Wrongwayround Promotions Presents "WTFEST" which is a celebration of punk rock and DIY culture in Southampton, The Joiners Arms have put together a mouth watering collection of local bands along with two special headline bands from the USA.
"Above Them" arrived on stage after travelling down from Pontefract, in West Yorkshire, they seemed really excited to be here and put in a really good 20 minute set, the three piece band seemed to have brought some fans with them as they had plenty of support. Their rock influenced powerful guitars and agreeable melodies with the lead vocals sounding a little like Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem are received well by the Joiners audience, the band thank the audience in their broad Yorkshire accents and leave the stage to a great reception.
After a quick change over "Burn The Fleet" a no nonsense local rock band from Southampton, this established band have a lot of support and impress with some great guitar work and some unusual face pulling by lead singer Andrew Convey who is concerned about a small cold sore on his face. Their material like "Conduits" which had a great guitar rift with well delivered vocals and the excellent "Handfuls of Sand" which saw the audience singing along with the bands harmonies with the line "I beat my Hands against my chest and sing I'm alive".
Daniel Smith bass player of the "Don Ramos Players" should be congratulated with his refreshing comedy approach to being in a band, with a hair cut that would not look out of place in Franz Ferdinand, his witty in-between song banter had everybody in stitches. Lead vocalist John Wright did some what cringe at some of "Smitten's" off the cuff comedy material, however I think his should be pleased at having such a character in his band. The three piece with their stand in "Dave Grohl" look-alike drummer Adam, played some great rocking music kicking off with "All Cats are Grey" from their self titled debut album. A great new number with a self exclaimed Cheeky rift called "Captain o' Captain" went down really well with possibly the best audience reaction of the night so far.
"Broadway Calls" from the USA arrived on stage and within minutes there is a mosh pit of over excited fan's down the front dancing as the band belt out their 1st number. After their opening slot on the Nme Stage at the Reading and Leeds Festival the band arrive in Southampton for only one of a handful of UK dates. They are powerful, energetic and have the audience on their side from the start, the atmosphere in the place is just one of sheer excitement. "Save our Ship" from the band's 1st album offers a great chance for some audience participation which the band seem to enjoy, bass player Matt Koenig is leaping around the stage like a man possessed and is certainly a joy to watch. After an excellent 45 minute set the band leave the stage with everyone demanding more, it is not be as the Fest is on a tight schedule and we have one more band to go.
The Polar Bear Club from Rochester, New York in the USA are also over here in the UK after playing the Reading and Leeds Festivals, after their last visit here to the Joiners in March, many fans who were there that night are back for more after their excellent performance. When they 1st hit the stage and launch into their 1st number, it's like the audience have all been hit with a brick wall with the 3 pronged guitar attack that is so powerful. Lead vocalist Jimmy Stadt is possibly one of the best frontman I have seen as he tirelessly tears around the stage, really knowing how to keep audiences happy, with his microphone on a really long lead he covers every inch of the stage and at one point even crowd surfing over the audience's heads. The band have a new album "Chasing Hamburg" which is a follow up to the debut 2008 album "Things Just Disappear", tracks from the new album "Living Saints" and "One Hit Back" are certain to become live favourites after being delivered in such a colossal way.The band end with "Most Miserable Life" which sends the mosh pit into a frenzy with crowd surfers arriving on stage and quickly being returned, Polar Bear Club put in an excellent performance as headliners showing that next time they return to the UK they just maybe will be filling larger venues.
Polar Bear Club
Another Night In The Rock
Save Our Ship
Reviewed by Dave Chinery (Chinners)