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Epoxies
Valdez
Surfin' Turnips
The Junction, Bristol
Saturday March 18 2006

Surfin' TurnipsSomething tells me we're not in London any more. The band on stage is called the Surfin' Turnips, and they're playing a Wurzels song. This could only be Bristol, and this could only be a cider-fuelled gig at the city's legendary punk pub, the Junction.

The Surfin' Turnips might have a joke name, and a boisterous, good-time attitude, but they're a good solid punker outfit to boot, with an accordian in the line-up for added folkie vibes. Significantly, they've chosen to cover an old Wurzels song, 'Drink Up Thee Cider', as recorded in the 1960s by the original band under leader Adge Cutler. At that time, the Wurzels were much more like a West Country version of the Pogues than the novelty act they later became, and their songs, written in dialect and containing many specifically Bristolian references, seem to be the main point of inspiration for the Surfin' Turnips. That, and the Ramones. The resulting musical racket is as murky as a pint of scrumpy and just as powerful. And it could only be a Bristol thing.

 

ValdezValdez are a much more straightforward proposition, in that they make a transatlantic hardcore noise which doesn't especially sound like it comes from anywhere. But then, in this musical area I suppose it's all about getting the audio-visual stylistic reference points right - someone in the band has just got to wear a baseball cap, for example. Valdez certainly touch all bases here. They're suitably abrasive and they play it fast and furious in the approved fashion, and if they don't sound a whole lot different to umpteen other hardcore outfits on the gig circuit, at least they sound the business. The Surfin' Turnips guitarist turns up once again as plank-spanker for Valdez, by the way, so for all I know I've caught a glimpse of the Bristol supergroup scene here.

 

EpoxiesWhile we're setting out the geography, perhaps we should note that the Epoxies come from Portland, Oregon, and this, one of only two UK dates on a lengthy European tour, must be a bit of a culture shock for them. A rough 'n' ready pub venue with few concessions made to the bands (there's no stage, just a bit of raised floor, and no mixing desk, just a multi-channel PA amp) and an audience intent on imbibing terrifying quantities of fermented apple juice while conversing in an impenetrable accent - whatever the Epoxies imagined the UK to be like, I'm willing to bet it wasn't quite like this.

But the band takes it all in their stride, and when they kick off it's clear that they've elected to go for maximum punk points tonight. They've biased the set towards their fastest songs - the new-wavey pop stylings which enliven the recorded versions have been unceremoniously booted out in favour of a full-throttle punkzoid blatter. It ain't subtle, that's for sure, but it's exactly the right approach for this gig. Oh, and they've brought their own lasers, built into the guitars. The resulting green shafts of light, shooting this way and that as the guitarists throw their shapes, makes the gig look like a particularly frenzied light-sabre duel. Add the illuminated backdrop, which shouts out EPOXIES in a blaze of fairy lights at random intervals, and you've got quite a visual extravaganza. And hey, I haven't even mentioned the foam machine yet.

If by now you're thinking there's nothing more to the Epoxies than gimmicks, then pray get a load of those tunes, which, even with the band playing everything in a pedal-to-the-metal fashion, are still insanely catchy pop-punk classics. 'Radiation' is a mad blast, 'Moulded Plastic' as fast and trashy as an out of control dustcart. The mosh gets fierce, and all the while Roxy Epoxy fronts the crazed caboodle with a Epoxies curious demeanour, half way between mad abandon and calm control. She's steered this careering dustcart round all manner of bends before now, and she's not about to crash it tonight. 'Everything Looks Beautiful On Video' manages to retain a shred or two of its original poignancy as the guitarists shred it up, and then it all comes to a freaking halt with 'Please Please'. The backdrop winks out for the last time, the laser beams stop messing with our visual cortexes. The dust (and the foam) settles.

Well, that was a blast and a half. Whatever the Epoxies think of their brief visit to the UK, I'm sure there'll be a few cider-swigging punks in Bristol who won't forget this gig in a hurry.

 

Essential links:

Epoxies: Website | MySpace
Valdez: Website | MySpace
Surfin' Turnips: Website | MySpace

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

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  Page credits: Review, photos and construction by Michael Johnson.
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