There are undoubtedly plenty of situations I have got myself into in the past which could be married with the term ‘surreal’; a penchant for heavy drinking and smoking, coupled with an affinity to life’s less salubrious characters and a prudent avoidance of adult lifestyle choices like a full time job, means that I have witnessed my fair share of weird shit. However even by these standards, telling people that ‘I’m off to a gin bar in Keighley to see Duane Peters play a gig’ sounded like the start to a rubbish joke. With a venue in Sheffield (easy to get to on public transport, good city with stuff to do before and after a show) falling through last minute, somehow the U.S. Bombs’ show was moved a few miles down the road to Keighley (arse end of Bradford, little public transport, Friday and Saturday night hotspots include anywhere you can drink Lambrini or Frosty Jacks without getting picked up by the cops).
Of course, this was a gig for people of character – and we were chock full of that, a car full of us heading over from Leeds with more people meeting us there. It turns out that Keighley Arts Exchange is a pretty decent venue, with a wide selection of gin as advertised and a gig room that, despite looking like a school sports hall, had a really good sound. The gig opened with a band from Huddersfield whose name I forget, playing a strange mish-mash of genres which ended up sounding slightly like Faith no More (or maybe it’s just that one of the band had that band’s t-shirt on?) and went down as well as could be expected at a punk show…fair play to them, they looked to be enjoying themselves, and they were up there doing it, but it wasn’t what I expected for the night’s beginning. Thank fuck then for In Evil Hour, the next band up and a complete turn-around in sound. Female fronted hardcore punk with a slightly gothic bent a la the Nerve Agents, they played a hard, fast but still melodic set, the perfect sonic slap to the face to wake people up and get feet moving; well worth checking out if you don’t know them. A short acoustic set by Bombs’ guitarist Chip Hanna followed, an unexpected bonus set of which the high point was a cover of Sam Cooke’s classic ‘Don’t Know Much…’, and which was joined toward the end by Duane decked out in leopard print jacket and cane replete with urethane wheel base.
This set things up for the Bombs nicely, with everyone ready to git some as that familiar drum beat built up the tension before crashing into ‘Tora, Tora, Tora’. The night descended into a sweaty, drunken whirl of which details are hazy, so I won’t give a song-by-song account of what was played… but suffice to say Duane did his best Fred Astaire impression with the cane, I danced like an idiot, and everyone shouted every word to ‘Jaks’. There’s something about their melodic street punk that hits the nail squarely on the head, and by the end of the night everyone had smiles on their faces even after consuming varying amounts of gin. The U.S. Bombs are awesome, go see ‘em then go downhill on a skate!
By Jono Coote