The last gig of the Gnarwolves Europe tour 2014, on the 12th December at the Haunt in Brighton, was easily one of the best gigs I’d been to since summer’s end.
Public Domain from Vienna opened the show, announcing that they were dedicating their set to a friend who had recently passed; the mood was not dampened, and the energy flowed freely for an intense set. Playing hardcore punk hard and fast, with a cover of the Dead Kennedy’s ‘police truck’ thrown in laced the brutal vocals of public domain, and praising the activity that brought them together, skateboarding, they opened up for a lively show to come.
In between bands, me and my friends chatted nonsense. I commented that “punks look so clean nowadays”, after feeling a little out of place in muddy jeans, scruffy boots, surrounded by a tired, end-of-stressful-term smell, while being swarmed by store-fresh shoes, and painfully well-kept beards, moustaches and quiffs. My friend replied that it’s all about the “fresh new garms” nowadays, while the next band Prawn, came on, all with very nice shoes on.
The American four-piece played a complex mixture; a base of pop-punk and post-hardcore, with layers of indie and grunge, with pinches of math-rock and shoe gaze to boot. Sometimes it’s hard not to talk about music like an over-dramatic cooking show, especially with the exciting new flavours (aw jeez) coming out across the globe in the current generation of alternative music. Overall, the support acts worked well in that they complemented each other while not being completely alien in style to one another.
Finally, the Brighton boys came on, and throughout the course of their set, nailed it. The band started with ‘Bottle to Bottle’ (with a minor technical mishap with the guitar, but hey, we were all smiling), a track off of their new album. By the end of the gig, crowd-surfers crossed paths across outstretched arms like driftwood on water; people were having a great time. Gnarwolves were happy to be home, to be playing to the town that started it for them, to be playing punk, having completed an album, a tour of America and now Europe within the last six months, this skate-punk band had done big things, and were chuffed to bits.
The crowd sung along to classic tracks from both the newest album, and the EP’s Gnarwolves had previously released, such as ‘History is Bunk,’ ‘Coffee,’ and ‘Smoking Kills.’ The music is versatile; it keeps fast, choppy and hard-hitting, but throws in steadier, slower sections, building up the intensity of the song. An inflatable banana and beach ball were thrown into the audience by the lead singer of prawn, confetti was thrown, party poppers pulled, Thom Weeks wore a ‘Whitehawk FC’ football scarf, and the lead singer of Public Domain eventually came on to sing with the final song of the gig.
Gnarwolves may rest peacefully for a while, from touring, but hopefully not recording. The past year has shown that there are great things to come from Gnarwolves.
Photography by James Alvis