- Written by Scarlet Hall
A 2-minute walk from New Cross station and you’re outside The Amersham Arms, a rather protruding white building on the end of the block. On that warm Tuesday evening, it was a Big Richard Records night, a monthly gig put on by the independent record label. That night happened to be their first.
I was early, so went in and caught the end of the sound checks and had a drink in the smoking area, which soon filled to the brim with students, music enthusiasts and people just there intrigued to see the interesting array of bands that the night had in store.
Dom, one of the founders of Big Richard Records, came out and told us all to stop chain-smoking cos the night was about to start!
The night’s host was none other than John Swale, an idiosyncratic character whose forte is capturing peoples attention with his quick-witted, clever poetry. He did a quick piece and welcomed the first act on stage.
That act being The Vaine Man. I think most people were expecting the night to consist of mainly punk bands however, The Vaine Man surprised us all. He stood on stage alone with just a microphone and a synth to keep him company. His sound I can only describe as a fusion of pop, industrial and ambient sounds all mixed together and liquidized into this dreamy atmosphere, paired with beautifully improvised haunting, echoey vocals. What a way to open the show!
Next up was a London based, 4 piece post-punk band called UK Paint Horse. Introduced by John Swale as “X-ray Spex on bad speed”... I then spent their whole set trying to work out if that was a good thing or not?! But I came to the conclusion it was a good thing. It was a full force, energy-packed set full of punky, machine-gun drums with a friendly, polite twist to it. After all frontwoman, Peggy was wearing a lovely all-white outfit consisting of a v-neck jumper and a pleated tennis skirt which she carefully held as she placed the microphone down on the floor before exiting the stage. Just the right amount of Poly Styrenes free spirit and loveable nature!
After that came a short break, everyone scrambled back to the designated smoking area. I’m not a smoker you see so sipped on my vodka orange whilst chatting to people about how we all needed to pace ourselves, it was only the second act of the night!
Back into the dark front room of the pub and It felt as though I was walking into some indie joint back in the late ’80s watching a shoegaze band… but really it’s 2021 and I was watching Memory Farm, a 4 piece band from Guildford! They gave dark, post punky vocals with jangling guitars and interesting tempo changes, which very much made me imagine them being lit up with a projector playing gothic, psychedelic visuals as a backdrop. Frontman Ewan’s long fringe that covered most of his face fit that fantasy perfectly.
picture by Torie Hemmings
Last but certainly not least, the headliner, Brie. A band I have seen before but never get bored of, I think it would be impossible to get bored at a Brie gig. The energy is impeccable, frontman Lew reminds me at times of Jilted John in the way he brings comedy into their tongue in cheek lyrics and the performance as a whole. I also think it’s funny that a band that punky all wear matching bowling shirts at every gig. I’d like to ask why, but I know they probably won’t know why either and that makes it all the funnier. It’s torture going to see Brie at a sit-down gig because their music isn’t made to sit politely and listen to, it’s made for pogoing, pushing, shoving and being in amongst people! Even the band themselves can’t stand still for one second, before the end of the set Lew had already removed half of his clothes, done a headstand and jumped off the stage to bring the show to the floor. One of the most engaging sit down gigs I’ve ever been to!!
Lucky enough for anyone who missed it, the next one will be on the 5th of September. At the same place but instead, it’s an all-dayer and you don’t have to sit down!! So remember to test yourself regularly and be safe. I’ll see ya there!
Also, check out all the amazing bands featured!
John Swale on Insta
UK Paint Horse on Insta
All other pictures are taken by Scarlet Hall