9th March | Benjamin Perry Scout Hut
Photo: Duncan Cruickshank
Spirits are high when Gork take to the stage tonight, the intimate and enthusiastic crowd joining the band as they throw a little jamboree with Breakfast Records to celebrate the launch of new single ‘Spoons’ via the label. Defying the temperamental weather outside, there’s a warm glow inside, which may be assisted by a Saturday afternoon spent enjoying Bristol’s rich pub life.
The Benjamin Perry Scout Hut is a great choice of venue for the gig, a small boathouse which makes the night a throwback to the small-town, DIY shows put on in pubs and community centres by the bands in my small home town. Everyone here knows each other and the knows bands, showing a familiarity with their music which comes from time spent following them to all corners of the city.
Following a quick soundcheck and a moment to chow down their pre-gig takeaway, skate punks The Gnarwhals, tonight’s support, kick into their set. They start out by pushing the punk-goes-pop cover mash-up to the limit, flying through early noughties party tracks with an almost manic sense of both endearment and piss-taking. From there it’s all a blur of riffs and high-tempo beats. The band barely stop during their set, like an impatient child flicking through the TV channels. As soon as one song finishes, someone is either starting the next, or reprising Good Charlotte riffs.
Set closer, ‘Pool House’ is the highlight, a gleefully-executed throwback to the sort of track that’d accompany the party scene from a turn-of-the-century college flick. It’s refusing to leave my head several days later. Normally I hate this sort of music, but these guys defy me to dislike them – handing my bias a big ‘Scrooge’ sign as they both embrace and send up the genre.
Having joined in every word by the end of the set, the crowd are now well warmed up and ready for further hi-jinks. These arrive in the form of Gork, who enter the stage looking like Sgt. Pepper’s got lost during the Winter of Discontent and only just re-emerged. They’re all ill-fitting suits and food tins on their heads, with the lead Gork seemingly indicated by the spoon strapped to his tin.
As the above description may suggest, the band have more than a slight predilection for the surreal. Yet rather than coming across as a gimmick, it is well worked into the fabric of the band. New single, ‘Spoons’ shows this, breaking down from its off-kilter groove into squealing sax and repeated yells of “I am holding a spoon” as the song’s narrative follows the onset of comedown paranoia.
It’s now coming to the end of the evening and one member is currently climbing the rafters, hanging in front of the audience as the set comes to a raucous conclusion. Having paid £50 to strain my senses to see and hear Massive Attack from the back of a cold hangar last weekend, there’s a clear takeaway from tonight: small low-budget shows, with local bands and crowds of acquaintances that follow them through thick and thin will always trump large ‘marquee’ events. It’s gigs like these which comprise the kindling essential to every city’s music scene.
See the video for ‘Spoons’ here: