Editor's Rating

Great opening night for a punk-fueled weekend

Rating out of 10

Hastings Punkfest 2016: Friday – The SLM, Vice Like Grip, Demon Smiles

Venue: Flairz Venue Bar, Hastings

Date: 25th November 2016

Hastings Punkfest returns for another year, an event that gets bigger and better each year in terms of bringing some of the best emerging punk acts in the United Kingdom down to the seaside town, as well as showing off some of the local talent.

This year saw the return of Demon Smiles to the festival on the opening night, what was formerly known as a Brighton-based punk trio is technically now a Hastings band as singer Cat Goodman explains that two out of the three members now live in Hastings. This would also mark the first appearance for the new drummer, Jordan Harris, the former singer for Dropthis.

It may be a new lineup, but the chemistry between members was strong. The trio was constantly joking about between songs and having banter with the crowd. It’s everything we expect from Demon Smiles. Musically, the trio continued to deliver a nice combination of pop-punk and epi-fat style skate punk, high energy anthems fronted by Goodman‘s powerful singing voice. It was an uplifting set to start the evening and the festival off; fun vibes, lots of drinking and engagement with everyone in the room. You couldn’t ask for much more.

Hastings punk quartet, Vice Like Grip followed up with similar positive vibes and jokey attitudes. This would be the band’s third show of the year after taking a lengthy break. Much like the previous set, the skate punk influences flowed, with catchy hooks and an energetic delivery. Ross Page‘s singing unleashed the melodic vibe and an uplifting atmosphere. Topped off with Billy Wood‘s noticeably intricate bass lines, it was much more polished sound than the opener.

Vice Like Grip

Vice Like Grip

At this point, a few more people had turned up, and plenty of friends were in the crowd to have a laugh with and mess around with the band. The drinks still flowed, the mood in the room was very joyful and everyone was enthusiastic about everything Vice Like Grip threw at them, clapping and cheering after each song. Once again it was another enjoyable set from the four piece.

To close the night off was Portsmouth trio, The SLM. They offered something rather different to the previous two bands, they were a lot heavier. Influenced by thrash and hardcore punk, The SLM delivered an array of shredding riffs, erratic drum patterns and aggressive shouts. What made it highly entertaining is what the topics were about; which was dinosaurs, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the most part.

‘Terrodactyl’ and ‘Terror of the Shredder’ certainly stood out brilliantly, though it’s the chorus for ‘Zombie Shark’ were hilarious; “A shark got bit by a zombie, not it’s a zombie shark”. Sounds like it could be the theme for a 90s kids cartoon.

The SLM hastings punkfest


One hilarious factor for this set was that Rob Luther, the guitarist and Jochen Such, the drummer were incredibly drunk. Rambling between sets, talking about Pokemon and all sorts. Amazingly it didn’t impede their ability to play their instruments, Luther‘s thrashy shreds and guitar solos were impeccable. The SLM even covered NOFX‘s ‘Green Corn’, just a lot heavier and faster. To finish off the set, the trio performed a slower song, some kind of skate punk prog metal. It was entertaining and had a purely brilliant heavy metal segment to headbang to at the end.

This was a great night to kick off the punk-fueled weekend. The crowd might not have been the most active, but they were drunk and well receptive of each band that played. Each band put on entertaining sets, though The SLM stole the evening with their unique thrashy punk sound. I look forward to catching them again.

Our review of Hastings Punkfest 2016: Saturday is available here

For more of each band