Billyclub / Infa Riot / Subhumans — Warehouse 23, Wakefield 18 April 2019
I wanted to go to a folk festival this year, but Mrs Marcus said we’re not old enough for that yet, so we ended up going to the Holocaust In Your Head / Noise Not Music / Discharge festival (it had lots of different names on Facebook) in Birmingham instead, mainly because Civilised Society were playing. They were one of the bands we used for lullaby music when Sprog1 was a baby in the early 90s, she wouldn’t seem to go to sleep to anything else. She ended up being into Spice Girls and Aqua, so I don’t know what happened there. She later worked for Vivienne Westwood for a year though, so there’s that I suppose.
Anyway, the night before we headed off to Birmingham we went to see Billyclub, Infa Riot and Subhumans in Wakefield. We’d bought tickets for it months in advance, thinking it would sell out pretty quick, but when we got there the place was half empty and stayed that way for the rest of the night.
We went in Bill’s car, so the bike stayed at home. He was about 40 minutes late picking us up, and we thought we were going to miss Billyclub, but in the end we got there with about 10 minutes to spare. When the bouncers saw Bill hobbling along the road on his walking stick they let him in through the side door so he wouldn’t have to climb the stairs. I was also on a walking stick, the one with a secret camera mount hidden under the handle, but I had to take the stairs instead.
Bill had never seen Billyclub before, but he liked them enough to send me to get him a CD off them after they’d finished, and he later bought a T-shirt. I used my walking stick to film a couple of songs, but the floor was vibrating with the music and the video went all wobbly. I eventually fixed that by balancing the end of the walking stick on my foot instead of the floor, but I suppose holding the stick off the ground would have done just as well.
Infa Riot were on next, who used to be Kids Of The 80s but are now Old And Angry. As an aside, I’ve got a feeling it might have been an Infa Riot gig at The Marples in Sheffield in 1981 that I based the first couple of chapters of Runaway on, but memories of drunken brawls with skinheads have become a bit hazy over time so it might have been someone else. Nothing like that happened this time, of course, because we’re all too old for that sort of nonsense. Which is probably just as well because with half the audience being bald it would be quite difficult to know who was on your side.
A few more people wandered in for Subhumans, some even jumped around to them in front of the stage for a while before they got out of breath and gave up on it. The singer Dick Lucas seems to be still full of energy though, it must be that vegan diet of his or something. They played for about an hour, with him running around the stage the whole time. I have no idea how he manages to keep his glasses on while he’s doing all that, mine fall off every time I look down. Maybe they are glued on or something.
When we got back home at about midnight we found out the dog had gone on hunger strike and refused to eat his dinner in protest at us abandoning him for the night. Which didn’t bode well for the trip to Birmingham the next day, because we would be away for three days, not just the five hours we’d spent in Wakefield. We had visions of coming back to a skeleton dog, like the one that lives next door. I’m sure they never feed the thing, because they never take it for a walk either so it can’t be just running off the calories.
A Holocaust In Your Head / Discharge / Noise Not Music Festival — The Castle And Falcon, Birmingham 19 – 20 April 2019
We went on the bike to Birmingham, it’s just under 100 miles away so we only had to stop once along the way, and the satnav lady took us straight to the door of the place we were staying at without any weird detours like she usually does. We’d booked it through Airbnb, and it turned out to be a lot posher than we expected. There was lots of weird posho food I’d never heard of in the fridge too, but we didn’t try any of that, we just stuck to the proper food we’d taken with us or bought at the Lidl down the road.
The venue was The Castle and Falcon, a pub about half a mile away, and we tried to use the satnav lady to help us walk there but I think she must have got confused by how slow we were walking or something because she kept silent the whole way. We found it by ourselves, anyway. There was a sign on the door banning the wearing of hats, which is just HATTIST, but fortunately it wasn’t enforced and I was still allowed to enter.
We handed over the tickets we’d printed out before we set off, along with the payment receipt, and, unknown to us at the time, the page with the keycodes for entry to the flat we were staying at. The bloke on the door ripped them all up and gave us black wristbands to wear. Had to put them on ourselves, which is a bit trickier than it sounds.
Just after 5.30 the door to the band room was unlocked and people wandered in. Mostly old duffers like us, but there was also a few youngsters too, which is a bit weird. They were dressed like 1980s punks, so maybe that’s what their grandparents were or something. Quite a big room, but a fairly small stage. The first thing I noticed is there wasn’t any seats so you had to stand up all the time. Fuck that, we thought, and got a couple of stools from the bar area. Everyone else seemed happy enough to stand up. Weirdos.
The first band were called Mannequin Factory, and are probably best described as a sort of shouty industrial duo with a bit of performance art. A lot of people hated them so much they just walked out with their hands over their ears, but I really liked them. The bloke playing the gristleizer – if that’s the correct term for such things – was blind, and his guide dog wore special doggy ear protectors while it sat on the floor watching them. I was expecting the dog to be called Gristle, but it wasn’t. The other bloke ran around all over the place, jumping on and off the stage while he shouted stuff. Mrs Marcus didn’t like them, and when she saw me buy their CD later she said I could only play it when she is out.
It was while Mannequin Factory were playing that I found a little alcove next to the bar (which wasn’t open, and I suppose that would explain why everyone rushed out between bands, with the youngsters even leaving their painted leather jackets on the floor). We moved the stools into that when the band room was empty, and pretty much stayed there for the rest of the night.
I’m not sure who was on next, one of the bands had cancelled so it would have been either DSA or Salvo. I liked them, anyway, whoever they were. In fact there was only one band the whole weekend that I didn’t really care much for, but I won’t say who that was in case they track me down and beat me up over it – they did look quite scary, to be honest.
Certified were next, unless they were the band who cancelled and it was actually Salvo or DSA playing in the wrong order. Then The Crippens, who used to have a Doctor as well but don’t seem to anymore. Maybe he got struck off or something? I used to play one of their albums a lot in the olden days, but had largely forgotten about them until I saw them at Rebellion last year. If you haven’t seen them, they’re one of the more theatrical thrash bands, they like to dress up on stage and make a mess everywhere with confetti and stuff like that. Nightmare on Sesame Street is probably their best known song.
Tried to film a few songs with the camera in my hand, but ended up stuck behind a bunch of giants and gave up. After that I decided if I wanted to film something the only way to do it would be with the camera on the end of my walking stick, and the stick fully extended so it’s about 10 foot high. That solved the problem of the giants, but also meant I couldn’t reach the controls so there would be no zooming in and out, just a static shot. The alcove we were in hid the camera from view of the rest of the crowd, so we didn’t spoil it for anyone else before anyone writes in to complain. It did get a few weird looks from people who barged past to get closer to the stage, though.
Anti System were a new band to me, but the internet says they’ve been around for decades so I’m not sure how I’ve managed to miss them up to now, especially with them being from Yorkshire like me. The singer spent more time in the audience than on stage, but they were good, and they gave me a free badge for my hat.
Then it was Absolution, who seemed to just do songs about various serial killers, but not the Yorkshire Ripper which seems a bit racist against Yorkshire to me. He’s probably our most famous export, after cricket and Jimmy Savile, so he deserves a song of his own.
Then it was Extreme Noise Terror, who closed the first evening. ENT were a band I used to play a lot in the late 80s to annoy the upstairs neighbours I had at the time. They always had noisy parties on Sunday nights where they would play crappy pop music for hours on end while I was trying to sleep, so as soon as they went quiet I would get up and blast the ENT side of Radioactive at them. Fun times.
I can’t say I’ve listened to them much since then, but I did remember all the songs they played, especially Murder which seemed to be included on every single one of their records. Borstal Breakout was a nice addition at the end of the set, much better than the Sham 69 version.
Back at the flat, we couldn’t find the printout with the keycode for the door, and that’s when we realised the bloke at the pub had ripped it up and chucked it away. This was about midnight, so major panic time. I couldn’t reach the flat’s wifi from outside, so no way to get it from the Airbnb website even if I did manage to remember what the password to get onto it was. Fortunately Sprog3 has a habit of staying up late on the computer, so we phoned him and got him to find the file I’d typed it on so he could read it out to us. Phew.
As is often the case with sleeping in the wrong bed, we woke up stupid early at 7am the next day so after breakfast we decided to get a bus into Birmingham town centre to see what was there. Basically just shops, and a big church type thing. And a massive bronze cow, for some reason. Quite boring really, but it passed a few hours.
The festival was due to start again at 3pm, and Mannequin Factory were playing again so I wanted to get there early so I could film it. But we ended up getting back to the pub an hour too early, and there was nobody there so we sat on a wall for ages until we were let in.
The bar stools had been stolen during the night, so we had to get new ones and take them to the little alcove we had now claimed as our own. Spoke to the shouty bloke from Mannequin Factory for a while, he seemed surprised anyone would like them. I found out the blind guy with the dog was also deaf, and said I would send them a copy of the video later if they found me on the internet.
Next up were The Domestics, one of quite a few bands I hadn’t heard before, along with Active Slaughter who played before an Animal Liberation Front banner so I knew they would be good before they even started.
After that it was Hagar the Womb (I still maintain it is pronounced Hay-gar, despite what the band have to say about it). I’ve seen them quite a few times, and have tried to film them at least 3 of those times but something has always gone wrong. If it wasn’t bouncers telling me to put my camera away, or forgetting to press record, it was getting stuck behind giants and not being able to see anything. This time I managed it okay with my 10 foot stick, but they weren’t allowed to play for long because everything was running late.
Intense Degree were another band I used to play a lot in the late 80s but had pretty much forgotten about. They also had to cut their set short, as did Civilised Society, which was quite annoying since they were one of the main bands I’d gone all that way for. Spoke to one of them earlier, they said they play a lot in Batley, which isn’t too far from me so maybe we’ll go and see them there one day instead.
Everything seemed to be back on track for Anthrax and Burning Flag, who got to play their full sets. Anthrax I was already familiar with from their records, but Burning Flag were new to me. They had a shouty woman singer, so I was hooked straight from the start. Wish I’d filmed it now. Oh well, maybe next time I see them.
Discharge took ages to set up, like they usually do, but it was worth the wait. A few people dived on stage and pranced around with them, singing along to mostly the old stuff with a couple of newer songs thrown in. Then it was all over, and back to the flat for the final night in the wrong bed before we headed for home.
The dog’s food dish was full when we got home, so either he was still on his hunger strike or Sprog3 had filled it up again before he went to bed in the early hours of the morning. He gave us that ‘I see you have returned, you bastards’ look for a few minutes before giving in and slobbering all over us. The dog, that is, not Sprog3. He was still in bed, he didn’t get up until teatime.