19th August | Mr Wolf’s
Last time I got a night bus, it was fairly subdued. There were a few pissed girls taking those selfies where you can put animal ears on yourself and a lad on the back seat, sound asleep, with a penis drawn on his cheek in Sharpie. So, when I turned up to Mr Wolf’s for Nightbus on Saturday with my copy of Bristol Live Magazine and my iPod, expecting a quiet drink, I was most disconcerted at the scale of the rocking and the rolling that ensued, curated by our hosts, Paul James and Rhys Friery.
If this was a real night bus, the driver would definitely have to pull over and throw Bite the Buffalo and Little Thief off for being so raucous. As it was, they both filled the remaining space in the already-heaving room with tuneful commotion. Little Thief were all howls, hooks and hair. Front man, Charlie Fitzgerald, had to resort to “shameless self-promotion” three songs in, donning a Little Thief baseball cap to restrain his superabundant mane. “Who wants a sweaty free hat?” he said later, “It’s got the best of me in it.”
Opening with ‘Freak’ felt a bit like starting a night’s pre-lash with a couple of cheeky absinthes. Its lyrical content of bringing out the “feral freak in me” seemed most apposite. Pleasant mayhem ensued, propelled by Rhii Williams’ assertive drumming and Paul Hopkins’ punchy bass synth. ‘Murder’ brought plenty of the “shimmy and shake” that Charlie requested from us, whilst the Earth certainly moved during ‘L.A.I.D.’, including Rhii’s pure Rocky Horror moment with the line, “Do I suck or do I blow?”
You may have first seen Bite the Buffalo as a duo, with brothers Stos and Miti Goneos on guitar/vocals and drums/vocals respectively. If you did, just imagine how much noise they now make as a four-piece. ‘Keys to Your Coffin’, ‘Blue Lips’ and ‘Tell Me What the Dead Folk Know’ might be the liveliest trio of morbidly-named songs ever to commence a set. Stos used ‘Dead Folk’ to introduce stand-in bassist and “sexy motherfucker” Spencer Harrison-Page of The Heavy, deputising for one night only. ‘What Can I Do?’ was trailed as their “sexy song”, although the previous four songs had been pretty darn frisky themselves. And after hearing ‘Parisienne’, you’d undoubtedly like to meet whoever inspired that track.
As with the opening set, it had bark, it had bite and it was frenzied fun. There was a ventriloquism duet on ‘We Are Animal’ between Stos an audience member’s inflatable dinosaur, and some straight-up, unbridled 60s rock & roll on ‘Polka Dots’ with the thrill of a fast, freaking Jake Meeking guitar break. ‘Dumb Hearts’ espoused useful 21st-Century life-laundry wisdom to “let the bad things go”. Aptly-named for Nightbus was ‘Dead of the Night’, all Deep-Purple-meets-Suzi-Quatro, before closer ‘I Get Down and Around’ paid tribute to their Zambian homeland and “the copper belt back home”. What began with homely ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ strains escalated into a super-sized, mammoth rock finish – Miti giving the drums one final thrashing.
Two fine bands, both headliners in their own right, playing a packed venue, for three quid, plus a free drink? Yes please, Nightbus. Same again next month?
Check out Bite The Buffalo’s ‘Keys To Your Coffin’ live below.