Edinburgh on a Wednesday night can be a tough place to play a gig. Always a harder city to pull a crowd in than Glasgow getting anyone through the doors of Bannerman’s should be considered a success. When you’re selling a bill of emotionally switched on indie punk bands, it should be seen as a God damn triumph. This particular Wednesday night was nowhere near a sellout, but there was a healthy crowd for the double bill of Nervus and Kamikaze Girls.
If selling the gig is tough then playing the local support slot is even tougher. Apart from the friends you’ve managed to drag along no one is there to see you and standing out is never easy. When you take all that into consideration, Goodbye Blue Monday do a cracking job. Self-described as misery punk, they introduce their happiest song as being about ‘the pointlessness of existence and the death of humanity’. Despite that, this band are wielding some pretty might hooks and lead singer Graham Lough has a distinctive voice which helps them stand out from the melodic punk crowd. Some of the lyrics are a bit on the nose, but Goodbye Blue Monday are one of those bands that you’ll want to keep an eye on.
Nervus’s debut album was one of last year’s great surprises, and their infectious indie punk has a real elegance to it that shines in the live environment. It’s an elegance that should be at odds with the pain in the heart of these songs as they explore lead singer Em’s gender dysphoria and issues with addiction. However, the two instead combine to create music that you can dance to but which still most definitely has something to say. ‘Bones’ and ‘Skipping Needle’ are set highlights while the swirling end to ‘Bend Break’ is the perfect closer. However, it’s not just the tracks off Permanent Rainbow that impress and if ‘Sick Sad World’ is anything to go by the future is bright for Nervus.
Two pieces seem to be in vogue at the moment and while playing without the reassuring thrum of a bass is always going to be a risk it’s maybe not as big a one as it used to be. Kamikaze Girls certainly make it look easy as for forty odd minutes they power their way through a selection of fuzzed up indie rock songs that have a big chunk of Riot Grrrl at their core. The connecting tissue between tonight’s acts is the honesty at the heart of their music and songs like ‘I Don’t Want To Be Sad Forever’ are built around a rawness that brings life to their sound.
In these quite frankly shitty times, having bands that talk openly about the subjects these three bands combat is important. Sadly, it’s unlikely that music will make everything better. The world just doesn’t work like that, but it can make a person better and sometimes that’s enough. These are the kind of bands that teach you that you’re not alone and that’s pretty damn great.