What the fuck do I know about punk? I’ve heard about Towers of London, I’ve heard they’re named after the high rise blocks of the capital (though they’re from Uxbridge and Ruislip.) I’ve heard they dress stupid because it makes them look cool. I’ve heard they do some kind of hair metal punk rock schtick. I’ve heard all the influences kicked around on chatrooms: AC/DC, G+R, Motley Crue… But I haven’t heard Towers of London.
It’s a long wait, all the bands are late sound checking and the doors don’t open till gone 9. The atmosphere is a dead, drugged curiosity, a collective air of ‘go on then impress me’ from the Cambridge crowd, and with the Suffrajets they get what they expected. All girl grunge rock, melodic and angsty. Scraggly 18 and 19 yr old girls from north London, half chav, half skater punk, with more than a touch of Billie Piper thrown into the mix.
Bomb Factory do their best to break the mould: older, wiser, with a megaphone for the gang of four diatribes, a fascist armband and para boots, it’s smug and angular, neo-punk, obviously with a penchant for ‘weird’ noises. I expect you could talk about Steve Reich with them and they’d say it was pretentious shit, but you’d know that three years ago they were wanking to Different Trains in their mum’s house and came really hard.
And then Towers of London came on, and you could hear all the reviewers go ‘what the fuck’ while the ugly girls from Bury St Edmunds run down the front screaming. Critics hate bands like the Towers, because they cause the ironic detatchment that we spend time perfecting in the bathroom mirror to fucking implode. We hate them because they remind us of our impotence and inefficacy at doing something that makes a difference. We hate them because for all our knowledge of who released what seminal album when, and who had their stomach pumped in 1976 after ingesting six bottles of benylin in an hour, we know fuck all about punk. Half of us have never been in a fight, let alone spat on someone, or thrown a bottle at a wall to see it shatter. For all our socialist posturing, we are nice middle class tory boys through and through.
So when Danny Tourette snarls and jerks around like he’s got toxic shock, spits fountains of beer in our faces and (gasp) camera lens’, we go; ‘ooh how derivative’. When he screams ‘fuckin ell’ over and over for three minutes over a one chord OI! stomp, we suck our teeth and think how much a tattoo would hurt. When he gets taken away in handcuffs for ripping down the lighting rig, and refusing to stop playing when the security invade the stage, we laugh and say “the publicity won’t do them any harm”. Imagine, for a second what it must be like to have the courage of yr convictions. To say, this is what I do, and damn the consequences. Music journalists? What a bunch of self important C***s