Eighteen holes are on show and it isn’t a golf course or an orgy; instead it’s the DMs that are on display, alongside labels affixed to parkas acknowledging the likes of bands such as The Vibrators and The Misfits. Welcome to the Star & Garter, where there’s one of its regular glam rock/punk afternoons and it’s been set up by Stuart Taylor Promotions (STP).
The sense of rebellion and anarchy that was proudly advocated in the past can seem old hat, with the short time span that the punk ethic flourished in now being looked upon with a whiff of nostalgia; a romantic yearning for the purity of the spirit. All that seems to have happened is that one of the alleged leaders of the uprising now appears in an advert for butter. What a rebellion eh, Lurpack or Kerry Gold? Choose your weapons of mass slippery.
So within the confined spaces of the S&G, here’s an event that allows an opportunity to celebrate some of the original vitality and energy from the period. With the majority of those present appearing to be on the wrong side of 30, the energy levels may be rationed just a little bit although the performances themselves are impressive. The Culprits are just completing their raucous set as I ascend the stairs. This band seems to belong to the ‘anyone can do it so let’s have some fun’ view of things and those present do seem to enjoy them.
The more glam rock end of the punk spectrum is represented by Leeds outfit, The Kingcrows. “It’s our 5th anniversary gig and nobody knows who the F^^^ we are,” announces Phil E Stine, their vocalist. Cheers and jovial jeers are returned. With Stine’s bottle blonde hair and black eye shades, allied to the white, tight pants with their thin, black vertical stripes on, which belong to bassist Rocco, they do make a striking impression, one that’s not easy to forget.
“Anyone here like Country and Western?” Stine asks – knowing full well what the answer is. “Good, ‘cause we don’t do it,” is the next line that serves as the introduction to start their aural onslaught. Backed up by Rocco on bass and Lee on guitar, it’s a loud and intense affair, even at the back alongside the mixing desk. Yet there are faithful followers stood next to the stage savouring the performance, especially when the lyrics include the refrain: “Shit shit shit”.
Gradually the crowd builds up and when Leather Zoo announce that they are ready to go, the sub zero temperature has almost, not quite, left the venue. In frontperson Mel-ski they have someone who can banter with the crowd in a relaxed manner and discuss the finer detail of dealing with customers in the Meadowhall shopping centre then turn into a whirling dervish the moment the guitars kick in.
The Zoo take a more controlled, less intense, road on the punk highway. It may not be a case of toning down the sound levels, possibly more a case of the fact that the increased number of bodies in the place has absorbed some of the sound, but they do come across in a more controlled and restrained fashion but no less potent for that.
Eagerly received and warmly applauded, all the bands are keeping the spirits, if not the flag, flying.
Words & photography: Ged Camera