10th August | Crofters Rights
Photos: Duncan Cruickshank
The Crofters Rights has always seemed a fitting backdrop for the nosier facets of Bristol’s music scene. Its cavernous back room offers a suitably gothic appeal when crammed with the surprising body count it is capable of accommodating. Having caught Milo’s Planes last month in this same spot, the comparisons drawn between Joe Sherrin’s two flagship projects are easy to note, though surprisingly it’s the differences that take hold. such contrast only serves to highlight the versatility found within this alcove of the city’s artistic circle.
Before SLONK comes Pork Pie, a band that has garnered an impressive buzz thanks to their cathartic blend of 90s skate punk and overwhelmingly girthy noise rock. From the apocalyptic drones of gain-heavy guitar to the DC Hardcore ‘Oi’ mentality, it’s nigh on impossible to set your eyes on anything but the stage, though ironically that’s the last place you’re likely to find them. Instead, the band resurrect that communal punk spirit and opt to dive straight through the crowd, rattling from body to body with every tectonic crescendo that bellows from the PA.
A dynamic punch of staccato rhythm creates an air of abrasion throughout much of their catalogue, often finding resolution in some captivatingly manic choruses that wouldn’t seem out of place from either METZ or Nirvana. Though their delivery is unapologetically punk, it’s the sincerity of the melodic and emotional structure of these tracks that offers up the best understanding of this band. This is about release and positivity, and making a good old-fashioned racket in the process.
Softer and much more personal than Pork Pie, it’s the ability to twitch on the border between wholesome and heavy that generates SLONK’s true appeal. Deep within the compositional structures of these cuts lies an obvious passion for both musical dynamics and lyrical narrative. It allows for an emotional impact that is mirrored perfectly across both sound and word. Letting yourself detach visually from the room offers the opportunity to marvel at just how detailed these progressions can become, often landing with the same mania and fanfare of Titus Andronicus or American Football.
This schizophrenic mentality encompasses the very being of SLONK’s existence. This is music about not only facing demons and the importance of self but about finding some humor in it all which in itself seems decidedly human. Nowhere else will you hear a verse burdened with the weight of Dylan or Elliot Smith only to be blindsided by the ambivalence and sarcasm of Green Day or Weezer.
In essence the ragged and lofty smatters of guitar looming beneath infectiously memorable vocal hooks stand testament to the belief that self-doubt and negativity is all so unimportant really that we should just be having a laugh about it. Somewhere in these intentionally jagged waves of percussive wit lies the sound of community and looking around at the faces beaming not only from the crowd but the stage itself tells me that I’m not the only one that feels it.
With a new EP released alongside recent single, ‘Holidays’ there is little doubt of SLONK slowing down any time soon. I challenge anybody to catch this band and leave with anything less than a smile.
See the video for ‘Strange’ here: