Gnarwolves want your weed. The plea went out across the venue, written on every wall, taped to every shirt and emblazoned across a large piece of cardboard on the merch desk.
Hopefully they got some, because boy did they deserve it. They really had just about everything; the songs, the tightest of performances and the presence on stage to boot; it was a true heavyweight punk rock display.
First came Nai Harvest, a curious name for a curious band. Ben Thompson peered at the audience through his curtains, with only drummer Lew Currie for company on stage.
It soon became apparent that anyone else would just be in the way, as they proceeded to lurch through a set of rasping emo punk. Thompson’s tall frame stalked around, wielding his guitar like a samurai and regularly leaving his mic to join the audience for the choruses.
Their sound paid a huge tribute to The Get Up Kids, and it was great to see a very young audience, who had looked nonplussed at the poster on the wall for Matt Pryor’s solo tour next year, going nuts for this kind of sound.
There was a real buzz for Gnarwolves; it felt like the vibe was, “this is our punk band” (despite them hailing from Cornwall). They could have shared a stage with pretty much anyone the US had to offer and held their own, and on the cusp of their first album release that’s some encouragement.
Gnarwolves are blatant fanboys of NOFX and the Lawrence Arms, and they wear it on their sleeve, from their Dinosaurs Will Die set intro to the zip-wire riffs as they to and fro between vocalists Brendan and Chris.
However, whilst their influences are clear they are far from derivative, and although their very British vocals are pleasingly cutting and honest, even more delightful are occasional delicate moments like the cracking, solemn refrain “I’ll sleep when I’m old, coffee and cold” from Coffee.
Other tracks just plain old brought the house down. The audience sung the opening of Limerace themselves before the band exploded into the verse and sent the place into a frenzy. Crowd favourite History is Bunk was met with similar chaotic rapture, as was Party Jams during the absolutely imperative encore.
Security guards did their best to ruin the atmosphere by dragging crowd-surfers to the floor instead of, maybe, politely asking the band to tell people to avoid the lighting rig. Everyone just ignored them, and eventually they gave up.
In the past, the South Coast has given us You, Me and the Atom Bomb, Jets Vs Sharks and Chillerton. Now it’s giving us these guys, Bangers, and doubtless a hell of a lot of other great bands you should email us about. We are very, very grateful.