Before any band blows up and hits the big stage, they have to pay their dues and hit the road to a whole host of shows big and small. Tonight’s triple bill sees three of UK rock’s most promising underground acts, Press to MECO, Allusondrugs and Max Raptor, arrive in Derby as part of the lengthy ‘Scuzz Presents UK Throwdown’ tour.
Like most intimate gigs, timing is never perfect with local openers Myoke starting 45 minutes later than expected. Once they get underway, the duo produce a jagged display of hard rock full of dense riffs, ideal melodies and, unfortunately, simple drum work. Each song is welcomed by appreciative applause, yet the overall reaction to Myoke is lukewarm. Don’t get me wrong, Myoke aren’t the worse opening band I’ve seen yet they don’t leave a lasting impression. (2/5)
Yorkshire psychedelic-grunge band Allusondrugs are no strangers to us here at Already Heard. Having played up and down the country continuously for the best part of 18 months is slowly paying off for the quartet. With plenty of road experience under their belt, tonight’s showing instantly displays urgency with an underlying groove and in Jason Moules, a vocalist who is equally loose and controlled in his delivery.
Throughout the five-piece subtly show variation through their melodic pop sensibilities, driving guitar hooks, and the occasional spacious sections and high-pitched harmonies. ‘I Should Have Gone To Uni’ thrives off the band’s playful grunge tendencies, wheareas ‘Sister’ prospers through thick guitars and a downtrodden tempo with a stirring underline before exploding in its conclusion.
Ending their 30-minute set in a rapturous, sonically pleasing number, Allusondrugs ultimately continue to improve by becoming a tighter unit, both in performance and song structure. They’ve once again justified why they continue to be labelled as “ones to watch.” (3.5/5)
Croyden trio Press To MECO have been winning critics over with last year’s ‘Good Intent’ and tonight is a suitable time to see how they do in a live environment. They don’t hold back and quickly set the standard with sharp guitars and favourable hooks. On top of that there is a fun, upbeat presence from the band throughout the set that is warmly received. Early highlight ‘Honestly’ pinpoints PTM’s strong points; heavy guitars, a jagged rhythm section and strong three-part harmonies. The riff-led ‘Diffuse to Responsibility’ follows, whilst ‘Wasting Time’ highlights Lewis Williams dynamic drum work.
The remainder of the set is a delight as PTM back up the “media talk” with a resonating display of math-tinged melodic hard rock. Constantly thriving off their collective strong points, PTM have all the potential to become something much bigger in the future. (4/5)
It’s no surprise that tonight is the turn of local(-ish) boys Max Raptor to headline. With a new label home in Hassle Records and a self-titled album set to be released next month, things are looking up for the local heroes. That point is quickly reinforced with a flourishing display of socially-charged punk rock. With a pulsating quality, newer cuts ‘Damage Appreciation’ and ‘Population’ and older tracks such as ‘Beasts’ prove to be fierce and full of adrenaline.
With razor-sharp guitars, a thick and steady rhythm section and a confident frontman in Wil Ray, Max Raptor are on par with their tour buddies. ‘Blue on Red’ is as punchy as it is on record and ‘Obey the Whips’ carries itself with plenty of grit and bite. Tonight’s brief showing sees a band who are willing to step up their game after sailing under the radar for far too long. (3.5/5)
It could be considered that the whole purpose of ‘Scuzz Presents UK Throwdown’ is to expose three very talented and promising groups to as many people as possible. If that is the case, then they’ve exceeded in doing just that as Allusondrugs, Max Raptor and Press To MECO offer three mixed yet satisfying examples of how strong the alternative music scene is in the UK right now. Simply put, it’s a job well done.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)