Posts Tagged ‘hostiles’

[Continued from previous entry…]

This is the point in the evening where the profile of the artists raises dramatically. The Hostiles are the definitive Ayrshire ska punk outfit, having been plugging away at building a reputation and fanbase for somewhere around the ten year mark, and are now at a stage in their musical career where they’re more accustomed to high-profile support slots and European tours than humble hometown shows.

It is the presence of bands like this on the bill that makes it impossible not to marvel at  just how much effort and networking lies behind today’s showcase.

Just long enough is spent setting up to build ample anticipation amongst those who have come along especially for the ragtag assortment of brass-assisted punk rockers and, at the same time, show the soon-to-be-converted that they mean business.

As the beginning of what transpires to be a bouncy ska onslaught ups the tempo of the event, there almost immediately emerges a much more racuous vibe as the pints start flowing a little more freely and musicians and crowd begin to feed off each other’s excitement. Frontman Josh, dreadlocks a-swinging, leads a band at the top of their game through an upbeat set that seems to dare anyone in the room not to move around, with this being authoritatively reinforced by his confident instructions to the crowd to move forward and get involved.

In what serves as a distinct indication of their instantaneous and effortless command of the room, the crowd do as they are instructed and the performance is rendered all the more impressive as a result. The five characters onstage are positively bursting with energy and enthusiasm and seemingly simple requests like this, handled in a way that suggests the expectation of nothing less than complete compliance, are what succeeds in setting a new standard for the remainder of the day. It is as though the event is maturing as it works its way into the evening and the more experienced bands begin to exert their influence.

In saying that, no variation of the word mature really has any place near the childlike energy and capacity for merriment on display here. Banter is hurled back and forth between short, punky numbers during which the rhythmic contingent move in such a way that suggests some covert switch of the stage with a large trampoline and the brass section, when not offering up enthusiastic servings of ska, busy themselves with the task of bouncing off the walls.

As for the music itself, it’s ska punk by numbers. There’s nothing innovative about The Hostiles’ sound but, to their credit, they make absolutely no pretence that there is. The guys give the impression that they’re playing the music they love and having a blast while they do so and, although their delivery is consistently tight, their chosen style really relies more on a fun-loving attitude and the desire and ability to get everyone involved in the party. In this, the quintet are impressively accomplished and it is plain to see that their wealth of gigging experience has by no means gone to waste.

Now, involving more established bands in a showcase like this can be a hit or miss move . While the inclusion of higher profile acts will undoubtedly draw in a larger audience and thus result in greater success in terms of the promotion of the lesser-known talent on display, it is also possible that the true aim of the showcase will be diluted if the divide between the established and the newcomers creates an air of entitlement or aura of superiority amongst the acts at the higher end of the scale.

At one point during The Hostiles’ set, it looks terrifyingly as though the latter could be the case, when bassist Chris lets slip that he doesnt “really know who else is playing” which seems to err a little too much on the diva front as, after all, the occasion is supposed to be about raising awareness of unsigned Ayrshire talent. As a result, it would seem only logical that before accepting a slot in such an event, and consequently putting their implicit stamp of approval on all of the talent being showcased, a band would make a point of checking said talent out for themselves first.

Thankfully, the tenor of the rest of the performance succeeds in allaying any such initial fears and encouraging the notion that this gap in knowledge is more absent-mindedness than arrogance.

A particularly reassuring display of unity between band and crowd comes when Josh’s guitar strap comes undone during a positively frenzied chorus and, within seconds, a member of the audience is up on the stage providing assistance and re-attaching the strap to the instrument which is still very much in play.

If any doubt remains about the band’s suitability for the showcase by the time the last song rolls around, it is swiftly obliterated by what proves to be the crowning moment of The Hostiles’ set and a perfect snapshot of the air of mischief that permeates their output. During the last bars of their finale, Josh calls for a ‘wall of death’ – the revered practice of a crowd splitting into two halves before running towards the centre of the room and colliding in a whirlwind of bodies, most often encountered at hardcore punk and metal gigs – and no sooner are the words “I mean it” out of his mouth than a gulf opens at the front of the room and the more adventurous and able-bodied in the audience set about good-naturedly beating hell out of their friends, creating a health and safety nightmare in the process.

With a grasp on the crowd like this and a set that strives to involve everyone, there can be no debate as to whether or not the inclusion of The Hostiles on the bill had a positive effect on today’s Ayrshire Showcase.

There are bruised ribs that will attest to this!

The Hostiles - Photograph by Kenny Bates

The Hostiles on Facebook

[Section 3 of 3 available tomorrow night…]