Punk-And-Billy Bash

support Dead To Me + Buster Shuffle + Flatfoot 56
author PP date 07/05/11 venue Loppen, Copenhagen, DEN

Punk-And-Billy Bash is, to my knowledge, the longest running punk (and rockabilly) arrangement in Denmark, frequently scheduling events with bands from all across the spectrum for as long as I can remember. Since 2002 it has slowly collected its own loyal following of fans and regular folk who come along to nearly all of their events regardless of whether they know the bands or not simply because the brand has ensured a quality show at a frighteningly high percentage of the time. Sadly, all good things must come to an end, and due to a number of unfair cancellations by bands in the last two years which have caused the brand to tarnish somewhat, the organizers behind the event called it quits and decided that the 33rd event would be the final Punk-And-Billy Bash for now. And what a line up had they picked up to conclude a glorious decade of alternative music at Loppen.

Flatfoot 56

Chicago-based Flatfoot 56 are a band many people in Denmark have been waiting to see for a long time. They mix together Social Distortion style old school punk rock with celtic rhythms and bagpipes, a combination in which the latter element is definitely in a dominant role. If you've heard bagpipes live dressed in bright punk rock rhythms and a ton of energy before (see: Flogging Molly), you'll know it's a blast live especially if you like to have a few pints in the process. While it's not common to see good bands playing celtic punk, few do it as well as Flatfoot 56 tonight. They're a bombshell of energy on stage, led by their hyperactive bagpipe player who leads the crowd into a frenzy of celtic dancing by acting out the songs, inducing clap-a-longs, and the like even during songs which include no bagpipe sections at all. And when he does happen to play a few notes from his instrument, it sounds awesome because, well, bagpipe just sounds killer in a live environment. Did I mention he's wearing an authentic Scottish kilt for good measure?

Then there's the guitarist who rivals Frankenstein in height and the 'big-boned' mandolin player who makes his instrument seem absolutely tiny. At one point, he falls down on his back in a way that makes it look like it wasn't in purpose, but that doesn't phase him much as he continues to fire away quirky, intricate material that adds an element of playfulness to all songs. Together, the unit ensures that the element of fun is extremely high throughout, and that the atmosphere feels like a Flogging Moly style Irish party back from the "Swagger" and "Drunken Lullabies" days. When they finish their set with an "Amazing Grace" cover and a request that everyone put their arm around the person next to them, stranger or not, proclaiming "this is a punk rock show NO ONE is too cool to skip out", a big sing-a-long bursts out and makes it impossible not to rate their set extremely high. After all, it's the most fun I can remember having at a live show since The Dreadnoughts guested Copenhagen Showdown a while back.

Buster Shuffle

Lets just put it straight out there and say that rest assured I've never, ever, ever heard anything quite like Buster Shuffle. Their interpretation of what is punk rock is so far outside the conventional meaning of the word that I might as well just say it sounds like Mike Skinner of The Streets collaborating with rowdy rock'n'rollers from Foxy Shazam on a ska record. Really, Buster Shuffle sound like up-beat ska music, except where there's usually horns, trumpets and the lot, they have a classical piano and a contrabass. It sounds exactly as weird as it reads, because to add to the confusion the piano is played with the kind of madness that only happens when you're crashing down a large staircase while attempting to play Beethoven's seventh symphony. Rather crazy and insane, as you might imagine.

And you know what else? Buster Shuffle sound very much like London. Veeeeeeeeeeeery London. Cockney, to be exact. Armed with an exceptionally thick London accent and a rock'n'roll sound straight out of the big city from, say, three or four decades ago, they really have the atmosphere of London embodied in their sound perfectly. At the same time, there's really no other way to classify them than as piano-punk, which lends for a surprisingly energetic and bouncy performance considering the instruments involved. It's really, really different from anything else you'll have heard - guaranteed - and it's a boatload of fun. Most people, however, are just standing still and watching in awe, because just like me, they just didn't expect it was possible to play that fast, with that much energy, and sound that much like a ska band with only a piano, guitar, contrabass and drums. Fantastic stuff.


Dead To Me

And so in comparison to the inventive and jolly sounds of the first two bands, the conventional and straight-forward Fat Wreck punk of Dead To Me sounds a little dull. Not to worry, though, because Dead To Me are much better than their anemic Groezrock main stage performance suggested a couple of weeks ago. Their no-frills pop punk is so laid back and played with such a relaxed attitude that they make it near-impossible to not smile and nod along to their songs. Much in the same way as others like them, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Dopamines, etc, they don't have much direct movement or hopping around like madmen, but they make up for it with a great intrinsic energy surrounding the show. Lets just say it this way: the smaller the venue, the better Dead To Me are likely to be, because they have an arsenal of great songs that stick to your mind like glue.

Dead To Me are also a band that focuses a lot more on sociopolitical issues than the two aforementioned bands, so quite a bit of time in between songs is spent on explaining one topic or another to the crowd. For instance, "X" is dedicated to borderless travel, so we get a short rant about how checking for passports doesn't make any sense, and later on another song is dedicated for people who have it much worse than we do. It's all good though as it adds some character to their show, but that said, the smallish crowd isn't able to squeeze out a ton of energy for the most part, except once we reach some of the more popular songs like "Don't Lie" from their debut album later on. It re-energizes the crowd and eventually the mic makes its way to the crowd in the last song for tonight where there's a small battle for it. While not bad by any means - in fact they were very good - they were missing the element of surprise and innovation as showed by the first two bands tonight. A great night overall though with three good shows, as was to be expected from a Bash event.

Photos courtesy of Jonas Mogensen

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