Sunday. My one day off. I took a much needed trip to check out the all-day Easter edition of Hott Date at The Castle and Falcon in Balsall Heath; the initial glow was a reminiscent meeting of old friends with good vibes.
Basking in the spring-shine most hung out the back of the joint and in the alley way. Intermittently folks ventured to the front beer garden for a spot of socialising and a chomp of some delicious middle-eastern nosh, set to the varied grooves of multiple disc jockeys.
Throughout the day I had managed to get all the bands to take part in creating a found poem, based on the idea of Brum and new beginnings (being Easter and all). This is what came out of it.
A Hott Date Found Poem
All the elements of something so special are here
it is what it is
tends to be my best friends
like moving back home, but into a brand new house
a new city, where u know everyone
I like what it is
new dawns fade
recreate something from the past
new is plentiful
it’s still pretty sweet
See it thrive
it’s always exciting
Birmingham born, Birmingham bred
Freaky not Creepy
everybody get involved in the true spirit of the Brummie
begin at the beginning, and enjoy yourself
explore the underground
don’t be afraid to get dirty
forever and ever
eat alone and die alone
(Words by Liquid Cheeks, Gruel, Bryony Williams, Modern Literature, You Dirty Blue, Bad Girlfriend and Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam)
On the main stage, opening act, Liquid Cheeks sparked the fuse. An indie-pop, prog rock trio full of keys, courtesy of Ben Gibbs, beats by Oli Jefferson, and catchy choruses, capped with sweet falsetto harmonies by Gregory Clarke, joined for a few eloquently cryptic bars by cohort Abel Gray.
Gruel followed with acoustic bassy riffs from James Canyon and electric shreds and solos by Paul McCamron providing a metal rock backing to the howling woes and flamboyant showmanship of front man Steve Gilligan, whose audience participation included face to face sailor-gob serenading, with the odd face stroke of unsuspecting punters.
Bryony Williams greets the room with a wink and a “hey there Cupid“. The band jump around, blasting out Brit-pop punk rock summery tunes to the masses, now in a fresh boogie.
Modern Literature’s Gregg Smith takes to keys for a fresh fast and funky grungy set. Accompanied by old band mate, Kieron Naughton, filling the air with ambient and fuzzy guitar riffs. Skip Davies on Bass and Martin Cleveley on Drums drive the anti-pop ballads, setting the tone for more madness to come.
You Dirty Blues are shroud in blood-red stage lights as the speedy chaos of fast lyrics and solo guitar from sideways stander Leon James meets the Animal-like drums of Martin Reynolds. The crowd head bang to the minimalist rock’n’roll duo, their thumping sounds and angst-y lyrics are unapologetic as they storm the airwaves.
The dance floor is now packed out for three piece outfit Bad Girlfriend. Bassist Richie James and drummer Billy Smallman-Kopf perform seamlessly as they skip pleasantries and kick straight in, crafting the rhythms of great song after great song. Benson Chesterfield is a natural showman, and a spectacularly flamboyant guitarist. The Infamous Edmund Quigley jumps on stage and joins in, taking up the guitar as Benson jumps back into the crowd, singing away, until finally, re-joining the guitar from behind Edmund who is still wearing it, wailing away a blind solo to the cheers of their dears.
To cap the night off, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam screamed into action with their infamously fast and tight sound. Ralph Morton and Junior Elvis Washington Laidley shared the keys and drums relentlessly driving bursts of energy through the ether. David Bentall on Bass, Pete Dixon and Andy Bullock on Electric Guitars all howled and picked to their hearts discontent, closing the night with a hop skip and leap through some of their most popular tracks to a full on eruption of sloshed dance moves and applause from the crowd.
In the end we all sprawl out between the stage and the front beer garden, happily baked from a day of Hott Bands, Hott food and Hott weather. The brains behind the event, SLAG Mag founder and general local scene legend, Mazzy Snape, has a knack for bringing interesting musicians and people together, I look forward to more of her projects, and to seeing all the bands perform again sometime this summer.
Photos By Allan Maddie-Cottam and Andre Fortunato