LIVE REVIEW: GUERRILLA MONSOON IN HUDDERSFIELD.
I live in Huddersfield, which is a medium-sized town nestled between a handful of the UK’s biggest cities. I’ve lived here for almost six years now, which is a fairly shocking thought, and in that time it’s never really had the greatest scene. Bands trickle through every now and then, with a couple of venues occasionally brining in a big name, and there’s a handful of popular locals, but generally speaking Huddersfield shows tend to be a fairly lacklustre affair. People just go elsewhere – it’s not a long train ride to get to much better places – and there’s genuinely just not the interest in the town about ninety percent of the time.
It can suck, but it brings its own unique charm at times. When shows really go off, they’re amazing, due in part to how unexpected it is, like when Gnarwolves came through and destroyed the place last year. I’ve seen some of the greatest and most intimate shows of my life here too: Jonah Matranga playing to only about thirty people, but absolutely stoked to be getting such a warm reception on a rainy week night in a town he’d never heard of; The Survival Tour creating that real sense of community that folk punk should have but often lacks; Chrik playing on the floor to old friends and newly converted fans. But mostly? Yeah, it’s shit ska or metal bands playing to crowds plagued by embarrassing drunk dancing or, when good but largely unknown acts actually come through town, those awkward shows where a band plays to a room not even a quarter full and hardly anyone really seems to give much of a shit.
So yeah. This felt like it was going to be one of those, despite being put on by Cats? Aye!, one of our better local promoters. Everyone involved in D.I.Y. shows always try so fucking hard, and it’s honestly disheartening to see so few people wander in to watch a free gig on a Saturday night - I guess the fact that this was the same night as England’s first World Cup game had something to do with a different crowd, less inclined to come to shows, being out and about.
But what else can you do, except keep trying? And what can we do, except keep on coming out? I feel guilty every time I miss a good local show, but I’m glad I caught this one at the Parish, not least for the relatively bizarre spectacle (in H-Field, anyway, where anything that could be perceived as ‘arty shit’ enjoys a curious relationship with the people who live there) of a spoken word poet opening up a punk show. Zach Roddis seems like a weird dude, sort of like a middle ground between internet alt-lit poets like Steve Roggenbuck, and slightly more ‘traditional’ but still, y’know, fairly alt poets like Ross Sutherland (who Roddis covers in his set. By which I mean he reads one of his poems). Awkward but funny, once he was warmed up and we knew how to take him, he was fantastic. Very cool to see people open to booking, watching, and performing stuff like this, and its presence in the scene is really welcome.
But still. Odd as shit way to open a punk show. Fortunately, Isaac are as standard a way to continue a punk show as humanly possible. Three piece Lookout!-style pop punk like early Green Day and Crimpshine, fronted by Shankland of, uh, Shankland fame – you’ve heard it all before, but it’s great. I’m gonna have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to them because I could barely get through the opening track of their EP without turning it off, but they actually kill it live, coming off like a passionate homage to those influences rather than a lazy rip. I also got my first preview of the Parish’s ridiculous LED strip lights. Yeah, that’s a thing now.
See, The Parish is a weird venue. I don’t know for sure that it’s the biggest in town, but it’s definitely the one with the best reputation, that puts on the most shows. I loved it when I first moved up here but have been increasingly disinterested in recent years – part of this is down to them booking stuff I’m not so in to quite as often, but other parts include most of the staff I knew there leaving, and its popularity with students making me feel increasingly old as first years get increasingly younger than me. Y’know, personal stuff. But on a night like this, I feel like its biggest failings are its aspirations – it’s a decent venue with a decent reputation in a decent town and, while I know that venue, reputation and town will only expand by dreaming bigger, ridiculous rockstar lights and various other gimmicks only really feel embarrassing when they’re blaring in to the eyes of a dozen people, tops. I’d rather they just, y’know, saved it for the metal shows.
And it’s this weird lineup, weird venue, weird night, that Guerrilla Monsoon are to finish. And, man, you know what? I have so much fucking respect for these guys after watching them. They weren’t put off by a damn thing – well, if they were, you’d never have known it – and played a much better set than could be expected from a band in their position. Their take on orgcorey melodic punk rock is nothing new, but they’re good enough at it, and their live show impressed enough, that I’m seriously backing these guys now. It’s a rare feeling to come out of shows like this in Huddersfield genuinely excited about what I’ve seen, rather than just disappointed that the band didn’t have a better crowd to bounce off. I can’t wait to see more from them, in some other town, on some other night.