It would have been great to have heard the Goodtime Boys new album Rain properly before seeing them play on 24th May, but it wasn’t to be – our PC only came back from the shop a few days ago after breaking down with the album stuck inside its cold dead maw, leaving me sadly playing catch-up.
Honestly though, not knowing the tunes by heart didn’t take anything away from their performance, which was strong and fluid. Since seeing them last in 2012 it feels like the Goodtime Boys sound has evolved gradually into something more melodic and varied and in a live setting the band felt tighter and more confident. It was a commanding performance even in that small venue, and with no stage to separate them and us, they held our attention easily while they ripped through their set – playing pretty much the whole of the new album.
It feels strange that Goodtime Boys are still playing £5 gigs in tiny basement venues in the UK when they’re signed to Bridge 9 in the US, but Pennie explained to me after the gig that the band is not interested in being the next big thing; after all, he’s been there before and to me it seems right that they are getting to play with bands they love in front of smaller groups of hardcore fans like this.
Of course, it wasn’t just Goodtime Boys playing, before the headliners the excellent Svalbard opened the evening with their noodling envy style guitars over screamed girl/boy vocals. This band are getting better all the time and I’ve read a few reviews where they’re being touted as the best upcoming band in the UK and it’s understandable – they sound fantastic live, arguably better than their recorded output. They are obviously well practised and pull off all those epic post-rock style moments with ease, sounding huge in the small venue. They also pulled in a pretty sizeable crowd for first band on.
Next up was London hardcore mob Grappler; under the surface of weighty riffage and heavy hit drums there is a lot more going on – some complex guitar work and nicely melodic sections filter through and I imagine that on record the little touches would be even more evident. Their live show is all about their intense frontman though – he’s almost scary up that close – leaning in and screaming in our faces whilst eyeballing us with manic stares and then moving side to side, kicking out and flailing limbs in every direction catching the front row with glancing blows.
I’m going to recommend you check out all the bands mentioned here – Goodtime Boys debut full length album Rain is out now through Bridge 9 in the US or you can order from Palm Reader Records in the UK. Svalbard and Grappler can be found and listened to on their Bandcamp pages (links in the band names).