Modern Literature deliver frenetic post-punk at ‘Bootlicker’ single launch Hare & Hounds show

Words by Sophie Hack / Pics by Emily Doyle

Britain can be bleak at the best of times, but it’s the bemusement and chaos of being part of this island that births raw art and, with it, a bit of hope.

In the same week that funding for the arts in Birmingham will be cut by 100% next financial year, Brum’s local music showed once again that, despite adversity, it will be firmly rooted in the hearts and minds of many.

Modern Literature’s ‘Bootlicker’ single release show proved that the beating heart of Birmingham’s music is still pumping and adrenaline-fuelled, as they conquered the stage at the Hare and Hounds on Wednesday, 21 February.

But the overall line-up saw a full room even at the opener – the enigmatic White Hot Cum (…yes, really). Ciggy behind the ear of Kaila Whyte and Hi-Vis adorned by Connor Hemming, the duo seemingly rolled straight off the street and into their thrashy skate-punk. Raucous and uncontrollable, they ripped through songs such as ‘Breakfast Burgers’ and ‘Bosom Friends’ – heckling and telling unfiltered jokes to the crowd in between.

“Wu-Tang is for the children, White Hot Cum is not,” Connor confirmed before flying through hazy, punky, and sometimes blues-y tracks, with an energy on stage I can only liken to the Looney Tunes character Taz. Ending their set with a cover of Black Flag’s ‘Rise Above’ and a declaration of free Palestine, the hilarious White Hot Cum must be seen to be believed. The duo is fantastic at tantalising the crowd with pure charm, wit, and deliciously infectious punk.

The tempo slowed down with the next act, Animal Bones, serving smooth rock & roll with a classic American sound. Frontman Miles Cocker had a huge stage presence, using the monitor to peer closer into the crowd while delivering the sucker-punch rock you’d hear on a hot desert drive.

The slick bass lines and crooning guitar solos brought the heat to the Hare and Hounds, to create a sound like Queens of the Stone Age meets the moodiness of Massive Attack – a timeless sound that will pique the interest of any rock fan.

Modern Literature’s headline show was to celebrate the release of ‘Bootlicker’ – a single that is a “visceral warning” of “the danger of populism, jingoism and right-wing isolationism that’s infected the consciousness” of society. An ode to the people who “pull up the ladder after themselves”, ‘Bootlicker’ takes modern-day inspiration while harking back to the rage felt in the 1980s, through the prominent bass lines and syncopated guitar stabs that echo into this era.

Their set began with an almost apocalyptic sound married with Sean Thompson-De Wolfe’s poem hailing that: “We’ve made a violent God in our own image.”

The brunt force of Modern Literature’s post-punk sent shockwaves through the room, heaving with frenetic energy in tracks ‘Buzz Buzz Buzz’ and ‘Panic Attack’. Frontman Greg Smith handles the stage in a similar way to David Byrne, twisting and contorting as the heavy crashes of symbols spliced with synths and guitar.

The adrenaline that’s building throughout the set comes to a head during the encore ‘Weeping Willow’, as singer Greg and Bassist Skip Davies join the crowd while Kieran Naughton (guitar), Mark Lewis (guitar/keyboards), and Jacob Hall (drums) hold the stage with a wall of fuzz and noise.

Guitars crash to the floor (and singers crash into drums) as their single release show comes to a close, shinning a beacon of hope over Birmingham’s arts scene which needs our support, our energy, and our passion more than ever now to keep it alive.

Modern Literature + Animal Bones, White Hot Cum @ Hare & Hounds 21.02.24 / Emily Doyle

For more on Modern Literature click here to visit their Spotify page. 

For more on Animal Bones visit:

For more from the Hare and Hounds, including a full event programme and links to online ticket sales, visit: