“A sold out Railway Hotel is eagerly anticipating what is about to happen here. Debut shows rarely sell out in this town, so what on earth is going on here?
If you live in Southend, you know it’s all about Cool Thing Records. Asylums have led the charge for forward thinking exciting music in this town, as well as uniting us all on their self sufficient journey. They’ve also brought friends along for the ride, championing the delightful Southend Music Scene. This led to the announcement of the compilation EP release of Alternative Occupations, featuring the fiery Petty Phase, loudest band in Chelmsford The Horse Heads, and not forgetting Bait. Wait a second, who the hell are Bait??
BAIT had been shrouded in secrecy building to the unveiling of the band in full. We were given teaser images via a cryptic Instagram page. Something deliciously dark was clearly brewing, until finally we heard ‘I’m Still Here‘, where suddenly it was all very clear: Mike Webster is back making music again. Uh oh.
The climax of this special show was already in sight, but first we are treated to A.C.I.D, another band who has opted for the ‘I don’t want to talk to you’ approach of getting their music out there. Their Instagram page is their only online presence, which reveals snippets of their twisted world. Translated to the stage, you have a piercing display of electronic bass riff wizardry and gritty guitars. The frontman leads the meandering dynamics of his compositions with an awkward reassurance, that culminates with a gloriously loud finish. The whole room cheers and throws praise at them, but the frontman decides to turn to us, then looks at us all like we’re the biggest pieces of shit on the planet. And we are lapping it up. Boring this most certainly is not, the anger is rather refreshing.
Suspects up next. After thinking it couldn’t get any louder than A.C.I.D, I was fantastically mistaken and full of regret for leaving my earplugs at home on my dresser.
Tom Prescott paces up and down the stage, continuing the theme of pent up angst and frustration. “Fuck Friday, Fuck Saturday, Fuck Saturday, Fuck You!” he snarls, whilst James May beats the shit out of his kit with impeccable accuracy. It’s raw as hell, but the simple formula of ‘play as loud and direct as you can’ works a treat for this duo. There’s a big smile on my face, despite feeling like I’ve been hit by a sea of tanks.
With the cat finally out of the bag, the anticipation of finding out just where you go after Baddies is at it’s peak. Michael Webster, his twin brother Jim, MRE and the nucleus of Cool Thing Records himself Luke Branch take to the stage. Michael screams, then launches into ‘Greatest of the Teeth‘. We’ve just been smacked in the face with a visceral assault on all our senses.
This performance is Michael’s brain dissected, put back together again, then projected onto us, the unwitting public. The industrial beats and digital soundscapes certainly hark back to some parts of his musical past, but this is the most honest he has ever been. Where Baddies used uniforms to demand our attention, there are absolutely no smoke and mirrors to cloud his message delivery here, his intentions completely clear. He’s angry at the world, but much like he’s done with his other project Asylums, he’s taking us along for the ride, this time drowning us with painfully accurate observations of our society. The irony of the crowd with their smart phones held up high during ‘Hate One Another, Love Yourselfie‘ is not lost on Michael, as he sadistically mimics us with his hand gestures.
Luke on bass duties is as always, a joy to watch. It seems you can put any instrument in the guy’s hands and he will captivate you with his stage presence. But even his hips can’t distract from the unprecedented success that Bait’s debut show has been tonight. Misery has never sounded so vital. Bait has us hooked. How about that. But ultimately, we’re just blessed that we have discovered #AnotherCoolThing.”
Photos: Kana Waiwaiku