Willowz / Hooker - Buffalo Bar

Hooker are a gloriously brash Manchester based unreconstructed punk outfit. They're a three piece and, between them, are capable of kicking up no end of fuss. It's very simple, but played with such enthusiasm that they will win you over. Vocalist Zoe Mcveigh does a fine job at holding it all together while thrashing out delightfully raw power chords. Think of them as a sort of punked up 'Au Pairs' and you're half way there. There's something primal about Hooker; it's sparse yet powerful; the twin threads of bass and guitar, both rattling away like marbles in a washing machine, combine with the thudding drums to create something immediate and almost beautiful. Hooker are the epitome of the modern punk band; Short, sharp brutal and very good indeed.

One of Willowz best songs proves that Americans have no sense of irony. 'Wake Me Up' contains the heartfelt refrain - "Whatever happened to rock 'n' roll?" when the bands that Willowz are obviously inspired by are the very ones that killed it off. You know the sort of thing - Sonic Youth, The Breeders et al all copied and pasted onto some skinny youths with a healthy sense of their own importance. That's not to say they're bad, oh no, far from it, but it's a little difficult to get excited by them. They're another three piece, but the contrast between these and Hooker couldn't be more marked. There's a sense of precision and control to Willowz that Hooker have rejected in favour of a more slapdash approach. There's not much fun going on on that little stage when Willowz are doing their thing. The singer, Richey James Folin, doesn't so much sing as yelp in a high pitched accent and looks the spitting image of legendary US comedian Emo Philips. Still, when it comes together for them, they are certainly capable of producing the goods. The aforementioned 'Wake Me Up' is a great, meandering bit of indie rock with bags of attitude. If you like this sort of thing, Willowz might be for you, but don't expect anything wildly exciting or new. They finish by going through one of the most surreal 'big-finishes' ever seen here, one more suited to stadiums than this little beer soaked corner of the room type gig. Emo brandishes his guitar like a rifle and prances like a tit. Still, we must forgive them their little foibles because they do sound quite promising. Someone at Rex Records obviously thinks so, as they've just signed them.

It's a little less difficult to forgive them that awful, naff, anachronistic, horrible, great big 'Z' on the end of their otherwise not offensive name, though. Why? What's wrong with Willows? Maybe Americans do get irony, it's just that they do it so well we don't recognise it.

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Free entry can be obtained to all Artrocker gigs that happen on a Tuesday at the Buffalo Bar simply by visiting the Artrocker website and registering as a member. It’s easier than falling off a log and completely free.

Last updated: 19/04/2018 11:58:17

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