Review: Birdskulls @ Bleach, 10/10/15

Photo credit: Jess Grant

The release of your debut album is a momentous occasion – it’s the moment when all those years of practice and dedication finally feel like they’ve paid off. After being on the radar for almost five years now, Brighton’s Birdskulls have finally reached their debut album milestone, marking it with a free homecoming show at Bleach.

Released on September 28th via Dog Knights Productions, ‘Trickle’ walks the tremendous tightrope between sludgy grunge and blistering punk, with occasional moments that have melancholic undertones – the general impression throughout is that they’ve spent those five-long years honing their craft to sound stronger and produce tighter than they previously could have.

Having been on the road relentlessly building a fanbase supporting more established, omnipresent underground bands such as Best Friends and Bloody Knees (members of whom were in the crowd), it feels like Birdskulls are finally coming out of their shell and presenting themselves as a real force to be reckoned with. Playing a release show at Bleach came as the perfect opportunity to showcase an airtight album worthy of more attention than it has currently attracted. In a five band-strong line up featuring the crème de la crème of local buzz bands – Abattoir Blues, Rough Hands, The New Tusk, and MUNEZ – it was certainly a nice touch of generosity (or desperation to fill the space) that the show was free entry.

The set itself was, unsurprisingly, heavy on tracks from ‘Trickle’. Opening with the addictive Poltergeist and finishing with the album’s lead single Good Enough, there was the occasional treat for the Birdskulls’ faithful in the shape of 2012’s stand-alone single Rolling Tongue, which feels out of depth when thrown in with the new material, and the fantastic Alley Gorey, initially released as part of a split 7” with the aforementioned Bloody Knees.

A heavily intoxicated and shoeless Harry Sinclair Waugh from one of the support bands, Abattoir Blues, decided to throw himself on stage and sing along to album closer Coma Hospital, with the moment feeling a little bit like a budget grunge Pete ’n’ Carl. However, continuous crowd surfing from Waugh, as well as members from all of the support bands, gave the impression of a close-knit group of mates just having fun, not taking themselves, or their music, too seriously.

The current cycle of the music industry, puppet mastered by digitalisation, demands that artistes must tour as a main source of income, using albums as nothing more than promotional material for these tours, as opposed to the traditional model which is the polar opposite. While Birdskulls may not be the band that changes your life, it’s refreshing to see bands like them that still care about putting out good records and rejecting corporate ideals by playing important shows free of charge.

You get the feeling that Birdskulls could charge whatever they wanted at the door and still get a decent turnout, especially with shows as raucous as this one. Is it romantic to believe that some bands get the greatest sense of gratification from being nice to their fans and playing shows for free? Even if the fans are still getting ripped off at the bar.

By Ryan Lunn

The Verse Staff

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