If you said Amyl and the Sniffers and Bob Vylan were in charge of leading a world revolution, I would be following them because I know they would succeed. The two bands brought their brand of punk to Nashville and I don’t think the city has recovered. They will be hitting SoCal in October, so get yourself prepped now – you’ll need it!
Full disclosure: I am not an expert at punk, with most of my knowledge being old school stuff. But, OC Music News editor-in-chief Jimmy Alvarez INSISTED I see Amyl and the Sniffers live and staff photographer Dick Slaughter about lost his mind when he found out Bob Vylan would be opening. He threatened to drive 11.5 hours in a day to get to the show. With that, staff photographer Stephanie Pepper and I set off to our first Nashville punk show – on a school night!
September 20, 2022
The incredibly varied crowd of all ages, genders, and styles of dress began to fill the two-story general-admission venue while Nashville’s own Snooper opened the show. Snooper is working on an album with Jack White’s Third Man Records, so they already have some buzz about them.
The guys hit the stage in matching ‘80s-style tracksuits with an energetic drum beat reminiscent of early Go-Go’s tunes. Front-woman Blair Tramel came bounding out like a ball of energy with vocals that reminded me of Siouxsie Sioux and Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano. The beat gave way to a frenzied punk sound that had the early crowd jumping and cheering along. Their set included a variety of sounds and sights – weight lifting and a giant mosquito costume! – and the crowd was moshing away already.
The band I have been hearing a lot about since their appearance at Rebellion Festival was up next: Bob Vylan. I have enjoyed calling them “Bob Vee Lawn,” but technically, it is pronounced “Bob Villain.” The aforementioned Slaughter warned me, “There could be a fight. Bob Vylan is pretty vocal about certain topics…”
Since forming in 2017, Bob Vylan has released two full-length albums: 2020’s “We Live Here” and 2022’s “The Price of Life,” plus several singles and EPs. The two gents that are Bob Vylan – Bobbie behind the drum kit and Bobby behind the mic – took the stage and Bobby said, “We are going to start with some light stretching and meditation. Join in if you want to.” Bobbie pounded out a sick beat as Bobby did indeed stretch us out.
The duo from London blasted right out with “I Heard You Want Your Country Back” which could apply to the US… or a number of other countries as well… What really struck me about their songs is how sadly universal they are. The conflicts between races and classes are not exclusive to England, or the United States. I described them to a friend as a British Rage Against the Machine on caffeine. Much like RATM did in the ‘90s, Bob Vylan tells the ugly truth about society, but dammit the songs are badass while they do it.
The crowd yelled and cheered after the first song and Bobby said, “We will turn you into football hooligans yet! Our kind of football of course! No hands! Now does anyone here like Elvis?” After a cheer from the crowd, he laughed, “Well, sorry” and went into “Take That.” He did give some Elvis moves towards the end of the song though.
Bobby took time to chat with the crowd in between each song, often seeing how far he could push the audience and handling it masterfully. He covered the British monarchy, pick-up trucks, guns in America, sugary cereals, Fox News, and other controversial topics that make you hold your breath when they come up in group settings. Fortunately, Slaughter was wrong and there were no fights to be had. But Bobby did say, “We should introduce ourselves so they know who to send the hate mail to.”
After “Northern Line,” “GDP,” “We Live Here,” and “Pretty Songs,” Bobby jumped into the crowd and had the whole pit area hopping; a sea of movement that looked like an ocean of bodies. The crowd was enthusiastic in their appreciation for Bob Vylan and I suspect they will be welcomed back with open arms and middle fingers raised.
It was time for Australia’s Amyl and the Sniffers. They just kicked off their US tour at the Primavera Sound Festival, but they will make it back to SoCal before heading back down under.
The musicianship of the band – drummer Bryce Wilson, guitarist Dec Mehrtens, and bassist Gus Romer – is indeed top notch, and vocalist Amy Taylor is so cute I want to keep her in my pocket, yet so badass I am afraid she would rip my head off at the suggestion. Formed in 2016, they are on a meteoric rise thanks to their self-titled debut album that was released in May 2019, and last year’s “Comfort to Me.”
The crowd immediately started hollering when they walked onto the stage and Taylor shouted “Get the fuck up! Get rowdy!” and they started with “Capital.” The crowd roared with appreciation at the song’s end and I feel confident in saying the mosh pit did not stop for the rest of the night.
Taylor strutted the stage through the songs, spitting out lyrics, and commanding attention. After “Choices” and “Pleasure Forever,” she shared their love for Bob Vylan by saying, “They’re fucking sick as fuck!”
When they started “Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled),” a big response erupted from crowd and the moshing escalated. Crowd surfing began breaking out as Taylor kept a watchful eye, especially over the female surfers. She smiled in encouragement, but also protection, keeping in line with signs posted at the venue entrance that Amyl and the Sniffers support a safe environment for all concertgoers and will not tolerate sexual harassment in any form. Taylor also reminded the crowd to look out for one another: “If anyone falls, help them up!”
After thanking Snooper, they went into “Destiny” and then “GFY” which got the crowd extra frenzied, chanting “I think you’re a fucking lunatic” and “But you’re just gonna go fuck yourself!”
“Westgate” and “Security” were additional fan favorites and the crowd at the front of the stage had their turn singing the chorus into the mic Taylor held out to them.
The crowd continued moshing and cheering through “Maggot” and during “Guided by Angels,” their chants were as loud as Taylor. The night’s first stage diver appeared and the crowd surfing got even busier.
Amyl and the Sniffers continued to excite the crowd with their last three songs: “Gacked on Anger,” “Got You,” and “Hertz.” The crowd sang along to each and kept hands held high, showing their appreciation their entire time.
It would easy to focus solely on Taylor, because let’s face it, a woman with an energetic stage persona takes your attention, but to neglect the musicianship of the band itself would be a disservice. They truly are very talented. It would also be easy to dismiss them as a “fun” punk band due to Taylor’s energy, but if you listen to the lyrics, you hear the same serious matter and issues you would expect in punk. And a whole lotta “fucks” of course.
Amyl and the Sniffers will travel across the US, then return to the West Coast for a San Diego show at The Observatory on October 9th. Make your plans to see them now, and go ahead and take the next day off of work too because you will need to recover from all your moshing!