Editor's Rating

Rating out of 10

Anti-Flag plus Brawlers and The Twin Dracula
Venue: Sub 89, Reading
Date: 7th August 2015

Currently on a monster tour going through the many festivals in mainland Europe and the UK, Pittsburgh punks Anti-Flag have found time to an intimate show at a club in Reading, sandwiched between bigger shows at Rebellion Festival and Brooklyn Bowl inside the O2 Arena.

Opening the night were local lads The Twin Dracula. Without a doubt the Reading 4-piece were the heaviest act of the night, mixing hardcore punk with some heavy rock, lots of shouting vocals and some absolutely crushing riffs. Musically these guys were very impressive and looking around the room I could see the few early attenders all nodding and banging their heads and smiling in appreciation. One for you all to keep an eye on!

Shortly following that were punk-rockers Brawlers from Leeds, and having seen these guys support Anti-Flag before I was certainly interested to see if the 4-piece would improve from the last time.  In a contrast to The Twin Dracula’s aggressive approach, Brawlers were more of a joyful band. This time their vocalist joked a lot more in between sets, and interacted with the crowd a great deal, telling stories of long travels and great gestures from the headline act Anti-Flag. During performances he humped a photographers head, wandered around the crowd, took someone else’s camera and gave the footage a POV look from his perspective and, finally tried to fit everyone into the photobooth at the side of the stage; on that alone Brawlers were enjoyable to watch. Their happy punk-rock that didn’t quite go to the extremes of pop-punk – more to the likes of Millencolin with a little bit of Indie rock-esque guitars thrown in – was well met by the crowd. The charisma of these lads is incredibly strong, I expect good things to come from these guys in the next couple of years.

Anti-Flag were on pretty early for a headline show, just after half 8 in the evening and bassist Chris #2 said “I know it’s still light out, but let’s have some fun out there” right before the 4-piece smashed out classic single ‘Turncoat‘, with the words “TURNCOAT, KILLER, LIAR, THIEF” ringing around the room. Following that was the more aggressively delivered ‘Death of a Nation‘ which ignited the first mosh pit of the evening, and from then on the madness never ended. New songs from ‘American Spring‘ were an absolute hit with the crowds, performing ‘Fabled World‘ first, then later on sporadically the likes of ‘Brandenburg Gate‘, ‘Sky Is Falling‘, ‘The Great Divide‘ and more were all welcomed by this Reading crowd, all singing along and losing their minds.

Throughout the set the generosity of the Pittsburgh punks didn’t go unnoticed, making sure all the fans at the front were ok and Chris #2 handed out ear plugs to one of the younger ladies at the front. Of course with all the talk of Sandy Bland and police brutality recently, ‘Fuck Police Brutality‘ had to be in this set list along with other classics, ‘The Press Corpse‘, ‘1 Trillion Dollar$‘ and a special addition of their ‘Should I Stay, Or Should I Go?‘ cover, originally done by The Clash.  I was told before the set that Justin Sane had blown his voice, but based on this performance it wasn’t entirely noticeable as he managed to perform with his regular intensity.

To finish off their set in traditional style, Anti-Flag cleared the floor in the middle of ‘You’ve Gotta Die For The Government‘ to bring Pat’s bass drum, snare and hi-hat for him to play in the crowd with Chris #2 standing on the bass drum to elevate himself above the crowd surrounding him. They finished off the song and lead right into ‘Drink Drank Punk‘ as their final song, Chris #2 declared “The words are DRINK! DRANK! PUNK! Don’t fuck it up!” right before the 3 words echoed around the room. It really was business as usual for the 4-piece, a highly enjoyable set with a mixture of old and new songs that went down perfectly!

We had the opportunity to chat with drummer Pat before their set. Have a read here of what he had to say…

Click here to read our review of the debut Anti-Flag album ‘American Spring‘!

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