Photo of band Hipflask Virgins at The Firefly

Hipflask Virgins / Phon / Spankbox
The Firefly, Worcester – Friday 28th April

When Shut It Down Shows announced the line up for their night at The Firefly, I ordered the tickets straight away. Spankbox, Phon and Hipflask Virgins make up as close to a dream line up as possible.  Bang on perfect if you want ear splitting loudness from three immensely talented local bands.

First up, Spankbox, a trio for which this night marked only their 8th gig.  A particularly special night for these boys as their debut EP “A Good Night” was released the same day.  Their six song set opened the night brilliantly, and front man Tommy brought his unique sense of humour to the party. Title track of the EP, A Good Night, sat in the middle of the energetic set, with its heavy guitar intro, and catchy vocal riff in the middle. This was followed by Break Free, which is the stand out track for me, an anthem with a soaring chorus urging us to break the mould and let loose. Green Leggings was the final song, and by this time, the crowd had grown and moved closer to the stage to feel the energy winding off the stage as the lyrics crept into our heads. These songs were born to be performed live, infectious entertainment to open the night.

Next up were Phon, kings of screaming rock in Worcester. When this trio performs live, you can expect the volume, and the heat to rise, and T-shirts on stage inevitably end up coming off. As always they did not disappoint, treating us to familar tracks and new. Opening with Broken Bong, the lads then threw in personal favourite Fade, that showcases singer Ollies extreme vocal range, from softer verses, to screaming parts of the chorus. The bands most well known track, Julia Roberts made an appearance on the set list, with the intoxicating opening riff setting this heavy track up nicely. As Ollie melodically screams, Jack backwards steps off stage completely lost in the moment, and Rich on drums concentrating on hitting every note with perfection, it’s clear to see why these boys have a strong local following.

To end the night, seasoned pros, compared to the other  two bands in terms of how long they’ve been performing, Hipflask Virgins took to the stage.

What I’ve always said about this duo is that you always forget there’s only two of them. With Jay on guitar and vocals , and Will on drums and backing vocals, the two of them pack a bigger punch than many bands I’ve seen with more members. Hipflask Virgins now have a healthy back catalogue of tracks and EPs to build a set list from, and they came in heavy, with the likes of grunge rock tracks such as Icarus and Dutch Courage. Minotaur slays live every time, with its groovy slow verses and heavy hitting loud chorus, a making the effort to make amends with someone who has long since given up. The track is long, loud and full of highs and lows both musically and lyrically and the performance screeches off the stage , sweeping us all up with it. Jay gets lost behind his hair and Will wears every beat on his face , you  can sense these boys love performing. The crowd got so lapped up by every second of this immensely passionate performance, that it was inevitable there’d be an encore following a packed set list of originals. After confirming with the promoters , we were treated to one final song, a cover of School by Nirvana, which sits perfectly among the grungey style of rock performed by this duo.

Despite the backlit stage leaving the bands almost in the dark, the visuals weren’t important, with the 3 bands, the only sense you needed was that of sound.

Perils of standing too close to the front means the ringing in the ears continued for a few days after, but the lasting impressive of this awesome line up continues for way long. All Hail Ollie (of Phon) of Shut It Down Shows, you absolutely nailed this one!

By: Kate Ford
Photos by: Matt Fitzer

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