Off with Their Heads. Live. In a tiny venue. In the Midlands. This is a night out I've been looking forward to for months now, and after an hour-long bus ride during which I got to catch up with a few friends I haven't seen since The Fest last year, we made our way to the Jam Jam Club, a venue which immediately revealed itself to be awesome by offering cans of cheap cider and even cheaper shots. And who am I to argue with offers like that?! Cue much drinking as the opening band set up their gear, leading many of us to wonder how the bands would cope with the massive wooden beam residing about six feet above the stage...
First up were local support act Sharks who played a bland-yet-not-terrible combination of straight-up punk rock and indie. In truth, their set would have been alright were it not for the infuriating posturing and shape-throwing they insisted on doing throughout, with the lead guitarist in particular having gotten that annoying stand-on-one-leg-and-stamp-the-other-while-jerking-head-from-side-to-side thing down to a 'T.' Surely I can't have been the only one wondering how long it'd take before he stamped on his guitar lead and pulled it out?
Things picked up significantly when the Amistad took the stage, playing a solid set of gruff, energetic punk rock reminiscent of Fuel For the Hate Game-era Hot Water Music and Brit heroes Tribute to Nothing, perforated with some amusing stage banter (something about accidental vegetable robbery?!). Definitely a band I'd go and see live again if I get the chance.
By the time Sheffield melodic hardcore boys Cop Out took the stage, the venue was starting to fill up, and rightly so; the band burst through a short sharp shock of a set full of fast, shouty, melodic punk in the vein of Lifetime and Kid Dynamite. With such an amazingly energetic and intense performance, a brilliant knack for dealing with hecklers (not that there were many), and some hilarious contributions from the drummer who we were reliably informed was "off his tits on poppers," these guys clearly demonstrated themselves to be naturals when it comes to performing live, and with the Steal now only a part-time affair, there's no reason why Cop Out couldn't rightfully claim the title of "The British Kid Dynamite."
However, (unsurprisingly) the band of the night was Off with Their Heads, who played a fairly long set (considering how short most of their songs are), drawing heavily from last year's From the Bottom and throwing in a few old favourites from the Hospitals mini-album. If Ryan sounds gruff on record, he was practically breathing fire live, and between him and Josh, every single vocal harmony was hammered home with full force -- it's a testament to their live ability (and that of the sound guy) that the band sounded just like they do on record, only heavier and faster. With little in the way of banter, they plowed through a note-perfect set without a single dip in intensity, and topped it all off with a three-song encore, all without incurring a single beam-induced head injury!
If memory serves me correctly (which, thanks to the wonders of Strongbow, it probably doesn't, so feel free to correct me here), the set was, in no particular order:
- I Am You
- Go on Git Now
- Until the Day...
- Keep Falling Down
- Terrorist Attack?!
- Fuck This, I'm Out
- For the Four
- Die Today
- Your Child Is Dead
- Hard to Admit