“Do you wanna’ dance?” shrieked out Thom Weeks over his hordes of adoring followers; the first of many invitations of the evening from a front man to his enthusiastic to the point of dangerous audience. It was unclear whether the idea of dancing put forward by Weeks was one which would retire the crowd to the ‘dance floor’ or one which encouraged the continued stage invasion and teenage catapult that had been in play since the first beat of Gnarwolves set.
Long before the mayhem that ensued with the presence of Gnarwolves at Newcastle’s THINK TANK, the crowd- who had turned out for the early support in generous proportion- are treated to local lads Shades; a performance which was far more crowd invasion than stage. Front man Ziggy Paul hurling himself among onlookers with a ferocious intensity; their innovative post hard-core sound crashing out unapologetically from current EP ‘Lose Your Chains’.
Post- Shades, a slight change in line-up sees three piece Mansions of Glory tear up the stage in an equally energetic but less intriguing manner.
From the first palm muted verses of Bottle to Bottle, Gnarwolves had the crowd in their hands, even if they were only using that hand as a perch to frantically hurl themselves off into the abyss. Weeks’ vocals portray both a vicious animosity within gruff screams and a sense of vulnerability though more melodic portions; giving the vocal and the songs as a whole a recognisable character which many bands of the genre often forfeit to their downfall. This character is perhaps the reason why after two successful EPs, a self-titled album, a support slot of Blink 182 and a US tour, Gnarwolves band are “still allowed to gig”. This curious statement from front man Weeks, backed up by various side glances and laughter amongst his band mates launches the singer into a passionate rant about the perils of selling out to the likes of Kerrang magazine (one of the publications which championed Gnarwolves in their infancy). Citing specifically the need to dump spaghetti on oneself to be relevant in the eyes of the music press; it remains unclear to which band Weeks was so bitterly referring.
The DIY attitude of punk remains clearly at heart of Gnarwolves, carried with them from their early Brighton shows to Think Tank in Newcastle where their raucous energy literally has fans hanging from the ceiling (something which causes much distress to the venues security- who doesn’t seem brave or willing enough to venture into the wildness of the mosh pit to protect the THINK TANK lighting bar as it bends and sways under the weight of an overly ambitious crowd surfer). Playing though a back catalogue of favourites and even introducing some new material for its first live performance, Gnarwolves don’t lose their cool for a moment amid the braying crowd who have taken over their stage.
And then suddenly, almost as abruptly as it began, it is over. Punk rock doesn’t do the traditional walk off, fake out encore. Its start, middle and end is explosive, so don’t blink at a Gnarwolves gig or you may miss it. Or you might get kicked in the face by a flying 15 year old.
Reviewer: Dominique Daly
Photographer: Katy Blackwood