Tag Archives: Hawick

UNDERGROUND ARMY PRESENTS – THEE OVERDOSE / THE DREGGS / THE ZENITH COMPLEX / SPAT, ‘LIVE IN THE STATION BAR, HAWICK’

Unlike my first drive in torrential rain to Hawick for an Underground Army gig, the weather was much drier this time; although there was some drama when I passed a car that looked very close to catching fire (smoke was billowing from under its bonnet, but as there seemed to be plenty people already in attendance I opted to drive on rather than add to the congestion). After thoroughly enjoying an evening in The Station Bar back in October last year with No Thrills, Splinter, Spat and The Zips on the bill, I was very much looking forward to another equally exciting night.

The line-up might have been different but the night followed a similar pattern; dedicated and willing local volunteers pooling talents and resources to ensure that people could appreciate something a bit different from the usual live music that seems to predominate in the Scottish Borders. Folk music and tribute acts are certainly just as dedicated to providing a great audience experience, and undoubtedly have a valid place; but for those who want to experience something a bit ‘rawer’ and ‘edgier’, the Underground Army have provided a wonderful alternative. Four bands played in the upstairs room on the last day of February; Thee Overdose travelled up from Cumbria and were billed as ‘old school punk rock ‘n’roll’, The Dreggs came from Fife to provide their brand of ‘punk rock’, local band The Zenith Complex added something different to the mix with their ‘heavy rock’, whilst another local band Spat closed with another dose of ‘punk rock’.

Thee Overdose’s bass player Jason managed to encapsulate the mood of the evening with his Exploited t-shirt – “f**k the system” on the front and “punk’s not dead” emblazoned across his back. It may have been a sleeveless t-shirt but he compensated with two full tattooed sleeves. In contrast, guitarist Mike struck an equally memorable presence with his combats, cropped hair and impressive beard. They played an energetic set, so energetic in fact that Jason managed to break his bottom string and had to complete the set courtesy of a loan bass from Spat.

Whilst Thee Overdose might have a heritage (even if not not the original line-up) dating back to 1997, The Dreggs were fresh and performing live for perhaps just a fifth time – although guitarist Rik and drummer Sean had played with Splinter during my last visit to The Station. With vocalist Lynne, they performed an engaging set with powerfully delivered vocals – a couple of excellent X Ray Spex covers went a long way towards underscoring some of their influences. Spat’s Haley joined with both of the first two bands to augment the vocals, once with Thee Overdose and again with The Dreggs on ‘Identity’ accompanied by Cozzy with his ‘bone’; trombone that is. Although not in evidence on the night, I have to say that my graphics background really appreciates the logo that The Dreggs have opted for – think of a large chain of bakery outlets!

The Zenith Complex provided a slight digression from the overt punk onslaught as they performed a number of longer numbers, certainly living up to their ‘heavy rock billing’. Andy’s guitar work was expertly accompanied by Laura’s bass, whilst Todd’s driving drumming was most definitely enhanced by the awesome sound provided by the most amazing battered and broken large cymbal! The Dreggs may have included a self-deprecating number, ‘Nae C**t Love’s The Drummer’, but I have to say that I have a definite soft spot for the drummers’ contributions – nothing during this evening led me to change this opinion.

The whole evening was marked by a truly happy and friendly atmosphere. The audience were clearly enjoying themselves – the punk sensibility was quite obvious from the selection of t-shirts, doc martens and tartan bondage trousers. Willing volunteers manned the merchandise stall, whilst others were clearly happy to joke about, with much friendly banter in evidence, along with the swapping of headgear. Between sets, the room became quite quiet due to the rush to step outside to enjoy some ‘fresh air’, but everyone returned promptly for the start of the next set.

Finally, it was time for Spat to take control of the speakers, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. I found it very encouraging to see and hear the basic guitar, bass and drums line-up being augmented by the inclusion of a trombone, and Cozzy absolutely has the personality to ensure that his contributions added to the overall effect. In addition to the trombone, Tazz on bass and Ryan on drums provided a solid foundation for Hay and Ainz to add their tight pairing of guitars. Hay clearly relishes the limelight and was thoroughly enjoying herself throughout the set. The ‘fun factor’ was enhanced by the inclusion of a cover of ‘Nellie The Elephant’ in the style of The Toy Dolls, before closing the set just after the midnight curfew with their excellent ‘Snobs’ complete with its infectious “oi, oi, oi” chorus. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to catch Spat play live, sadly I’ll have to miss their planned gig in Paisley at the start of April – marathon to run in Brighton!

For a further flavour of the evening check out the excellent set of PHOTOS by Patrick Rafferty and great VIDEO by The Zenith Complex.


‘DOWN AND OUTS’ IN HAWICK, SPAT EP LAUNCH NIGHT

Friday 18th October found me travelling across the Scottish Borders, through a very dark evening complete with driving rain – my destination being The Station Bar where I was eagerly anticipating an evening of punk excitement. The occasion was the launch of local band Spat’s EP, ‘Down And Outs’, a truly great offering that contains a varied range of exciting songs – with no attempts to conform to current populist trends.

As the opening act got things started around thirty minutes after the billed starting time I wondered if there might be a knock on effect at the other end. Any such concerns were quickly dispelled as I found myself thinking about bands such as Sham 69 – having travelled up from Cumbria, No Thrills managed to trash the myth that ‘punks can’t play their instruments’; their set was very extremely tight and presented a great combination of skillful metal guitar played by a cowboy boot wearing giant alongside a rockabilly styled bass player, supported by a tiny powerhouse of a drummer; all fronted by a combat short and boot wearing singer with short red mohawk hair whose Ian Dury style moves kept the audience enthralled. If I had one criticism, it would be that the sound had been turned up beyond what the room could sustain; the instrumentals remained crisp and clear but the vocals had less clarity. Having said that, the intent behind the lyrics remained crystal clear. This was something that I reflected upon when driving home after the gig whilst thoroughly enjoying Natacha Atlas signing in Arabic (which I definitely don’t understand)!

The second band up were the reason I was there, local band Spat had impressed me from my first hearing – following the departure of Angie, this was to be their first performance with new bass player, and they were also joined by a trombone player who fitted in perfectly. I was very impressed by their ability to inject tremendous enthusiasm into their music. Each song was delivered well, and the idiosyncratic addition of the trombone added greatly to the overall effect. The band quite clearly relished their moment in front of the audience and it was a pleasure to see the smiles on their faces as they gave it their all! Having a personal mention during the introduction to my ‘track of the month’ ‘Robot’ certainly added to my appreciation of their set!

Splinter came, in parts, from Glasgow and Fife and added yet another dimension to the evening – very political and angry, they rattled through a number of quick fire songs, many ‘for the government’ as introduced by front man Dek. The bass player particularly caught my eye, he either had extremely long arms or was somehow enabled to pull off an exceptionally distinctive low-slung playing stance.

To close, The Zips kicked off – a crisp, sharp and tight sound, very reminiscent of The Clash! Their drummer may not win any prizes for delicate subtlety, but he more than made up for that with out and out brutality – no way was anybody in the room going to ignore the drumming! Further to my earlier concerns, the band were requested to cease playing shortly after midnight, around half way into their set. They went ahead and played one more song but wound up after that. Speaking to singer Johnzip afterwards he recognised the need to stick to local arrangements in order not to alienate neighbours so that future band nights might be allowed to continue thereby denying a local audience further opportunities to experience such electrifying music.

All credit must be given the Hawick ‘Underground Army’ for their dedication in striving to bring such excellent bands into the Scottish Borders. I look forward to seeing more of a similar style and standard in the future.