Photo: Daniel Kirby

Restless Bear 1st Anniversary – St. Mary’s Creative Space, Chester, UK (16th November 2019)

There hasn’t been a whole lot going on in Chester for music lovers over the past decade, with locals often having to hop on the train to nearby Liverpool or Manchester to catch great gigs. However, in the past year or so something special has really started to happen. A genuine scene has begun to emerge.

There’s a real buzz around the city and the music that’s on offer at the moment, with a big part of that being down to the tireless work of Restless Bear. Operating as a promotional company and a record label that’s home to the likes of Yammerer, Gravves and Deh-Yey, their focus has been on bringing younger, up and coming acts to Chester.

Hosting bands that deal in everything from garage, punk, post punk, psych, prog, noise and post rock, Restless Bear have gone from strength to strength since they started putting on events 12 months ago. Noise complaints may have ended their Friday nights at the Deaf Centre, but the focus has now shifted to all dayers at St. Mary’s Creative Space.

And what in life is better than an all dayer? Especially when there’s Buckfast involved.

Kicking off their 1st anniversary celebrations were Hamer, a Leeds-based trio who specialise in a raging form of speed garage and heavy psych. Sounding like a cross between The Stooges and Thee Oh Sees with a dash of Motörhead thrown in there, it’s the sort of stuff you could start a riot to. They certainly made themselves known with an eardrum bursting set to get the day underway.

West Midlands trio Fauxchisels played their first ever show in Chester and left a great impression on a healthy number early arrivals with their a bass heavy, alt-rock sound. Containing elements of post-punk, noise and fuzz with some excellent drumming to boot, the vocal delivery and lyrical style of their guitarist was at times reminiscent of Half Man Half Biscuit. Which is never a bad thing.

Chester’s very own Pint + Blister started life as a punk covers band last year before moving towards writing their own material. Releasing their debut single ‘Angry Machine’ in October, they recently followed that up with ‘Upwardly Mobile (Ultimately Vile)’. Heavily influenced by 70’s style punk, their no-nonsense performance very much mirrored the attitude of that era.

Making the short trip down from Widnes, Infants absolutely blew Chester away with their noisy and tortured blend of alt-rock, grunge and punk that definitely containing within it influences such as Nirvana’s debut Bleach. The trio, or quartet if you include their mascot Kinder, blasted through much of their 30 minute set leaving us very excited to hear their self-titled full length debut when it arrives early next year.

Aside from their beautifully animated debut single ‘Death to Humans’ which was released over the summer, we new very little about the Liverpool quartet Feral Wheel. Blending psychedelia and prog with elements of garage and krautrock, their sound was brilliantly balanced between being expansive and poppy. A very intriguing prospect indeed and a band we’ll certainly be keeping an ear out for going forward.

Derby quartet Pet Crow caused a bit of a stir with their 2017 full length debut A Simple Guide to Small and Medium Pondlife and it’s easy to see why. Their 60’s style garage rock sound with strong elements of surf, new wave, 90’s guitar pop and riot grrl punk is full of groove and incredibly catchy. With a new album out in very soon, we expect to be hearing a lot more from them in 2020.

One of the most hotly tipped bands on Merseyside, four singles in and the excitement surrounding Eyesore & the Jinx shows no sign of dissipating. Known for their politically charged social commentary that’s delivered with a New Yorker-like twang and soundtracked by psychobilly-style post-punk, they’re every bit as good live as their singles suggest. Here’s hoping they continue in this kind of form next year and maybe even drop a debut album.

Headliners Yammerer have also been making a name for themselves around the Liverpool area during the past 12 months and going by their performance at St, Mary’s the hype is very much to be believed. It was absolute mayhem on the jam packed stage with the energetic psychedelic post-punk five-piece also bringing along a saxophone player to perform alongside them.

Celebrating the release of their forthcoming debut EP Reality Escape Resort (out via Restless Bear Records 22nd November), their somewhat unhinged vocalist J George JC was incredible to watch. It’s rare that a band decides to eschew social media these days but that won’t stop word spreading about just how good these guys are. Get yourself along to see them at the first opportunity.

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