The last month or two have been fairly quiet with regards to gigs, as you may have noticed from the lack of activity on this site. However as the weather quickly degenerates into the rancid pile of faeces that is the British winter, going outside becomes less appealing; instead there is an increased temptation to be indoors, consuming large quantities of alcohol in a bid to forget that we live in a semi-underwater country for most of the year. On the plus side, this means that more people are drawn to gigs, especially all day events where the Red Stripe is cheap and the liver assault is broken up with a pie eating contest. This weekend saw what I think is the 4th annual Pie Race festival, which bought together some of the best in punk, ska and kazoo based music to draw in anyone not tempted enough by the pie based revelry alone. We missed the actual pie eating competition along with the early acts due to hangovers and sleep deprivation, but reached the Well in time to catch Leeds own The Swindells, whose gravelly punk rock rivals Geoffrey Oicott in terms of unadulterated Yorkshire pride…and I don’t say that lightly. Fast and fun, beer is flying, pissed up dudes are trying to dance but mostly falling down on each other, and I already know that I’ve made the right choice for the night. Their set finishes with shouted choruses of ‘Yoorkssshiire, ‘til the day I die!’ ably assisted by various kazoo players who have materialised, which would probably have seemed strange if I didn’t know that a kazoo band had already played earlier in the day. The day was laid out so that the artists playing alternated between two rooms, so we headed upstairs to grab a beer, sit down for a while and listen to Billy Liar’s set of acoustic one man punk, which drew comparisons to early Against Me (before they decided to be a crap indie rock band). Then it was back down for Revenge of the Psychotronic Man, who woke up those who were starting to flag with a short and to the point set of furious hardcore. Working in plenty of songs from the new album in to a small amount of time, there was still room for some older classics, and a solo punk rock rendition of Kirsty MacColl’s ‘There’s a Guy Works down the Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis.’ They also set the tone for the rest of the night’s dancefloor carnage, with human pyramids, wheelbarrow pits and drunken face plants a-plenty. It was an awesome sight to behold and there will undoubtedly have been some impressive bruising going on around Leeds the next day.
This is the point at which my memory starts to get hazy with regards to the order in which people played, but I have an idea that after Revenge we wandered upstairs for another sit down and to listen to Wakefield’s Louise Distras. Playing heartfelt, bluesy acoustic punk, it’s easy to see why she’s starting to get some high profile support slots. Her stripped down set acted as a counterpoint to the madness downstairs. After she had finished we lurked around upstairs for some time, unfortunately missing Acid Drop, but it was a necessary sacrifice in order to ward off the onset of tinnitus for a while longer (time to invest in ear plugs I think, what an old bastard I’ve become). The next band we saw were Benson, who despite having a truly awful name, played a tight set of bluesy rock with a horns section, that bought to mind a more polished, indie influenced Rocket from the Crypt. One of the best things about the Pie Race is the way that the promoters aren’t afraid to mix up the bands they put on style wise, so from here it was straight downstairs to the far rawer ska punk sounds emanating from below…Faintest Idea are the best proponents of horn driven punk in recent years in my opinion and they didn’t disappoint. Their half hour was used to showcase much of their newer material, which already sounds as classic as anything from the last two albums. By now my head was reeling and my ears were ringing, but I was more than ready for the surreal ramblings of Captain Hotknives. Those who know don’t need telling, but any line up can be improved by the addition of Bradford’s finest, I can’t imagine anyone witnessing this and not being in stitches. This could have been the end of the night, and no-one could have felt cheated, but the punk rock icing on the cake came in the form of Roughneck Riot’s furious folk punk, which saw the nights drunken dancing reach its climax. This band need to be seen live, and they bought the night to a drunken, uproarious close. Two days later and I’m still slightly haggard, roll on next years!