Date: October 25th 2018
Venue: Boston Music Room, London
Support: Funeral Shakes / High Vis / Gouge Away
San Francisco’s Culture Abuse fly somewhat under the radar, but to their fans or anyone else in the know, they’re very much a big deal. With a smattering of balloons scattered across the floor of the venue of the London date in promotion of their recent album, ‘Bay Dream’, you get the feeling this is going to be a special night.
Kicking things off are Watford’s own Funeral Shakes , adorning their signature black and white shirts. These lot are a super group of sorts, featuring members of Lee Barratt (Gallows) on drums, and for tonight Ben Christo (Sisters Of Mercy) is filling in for Em Foster (Nervus/Milk Teeth) on the guitar.
The band provide immediate and melodic indie-punk, with Calvin Roffey‘s infectious melodies transmitting through the room greatly. Some back-up vocal harmonies are also a welcome touch. Even if their songs tend to blend into one another a little too much at times, Funeral Shakes are a great band to warm up the expectant crowd.
Next up are London/Liverpool newcomers, High Vis . At first glance they look like your archetypal hardcore band, but, proving that you can’t judge a book by its cover, what they offer is a cold and austere post-punk sound, a different kind of sonic challenge to hardcore for sure.
They’ll no doubt invoke comparisons to late 70s/early 80s British bands such as Joy Divison and Magazine, though the earnest shouted vocal delivery makes this an interesting interpretation of this style. Their set feels all too brief, but there’s lots of potential here.
The final support act of the night, hailing from Florida, is Gouge Away . They were picked by the headliners themselves for the UK leg of this run, and it’s easy to see why, when they replicate the freneticism and chaos of their latest album ‘Burnt Sugar’ into a live setting with considerable ease. The band open with ‘Bleed’ from 2016’s ‘, Dies’, a 30-second rager that shows they’re not doing anything by halves tonight.
Vocalist Christina Michelle‘s screams are just as potent as they are on record, complimented greatly by the band’s tension-then-release approach. ‘Ghost’ in particular is strikingly powerful, as is the menacing fury of ‘Wilt (I Won’t)’. The more alternative rock stylings of ‘Stray/Burnt Sugar’ are a bit more on the lighter side, but it’s certainly not a lull. A small pit breaks out near the front throughout the set, and, if this is anything to go by, Gouge Away deserve a headline run of their own on these shores.
Some of the balloons have been flying around the room sporadically leading up to tonight’s headliners, which is fitting given the positive vibes that exude throughout Culture Abuse‘s music. Before the band start, frontman David Kelling leads a ‘Happy Birthday’ rendition to a fan who has flown from Rome to be here tonight, which is a lovely touch.
The title-track of their latest record kicks things off. There’s plenty of punk rock energy here, along with a fully warmed-up fanbase belting every word. Kelling‘s vocal delivery is grittier in a live setting than on their latest album, which certainly helps to keep the energy levels up.
Unfortunately, tonight’s set is cut tragically short. The third song of the night ‘Dip’ is stopped mid-song to attend to a very serious injury suffered by a crowd member, and after the ambulance has arrived on the scene, the band tell us with heavy hearts the show will not go on. Everyone would have wanted a full set, of course, but this puts things into perspective, and gig-goers’ safety is more important than anything.
Culture Abuse deal with the situation with dignity and grace, and everyone in the crowd bar one person (shame on you) is understanding of the situation. Even if the set was cut short, everyone will wait for the band to come back to London with eager anticipation based on the brief showing, and we here at DEAD PRESS! wish a speedy recovery to the injured fan.