Homecoming shows are always special; there’s a certain magic in the air that you just don’t get at other gigs. Certainly, the 2 Pigs in Cheltenham is feeling particularly enchanted this evening, with door staff remarking that there’s actually a queue to get in. That said, when MILK TEETH are in town, a band whose first ever performance took place on the stage they’re about to headline, it’s not going to be your average evening – the sell-out crowd is testament to this.
Opening up tonight are RAIN, from Swindon, whose shoegaze tones and ethereal vocals are certainly a left-field choice for the environment in front of them. There’s plenty of reverb which doesn’t translate brilliantly given the venue size and the mix lets them down considerably, the bass and the drums overpowering at a number of points. Eventually things sort themselves out and Indigo in Blue manages to make more of an impression, but the slow start does RAIN no favours whatsoever, nor does their lack of stage presence.
It seems sound gremlins are the order of the day as well, for GROVE STREET FAMILIES suffer the same issue to begin with. However, theirs are sorted out relatively quickly and it allows for a more raucous and engaging performance all round. A real mix of hardcore and thrash played with a vibe befitting of the Grand Theft Auto gang they’re named after, it’s a curious blend but one that resonates with an audience that boasts a number of serious fans. The band are constantly asking people to get forward, but this falls on deaf ears thanks to the individuals who prefer their pits to be full of spin kicks and arm throws, and Stoned to Death couldn’t fall any flatter if it had been run over by a steamroller. Still, songs like Beat It Up and Back in the Game are well-received and could do with being played in bigger venues than this, so the potential is definitely there – a little fine tuning will see them move on to greater things.
Fine tuning, however, is not something MILK TEETH need when it comes to live performances. True, this is the final night of a stretch of summer dates promoting new EP Be Nice so you’d expect them to be well-oiled, but the band have always been a real tour de force on the road and, with a heaving audience of family, friends and fans willing to give everything, the result is simply explosive. Owning Your Okayness is a rager of a song anyway, but opening with it is pure dynamite and lights the touch paper for an hour of bruising and brilliant music. The highlights are plenty: the three song run of Brickwork, Fight Skirt and Swear Jar is out of this world, Burger Drop is as triumphant as it should be and Prism is an arena song in the making given how massive it sounds. Even when the pace softens, the energy and momentum remains high, and this ensures that Kabuki is incredibly moving and powerful, especially when coupled with Becky Blomfield’s speech about mental health awareness that precedes it. Talking of Blomfield, she’s one of the most accomplished frontpeople in the British music scene today, never wavering and always singing from the heart; big mention to guitarists Billy Hutton and Chris Webb as well, who simply ooze charisma from every note they play. It’s never been more apparent that MILK TEETH are seriously going places after tonight’s show, but what’s incredible is that there isn’t any end in sight to what they could become and what they could achieve. We have a seriously special band on our hand here.
Check out our photo gallery from the night’s action in Cheltenham from Serena Hill Photography here: