Molly Karloff, Spidervayne,
Black Tree Vultures
Thursday 27th February 2020
The Black Heart, Camden, London
Molly Karloff held their EP Launch Party last Thursday night at London's The Black Heart in Camden with awesome support from Spidervayne and Black Tree Vultures. 'Supernaturalation' is due to be released this Friday 6th March, and it follows the hard-hitting, three-piece British Alt-Rock, Grunge Rock band's critically acclaimed debut EP, 'Dancing for Money', in 2018. In the meantime, the Oxfordshire based band have toured their contagiously hook-filled, fist pumping sound around the country, including packed venues across Oxfordshire and, indeed, London’s Camden Town.
The best nights out are often the ones at short notice and when I got the call for a Wrinkly Rockers group night out, I couldn’t resist! Three WRC reviewers and a photographer (Bruce Biege). We order a round of Camden Hells (well we are in Camden after all) at the bar downstairs, still discussing who was going to review which band. I thought I’d pulled the long straw by claiming the Molly Karloff review, mainly because I had already had a cheeky little listen to them on Spotify on the train up to Camden and was rather impressed with their single ‘She Said' As it turned out, I don’t think there was a short straw in the pack as all three bands were pretty awesome.
So the three amigos made our way upstairs to the appropriately painted venue totally black of course, rather claustrophobic and very loud as Spidervayne ripped into their first song. I say ‘loud’ but my gig notes say something a little more Anglo Saxon beginning with ‘F’ so when I spotted a glass bowl of free ear-defenders on the bar, I grabbed a couple for myself. Another co-reviewer (whose blushes I shall save by not naming him!) thought this was a great idea, so grabbed a few too. The only difference being that he was hungry and the multi-coloured foamy things look a bit like sweeties, so he placed them into his mouth rather than his ears! Due to the volume of the music and my inability to speak because of the laughter tears rolling down my cheeks, it took several long chews before he realised the error of his ways! Easy mistake to make!
Anyway, we digress. Essex-based Metallers Spidervayne open the evening with a short but bone-crunching set, beginning with a track called 'Skinwalker': legend has it that the Skinwalker in Navajo mythology is a harmful witch that morphs into animal forms bringing destruction in its wake, which quite frankly is the kind of lyrical content that suits this group's Heavy-Rock style. Influences such as Alice in Chains are unabashedly celebrated with a cover of 'Sea Of Sorrow', where Danny Murphy provides a grittier grungier take and perhaps reveals a window to recent personal hardships. Lead guitarist Mitchell 'Faz' Farrington maintains enough of a Bluesy-style to his playing to keep the sound the right side of melodic. This is punctuated by 'Sundance' a beautiful slice of Folk-Rock which provides a gentler perspective to the set which is then followed up by the recent single 'Spider Brain', continuing with the spider-theme but no less compromising in its dark material. This heady set is then finished off with the track 'Live to Rock' which is a driving anthem and the perfect way to energise the crowd for what was to come next.
South coast four-piece Rock/Metal band Black Tree Vultures have been on our radar ever since our esteemed colleague Wrinkly The Silver Fox saw them last August at Bournemouth's Chaplin's & The Cellar Bar, and duly reported back they "were frankly brilliant". Fast forward three months later to HRH 13 and Mother's take that "the energetic Hard Rockers were performing a great set to a packed crowd." Time to check out for myself then what all the fuss is about, as the band, consisting of Celyn Beynon (lead vocals), Aaron “Ham” Hammersley(lead guitar), Ched “Cheese” Cheeseman (bass) and Jonno Smyth (drums) are tonight a very welcome meat in Molly Karloff's EP Launch Party sandwich. Opening with 'Downfall' - their raw sound that screams power saw the swelling audience immediately jumping to attention thanks to Beynon's Monster Truck like vocal plus Cheeseman's mean bass solo, before launching straight into the rousing riff and attitude of 'Thanks For The Memories' from their first EP 'Sanity Isn't Perfect', with the crowd already singing along with their hands in the air, mesmerised by Celyn's tongue gymnastics. Beynon's camouflage hat was also doing exactly what it said on the tin, as he all of a sudden materialised alongside me, and after a warm embrace he jumped back on stage for 'Veins' - Hammersley's hot guitar solo in keeping with the venue's rising temperature.
"London Town thank you" Celyn exclaimed before the Sabbath sounding 'No More Empathy' - the second track from their second 'Self Titled' EP - kept up the momentum with a few "hey, hey, heys", complemented by Beynon's manic laughing, followed by the first track of that very same EP, 'Bitter', this time with some "yeah, yeah, yeahs" all underpinned by another awesome riff. Like its apt title, 'Unforseen' saw a great vocal from Jonno, whilst, Celyn then paid a poignant tribute to his bandmates for being there for him in troubled times, before the Proggier 'RBTTD', which fittingly saw Beynon momentarily depart the stage to showcase his compadres. Their penultimate track was the bands first release of 2020, their brand new powerhouse of a single 'Pull Apart', a great stomper and head banger of a tune. "Are you still with us? Did we do a good job warming you up?” Beynon joked. “Yes!” came the obvious response from the audience. Cue their closer 'Devil' with its awesome chorus, Celyn requesting "Give me a yeah!" one final time before once again jumping off the stage to thank their entire Vulture "family" individually with some fist bumps and hugs! Suffice to say that Black Tree Vultures are one of those few bands that are even better live - so make sure you catch them when they return to London for a Long Good Friday at The Birds Nest on 10th April.
Although loud and with my ears protected, the sound quality at the Black Heart is still pretty good, and hats off to the sound engineer, she did a pretty good job balancing the power from the bands without distorting the melodies. I won’t steal the thunder or repeat the other reviewers, but I really enjoyed the four piece Spidervayne and their charismatic bassist. We had a good chat after the gig and certainly enjoyed their company as well as their music. As I did Black Tree Vultures, again very charismatic and again, good music. Personally, I was very warm as there were a few Wrinkly Rockers having a bit of boogie in the aisles! And why not, we were having a bit of fun! It’s a Wrinkly night out!
Last up were Molly Karloff, who claim to be like Boris Karloff’s belligerent granddaughter, hence the name! And they look the part, Jowie Adkins on drums has blue hair, wearing white sun glasses and red trousers. Dan Podbery on bass is nicknamed the Nikki Sixx of TK Max by the band and with his long hair and black leather waistcoat I can see why. But he shares every emotion in his face as he plays through the set list. Simon Gee on guitar and lead vocals has a close cut black beard, darkened eyes and black nail varnish as he launches into ‘Dancing For Money’ the song that launched their career, powerful crunchy riffs and the trademark ‘wah pedal’ on the solos. The songs are gritty and powerful with a deep growling bass, albeit played with a smiling face and soulful melodic vocals!
These guys are pretty photogenic and there is a scrum of photographers milling around at the front of the stage, almost like a pseudo mosh pit! There is more noise coming from this three piece than I expected. That’s good, with the Black Heart sound system keeping the room vibrating in time with the powerful rhythm. Following on from the title track of the EP, they play their last single ‘She Said’ which has quite rightly got quite a lot of air play and attention from the media. Wah pedal twisted riff and a catchy melody, this is pretty good stuff. The band tell me that they have a "would you buy this" rule when writing material, and I definitely would. All of the bands were good and with a few festival dates in the Summer it wouldn’t take much to launch these guys into the big time. Definitely ones to watch and very good company as we distract them from clearing up at the bar at the end and grab a few group photos to evidence a very enjoyable WRC Night Out!
Ivan De Mello, AJ and Chris Bourlet