PLUS: PETAL RAINBOW, BIRMINGHAM. 20.01.16 HOT NEW PUNKS TRIUMPH AGAINST THE COLD IN THE UK
WORDS: STEVE BEEBEE
PHOTOS: TOM MARTIN
■ DAMN, IT’S cold in here. Maybe that explains the eerie quiet between songs tonight – it’s as if this little gathering is frozen, rooted to the spot. It’s nothing to do with the band, because there’s nothing at all icy about Beach Slang’s musical gold rush. Elsewhere on this UK tour, the Pennsylvanian outfit’s shows have been the sort that great band’s stories include as should-have-been-there moments – London’s Barfly has rarely been so rammed or so excitable. Tonight, their instinctive, from-the-heart, blue-collar punk is awesome, but for whatever reason, folks have left their dancing shoes at home.
After a demure set from U.S. solo songstress Petal that’s more folk than punk, the headliners quickly turn up the heat. “We’re here to punch you in the heart,” promises frontman James Alex, and it’s immediately clear what he’s getting at. While not all of Beach Slang’s songs make sense in a standard, linear manner, they all come loaded with feeling. And between songs, they’re actually great company. Bidding to break the silence, James isn’t shy about inviting us into his world. He drops hints about the new album he’s “not supposed to be talking about” yet, and gently teases guitarist Ruben Gallego for talking in cliché, before relenting and kissing his embarrassed bandmate on the cheek.
Musically, Beach Slang are like an excited child that can’t wait to tell you about their day – quickfire blasts like Young & Alive and Dirty Cigarettes, plus a cover of Jawbreaker’s Boxcar, rocket towards you in a mighty hurry. Nothing is held in – James hurls himself backwards onto the floor at the end of Punk Or Lust – and it’s clear that this is a band who’ll be making waves once things heat up a bit.