Something’s brewing in the UK’s rock scene, and tonight it’s hit the back corner of a pub in Chester. The last couple of weeks have seen Brawlers and Allusondrugs, two of the country’s most exciting new bands, team up for a double-headed tour of the country which, on the face of it seems like just two great bands having a romp round the country together, but really, it’s the harbinger to their explosions into the scene’s next great force.
Before either take to the stage is a duo of local support acts, Moonshine  kicking off, whose bass-led alt-rock is only marginally built on by the angular hard rock of Ten Dead Crows . Both definitely have a couple of nice ideas up their sleeves (the latter especially), but they still bear all the hallmarks and naivety of a local band, and will have to shake them off to have much hope of advancing past this stage.
The crowd may only be small (a few people dotted round the room here and there, though mostly at the bar) but Brawlers  play with the passion and intensity on headlining Wembley Arena. Their set is over pretty much as soon as it begins as they blitz through their clutch of fast, angular punk – the likes of Annabel and Two Minutes rip with as much playfulness as breathless acerbity, while the punchiness of Mothers & Fathers and Instagram Famous is perfect for a venue as intimate as this. Frontman Harry Johns really stands out in his denim jacket and red beanie, and as he prowls around the empty front of the stage and further into the room during closer Romantic Errors Of Our Youth, it’s not hard to believe that this is Britain’s next punk icon in the making. All this band really need to succeed is the exposure, but after their tour with Lower Than Atlantis later this year, expect to hear the name Brawlers a lot more.
In terms of firebrand energy and onstage unpredictability, Brawlers set a watermark that Allusondrugs  aren’t quite able to reach, but when it comes to conjuring up walls of sheer aural force, they’re in a league of their own. Clearly the crowd favourites, the Leeds grunge crew remain captivating across their fifty minutes with swathe upon swathe of either shoegaze or battering riffs. The former is the most enrapturing, with Jason Moules’ incredibly malleable vocals lending themselves wonderfully to the cyclical melodies of Sunset Yellow and I Should Have Gone To Uni. Speaking of Moules, he’s like every great ’90s frontman combined – a bit of Thom Yorke in the vocals, a bit of Dennis Lyxzén in the dance moves and a bit of Kurt Cobain in everything else. The combination of such icons (if not exactly their styles of music) means that Allusondrugs manage to craft themselves an original identity in their sound, something incredible hard to do in the current climate, though albeit one that can’t escape a slight repetitiveness as time goes by, and one that is frequently subject to an unfortunately ropey mix. Nevertheless, both bands are given the ideal platform to shine, and while they may not be at the level of some of their other recent touring buddies just yet, judging by this evidence there’s nothing to stop them reaching it soon.
Words by Luke Nuttall