From Zimmers Hole starting in the 1990s, through the Metalocalypse-spawned Brendon Small creation Dethklok, and more recently viral video sensations Raised By Owls, comedy metal has been its own subgenre for some time now and can unite fans in a way that the music of their regular counterparts alone may not. Now in their second decade of activity, Psychostick can be considered veterans of the genre – with a reputation built from over 35 million views of their videos on YouTube backed up by an anarchic live show.
Brighton’s Scumbag College are closer to the start of their exploration of the comedy metal genre and bear more in common with the aforementioned Raised By Owls – their death metal starts the evening off on a heavy note; however, as is common for the mixing of bands early in a set, they suffer somewhat from the audience being unable to hear what vocalist Jay Fitt is saying, save for song titles such as “Jared Leto Upside Down In A Ditch On Fire”, and “Battlewank”, complete with party-popper climax. An amusing experience, but one that would be improved considerably if it were a couple of hours later into the evening.
“Beer!” Why? Well, because “Beer is good and stuff!”
Matching the unusual nature of some of tonight’s bands, this evening is the first gig I’ve attended where improvisational comedy has been performed between sets. The honour of that first experience goes to Do The Thing, who get laughs from those of the crowd not at the bar for their improvised ten-minute musical on Pirates. They return later between the other two bands and go down reasonably well both times, however suffer with the bands changing over on stage behind them, and the murmur of conversation in the audience somewhat stifling their delivery.
Magna Carta are one of the worst kept secrets on the Brighton metal scene; they have put on a handful of shows, each of which seriously impressing and entertaining their audience since they were born of the ashes of Collisions. Blending metal, punk and drum n bass, their lack of released music seems to be the only thing holding them back from growing their fanbase elsewhere; their set mixes a couple of Collisions’ more well-known tracks, including “We Know The Enemy”, with their own compositions. Their performance tonight is energetic and engaging, however suffers somewhat with the order of their set – following a raucous blended Prodigy cover of “Smack My Bitch Up” and “Spitfire”, their penultimate track doesn’t have the groove or accessibility of previously performed songs, and so prematurely kills their momentum. That said, one to watch for the future for sure.
Taking to the stage in their customary costumes – vocalist Rob Kersey in spike adorned hat, Josh Key playing guitar in kung fu headband and chef’s trousers, and bassist Matty J Rzemyk in giant moose antlers, Psychostick waste no time in kicking into one of their more well-known tracks with “Obey The Beard”. Immediately getting engagement from the audience, and further confirmed from vocalist Kersey’s questioning, much of tonight’s audience has been built from the last time they played Brighton – affirming their standing as putting on an excellent live show. Musically, their funk metal style borrows from bands such as early Incubus and Faith No More, with drummer Alex Dontre hitting his drums like he hates them to hammer out the genre’s required groove for each track.
With a set driven by multiple “song lotteries” (or “slotteries”), the band give the audience chance to hear some lesser played songs from their discography, and also demonstrate a level of musicianship not always present in comedy music by performing each one flawlessly. Moving via a slow motion mosh pit to one of their tracks (an experience well worth seeing), they conclude by playing “The Hokey Cokey” – exactly what you think it is – with dozens of Brightonians dancing along to a funk metal nursery rhyme. Whilst the music of Psychostick might not ever give them mainstream fame, tonight they proved comprehensively that their live reputation is wholly deserved – and they’re a band that are highly recommended for you to experience for yourself.