As I arrive at the Ritz on a cold and wet January evening, I am greeted by a blast of sound. Sonic Boom Six are on stage and they are already in full-flow. Jumping around and playing their instruments with fierce abandon, the warm-up act are definitely doing their job. Disregarding their cool clothes but middling songs, they are rallying the energy in the room. This is definitely a punk gig and my eardrums already know it.
It’s an early show (The Blackout take the stage at 8.30pm) with a youthful audience. At least half of the people in the venue look like they aren’t old enough to drink yet. They are certainly a bunch of cool, punk-emo kids; I feel decidedly boring because I’m not sporting a beanie. However fashion is only a minor factor in being a punk fan this evening. The crowd here are clearly all about the welsh group about to perform.
The Blackout burst on stage under a green neon glow and plough in head first with ‘Start the party’, a song so apt for kicking off this gig it almost hurts. From the word go they play with relentless energy and boundless enthusiasm, skipping and jumping around stage as though they are springs that have finally been un-coiled. The effects are quite astounding and mesmerising to watch when accompanied by confetti showering down onto the exuberant, now pogoing crowd. The HMV Ritz is the perfect venue for these kinds of songs and these fans. Bouncing along to every beat, the crowd take full advantage of it’s famous bouncing dance floor; it’s like standing on a trampoline.
The band lurch from one punk-pop song to another at some pace. The heavier songs are less exciting to watch and it’s evident that the pop-punk approach suits them much better. Teenage angst is perfectly wrapped up in catchy choruses and biting lyrics. “I don’t care what you’re thinking / When everything is gone we’ll still be begging for more” is shouted back at them by a room full of kids obviously feeling every word.
There are no airs or graces about The Blackout. They don’t distance themselves from fans at all and the gig feels like it’s one big house party where some of your mates have decided to pick up instruments and rock out. The two front men Gavin Butler and Sean Smith have an easy chemistry and buckets full of charisma. They charm the audience with highly animated conversation between every song and prove to be a strong vocal combination. Colourful lighting effects and balloons only add to the upbeat feeling that the performance generates. These guys seem like the kind of people you want to party with. Even if you don’t like this music you’d still find their aura infectious.
If you go to a gig hosted by The Blackout you may walk away with little left in the way of eardrums, but you will definitely walk away having witnessed a bundle of raw energy and fun.