enjoy because I was absolutely off my tits and 5 minutes before they played Tom Ellis informed me I was going to go on stage and talk to 500 people immediately after their set so I spent the entire set completely freaking my nut out. Thanks for that, Tom.
Kriegshog – s/t
For my money, the best album released by La Vida Es Un Mus, the greatest punk label in the world. In the myriad forms of Japanese hardcore, from the sweeping solos of Death Side, the whipcrack fury of Gauze, the monomaniacal d-beat of Disclose, Kriegshog mine the particular of the likes of Crow and their crusty thunderous take on Motorheadesque rock and roll. Burn in particular is one of the best hardcore songs of the last 25 years. A hypnotic propulsive fury, pulling you into the murk. They headlined in 2016 and tore up both the Dome and the Unicorn. I remember most of both sets.
The Number Ones – Another Side of the Number Ones
Four songs of absolutely timeless power-pop, feeling less like they were written but plucked fresh and complete from some ineffable romantic ether, but that’s how it goes with perfect pop songs, golden tunes, wry lyrics, melodies smooth as a white lie, if everyone could write songs this good, they would. The effort and talent that goes into crafting these tunes as good as anything on any Powerpearls comp is elided by the finished product, and its irresistible charm. The Number Ones have played SSW multiple times. From their Saturday afternoon in 2014, where it genuinely looked like Cian was gonna puke for half the set, to the 2015 aftershow, which I have absolutely no recollection of despite there being documentary evidence of me being there (apparently my trousers fell down in the pit) the lads seem to be able to dig deep within themselves and conjure up those sweet melodies and harmonies and despite the fact that they are invariably either absolutely on it or struggling through a thick fug of a hangover. This year they close out the festival on the Sunday evening. Good luck, lads.
Uranium Club – All of Them Naturals
Meticulously-crafted post-punk dispatches from a strange alien world of workplace paranoia, a fully-realised conceptual approach to the surreal despair inherent in the corporate psychological landscape of late American capitalism, like Devo covering David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King. They smashed it up in 2016 and will be doing it again this year on Friday night.
Bib – Moshpit
Plaintive piano into what is basically the Leeway intro, absolutely massive fuckin hardcore, riffs that sound they were played with a brick, songs constructed purely to stomp your head in. Pure mosh tempting even the most retired old-punk back into the pit. They played 2017 and it was almost too hot to breathe. The closest I’ve felt to death during a punk gig. Incredible stuff.