The Bots are a special thing indeed. A pair of brothers in their teens coming over from the USA and taking Europe by storm by being the embodiment of punk? That is definitely something special.
Tonight, The Bots have brought together some great new punk-rock bands to support them as they attempt to show Birmingham exactly why they have earned attention from bands such as Blur and Refused. And they do exceedingly well in doing so.
First on the bill are a Dudley-based band called The Styles. Formed in 2011, the band blend together rock and punk with just a few sprinklings of metal to make something a little bit different. And the outcome is a nice, punchy rock sound that makes you take notice. However, the band fall down on their live performance. They remain static throughout the performance, with the only movements being the occasional gesture by the frontman and the odd movement by the guitarist. And despite creating a nice sound that catches your attention, it fails to keep it for very long.
Next up are Skull TV, a duo of rock experimentalists that use loops and samples alongside punk drums and muscular guitar riffs to create atmospheric instrumental tracks. From the grunge-influenced ‘Mating Season’ to the glitch-rock treat that is ‘Peg Roper’ to the out-and-out rock of ‘Bright Nightmare’, Skull TV provide an all-encompassing soundtrack to the evening and set a great atmosphere and mood for the next band.
Youth Man are extremely unassuming individuals. When the three take to the stage, the singer sets up something a bit odd: a microphone in the form of an old-fashioned telephone. Nobody knows what to expect from this band. And then they launch into a set that blows the audience away. Singer and guitarist, Kaila Whyte, demonstrates a phenomenal ability to hold together a song while going absolutely crazy on stage. Songs like ‘Pretty Little Idiot’ show the band’s ability to craft a song that is consistently energetic and powerful from start to finish, while highlight ‘The Word’ sees the band adopt a more approachable rock sound while still maintaining a raw edge.
Sadly, technical failures occurred towards the end of Youth Man’s set. Both the lighting and the sound abruptly turned off, seemingly stopping the show for fifteen minutes. But Youth Man’s drummer, the very talented Marcus Perks, made sure that the show continued in some form by leading the audience in an impromptu rendition of ‘If You’re Happy And You Know It Clap Your Hands’. When power was restored, the band wasted no time in diving straight back into a high-octane set that had everybody moving.
When The Bots took to the stage, the audience were eager to see what they had to offer. And the band did not disappoint. Opening with a brand new track called ‘Feels So Good Going Down’ (a song that frontman Mikaiah assures us is “about medicine” – though several members of the audience are skeptical). The track sets the tone for the whole evening: high-energy, crazy stage antics, passionate vocals, muscular instrumentation and incredibly experimental.
The band take us through a brilliant set that shows exactly why they are such a big deal right now. And Mikaiah is happy to interact with the audience, telling jokes and talking to them between tracks. He is also eager to show us just how experimental the band is, happily experimenting with synthesizers and an odd instrument at the front of stage that he simply refers to as ‘Stan’.
There are murmurs of discontent when the band announce that they only have a few songs left, due to the technical faults eating into their time. However, the band manage to please the audience once more as they perform two spectacular songs that grip the audience and take them on a journey across a sonic landscape that The Bots are creating on the spot with some brilliant improvised instrumentation. And as the set ends, The Bots point the audience towards the merchandise stand where they happily talk to the fans, sign merchandise and take photos with them. A great end to a great night.