Selling out their hometown’s grittiest venue, Bloody Knees and friends stomped through the sold out Blue Moon bringing with them an oddly hospitable and fun brand of violence.
Young rippers Gaffa Tape Sandy opened the night, prepping us with impressive late 70s punk via Pixies-inspired hits. Their structures, both smart and interesting, were played with a passion and promise that proved Bury St Edmunds still breeds that strange ‘Seattle’ magic.
Next up, Newts gnarled out awesome post-hardcore sounds. The low, loose bass dominated, throbbing through the amps accompanied by an appealingly decorative guitar, throat-wrecking vocals and crashy drums. Both supports were loud and already rattling the rafters, leaving us anxious for the onslaught of the Bloody boys.
Extraordinarily, the Bloody Knees set both started and ended with casualties. It opened with breaking single “Stiches”, and finished with a broken member of the audience who suffered a dislocated knee. Yes, an unfortunate mosher literally got Bloody Knees.
Gracing the stage without fuss, Bloody Knees took an unexpectedly serious approach to their craft. They’ve garnered a reputation as a slacker skater troupe, but their sophisticated attitude elevates that to a more artful realm than you might expect. They still exhibit that vibrant rebellious spirit you hear in their recordings and see in their visuals, but in person they really knuckle down their intelligence.
They played with precision and panache, without a hint of slop. The drummer battered his unique setup hard and sharp, making shockwaves clap throughout the room. The guitarists concentrated their expertly arranged squealings to ensure the justice of their intent. It all evoked a mood that perfectly soundtracked the youthful muggy air in the way grunge was truly founded to do.
This seemed to almost have an intimidating effect. The audience remained tentative at first, seemingly subdued by awe. By the third song though (“I Want It All” from their new EP), the mosh was fully formed. That EP is what they were celebrating tonight. A banging record, with mischievous cover art (“if you look real close you can see my insides” the singer smirked), it has an uplifting vibe, encouraging the air-punching, arm-around-your-mates type crowd to really get in the swing.
They also played slower and darker numbers. Eeking out long, patient, bruisey riffs like a slow swagger through midnight. It once again had the audience transfixed, flashing suddenly every now and then for brief shake outs before quickly pulling back into aching emotion.
Moving through to the peak of their set they got harder and faster without losing any grip. Adventuring into earlier material, fans lapped up the likes of “Ears, Eyes, Oh and You’s” for the opportunity to really go wild on the floor. They closed perfectly with latest EP title-track and standout single “Maybe It’s Easy”, rocking a reinvented surf sound where emptied-out swimming pools are the waves and wheels evolve the boards. Hooky and poppy without losing any edge, this song could be all over the radio.
It was an almighty show, especially considering the frontman was struggling with the fact that his dad had suffered a heart attack that very same day. It was heartbreaking to learn, as he explained with welled-up eyes, that that’s what was chiefly on his mind. We heard he is recovering well though, and hopefully even moreso now after seeing the special footage recorded by the band of the crowd chanting for him. It’s true, Barry is a legend! You, and any other fans who couldn’t be there, would’ve loved it. But of course, on the strength of this show and the quality they continue to put out, there’ll be many more opportunities yet.
Words from Ellie Clarke