Petrol Girls, Atterkop, Personal Best @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 25-01-16

I try not to go out too much in January – too cold, too dark, too wintry, too full of people ‘enjoying’ Dry January – but occasionally something comes along that I am advised will be worth coming out of hibernation for, even if there is a door tax involved. This better be good… well, at least they have IPA…

We manage to catch the tail end of Personal Best, who are perky enough in a Smash Mouth kind of way, which is a nice, upbeat way to start the evening – fast, fun and fairly inoffensive, but it’s hard to make much of a judgement on a couple of songs. Not that I’m the judgemental type.

Atterkop are a bit more feisty. Though the guitarist appears to be sporting a child’s guitar (I don’t know why it looks so small on him) and the lead singer Chris looks the spit of Russel Howard, the noise they make is brutal – ska infused punk with a hardcore attitude. There’s a brutal sincerity to it, and the set screams ferociously past, with a political bent that avoids being preachy by being screamed at volume. This is how punk should be – shouty and screamy, not whiney and snidey. Just a personal thing, I guess. Jolly good stuff.

Petrol Girls take a moment to set up, with Ren pacing nervously up and down the stage, chatting frantically into her microphone. She’s bubbling over with energy, waiting to unleash, and when the moment comes… it is cataclysmic. This is not the slow menacing power of L7 or the petulant blast of Hole, this is the musical tactical annihilation of At The Drive In or Rage Against The Machine. The songs are blunt, unambiguous and furious – Ren is a woman with a mission against oppression and she will not be taking any prisoners (‘don’t you fucking touch me again’ screams Ren at the end of one song in the way Zach La Rocha screams ‘fuck you, won’t do what you tell me’), the set is explosive and precise, a shaped charge that cuts through the crowd and leaves you gasping for breath. Yes, this was worth coming out for. Yes, I can see them not doing gigs this size for very long. Yes, this band mean business – you better listen to what they have to say.

Rob Wright

On the Vibrations stereo...