Babe Punch have been everywhere in Nottingham in the last year – semi-finalists at Future Sound of Nottingham, gigging as headliners and support, and appearing at a good chunk of the festivals – and it’s a very good thing indeed. Now they’ve released their first EP, and as their self-assured, confident performance tonight shows, all that work slogging on the circuit has paid off.
The support acts are a real mix of style. Cameron Sinclair Harris offers up both mellow and jaunty folk-rock, without ever verging into twee or the usual singer-songwriter clichés. The highlight is an uplifting tune with charmingly bitter lyrics about the current UK situation – possibly an early example of potential new style, Brex-pop.
Sheffield lads The Vultures, sharply dressed and oozing low-key cool, launch into their blend of dreamy synth-rock, and although they start out looking like they need a shot of strong coffee, they very quickly pull out the adrenaline and tear up the room, and there’s some outstanding tambourine smashing and amp-climbing from the lead singer.
Head-splitting heavy rock pounds the room when Unqualified Nurse Band arrives. Just three guys with two guitars and a drum set yet they create a hell of vibe and sound, which they characterize as death surf – just not sure I could hear the surf over the death on this occasion.
Despite the bands’ different approaches, they’re actually great appetizers for Babe Punch, whose songs incorporate all these aspects of punk, grunge, rock and hazy alternative indie.
A chorus of ‘BABE PUNCH, BABE PUNCH!’ ricochets around the room while the band members are still warming up their instruments, and the mosh pit seems to be in motion before the first note is struck. This is a crowd of devotees eager to hear Babe Punch’s new material: luckily, the band lives up to their hype.
Control EP is the band’s first new recording for over a year, and they’ve refined their sound without losing the rawness that makes them great. Opener Leave Me Alone is all fuzzy guitars, and dreamy vocals, like a blast from the early nineties alternative scene, while another new ‘un, Bruises, hits harder, epic in sound even though it’s short, and with soaring vocals reminiscent of Grace Slick.
There’s stage diving, crowd-surfing and full on dancing-slash-moshing like a rabid monkey from the audience, and the line between band and spectator gets so blurred that during their final songs there seem to be more people on stage than in the audience, as guitarist Carys and lead singer Molly pull their friends and fans up with them to help start a singalong for the eponymous Control – gritty punk pop that sends the room into a frenzy. Sometimes you get an amazing gig – this time you get an amazing gig within a giant party.
Babe Punch launched their new EP, Control, at The Bodega on Saturday 15 October 2016.
Control EP by Babe Punch is out now.
Babe Punch interview