Muskets – The Vic, Swindon, 14/08/17

Muskets

Freiburg’s The Deadnotes were added to the line-up with less than a week’s notice, after a show on their headline tour fell through. Contacting Kieran of Sheer Music, he worked quickly to help the band out, squeezing them on to this bill at the last minute. It’s testament to how much Kieran cares about the scene – and supporting live music – that he answered their cry for help.

This was The Deadnotes first time visiting Swindon, but their fifth time playing in the UK. Despite the fact that it was still early when they took to the stage, frontman Darius Lohmuller was filled with enthusiasm. Waving eagerly at the people in the practically empty room, the German indie-punk trio burst into action. People from the front of the pub rapidly filtered through into the venue during ‘Favourite Shirts’, desperate to see who was playing such frenetically upbeat music.

There wasn’t a disappointing moment in The Deadnotes set and unforgettable, which was energetic. From the intricate guitar lines weaved throughout ‘Sad & Done’ to the beautifully haunting split vocal towards the end of ‘Cardboard’, it’s easy to understand how they’re headlining shows across Europe. It would have been easy for them to have embraced a night off, but they have a passion for playing live music: that was evident from how thankful they were for the crowd which grew steadily during their stage time.

I hadn’t heard of The Deadnotes before this show. After hearing brand new single ‘1.20’, I’m going to have to keep an eye on them! They’re producing radio-ready singles, and they’re humble and grateful, deserving the success that they’re achieving after six years hard work. Closer ‘Dead’ was explosive, with Darius tossing his guitar on the floor, climbing up on a speaker to head bang before leaping back onto the stage: certainly one way to make an impact.

Setlist:

Favourite Shirt
Sad & Done
Cardboard
1.20
I’m A Dreamer
Dead

Bristol boys Over To You also smashed their set. Despite some troubles during the first song (in which guitarist Jimmy Embleton-Smith’s iPod started playing one of the band’s own songs through his ear protectors, causing him no end of confusion), the trio got it under control, playing note-perfect renditions of the six other songs they performed.

Jimmy was vocal about the fact that their new EP has been ready “for ages. But it’s taken so fucking long to release”. Giving away copies of their first EP, ‘Ideal Lives’, the mix of material played proved that they’ve taken leaps forward. Playing an unreleased song (which I’m referring to as ‘New Reality’) and recent single ‘Storm Chasing’, both songs demonstrate a departure from the safety of their early material. It’ll be exciting to hear that EP when it finally gets released.

With frontman Sam Yesner’s vocal reminiscent of old-school Green Day, it wasn’t surprising that they covered ‘When I Come Around’. Getting the entire room to sing along was a great moment. If Over To You doesn’t work out they could easily form the next big Green Day cover band!

Thanking everyone involved in the show, including “Weatherstate, for helping us get this one, and to Muskets for – presumably – agreeing!”, Over To You are endearing, funny guys who I can’t wait to see live again.

Setlist:

Rotting My Teeth
Sum To None
New Reality
All Due Disrespect
When I Come Around cover
Beautiful Minds
Storm Chasing

Weatherstate‘s vocalist, Harry Hoskins, was struggling during their set. He explained “it’s the second to last day of tour, so it may sound like I’m a crazy metal vocalist because my voice is fucked!”. Sadly, it made the sound in their set a little uncomfortable. Drummer Toby Wrobel’s backing vocal was overpowering, making it even harder to hear Harry’s voice.

If they hadn’t been having such a rough night, Weatherstate could easily have registered as one of the best bands I’ve seen this year. With guitars reminiscent of Decade and a tone similar to Can’t Swim, they’re combining pop-punk elements in an interesting manner. Having released three EPs so far (available via Bandcamp or on limited vinyl) it’s going to be fascinating to discover which elements they’ll incorporate into a full-length release.

Newest single ‘Sympathy’ got the crowd moving, but it wasn’t until the double-header of ‘Stutter’ and ‘Ill’ that Weatherstate finally hit their stride. ‘Ill’ is impossible to shake from your brain, and I’ve been humming it all week. Unfortunately, compared with the stellar opening acts, Weatherstate failed to make much of an impact with their set. They excelled musically, putting on the tightest performance of any of the bands on the bill, but Harry’s vocal issues made it difficult to fully appreciate their songs.

Setlist:

Dead Ends
The World Has Got It In For You
Sympathy
Stuck in a Hole

Piss It All Away

Stutter
Ill

Muskets are destined to play far larger venues than The Vic. Part of No Sleep Records – the same label which launched Moose Blood – gives them a boost, but the band’s attitude is the cherry on top. By the end of ‘Pond Drop’, vocalist/guitarist Alex Cheung was playing his guitar against the ceiling while the other three members thrashed their instruments to within an inch of their lives.

This barely controlled action was a constant throughout Muskets set. Musically, they’re intriguing. Within every song they swing between discordant grunge and punk, an introspective yet highly absorbing mixture. But the real selling point is watching them perform. It’s impossible to tear your eyes away from them. Abruptly switching from song to song, the lurches left the audience on the edge of their seats, desperate to know what the Brighton four-piece would do next.

Alex and Dan Mckenna’s (their other guitarist/vocalist) voices complement each other beautifully. Alex’s gravelly voice added to the atmosphere, while Dan’s clear tone shone in the perfect contrast. This was particularly noticeable during ‘Focus’ and ‘Tate Modern’, the latter of which includes an extremely funky breakdown.

The band have visited Swindon once in the past, playing at someone’s house, but based off of the fact that Alex was wearing a RAIN shirt they obviously have an appreciation for the local scene. The town are supportive of them, too: Muskets had one of the biggest turnouts for a Monday night gig that I’ve seen in a very long time, which is a huge achievement! I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll come back soon, because recent singles ‘Chewing Gum’ and ’17 Years’ point towards huge things happening in the very near future.

Setlist:

Pond Drop
25a
You’re So Cool
Colourview
Frankie Stable
Focus
Tate Modern
Scranton
Chewing Gun
17 Years