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Choking SusanChoking Susan
Girlfixer
Maximum RNR

The Maze, Nottingham
Thursday July 26 2012

 


Real ale in the front room, punk rock in the back room. One day all gig venues will be like this.

We're in The Maze, which isn't as hard to find as the name might suggest: it's the room round the back of the Forest Tavern, up by the graveyard on Nottingham's Mansfield Road. And we're here to catch Choking Susan on their latest quest to bring your actual Detroit punkzoid din to olde England, whether olde England wants it or not.

As a matter of fact, olde England does want it, or so it seems. Choking Susan are regular visitors, usually arranging a few gigs around appearances at the Rebellion Festival. So let's swig down our pints and get among the bands.

Well, here's a band that does what it says on the tin. Maximum RNR come from Toronto.You know, Toronto - the city renowned as the squeaky-clean version of New York. Yes, that's a sweeping generalisation, and Torontonians can shout at me through their monitor screens now. But I've never quite managed to think of Toronto as the rough, tough home of fast 'n' filthy rock 'n' roll - until tonight.

Maximum RNR are like an uber-Stooges, a mega-Motorhead, and a mentalist New York Dolls all rolled into one. They make an utterly unsubtle blast of righteous rocknoize, wrapped up in a frenzy of flailing hair and thrashing rifferama. The singer spends most of his time scrabbling around on the floor - with true British stoicism the audience gazes impassively stagewards, even as he's twitching like as landed fish right at their feet. The noise, naturally, never stops.

Maximum RNR manage to be funny and scary and crazily over the top all at once. You probably wouldn't invite them home to meet your mum, but your weirdo cousin's gonna love them.

Maximum RNR / Girlfixer

Representing the home team, Girlfixer, from right here in Nottingham. 50/50 girl/boy punk rock, with the emphasis on the rock. Girlfixer walk the line between the stark no-shitness of old-school punk and the more densely--packed, big-riff sound of hardcore. The band's secret weapon is their singer, who strolls around the stage with a deceptively casual air, microphone up-tilted, rasping out the lyrics in a voice like punker sandpaper.

Now, I know what you're saying right now. "Girlfixer? Isn't that a Distillers song?" Yep, and I'm sure Girlfixer the band didn't choose their name by accident. If you dig the Distillers, chances are you'll get Girlfixer, too - they're operating in that kind of territory, and why not? Now that Brody Dalle has gone all AOR on us, there's a Distillers-shaped hole in the rock scene for a band that plays it fast and feisty. Tonight Girlfixer stake a pretty good claim to the vacancy.

Choking SusanI have a theory. You can always tell when a band comes from Detroit because there's an indefinable something about the guitar sound that just screams 'Detroit rock city' atcha. Choking Susan have it: that brash, outta-my-way clamour, that metallic (but not metal) KO.

Choking Susan also have a loose-limbed, pummeling drum sound and plenty in the way of down 'n' dirty bass growls. And, inescapably, Choking Susan also have Colleen Caffeine.

A green-haired energy bomb, with a neat line in scathing, pissed-off vocals and enough attitude to redecroate the room, she's the whirlwind at the centre of the Choking Susan storm.

She's never still, sometimes hamming it up with goofy dance moves, sometimes snarling at us as if it's all our fault. She's a no-shit superstar. She makes Courtney Love look like the Singing Nun, but you know she's in total control throughout. Even when she collapses onto her knees during 'I'm Alone' and crawls about the stage as if reliving some private agony while the guitar gets its Chuck Berry on; even when she's confessing all in 'I Was A Teenage Tranny' or setting out her stall for Choking Susan's idealised world in 'Cuntopia'.

Choking Susan hammer out their 100 mph anthems with equal parts guts and good humour, and by way of a grand finale pitch headlong into 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' - a number which, at one time or another, every band on planet Earth (and quite possibly other planets, too) has covered. But Choking Susan have Detroit Punk Rock rights to the song, so they're allowed. And anway, their barnstorming, smash and grab raid on the song does the business.

Those three long-suffering chords are thrashed into submission, and the set disintegrates magnificently with Colleen all over the floor again, until she finally arches herself off the stage in an impromptu impersonation of the Ambassador Bridge. Yes, Detroit can be proud of Choking Susan. And olde England rather likes 'em, too.

Choking Susan

Choking Susan:

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Girlfixer:

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Maximum RNR:

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For more photos from this gig, find the bands by name here.

Find a Choking Susan album review here.

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