When: 9th August 2015
Where: The Marble Factory, Bristol
Reviewed By: Ben Chapman
The Marble Factory is a dingily lit, decently mid-sized venue attached to Bristol's Motion. The pillars holding up the warehouse wore rubber tyres like bangles, useful for rebounding back into the pit and at the same time saving the crowd a few bruises. The walkway to the toilet felt like a hospital corridor, brightly lit and clinically bare, down which the distorted echo of instruments made a nice reinterpretation of the support act's sound. Brawlers had a warbling melodic vocalist who delivered just enough grit. The Leeds-conceived four-piece powered through a good set, which was doubly enthused by it being the lead singer's birthday: a cheeky bloke who rocked underneath his beanie hat, carrying the band's efforts competently through a series of beefy, bass-heavy punk-rock riffs.
Taking a modest breather between songs, the singer urges everyone to reach into their pockets to feign a special moment with a simultaneous cameraphone session. Once most of the crowd had raised their devices in their palms, he shouts out that all should turn them off since we're at a "bloody live gig", right before the distorted guitars revved up into a perfect segue for Instagram Famous, a catchy track that raises its eyebrows at technology's more self-indulgent side. To be fair most people would never have got a decent shot anyway, especially with the amount of sweat to come during Anti-Flag, where I swear the perspiration caused a slickly warm punk mist to fill the venue. Brawler's low-fi sound gave credence to their nostalgia-inducing songs. As the bassist started to strut among the audience during their final tune you could hear that Brawlers played with the feel of a band that were shortly off to greater things, and definitely sounded like they had the ability to match it.
After a brief turnover Anti Flag's banner hung above the stage, and an eager audience packed closely beneath it. The moshpit, an inevitably created violent yet friendly jig, formed almost instantly, and in full force, though as soon as anyone fell everyone would help them back on their feet. Anti-Flag seemed to feed off the crowd's willingness and responded with some of their shorter classics such as the breakneck Drink Drank Punk which, with all its 1:41 of punk rock partying, managed to precipitate the sweatiest round of under-arm rubbing moshing I've ever taken part in.
Anti-Flag's set was a decent mixture of songs across their discography. Their experience, attitude, and evidently die-hard fanbase gives them the confidence and ability to engage a crowd with their between-song speeches just as much as their music. Despite this they never got carried away with talking and made sure that the audience was always kept busy.
Though I've been shamefully unversed in Anti-Flag's output, hearing some of their powerful choruses and seeing the crowd's reaction explained why so many of their tunes had long ago rooted into their fan's minds. Many of their songs' anthemic moments and the band's anti-war and equality messages combined with the band's tight teamwork and rapid instrument-hammering evidently makes it mean so much to the fans. This Is the End (For You My Friend) showcased a hard-hitting pre-chorus before its irresistibly catchy chorus as "on and on" they sing their songs. From those punters who weren't repeatedly having their lungs rattled around by the moshpit, some inevitable whoah-ing was mustered towards the track's epic close.
Amongst congratulations of "we've been Ant-Eye Flag, you've been awesome", a human chain of bandmates passed the snare, hi-hat, bass, and drum chair into the centre of the crowd. The drummer sat on the bassist's feet, who balanced up on the stool with his toes wedged between the chair and his bandmate's arse. From this acrobatic position the drummer hit the audience with blastbeats for the last few songs of the night, and the audience gathered round the pair like a hay bale of limbs.
Aided by Brawlers and the supportive public, Anti-Flag made for a gig that was an obscene amount of fun for a Sunday night, one that was worth sabotaging your Monday for.