Photography: Brittany Williams

Restless Bear Launch

Restless Bear @ St Mary's Creative Space, Chester 24/11/18

I’m ready to witness for the first time what Chester, the walled city neighbouring northern music meccas Liverpool and Manchester, has to offer in terms of live music. Atop of one of the city’s hills sits a decommissioned church building that hosts a wide range of events catering to the local community. Tonight, it plays host to a collection of ferocious garage punk bands.

Stepping into the venue brings both excitement and curiosity. Presented with an evening that oozes DIY, St. Mary’s Creative Space plays host to a jamboree of madness. Pop-up clothing and vintage booths, ice buckets of beer and a grilled cheese stand, newcomers Restless Bear Promotions are here celebrating their launch with an all-day showcase featuring some of the more raucous music the north has been breeding of late.

Upon arrival, we’re introduced to Wrexham two-piece GLOVE. Blue and red lights flicker over a small stage set up beneath stained glass windows. Tribal. Primitive. These are the words used to describe the duo and I’m told not to miss a moment of it. With their eyes hidden behind dark strips of blue makeup, we are summoned. Collaborating artists Slosilver and Stephanie Finegan take the stage, one girl and her drum, a second and her bass. They have my attention. A sense of inclusiveness surrounds the band as they leave the platform and cross the intangible boundary between artist and audience. Finegan, in an orange inmate jumpsuit, bounces in her socks as Slosilver delivers a poetry-slam style wrecker that boils with such emotion she accidentally disconnects her bandmate’s bass from the amp. The crowd is captured and intrigued as they form a circle around the pair. The venue echoes the verse “We will not be sorted separately no more. Black lives matter”. Primordial in its simplicity, Glove reveal the power in truth, weaving their arty and poetic laden beats into the UK music scene with such force.

Keeping in theme with the rock-duo format, Chester’s own DEH-YEY take to the stage next. Released earlier this year, Speedy Quickedge and protest single Death And Politics open their set as the crowd gather from all corners of the venue. Austere yet informative, the snaking guitar and catchy hook sets the tone for the rest of the evening. Fixated on building their sound layer by layer, one powerful guitar and a drum kit, guitarist Cash Burns amps up the crowd in St. Mary’s, urging them into full throttle carnage through tracks like This Modern Age and Brand New Shirt. Expressive drummer Tom Maude looks undisturbed in his focus to deliver a paramount set. After only a few songs, it’s clear that Deh-Yey have the edge. Making their unforgettable mark on the evening with a raw and carnal version of Tainted Love, they maintain the rooted and visceral punch of a five-piece throughout.

"If this is what we can expect from future events in Chester’s music scene, I’ll be there with bells on"

Anarchy and music: it’s not a new thing. The pairing of the two however compliments the next act, Manchester three-piece MOLD. The band shuffle onto the stage, making up for lost time and a late start with confidence. Like a drug trip gone awry, their theatrical presence is highlighted through face make-up and inquest through lyrics. “Now the question on everyone’s mind. How would you like your remains to be prepared? Boiled or fried?” Reminiscent of the dark carnival, or Wonka’s factory, the Mad Hatter-type guitarist Dan Caldwell plays as though he’s been electrocuted, bassist Shane Dickenson almost jester-like in his wobble through their newest release, the jaunty and anthemic Eyelids. It’s easy to see how the band have gained such attention over the last few years, especially through anti-establishment song Puppetmaster, with its ingrained political message and haunting lyrics.

Wreaking havoc around the close-knit Liverpool music scene over the last year, post-punk band EYESORE & THE JINX bring some charismatic Merseyside banter to the stage from the get-go and gain some laughs from the crowd. “It’s nice to be in Chester anyways,” quips frontman Josh Miller. “It’s weird isn’t it, this place. The big JC is out and everything.” From here, debut single Gated Community gets the audience moving with the band’s psychobilly twist, a refreshing change from the psychedelic waves that have drenched Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle in the past few years. Treated to another recent single, the slow crawl of Sleepless ignites the room with a darker sound; one that grows angrier with every note.

If you’ve been gigging lately, you’ll be stressed to find a line-up that doesn’t include YAMMERER at the forefront. A blessing, really, because they deserve it. Merseyside’s chaotic and frenzied bunch have been glorified as ‘psych-punk’. Witnessing their set we are certainly treated to both genres. Visceral in his performance, singer Jason Corbett has been known to crash into the audience, microphone carried at all times in defence. Tonight however, they showcase what feels like a softer side of Yammerer. Be it the gig’s location, or artistic growth, it works. Ending on a melodic and slower wave from Case to Reek of Rewards, the transition shows quality and depth.

Tapping into the high energy of the night, Deeside’s garage rock band CHUPA CABRA impress with a fast and wicked version of Richard Hell’s Blank Generation. Cheers begin to crescendo as Hayden Hughes (guitar, vocals) blends skin tight rhythms with frenetic and jerky movements. We are treated to the bass driven track Sides Of My Skull which is led by left handed player Nathan Bailey and is the band’s most recent release. Closing the gig with an even wilder and sped up version of the monster track Mouths To Feed, Tayt Cockell rounds off the band’s sound, destroying his drums with a sense of power driven like road rage.

Overall, it’s a successful launch for Restless Bear. If this is what we can expect from future events in Chester’s music scene, I’ll be there with bells on.

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