Badgerfest Promotions Presents…
Badger & The Mushrooms Christmas All Dayer
Review by Rob Sutton
It had been a while since I’d last been to the rebellion in Manchester, and since the lockdown there have been many setbacks for the venue. Deansgate station needed work done to it and this in turn caused the closure of Rebellion for a number of months while the work was taking place. This has led to many things in Rebellion suffering. Firstly the entire toilet block had been destroyed, leaving the venue having to replace the facilities with portaloos. Not only that,but the stage itself looked to have been hastily put back together and looked unfinished. This was a massive shame as this venue was one of my favourites to go to. Tonight’s gig was also plagued with numerous technical difficulties and sound issues. Never-the-less the bands made the best out of this situation.
Due to work commitments I didn’t manage to catch World Held Hostage or Mairu.
So first up for me was 40,000 Leagues, a band I have seen many times and each time they seem to get better. The whole band oozes with charisma on stage and are very engaging to watch. Vocally, Nathan’s voice was absolutely on point again, in fact I would say here it was the best I have heard it. Some of the notes he hit were simply stunning, and it was backed with some soaring solos and on point drums. There was a huge amount of crowd participation in this set, most notably ‘story time’ where the whole crowd sits down! While this has been done before, it was something unusual for the Manchester scene, which was great. My only criticism is that the last song did go on a little bit too long for me, but the addition of a Christmas song was very fitting. This was a cracking set and a great start to my day.
Next it was the turn of Clashmute, a band I first reviewed at Badgerfest, where they properly won me over. This set was equally as good, as the band again looked professional on stage, and again gave a show worthy of bigger stages. This gig was the final show for their bassist, and what a reaction they got with pits present throughout their set. The atmosphere was amplified by more cracking breakdowns which had the whole crowd banging their heads. A personal highlight of this set for me was ‘In Virtue’; this song is a proper banger, and Clashmute had the crowd shouting the lyrics back at them. Ryan’s voice has improved massively over the years I have seen them, but tonight didn’t quite match their set at Badgerfest and this did result in some moments of feedback when he cupped the mic. Having said that, this set really got the night going for me; it had everything you want from a Metalcore band. Definitely a fan!
UK Melodic Death Metal is hard to come by these days, and in Manchester I only really know of one band, Frozen in Shadows. They are made up of members of many other bands, including Footprints in the Custard. You could say they are a super-group. Sadly here they suffered with a lot of technical difficulties which led to the guitars cutting out and almost inaudible keyboards. This was a real shame as at Bloodstock these guys were fantastic, but the whole sound got completely lost. I also felt the drums were overly complicated for the sound they were going for; that’s not me saying the drums are bad, but in some cases you can over play and be overly technical, or throw fills where they aren’t really necessary, and this was an example of that. This took away from some of the fantastic riffs that would otherwise be much more noticeable and also seemed to drown out the keyboards further. As previously mentioned there are members of Footprints in the Custard, and while the genre Frozen in Shadows are going for is completely different, I can’t help but notice the silliness from FITC has transferred over here, and it’s not something I feel works. I’m all for a band being a little silly every now and again but this did feel like a mirror of Footprints’ comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Frozen in Shadows. ‘Alone’ is an absolute belter of a Melodic Death Metal track, but this set fell flat tonight for me.
Gospelhiem I saw a few months ago for their very first show, so I was eagerly awaiting this set to see if they had improved. I was not disappointed. Their confidence as a band has grown immensely, and vocally I could hear them so much more clearly than previously. They created a depressingly dark atmosphere throughout the venue, one which was a great change from the previous bands. I was particularly impressed with Lenore’s voice which was incredibly haunting throughout the set. Gospelheim really have massively improved since last time and I can see why they are getting bigger and bigger gigs thrown their way. They are completely different to anything else in the genre, and I love it. If I had to nit-pick this set, I would say it was a song too long; a half hour set for me would have been absolutely spot on. Definitely a band to watch going forward!
Another blast from the past for me was After the Abduction. I have previously seen them on a number of occasions, and played alongside them, so it was nice to see them again. There was a notable change to their line-up, as they have recruited a new bassist/vocalist, although he was in their previous band, The Threat. With this change of line-up also came a slight change in genre, the familiar slams and brees have been replaced by Death Metal grunts. The whole sound was very different from their previous guise, but was a welcomed change. After the Abduction have always been known to play to an exceedingly high standard and this performance was no exception, I don’t think there was a note wrong here. They utilise some lovely chops within riffs to really emphasise their competence, and add a nice breakup of the song. Throw in some ridiculously heavy breakdowns to that mix, and the whole set just felt tight and polished. ATA don’t lack confidence on stage either – each member, including the drummer, can be seen glaring at the crowd, head banging, and generally going mental on stage! Even though ATA did suffer with technical difficulties which completely wiped out the bass, they continued on. Luckily for them this happened during the last song, but it did leave the vocalist/bassist a little lost without his instrument. This was an absolutely stunning set. It was performed perfectly and left me lost for words, outstanding is the perfect phrase for this set.
From downright heavy, to pretty next! Another band I have seen on many occasions is Countless Skies, and by this point I am pretty sure they are sick of the sight of me. Especially after running into them in Slovenia, of all places. Countless Skies hold a special place for me as I am a massive Melodic Death Metal fan, and I have always considered these guys to be amongst the best in the genre! I own every album/EP they have released, and about 3 of their t-shirts. Anyway, enough fanboying! On to their set. It was simply beautiful. The backing tracks were at a perfect level as to not overpower the guitars, and there were some stunning keys underneath what can only be described as breathtaking guitars. Their use of tapping really tugs on your heartstrings and you really feel the emotion within the songs just from the guitars alone. Once you add in the powerhouse of a voice that the bassist possesses, it takes the whole sound to a new level. We were treated to a few new songs from their new album, one of which, ‘Glow’, took up the majority of their set. This is not a complaint though, as it is brilliant. I would have loved this set to have been longer and would also have loved to have heard ‘Ethereal’ again, but I can’t use these points to mark down what was probably the most enjoyable and emotionally powerful set I have seen this year.
Anyone who has seen a metal gig line-up will have probably seen a logo that stands out from all the others. Here it was a colourful, child-like design which looked as if someone was having a joke with the poster. But if you thought that, you would be wrong! Party-Cannon from Scotland are no joke, just heavy as hell fun! They were the last of the original bands tonight and brought with them a party like no other. We had a huge amount of inflatables, as well as bags of party balloons. The crowd went wild for this and we ended up with numerous crowd surfers on top of an inflatable shark (most of whom fell off immediately), and a set that had nonstop circle pits, spin kicks, and general violence! Crowd aside, Party-Cannon play a good mix of grindcore and slam, but their overall sound is very different from the usual slam bands I see them play with. There’s a lot more emphasis on the riffs and the groove within the songs, coupled with some utterly filthy gutturals which make it just damn dirty! They do also add slam elements to their sound, but their breakdowns aren’t the usual slam style. There is a bit more to them than that, and I can’t put my finger on what it is exactly, but damn I like it. Party-Cannon are not only brutal and enjoyable to watch, but also add the element of entertainment when it comes to getting the crowd going. I have not seen a band have this much control over the mayhem that’s ensuing before them, and it is impressive. This was again an absolute blast to watch!
We ended the night with Badger and the Mushrooms, a covers band that, obviously, with the name, played Badgerfest. Last time they had a half hour set to open a festival, this time we had about an hour and they were the headliners. Now, obviously being a covers band, I can’t comment on their music creativity, and unfortunately there were quite a few mess ups within the set which were noticeable. Having said that, they are fun, and the whole point of this set wasn’t to be serious or show off. It was to entertain. And that they very much did. While we had the usual Rock/Metal covers of artists such as Disturbed, Metallica and Ozzy Osborne, tonight we had a few extras, including a Christmas song, a ballad from Alter Bridge (blackbird) and my personal highlight, ‘Gay Bar’. I am not going to sit here and tell you this was a brilliant set or musically they’re the best covers band, but what I will say is it was the perfect way to close this all dayer. The whole crowd dancing, the whole crowd singing along, and everyone leaving the venue with a massive smile on their face. That is what Badger and the Mushrooms are about, having a good ol’ party!
This was a fantastic gig with a fantastic line-up, Badger really has a knack for putting on gigs like this now, and I love them. Sadly, the venue not being finished and nearly every set having some form of technical difficulties did let the day down a little. But really this shouldn’t take away from what was a truly awesome gig. I enjoyed every band I saw, and would happily see them again. Badger, you should be proud of this one!
One other note was for the bar man, Jake, who was the most helpful and chatty bar man I have had the pleasure of being served by. He went above and beyond!
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Rob Sutton and Ever Metal. All photographic images the property of Sheri Bicheno. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.