Heartbreak in a Small Town Club

On the 21st of January I saw Beach Slang a band that I have wanted to see since I first heard their song Punk or Lust in 2014. On the 6th of February news broke that they would hit the road once again, this time along with Pop-Punk giants Jimmy Eats World, for several dates in the US. On seeing the news this news I felt something that I had felt a few times before, they were gone, taken by the mainstream. This feeling was not of anger, I was pleased that a Punk band had broken into the mainstream, a Punk band that Rolling stone had said “The songwriter’s intention seems simple—to set fire under a whole new generation of disenfranchised kids”, were having a chance to play the type of music I love to large crowds. No the feeling that I could feel was sadness, like a mother watching her child leaving home for the first time, heading out into the wild, because no matter how many albums they sell or shows they play, they will always be this small band with an EP I came across on the internet and connected with on the opening notes to that record.

To see the show I brought along two mates of mine, Jack, alternative music love child, hooked on artists such as Against the Current and PVRIS, and Alex, a mate who came with me to my first gig and sadly hadn’t gone to one since. I had made the 8 hour train journey from Falmouth where I am studying back to my home town of Southampton to meet the pair and then drive another hour and half to the Haunt in Brighton, so all together a 15 hour round trip. This was something that I shared with a guy in the front row while we waited for the show to start. He had only listened to Beach Slang that night at a pre party and had tagged along with his mates for the show, he had liked what he’d heard.

On the drive up in Alex’s Mum’s car, a car beautifully named the blue waffle by our workmate Georgia, we listened to all 3 of the band’s albums, something that is a must before heading to a gig. This was my first time at the Haunt and it really gave that small band feel, smaller than the Talking Heads or the Wedgewood Rooms from back home. We were the second group to arrive and stood outside with a pair from Cambridge, who also had just bought tickets on a whim. We had a laugh and made small talk until finally, with a total of 8 of us in the queue, we were allowed to go in. The two support acts were good and I made sure to pick up a copy of their EP’s on the way out. As each act came on the hall began to fill up more and more and taking the chance we got right to the front, knowing from other gigs that there is always a surge forward just before the headline act is coming on stage.

So the three of us stood there knees against the stage. As they came on stage, James Alex introduced the group’s new members, Guitarist Aurore Ounjian and Drummer Cully Symington, who were joining Ed McNulty and Himself. Then the band started to play and I have never felt so alive, we walked through song after song, crowd surfing and moshing as we went, plastic cups of booze and water falling from the sky. Covering Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure inviting a fan on stage to sing it. James breaking into Wonderwall which we all joined in for as the other members of the group looked on. Finally the moment ended and Beach Slang walked of stage, amongst  a crowd of screams and cheers. My voice at this point had gone as I had screamed out every line from every song.

At the end of the show as people just began to filter out of the Haunt and back out on the street, I didn’t leave straight away picking myself up a copy of the 2 supporting acts albums as I had planned and a Beach Slang T-shirt, a tradition of mine at shows. I also left with the set list. Alex and Jack bother with their morals in tacked asked “Are you really going to take that?” I was soggy from vodka and Orange juice being spilt over it. “Of course” I replied and we left with it. It was not until we were back in the car I noticed their was some writing on the back of the set list, A message from James. I read it aloud in the car, paused for dramatic effect and said “That is why you steal the set list.” I have always said that music is my high and leaving every gig I feel that my eyes have been dilated and I’m floating 6 inches of the pavement. So you must Imagine that live music is like Heroin to me. I love small bands and I love small venues, I don’t think I could ever get that buzz from stadium rock; in places like these the connection between fans and artist just feel to intimate. I guess that’s why when the new broke on the 6th I felt so sad, another band I would have to share with more and more people and after a night like that it seems odd that it could be improved in anyway.

Cover Image Credit: Iris De Jong – PARIS, FR at Les Etoiles 01/02/17

Writers note: Over the years I have lost a few bands in this way, Crown the Empire, Watsky, CryWolf and now Beach Slang. Other acts like Eden and Camp Cope are heading that way too., and although it is sad to lose them the real point is that it was amazing to hear them at all. To be one of those people that got them to the mainstream and to be able to say I was there when you were playing to 20 people and to also be there when they play to 2000.



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