Inner Terrestrials headline a feast of punk rock in the New Cross Inn.
The last time we set foot in Fordham Park was for the Urban Free Festival in 1993(ish). The prospect of returning for the South London Punx Picnic was quite mouth-watering. Or at least it was till the weather forecast started filling up with emojis of rain clouds. So, on the day we rocked up late afternoon.
I’m not really sure what I was expecting, but what we found was a couple of dozen punks hanging around on the edge of the park partaking of some light refreshments. I didn’t spot any sandwiches or flasks of tea. South London (tick), Punx (tick), Picnic (not really).
We spent a little while catching up with some old faces, including Inner Terrestrials. Jay explained the unusual running order. “These punk things always run late. There was no way we were going to go on last and find that because everyone else had been late, we only have a ten-minute set. We will be on at half nine and do a full fifty-minute set. Then there’s two band on after us”. There goes the voice of experience.
We decide to head over to the Marquis of Granby, an old school proper London boozer, which was surprisingly free of punks. Cider was drunk as we watched the clock, not wanting to miss Social Experiment from sunny Abertillery. They were due on at seven. We availed ourselves of the hospitality in the aforementioned Granby, soaking up the vibes then headed over to the New Cross Inn for seven thirty. Social Experiment still weren’t on. It’s like Jay is some sort of soothsayer.
The New Cross Inn is a perfectly sized venue, with a capacity of three hundred and fifty in the main room and one hundred and fifty in the bar downstairs. Although one of the silver linings of Covid-19 is that we are liking the extra elbow room reduced capacity is providing. Stage one side of the room, bar the other. Simples. And they have live music seven nights a week.
Social Experiment eventually hit the stage like a tornado. A sonic tsunami of political punk, heavy as a heavy thing on saint heavy’s day; definitely on the metal edge of punk rock. As is the way with things that come out of Abertillery, to the point and in ya face.
After their set we chat with them outside. Apparently, it had taken seven hours to get from Abertillery, due to chaos on the M4. The roads are definitely returning to pre-lockdown levels of traffic.
Next up are PIG. They pick up where Social Experiment had left off, hardcore, no frills and hard hitting. The venue is filling up now and the crowd respond appropriately, with the front becoming a cauldron of bubbling Brylcream and studs.
Another good thing about reduced capacity is the lack of queuing at the bar. Service is quick and done with a smile. They have Old Rosie on tap, so I am afraid I cannot confirm what time Inner Terrestrials came on stage, but boy did they hit the stage and within the first few bars the dancefloor is literally bouncing.
This is home turf for IT – with their only live album being titled ‘Escape from New Cross’. There are many faces from the South London punk scene in the crowd, but also a healthy splattering of people that have travelled from further afield. (Anyone thinking of travelling to see a gig here, take note, there is a hostel upstairs so you won’t have far to stagger after the gig).
IT are as ferocious as the other bands on the bill but bring something else to the party – ska chops, dubby bass lines and occasional folky melodies. Whilst there are moments where they provide music to headbutt your neighbour to, they also have moments that just get your feet moving to do some good old-fashioned dancing.
We get tunes from this year’s ‘Heart of the Free’ album, along with some classics spanning their twenty-seven-year career. Kicking off with ‘Chain of Command’ from their most recent album, through to ‘Boundries’ with ten tunes in between, including ‘Law Dealers’ and the amazing ‘Enter the Dragon’. They then finish off with Heartbeat for an encore.
After a set long enough to be crowd pleasing, but short enough to leave everyone wanting more, IT call it a night and leave plenty of time for the next two bands to do their thing.
Zero Again are remarkably similar to Social Experiment – no doubt this has something to do with Payney being on guitar with both bands. They go down a storm with those left, but we can’t help noticing that the crowd has thinned out after IT.
Jawless finish off the night with a bang – or we assume they do, if their album is anything to go by – but by the time they came on we had decanted ourselves the stones throw to New Cross Gate station and were floating through the train system, with (Old) Rosie cheeks, a slight wobble and huge smiles hidden behind our masks. The pandemic aint over yet, but if nights out like this are as good as it gets, there will be no complaints from us.