Ont Road

Ont Road

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Football Against Homophobia - Halil Ibrahim Dincdag

Football Against Homophobia
The case of Halil Ibrahim Dincdag

Many football fans across Europe may be aware of the recent ‘Kampa Showan’ incident in Sweden, where a famous activist, Showan Shattak, of the Football Against Homophobia campaign was hospitalised and put into a coma as a result of a far-right knife attack on a group of activists who were celebrating International Womens Day. This is a shocking event, particularly in one of the supposed most liberal countries in the world, and highlights that there is a long way to go to eradicate discrimination against other sexualities within society. This isn't the only concern at present though...

Clapton FC Ultras - leading the way in the UK in support of Kampa Showan
The Eccles & District branch of FC United of Manchester, are currently flying the flag of ‘Football Against Homophobia’ within the club ever since our alliance with the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin that took place during a post-season tour in 2013. They are at the forefront of the campaign in Germany, and recently, some of their fans have been involved in a heart-warming story surrounding the ‘Football Against Homophobia’ campaign.

This particular case concerns Halil Ibrahim Dincdag, who is a long-standing Turkish football referee (pictured at the start of this article) that ‘came out’ back in 2009. Since then he has had his referee licence revoked, and has had to move to Istanbul to escape media attention and protect his family – although being gay is not illegal as it is in many Muslim countries, Turkish society is still strongly homophobic. Since then he has lost his job, and has been unable to referee. That is until the fans of Tennis Borussia Berlin & Rote Stern Leipzig found out about his plight.

The fans managed to make contact with Halil, and invited him to come visit them in Germany. This proved to be difficult in the land of bureaucracy, as his visa was denied several times. With many Turkish immigrants already living in Germany, the authorities are taking a hard stance on issuing visas. However, they were eventually successful, and it led to a dramatic twist in the saga.

On Tuesday, Tennis Borussia Berlin played a friendly match against Türkiyemspor, a team that started in the late 1970’s, which are supported by many Turkish immigrants living in Berlin. How apt then that Halil, in his first competitive match since his ban within Turkey five years ago, led both teams out onto the pitch with tears in his eyes, and went on to referee the match.

He has been described by the fans who arranged this trip as a great guy, very modest, yet firm, fair, and confident in his refereeing ability.  Despite all the complications he has faced since coming out, Halil claims that he doesn’t regret coming out, as he sees this battle, one in which he will be taking to the European Court of Human Rights, as something of upmost importance.

Yesterday he refereed his second match, Roter Stern Leipzig’s first vs. second team, which was described again as an emotional affair. In this instance, some of the Berlin fans even travelled down to Leipzig to support Halil. Who would have thought in this day and age there would be fans that can be classed as supporters of certain referees? That my friend is what we call post-modern football.  

Today, Halil Ibrahim Dincdag returned ‘home’ to Turkey to carry on his underground lifestyle, to continue with his battle to become reinstated as a referee, and to combat homophobia in football and Turkish society. Wasn’t that a great opportunity that the fans of Tebe and Roter Stern had provided for him? All of us at the FC United of Manchester Eccles & District branch wish him and all the Football Against Homophobia campaigners all the best in their struggles, and will being to look at ways in which we can support the campaign at our new home in Moston, Manchester.

© Schwarzbrennen

Bad Religion - The Dissent of Man (Review)

Bad Religion – The Dissent of Man

 Following the return of founding member, Epitaph label owner and co-songwriter, Brett Gurewitz, after the bands flirtation with the major label Atlantic, the duo of Graffin and Gurewitz have since written and recorded three albums: The Process of Belief, The Empire Strikes First, and New Maps of Hell, which have been regarded by fans and critics, and self proclaimed by the band as “The Unholy Trilogy: Part Two”; the original trilogy being: No Control, Suffer, and Against The Grain, which are known as the bands best output. Whilst the latter trilogy saw the band encapsulate the passion, energy, and conviction of their youthful punk-rock days, their latest release, a clever play on words, ‘The Dissent of Man’, represents a significant departure, coming across more as a mature rock album, something which they failed to do with the making of Into the Unknown, The New America, and No Substance. With some hit, and some miss, here is a run down of the tracks from the album:

One thing that the band have always managed to do is capture the mood of the time, and in this part of the epoch where global protest movements are making a significant return to humanities conscience, and the protestor was named Time Magazines person of the year, ‘The Dissent of Man’, with it’s front cover of an angry youth throwing an object in anger, perfectly encapsulates this period of modern history.

The album kicks off with ‘The Day The Earth Stalled’, which will no doubt ease in the casual Bad Religion listener, with a familiar fast-paced rhythm, combined with a catchy sing-along chorus, which is completed by the usual harmonious backing vocals. And then it starts to slow down, yet the lyrical content takes a classic Bad Religion trajectory.

‘Only Rain’ is a song about the rationality of atheism, a theme made prominent through singer Greg Graffin’s book ‘Anarchy Evolution’. Firstly he decries the old pre-scientific values of our ancestors by declaring, “Hey scientist please save us from our rainy days, because your counterpart in the magic arts is manufacturing judgement day”, and during the chorus lambasts the superstitious naturalists, who haven’t evolved to the scientific paradigm by declaring “rain fell like judgement, across my window pane, it felt like judgement, but it was only rain”: Here we feel Graffin being articulate, cutting, and poignant as ever.

The clever play on words returns with ‘The Resist Stance’, which, as is the case with The Day That The Earth Stalled, follows a more traditional Bad Religion song formula. It comes across as a rallying call to all those taking a stand against oppression, yet remains critical to the potential of an emerging dogma by proclaiming “the state of your resolve, makes you quickly devolve into a fundamentalist”.  Hitherto, the album stands up to the test, and then it takes a turn for the worst.

No whilst the sentiments of the collusion between church and state echoed in the ‘Wont Somebody’ are welcome, despite being somewhat worn, an amendment to the chorus provides more insight into the song; “Wont Bad Religion please come up with something, because this formula don’t seem to be impartially appealing, and all of this song puts this album down in the ratings, so a good song we’ll have to keep on waiting.”

If a single was to be penned for release from this album, in order to capture the attention of the casual alternative music listener, then ‘The Devil in Stitches’ has all the hallmarks of a radio friendly, melodic, and catchy anthem full of great chord progressions. It was very difficult to attach a specific meaning to the song; Gurewitz’s lyrics are usually not as forthright as Graffins. According to those who love their computer and regularly post on the fan site, thebrpage.net, and Mr. Brett himself, it’s a modern love story based on a biblical tale. Whether you believe in love or not, you’ll certainly enjoy this song.

The dark side to social attitudes permeates in ‘Pride and the Pallor’, which covers the idea of superstitious and irrational behaviours originating from religious beliefs, being passed down through generations, and this spiralling out of control, leading to an ironically prophetic hellish existence for the human species.   

‘Wrong Way Kids’ is a retrospective look at the Los Angeles punk-rock scene of the early 1980s, something that the band was very much involved with. The song draws parallels with ‘You Don’t Belong’, alluding to the wrong turns some people took in their lives, during the early days of punk rock. Themes of this calibre are almost inevitable for a band in their late forties, yet it is relinquished from becoming a grandeur act of self-importance by being doused with elements of humour, such as the line ” the kids today are gone away, petitioning the dust, with nobody to look up to, because they’re looking up to us””, and self-mockery, with the chorus making fun of their liberal use of ‘woahs’, goading the listener to “Singing woah, woah, wo-oo-ah”, a template copied over from their atrocious single ‘Honest Goodbye’ on their previous record.

There is a reason that so many academics are fans of the band, and this is due to Graffin’s lyrical ingenuity, often able to summarise a historical or sociological essay into a three-minute melodic harmony. ‘Meeting of the Minds’ is one of those songs, looking at the historical transformation of rational thought, starting in 325, through to Old Tennessee in the last century, and onwards to an idyllic futuristic fantasy of the intelligentsia and politicians coming together to come to the conclusion that “no longer will the market decide, what the government will provide”. Nobody can accuse them of becoming universal cynics; a healthy, radiant and optimistic outlook still remains in their old age.

‘Someone To Believe’ is about the weak willed members of society, the ones who ‘find’ God and ‘meaning’ in their life, the way in which their attitude and persona drastically change, which “feels like a spring equinox after a long winters sleep”. Imbeciles ‘awaken’ when they have someone [God] to believe. 

Throughout ‘Anarchy Evolution’, Greg Graffin argues that evolution is an anarchic process, in which the human species has no control over, and this relates to the theme of the next song ‘Avalon’. It’s about the reflective phases that humans go through in their life, and the negative impact that focussing on past regrets can have. Yet this idea is flipped into a rallying call for people to not get caught up with the minutiae of the past, and instead look to the future and create your own Avalon, a place to be comfortable with when you die. This links into the theme of the book, it’s all too easy to look back on the travesty of human existence and take on a defeatist attitude, it’s better to create something ideal for the here and now.

Bad Religion have never shied away from producing a subtle song about heartache, yet none have come across as bitter as ‘Cyanide’, a four minute epic about being apart from a loved one, or in the case of Gurewitz, is the thing he describes as missing akin to kissing cyanide, a reference to his days as a heroin user? If I long for you it will make me return and deliver me to death? The bitterness is usurped when ‘Turn Your Back On Me’ kicks in on the next track, a beautifully sad, and brooding number.

And then the overt politics is back with a vengeance with ‘Ad Hominem’, a scornful attack on the bourgeoisie who think that they are divinely better than the poor. ‘Where The Fun Is’ is not even worth mentioning and is almost inevitable that it will be featured on the soon to be released ‘Worst of Bad Religion’ CD, entitled ‘How the hell could Bad Religion get any worse?’

As a rule of thumb, Bad Religion have always closed their albums with a strong and catchy number, yet ‘I Won’t Say Anything’ breaks with that tradition, and leaves it with a flat end to the proceedings. There isn’t the usual big bang, in which we expect from our atheist peacemakers, just a steady fade away into insignificance, perhaps a suitable prelude to our own species’ existence. 

Finite - A great track that never made the album cut

The Dissent of Man is still out on Epitaph Records.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Punk Football: Falling in love (again) with FC St Pauli

Punk Football: Falling in love (again) with FC St. Pauli. A self-reflection and review of Pirates, Punks, & Politics by Nick Davidson.

Reading Nick Davidson’s ‘Pirates, Punks, & Politics’ has reminded me why I fell in love with FC St. Pauli. It was when I first read about them during my ‘Football & Society’ module taught by Adam Brown, in the second year of a Sociology degree at Manchester Metropolitan University. Funnily enough, I now stand sided by side on the terraces with Adam, as a co-owner of the Punk Football team, ‘FC United of Manchester’. FC St Pauli are probably the most famous ‘Punk Football’ team throughout the world, and there is no surprise of the effect that Nick Davidson’s book has had when it contains the by-line ‘Falling in love with a radical football club’.  

I was so enamoured by what I had read during the course that I chose the club as a focus for my 3000-word essay questioning whether regional identities in football had been eroded by the globalisation of the game. Of course, St. Pauli were a perfect choice to argue against the claim, and it was during this time I started to research more about the club through it’s fanzines, and liaising with supporters through online message boards. Following the course, FC St Pauli fell off the radar somewhat, eclipsed by my hometown clubs venture in the Champions League and upper echelons of the English Premier League.

The fire was rekindled during the World Cup of 2006 in Germany. I was on a train from Copenhagen to Koln, and I decided to break the journey up with a few hours stop off in Hamburg. Even though there was a game on, the only thing I had on my mind was going to visit the Millerntor Stadium, the home of FC St. Pauli. It was great to have a look at the concrete logo outside the ground, visit the Club Shop, and circumvent the stadium trying to peer in as much as possible.  It just so happened that the World Cup ‘Fanladen’ was situated net door, yet after a brief investigation it was too crowded and the beer too expensive. Instead I opted to watch the game inside a FC St Pauli clubhouse, amongst like-minded people, drinking beer half the price, and supporting the clubs coffers rather than the World Cups sponsors.

My first visit to a match took place in the summer of 2007, and it was documented in the first issue of my fanzine ‘Ont Road’. Here is a selection from that article:

“Thankfully I got to the ground in plenty of time, despite the late train from Dresden. I picked up my ticket from Heikko, who runs the St. Pauli fan laden, which basically keeps tickets aside for foreign fans. I had emailed him a fortnight before and he kept one aside for me. It cost only 15 euros and it was for the home stand. Unfortunately there were no tickets for the anarchist stand, so I had to settle for second best.

The ground was busy, and I treated myself to a couple of fish butties, as all I had eaten all day was a couple of croissants. Inside the ground, they were only selling local beer, named ‘Astra’ and the food outlets were all run by local businesses. I liked this. Although I wasn’t feeling 100% (due to illness), the fact that it is still legal to drink football in the stands at German football games was enough to persuade me to get a pint and watch the game. It was a blazing hot day, and here I was in the middle of the stand (yes, you could actually stand up and watch a football game!) supping a pint of beer whilst watching the teams enter the pitch.

With the amount of black clothes, leather, patches and skulls on display, it actually seemed that I was at a heavy metal concert for a moment. Songs such as ‘Come on you boys in Brown’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ were regularly sung throughout the game. St. Pauli took the lead in the first half, scoring a near post header into the goal at our side of the pitch. They held their nerve, and despite a few close moments at the end, managed to finish up victorious over FC Koblenz. It was a great feeling to sing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ during the closing minutes of the game. I certainly hope to be going to watch St. Pauli again in the future.”

Thankfully I held true to my word and in 2009 I was over in Hamburg to watch neo-crust punk band Tragedy, playing on the Onkel Otto’s stage, located on the punk street behind the Reeperbahn, as part of the unofficial ‘Hafengeburstag’ celebrations. This particular part of the district is synonymous with the birth of the FC St Pauli ‘mythos’ that started back in the 1980s when the local punks from the area started to go to the matches. And that is one of the fundamental things about FC St Pauli, it’s encompasses the whole district and community – it is an extension of the local identity in the immediate area around the stadium. It’s a state of mind.

A friend of mine who is a Bohemians FC supporter was over at the same time, and he had arranged to get us some tickets for the game the following day. A 2pm kick off is way to early, especially when you have been up late drinking Astra in Onkel Ottos, only to be kicked out at 6am, and to carry on the drinking with some punks on the street you have only just met. I was a complete wreck, but in good spirits and well behaved. The festival vibes of the ‘Harbour Birthday’, and the alternative punk streets events, had permeated me. After careful investigation on the Internet it turns out the match I went to was against Mainz, and ended with a 2:0 victory to St Pauli. The atmosphere was cracking again, and I even managed to see someone score with a lob from 40 yards out, before passing out on the Gegengerade for the whole of the second half. That was just a small part of one of the craziest few days in my life, and another reason what makes St Pauli so special.

The last time I visited the stadium was during the post-season of that same year. I was in town anyway, and it perfectly so happened that they were playing a friendly against Hearts of Midlothian. This was well documented in my ‘top 10 games of all time column’ in issue 3 of Ont Road Fanzine. Here is a copy of the text:

The week before the game, there was the annual ‘Schanzefestival’ in the St Pauli district of Hamburg. It is a generic street festival, which is traditionally followed by a night of rioting from the extreme left and bored youth. During the night, the police raided the St Pauli fans bar, The Jolly Roger. They proceeded to beat up a few people and they ended up knocking one of the fans teeth out. The stadium was littered with an array of anti-police banners, and the 8000 strong crowd all gathered in the clubs car park after the game. They then proceeded to go on an ‘anti-police brutality ‘ march around the streets of Hamburg.

* This was also the first time I got to stand in the ‘Sudkurve’ section with all the Ultras. We were drinking pints in the stands, and socialising with the other fans. The match was nothing more than a backdrop. One of the bizarre rituals of the ultras was during a St Pauli corner, the fans got out their keys and started to shake them up until the ball was kicked. There was also a gadgie in a Celtic shirt singing Henrik Larrson songs throughout the game. St Pauli went on to comfortably win the game, yet on this occasion there was more at stake than the result on the field. “No justice, no peace, fuck the police”. 

After reading Nick Davidson’s book, I will make another written vow to go and see St Pauli again. Next time in Germany it will have to be an away game, and in the UK when they come for a return friendly match with FC United of Manchester, when they have moved to their new stadium in Moston.

The book itself is the most comprehensive English language book about the club, which is testament to the time and research put in by the author. It documents the history of the club, it’s relationship with the local community, the fan scene, the politics, how it came to be in its current guise, everything that makes the club unique, and it is peppered with refreshing short trip reports that the author has made to watch them.

It’s a comprehensive guide, and an essential piece of reading for anyone interested in the club, or Punk Football. I just hope that Nick and people in his position don’t give up on English football completely, substituting their youthful experiences with the modern German game. There is a new football revolution taking place in the lower echelons of the league structure with the birth of fan-owned teams, putting the power back into the fans, who are taking a post-modern approach by trying to make friends not enemies, and bringing the soul and atmosphere back into the stadiums. Perhaps the ethos and ideals that the fans at St Pauli first pioneered will eventually permeate into the structure of other clubs worldwide and lead to an increasing inter-connected community of Punk Football Clubs. 

Lukas Schwarzbrennan

Punk Football Nomads
International Co-ordinator, Eccles & District Branch, FC United of Manchester
Member of Yorkshire St. Pauli (http://yorkshirestpauli.com)

* Massive respect to Nick Davidson for holding true to his clubs fans beliefs and donating all the profits from his book to the 1910 FC St. Pauli Museum Fan Project. Punk Football through and through.

Buy the book here

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lonkero - Original - The national drink of Finland - Gin Long Drink


Finland is a nation where half the population are pissed by dinnertime. They like to drink themselves into a state of suicidal depression. Long dark winters, a high dependency on the welfare state, and a lack of human interaction due to a low population density are some of the explanations banded around for this phenomenon. However, one idea often overlooked is the popularity of their national drink, Lonkero, which in English simply means ‘Long Drink’. However, before we take a closer look it’s important to look back at the history of alcohol in Finland, in order to understand the rise of the drink.

Following the first world war, Finland introduced a strict policy of prohibition, which managed to last until 1932, and just like the USA, a large illegal industry grew in the production of homemade alcohol, or moonshine as it’s colloquially known. This brought in a wave of popularity for strong alcoholic drinks. In 1952, Helsinki had the prestigious honour of hosting the summer Olympics. As a result, Finland was expecting a huge influx of foreign visitors, and given the fact that there was no cocktail culture in the country, the state monopoly on alcohol decided to introduce ‘long drink’ as a way of courting their foreign visitors. It is essentially a pre-mixed drink containing Gin and Grapefruit soda. It took off in a big way, and today it is still one of the most popular drinks in Finland. In order to widen the market it is now available in a variety of styles in the state run alcohol shops and on draft in the bars and nightclubs. Here is a guide to the variety of Lonkero available today:

Hartwall, Original Gin Long Drink, 5.5%, 33cl Can – The original and best without doubt, a light grey colour, slightly carbonated, and a subtle bittersweet taste of Gin and Grapefruit.

Hartwall, Light Gin Long Drink, 5.5%, 33cl Can – As is the case with light versions of any alcohol drink, it’s an attempt to widen the market to include people who are concerned with the media fuelled obsession of having a perfect figure. Whilst this version contains a tenth of the carbohydrates, it is replaced by three times as many E numbers, which makes the taste distinctly more artificial.

Hartwall, Strong Gin Long Drink, 7.5%, 33cl Can – One for the seasoned drinkers and those wanting to put the hammer down. It’s nothing different than the original besides a stronger Gin taste. Be done with it and get to isolation stage of drunk.

Hartwall, Cranberry Gin Long Drink, 5.5%, 33cl Can – A marked variation on the original with Grapefruit being replaced by Cranberry. Now whilst Cranberry doesn’t have the wide appeal as flavours such as orange or lemon, and does keep the drink to an obscure taste, it is too much of a radical departure from the original, and besmirches the original flavour. Again, it’s another attempt to widen the market, but beware of any variation from Grapefruit, no other fruit works well with Gin. Overall: ok for novelty value, and comes in alluring red colour; yet regarded as a different drink altogether.    

Hartwall, Original Gin Long Drink, 35cl Bottle, 5.5% – Novelty, smoother taste. Set yourself aside from the rest by drinking lonkero from a retro bottle. The drink is sometimes referred to as the ‘beautiful lady’, as 1952 was also the only year that Finland won the Miss World Contest.

Solera, Suomi Long Drink, 33cl Can, 5.5% - The closest imitation to the original, which claims to use the original 1952 formula.

Sinebrychoff, Dry Grapefruit Long Drink, 4.7& 50cl Can – It tastes like model trains but is only a first class ticket to stomach pains. Beware of fake imitations that appear in supermarkets. The versions in the supermarkets are just an alcoholic soda that is brewed to match the taste, and drastically fail. Only the versions available in Alko (state run liquor stores) and bars actually have real Gin inside. Sinebrychoff do actually produce a real version, which is not bad. Also the Estonian brewer A le Coq produce a version, which is cheaper, yet does not cut the mustard.

In summary, Lonkero is mainly drunk by young people who use it as a gateway into drinking and old people who enjoy Gin for what it is, and there are few in-between these ages that regularly drink the stuff. It is perfect for a morning drink or to settle the stomach at the start of a session, and it is also good at the end of a session when the beer makes the stomach too bloated.

As with Gin in general, Lonkero has the ability to make you feel amazing if you are already happy, and will lead you to depression if you are already feeling sad. So given the fact that it is such a popular drink, it can be regarded as a factor of a spike in depression and suicide in the country, which aptly reflects the national stereotypical psyche. 

© @Schwarbrennen

Stick to the originals available in Alko

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Martin 'Protag' Neish 1959-2014

Martin ‘Protag’ Neish 1959-2014

Protag working tirelessly behind the scenes

The world has lost another great man: A man who lived by his ideals, with the betterment of the world, and improving the lives of others, often at the forefront of his mind. Cancer is often uncontrollable and inevitable, yet when it hits someone who doesn’t smoke, drinks in moderation, eats organic food, and leads a healthy and active lifestyle – it is often harder to take.

Protag was a stalwart of the Bradford scene. Musically he had been involved with Blyth Power, Alternative TV, and Zounds, as well as a competent and respected sound engineer. Politically he was an integral part of the 1 in 12 claimants union, a backbone volunteer at the 1 in 12 club, an ambassador for alternative energies, an Indymedia volunteer, and he worked alongside many community and activist groups. He was one of those people that put the word active into activist.

I first met Protag at the 1 in 12 Club, when I spent some time volunteering behind the bar, and organising live music events. What resonated with me the most was his passion for the club. He was always doing something for its benefit, and he was always willing to guide and teach those who wanted to learn more. He was almost a moral guide for putting beliefs into practice, and his ways more often than not played on the minds of the more nihilistically minded.

Our working relationship with Protag developed when he agreed to join the Moncada Rocks collective as our sound engineer. The collective successfully raised tens of thousands of pounds for radical left-wing organisations in South America, ranging from rehabilitating families of murdered journalists in Colombia, to providing musical instruments for young people in Cuba. Protag was more of an anarchist, yet what made him unique was his ability not to succumb to divisions and factionalism. He would get involved with many projects that spanned the broad left spectrum, as long as they helped to improve the lot of others who are less fortunate.


When I think of Protag, I think of Boxer from Animal Farm: Someone with a staunch work ethic, who always worked harder when times got tough, and worked so hard for the Rebellion. There are many people that are part of our movement, and part of our society, that put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes, and don’t like to brag or show off their achievements. So it is our responsibility to celebrate it for them.

Shortly before his death, he requested that everyone get together to clean up, decorate and fix up the 1 in12 Club. That was a final request that was Protag through and through; the last thing he’d want is for us to all to be sat around being inactive. There is one final anecdote I’d like to share with you. At one Moncada Rocks event he received the sad news that his mother had passed away, and rather than cancel and leave us in the lurch, he decided to carry on and do the event because he knew that is what his mother would’ve wanted. This is yet another example of him putting the greater need of others, above himself.

Protag, we salute you for everything you have contributed to humanity. You will be sorely missed.

A tribute on the wall of the 1 in 12 Club.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The creation of the punk scene

The creation of the punk scene

The punk scene runs about thus:

Spikey hair: 6/5
Patches on jacket: 5/2
Alcoholism: 4
Post-apocalyptic outlook: 6
Social Retardedness: 6
Speed: 8
Painkillers: 10
STDs: 12
Bitching: 15
Failed 'suicide attempt': 20
Anarchism: 20
Collectivisation: 30
Punk: 50

Forget 1977 & 1982

Punk never won yet

Since benefits were a guaranteed lifeline

If you can get 3 to 5 on cliché

Put down everything you’ve got. 

Charles Bukowski - RIP

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hardcore Punk is alive and well in the UK - I'll die if I want to Fest



There’s something to be said about the claim that all the best music scenes are so underground that they can be found in basements, garages, and warehouses of the world. In a small basement on the cusp of Leeds 4, a young group of hardcore enthusiasts started to put on shows and form their own bands. A few years on, and we’ve seen a small explosion of this scene, with shows now taking place in larger venues, and some of said bands now playing tours across Europe and North America.

One of the chief instigators and spiritual guru of the movement, Liam Fox, recently organised a birthday show at the Millwright Studios Practice Space, known as the ‘Temple of Boom’, in order to bring together some of the best bands from the North of England that all fall together in the same radar of hardcore punk, and as a means to have a final swan song before stepping down from the demanding role of show organiser.

Perspex Flesh
Surprisingly, this was my first venture to the venue, despite having shows there for the last few months. It is located in Mabgate, which is situated in between the centre of town and the Burmantofts estate. Discerning drinkers may remember the City of Mabgate, and the Black Horse. It is traditionally a rough area, where you were likely to come home with a broken window in your car and it used to be a known red light area of the city.  There was even a pop-up wrestling shop at one point!

There are a lot of warehouses in the area, and the venue is inside one of them, and from looking out the back, it seems that it is not the only place that is trying to use the space creatively. The transformation-taking place in the area can be compared to a micro-level version of what was happening in the warehouses of Manchester in the late 80s/early 90s: Economically marginalised artists and musicians creatively using a space to express their wares.

The bands were playing in a large wide-room at the back of the space, which seemed a perfect size for a hardcore show. Through a long corridor was bar / chill-out area, which then opened up onto a large courtyard area, in which there was a temporary West-Indian catering rig set up on.

Black Cop
In Leeds we only have one venue that comes close to operating on collectivised principles, that being Wharf Chambers workers-co-operative. With the Temple of Boom we have the next best thing, a social enterprise run by someone involved within the hardcore punk community: a place operated by someone who ‘gets it’.

I don’t own any hardcore records, or listen to hardcore much at home, yet live I just love the mosh, and all the primal urges the music invokes. And of course that goes hand in hand with all the awesome people involved in the scene, some I hadn’t seen in years, and we picked up from where we last left off. I also picked up a copy of a new zine called ‘Reluctant Mosher’ which does a far better job than I ever could, to show enthusiasm, passion, and interest in the UK hardcore scene right now – go hunt it out!

For the limited time I was there, I saw three bands playing on the mid card. Black Cop from Scotland kicked off with a fast raging hardcore attack. They were followed by the local hardcore sounds of Perspex Flesh. Followed by Brighton hardcore band Die, who managed to get through a complete set, making up for the technical disaster they faced at Means to An End Festival. It’s safe to say that hardcore is alive and well in the UK, and this bill aptly demonstrated the varying styles on offer. Promoter Liam Fox will soon be stepping down from his position of organising shows in Leeds, and this blog his dedicated to him, and those that came before and after, who mercifully keep the scene alive with little or no reward or gratitude. 
Liam Fox - Take a bow my son
Now go search on the internet for some more awesome upcoming shows & gigs at The Temple of Boom.

© @Schwarzbrennen
Photos © Charlee Rowton