Gig Review: Down & Outs/Caves/Salem Rages/Worriers/River Caves at Maguire’s Pizza Bar, Liverpool

SATURDAY, November 9, saw the backroom of Maguire’s Pizza Bar on Renshaw Street in Liverpool taken over by Down And Outs for the record release show of their fourth full-length.

A short walk from Liverpool Central, Maguire’s often plays host to various hardcore and punk gigs, and with Liverpool’s very own Down And Outs at the top of the bill, it was a busy night. Before the doors were even open, the front room was packed wall-to-wall with beer-swilling, pizza-eating punk rockers, and soon everyone was ushered into the back room, which doubles as a gig space.

Opening the night was the first of a number of homegrown acts, River Caves. Playing melodic punk reminiscent of 80’s and 90’s punk bands such as Jawbreaker, combined with a modern pop punk edge, similar to bands like Latterman, they received a few polite claps after their songs and were generally well accepted but certainly didn’t raise the roof.

Next up, all the way from New York City, were Worriers. Having just released a new full length, and on tour with Caves at the time, the female-fronted act played a brand of punk that combined the classic Long Island sound with The Loved Ones folk-sensibilities, playing songs covering anarcho-feminism, to interpretations of passages from books. Again, generally well accepted, despite most of the crowd not seeming too familiar with them, there were however a few people hovering around their merch table after their set, maybe an indication they made a few new fans.

After Worriers dismantled their backline, another local band, Salem Rages, took to the floor to play certainly the most stand-out set of the night. Dressed entirely in black, and accompanied by an big old bell in place of one of the cymbals on the drumset, they swiftly kicked off their twenty minute set of what they referred to as “doom punk”, combining elements of 80’s gothic rock, classic punk and New York hardcore, for a ferociously dark set. They certainly had the biggest stage presence of the night, with the guitarist/vocalist frequently making his way into the crowd, seemingly for no purpose whatsoever. Despite receiving a few raised eyebrows and comments along the lines of “Are they for real?”, they managed to win a few people over but a few others they seemed to leave feeling alienated and confused.

Penultimately, Bristol’s Caves took to the floor. The second touring band of the night, they received one of the best responses. You could sense the anticipation in the room as they tuned their instruments and prepared to blaze into a half-hour set of shouty sing-a-long pop punk. They tore through a set combining fan favourites, new material off their recent full length ‘Betterment’, and even a few songs from guitarist/vocalist Lou’s old band Flamingo 50, to which a man who looked like he was in his 50’s, wearing a Flamingo 50 shirt, did a bit of a dance to.

By the time Caves/Flamingo 50 finished up, it was nearing time to shut it down and call it a night, but Down & Outs stepped onto the floor to play their part to celebrate the tenth anniversary since their first show, aswell as the release of their new album, ‘Lifeline’. Blasting into a blend of classic street and ‘oi!’ punk and modern pop punk, with the melodic roar filling the crammed 70-capacity room. The hometown crowd had certainly been waiting all night for this moment and the response was incredible, seeing a band in a 1,000 capacity venue and hearing maybe 100 people around shouting the words along with the band is special, but stood in the back room of a pizza bar in Liverpool, the smell of pizza dough drifting in through from the kitchen, and hearing all 70 people shouting along is an experience unlike any other.

Overall, this was a fantastic night and was living proof that punk is definitely not dead in Liverpool.

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