Septic and the Tanks live in Leamington

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Septic and the Tanks live in Leamington


I can't imagine that any regular reader of my reviews could doubt my enthusiasm for the music of Septic and the Tanks, so after a lengthy fallow period in terms of getting to gigs, seeing them live at the "No Peace" punk event at Leamington's Fusilier (their debut gig in the town) yesterday  was particularly uplifting: though they seemed to have a similar effect on what was an excellent crowd especially for a late afternoon slot.

It was also pleasing to see a pub venue with a bespoke stage in a space with adequate sightlines: this is such a rarity these days.

This great band, having accelerated from zero in terms of existence, body of work and even instrumental skills as far as most of its member go in such a short time, are forever developing & getting better and better. Despite the relative lack of stage time together, this is a really tight unit: the hard work rehearsing is paying off and given also the relentless heaviness of their powerful sound (built on their rock solid rhythm section of Sophie Williams and Sarah Croom), the Black Sabbath T shirt worn by guitarist James Croom (the most experienced member) casts light on their approach and adds another presumed influence to their otherwise predominantly punk template.

Equally they are also picking up detailed nuances to enhance what they do: I'm pleased to report that Lucy Kenny's banjo, always the trickiest element to mix into such a loud sound, came through clearer than ever: direct injection is the key it would seem. So if you are an aspirant "DIY Banjo Punk" band yourself, take note.

After a run of delightful & applauded single releases (they have been getting great reviews from a range of sources), their eponymous debut album is nearly at its release point: you can catch it online from February 9th & then get the beautifully self illustrated hard copy from the 17th, which is also the date of the launch at Just Dropped In Records in Coventry's Fargo Village supported by another "Hot Music Live Presents" featured band in Stegosaurus Sex Party & Hedcheese (tickets are £5 from or £7 on the door, though I imagine their selling out is likely).

Unsurprisingly, the album dominated their set, though fascinatingly, although they didn't play the whole album, and they played one track not on it, the eight ones from ‘Septic and the Tanks' were played in the exact order they appear on the album. A piece of conceptualism I've never before seen outside of bands deliberately playing classic albums in their original running order.

And that's another part of what you get with this band: a fierce intelligence to go with the passion and of course the humour.

In fact the more you explore their music, the more it's not just like finding new layers, but dualities & apparent paradoxes abound. Humour is the first thing one sees, but then as my review of their most recent single "Seven" indicated, there are other, profound sides to them, and they can do melancholia too. A very inexperienced band who play like they've been doing it for years. You have a highly charismatic frontperson to whom eyes are drawn while she sings yet is the epitome of nonchalance between numbers (in fact recent events drew me into a mental comparison: like the late Shane MacGowan, Robin Synnott gives everything to the performance but exhibits a wholly contrasting insouciance in the gaps: which just highlights the passion of the singing).

It's these elements of nuance & interest which mark out music worth paying close attention to (and in all honesty keeps the reviewer on their toes), but while watching yesterday, it occurred to me how lucky we are to have artists with the will, desire & ability to write original material at all. The view from "Hot Music Live" is in some ways distorted as we focus on those who create new songs more than cover artists, but the reality of course is that the majority of live music especially at a local level consists of covers: that's the economics of the business. This puts money not the pockets of many to whom I don't begrudge it in the slightest, but in the process a pretty restricted selection of songs is slowly being ground down by overplaying & over exposure, damaging them for me. We really need to encourage & support artists like Septic and the Tanks and all the others we write about who add to what is out there & freshen the scene up.

The album will certainly make a sizeable contribution to that & I can barely wait to describe it to you. Having proved to themselves that they can do it and subsequently made the same breakthrough in the eyes and ears of so many others, 2024 could be a stellar year for this band to kick on and upwards. Many people will be backing them to do so.

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