Dublin’s post punk noise rockers Gilla Band headline The Castle and Falcon on Friday 23 February

Words by Ed King

On Friday 23 February, Dublin’s post punk noise rockers (with a techno twist) Gilla Band will be headlining at The Castle and Falcon – Balsall Heath’s bustling live music venue, bang on the No. 50 bus route if you want to sink a few shandies.

Doors open for the show at 7:30pm with the evening scheduled to finish by 11pm. Minimum age of entry is 18 years old, with tickets priced at £16.50 (including booking fee).

For more information direct from the venue and links to online tickets sales, click here.

Born in 2012, Gilla Band (nee Girl Band) have knocked out three studio albums since signing the Rough Trade: Holding Hands with Jamie (2015), The Talkies (2019), Most Normal (2022)

Winning critical acclaim from the get go for both their fresh production approaches – throwing anarchic f*ck you rock and punk sensibilities into a Detroit techno infused blender – and their storming live shows, Gilla Band are a firm fixture on the ‘but-you-have-to-actually-see-them’ list of contemporary bands.

Once described as “genuinely dangerous, like one last rave before the apocalypse”, Gilla Band are renowned for their raw and energetic sets, with frontman Dara Kiely heralded for his fearless on-stage persona and both witty and seemingly abstract lyrics. There’s a pretty good example of this a few lines below too (with a video you can get more than a little lost in).

Gilla Band’s latest and twelve track LP, Most Normal, released on 7 October 2022, saw ‘Backwash’ and ‘Eight Fivers’ championed by mainstream press like The Guardian, whilst music magazine Pitchfork cited ‘Post Ryan’ as “one of their most unnervingly even-keeled examples to date”.

Coming to The Castle and Falcon before heading out across the UK, Gilla Band also have some mainland Europe dates in the dairy – with a smattering of festival appearances as spring turns to summer.

Us lucky Brummies don’t have to travel to The Netherlands to catch them though, but be warned tickets are selling out quickly for The Castle and Falcon show.

And if you need a bit more of a nudge in the right direction, and an audio/visual example of some of the hyperbole above, check out the video for ‘Eight Fivers’ below:

‘Eight Fivers’ – Gilla Band

Gilla Band will be playing at The Castle and Falcon on Friday 23 February. For more information direct from the venue and links to online ticket sales visit: www.castleandfalcon.com/events/gilla-band

For more on Gilla Band visit: www.gillaband.com

For more from The Castle and Falcon visit: www.castleandfalcon.com

2:22 A Ghost Story starts its supernatural run at The Alexandra Theatre – on stage from 16 to 20 January

Words by Ed King / Production pics by Johan Persson – profile of Danny Robbins by Helen Murray

Supernatural thriller 2:22 A Ghost Story starts it’s first run of 2024 at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, on stage from 16 to 20 January.

Complete with a new cast for the New Year, 2:22 A Ghost Story will be at The Alex for five consecutive evening performances – with matinees on 17, 19, and 20 January. A BSL performance will be held at 2:30pm on Saturday 20 January.

2:22 A Ghost Story is directed by Matthew Dunster and Isabel Marr, with set design by Anna Fleischle and lighting by Lucy Carter. The show has been giving a guidance rating of 12+, with tickets priced between £25-£65 depending on the day, time, and seat allocation within the theatre.

For more information and direct links to online ticket sales for theatres across the country, click here.

Penned by once standup comic now writer and journalist Danny Robins – he who created and presented the phenomenally popular podcasts Haunted, The Battersea Poltergeist, and Uncanny, 2:22 A Ghost Story – is the tried and tested tale of ‘couple move into to new a home, which is haunted… or is it?’.

Protagonists Jenny (Fiona Wade) and Sam (George Rainsford) by a big old house in Central London, which in itself sounds like make believe, and whilst renovating their cavernous new comfort zone Jenny hears what she perceives as the sounds of a man shuffling and crying through their daughter’s baby monitor.

Jenny jumps to haunting. Sam, who is away on a business trip at the time, believes there must be a more ‘rational’ explanation. And to tackle the issue like level headed adults they invite friends Lauren (Vera Chok) and Ben (Jay McGuiness) round for a dinner party/séance. Let the battle of ethereal ideology commence…

Until we finally have proof of life after death, or literally give up the ghost, this sceptic Vs believer seesaw will be a common ground when discussing the supernatural – or train line vibrations, depending on your viewpoint.

And it is this two-sided approach that made Robins’ podcasts so engaging – never really landing too firmly on one side or the other, but building a community of people fervently engaged in the eternal debate.

Robins’ stage show, 2:22 A Ghost Story, premiered in London’s West End at the Noël Coward Theatre from August to October 2021. It received widespread rave reviews and a slew of award nominations, including a Laurence Olivier Award shoulder tap for Lilly Allen as Jenny in the original cast.

Having gone on to tour Los Angeles, Australia, Prague, and Singapore, the show returns to British theatre with a new cast for 2024 – kicking of with five days at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham, before heading out across the UK until June.

2:22 A Ghost Story – official trailer (featuring previous UK cast)

 2:22 A Ghost Story runs at The Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham from 16 to 20 January, with a BSL performance at 2:30pm on Saturday 20 January. For more information and direct links to online ticket sales, visit: www.222aghoststory.com

For more from The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, visit: www.atgtickets.com/venues/the-alexandra-theatre-birmingham

Chartreuse headline Hare and Hounds as part of Independent Venue Week – Thursday 1 February

Words by Ed King

On Thursday 1 February, Black Country fourpiece Chartreuse headline the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath – with support from Wildforms.

Doors open at 7:30pm with tickets price at £10 plus booking fee, as promoted by This Is Tmrw. Minimum entry is 14 years old, with anyone lucky enough to be under 18 needing (a legally) adult supervision.

For more direct information and links to online ticket sales, click here.

Coming to the Hare and Hounds for their first gig of 2024 and as part of the Kings Heath music hub’s line up for Independent Venue Week – the nationwide celebration of… the clue is in the title – Chartreuse are still riding the wave of their debut album, Morning Ritual.

Released in November 2023, Chartreuse celebrated their long-awaited debut LP (released just in time for Christmas and just shy of a decade after they formed in 2014) with a series of in-store gigs and on celebrated stages – including Rough Trade in Bristol and London Town’s noisemaking 600 capacity newcomer, Lafayette.

12 tracks of blistering dark electronica, Morning Ritual is the shoegazing broken beat Chartreuse celebrants will know and love – but with some surprisingly jazz infused twists and turns, and a clarity in production that carries the torch Mike Wagstaff stared burning on their 2021 Is It Autumn Already? EP.

Tracks like ‘Sheild From Bedlam’, ‘This Could Be Anything’, and the arguably the album’s opener ‘All Seeing All The Time’, deliver the band’s familiar ether nestling laments with Michael Wagstaff’s vocals taking the lead – before the baton is handed over to co-founder/vocalist Harriet Wilson for some same same but different with ‘Are You Looking For Someone’ and the superb ‘Whippet’.

But Morning Ritual has a few surprises up it’s sleeve, including the title track itself – where Wagstaff seems to have been kidnapped by some Tom Waits cytogeneticists and told to “do your thing, but a bit like us”. Beautiful.

There’s a couple more lounge room lizard footprints running up and down the album too, as well as a midway wake up call with ‘Never To Be Real’ – taking a play from the Daughter and Spaceman 3 approach to album track listing.

But you can check all this out for yourself by getting some of those less than wanted Christmas gift onto Ebay and buying a ticket to the Hare and Hounds for the first day of February.

And if my lazy alliteration wasn’t enough to convince you, have a stop, look, and listen at this… enjoy.

‘Whippet’ – Chartreuse

Chartreuse play the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath on Thursday, 1 February – with support from Wildforms, as promoted by This Is Tmrw. For more gig info and links to online ticket sales click here.

For more on Chartreuse visit: www.chartreuseband.com
For more on Wlidforms visit: www.wildforms.uk

For more on This Is Tmrw, including full events listings and links to online tickets sales, visit: www.thisistmrw.co.uk
For more from the Hare and Hounds (Kings Heath) visit: www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

Independent Venue Week runs from Monday 29th January to Sunday 4th Feb, with more gigs at the Hare and Hounds and venues across the country. And North America… if you have the transport. To find out more visit: www.independentvenueweek.com

Lobster launch twelve track debut album at The Night Owl on Saturday 4 November

Words by Ed King / Live pic by Stalingrad O’Neill

Lobster – Birmingham’s beloved ska, punk, reggae six piece – will be launching their debut album, Year of the Lobster, at The Night Owl on Saturday 4 November, with support from Young Culture.

Doors open at 8pm, with tickets priced at £6 advance and a bit more on the door.

Live music runs until 11pm, with all tickets gaining entry to The Night Owl’s soul and retro club night Dig? – which runs until the early hours of 4am. Over 18’s only.

For more direct event information and links to online tickets sales, click here.

Lobster formed back in 2009 and have spent the last decade and a half honing their high octane live shows – combining reggae, roots, dub, punk, hip hop, and ska with politically charged lyrics and superbly tight performances.

Their unique style – which boldly begs, borrows, and steels from across the genres – has won them fans across the UK and seen them support some of the reggae and ska scenes most revered faces. Put it this way, after they’ve safely launched their debut LP this Saturday the next date in the Lobster diary (2 Dec) is supporting ska legend Nevile Staples… so, yeah, we’re talking that kind of thing.

Surprisingly for such an established group, Year of the Lobster is the band’s first album release – featuring “twelve tracks that capture the very best material” from their fourteen years of live shows, recorded at the renowned Magic Garden Studios in Wolverhampton.

Opening with a trumpet led instrumental dub, Year of the Lobster moves quickly into a tennis match of upfront reggae and upbeat ska – with Will ‘Spud’ Moore’s instantly recognisable vocals punching out his dulcet yet dissecting socio-political commentary.

Tracks like ‘Bob and Weave’, ‘Workless Work Songs’, and ‘Plebxit’ shine a light on our primarily domestic disputes, whilst ‘Messiah (COINTELPRO)’ delivers a gut punch to the murky world of international politics and some less-than-transparent regimes.

Lobster also turn the torch on themselves with the more personal and introspective ‘10 Year Song’, and celebrate their collaborations with dub poet More Culture on ‘The First Bird’ and through a reworking of the Operation Ivy classic ‘Knowledge’.

Plus, the physical album is draped in awesome artwork from local artist VOID ONE – making Year of the Lobster a treat both your eyes and ears will thank you for. If you love the love of really loving vinyl, you’re going to… well, you figuratively and literally get the picture.

And look out for our interview with Lobster next week – talking more to Birmingham Review about everything from being shot at with an air rifle at their very first gig, to why they finally decided to print their debut album.

But for now, all you need to do is concentrate on getting to The Night Owl on Saturday 4 November to celebrate the launch of a long awaited LP from one of Birmingham’s punk, ska, and reggae outfits. Simples.

And if you need another little nudge…

Year of the Lobster – official album teaser

Lobster launch their debut album Year of the Lobster at The Night Owl, Digbeth, on Saturday 4 November – with support from Young Culture. For more event information and links to online ticket sales click here. 

For more on Lobster visit: www.lobstertheband.co.uk

For more on Young Culture visit: www.youngcultureband.bandcamp.com

For more from The Night Owl, including a full events programme and links to online ticket sales, visit: www.birmingham.thenightowl.club

Genre-bending punk duo Bob Vylan come to Birmingham’s O2 Institute ahead of new album 18.11.23

Words by Sophie Hack

London’s genre-bending punk duo Bob Vylan play the O2 Institute Birmingham on Saturday 18 November with support from Panic Shack and Kid Bookie.

Doors open at 7pm, with tickets priced at £21.85 (stalls standing), promoted by AEG Events. The event is 14+, under 16s will need to be accompanied by an adult over 18.

Click here to purchase tickets and for more information.

Award-winning two-piece Bob Vylan (featuring vocalist Bobby and drummer Bobbie) head on tour ahead of their new album Humble as the Sun being released on 5 April 2024, the fourth in the duo’s catalogue of venomous punk with purposeful lyrics.

Bob Vylan catapulted onto the punk scene in 2017 with their first release ‘Vylan’ and since have become a vital voice in music. Bridging subcultures and genres together, the duo never shy away from important conversations of racism, toxic masculinity, and political unrest in the UK.

Bob Vylan are electrifying alternative music, winning ‘Best Alternative Music Act’ at the MOBO awards and ‘Best Album’ at the Kerrang! Awards, both in 2022. Their DIY, self-released titles embrace rock, grime, punk, reggae, and dance, and new single ‘He’s a Man’ follows with a perfect blend of rap over pulsing drum beat before kicking into full-throttle punk riffs.

“Accidentally amazing” support Panic Shack got their own taste of TikTok well-deserved virality with 2022’s track ‘The Ick’. The Cardiff four piece are brash, brazen, and a breath of fresh air in a sometimes-stale punk scene.

Second support Kid Bookie brings sinister rap and trap that changes shape with every turn. They effortlessly play between rap and metal, creating dark and twisted tracks with fast-paced hooks.

‘He’s a Man’ – Boy Vylan

Bob Vylan play O2’s Birmingham Institute on Saturday, 18 November – for online ticket sales and more information click here.

For more Bob Vylan head to www.bobvylan.com

For more on Panic Shack head to www.panicshack.bandcamp.com
For more on Kid Bookie head to www.kidbookie.com

For more information on the O2 Institute head to www.academymusicgroup.com/o2institutebirmingham

For more information on AEG events, including events and ticket listings, head to www.aegpresents.co.uk/events/all