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Wednesday 20 December 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Bokassa (Live Review By Matt Bladen)

Bokassa, Häxan & Risperidrone, Fuel Rock Club, Cardiff, 18.12.23

When faced with a cancellation, there are very few things you can do, if you're a band based in the country you're playing it means going home or finding somewhere local to play. If you're from another country and don't have that luxury, you have to work damn hard and hope that there are venues that may want you to at least give a show.

This is the conundrum Norwegian stonerpunks Bokassa were faced with then their tour as the opening act for Therapy? Was cut short due to a family illness in the headliners camp. It meant they had to abandon the scheduled shows in Birmingham and The Globe in Cardiff.

A cry out came on social media, "if you book them, they will come" and the always enterprising Fuel Rock Club stepped in to ensure that there would be some proper rocking in Cardiff on a Sunday night. Unless you count Glamsters Sweet, who were playing The Tramshed as proper rock (you'd be wrong).

So show saved, headliner returning to the venue they played back in 2021 and perhaps more importantly supports secured. I have the utmost respect for any band who can commit to a show with 24 hours notice and luckily two of the South Wales scene's bands got themselves on the bill, making it a more tantalising evening for you £10, and also a great way to make up for the disappointment of not being able to watch the show you intended.

With all this in mind it was tine to head into Fuel for the festivities. The first band up for the evening were Risperidrone (8), an act I've wanted to see live for a while but seem to miss all the time. They play groovy doom metal that owes much to both Type Of Negative and Paradise Lost, long slow distorted riffs, abridged by moments of clarity that create atmospheres before crashing down again. The echoed vocals shift between a drone-like incantation and a scream, unveiling some very mesmeric doom with a pinch of death. Love it. Will definitely be seeing them again.

The 15 or so punters who bought a ticket greeted all the bands with a warm reception, the fire lit by Risperidrone, but it was second support band Häxan (8) that got the flames burning. Returning to support the headliners for the second time in this venue. This lively rock trio always get the place rocking, their enthusiasm infectious and their songs packed with big rock riffs and sing along choruses, dipped in some punk attitude and glam rock oomph. It's a heady concoction that makes you dizzy but ensures you have a good time.

Kicking through their set with professionalism and heaps of experience, tracks such as Bring The Thunder ably got the crowd bouncing. The band treating it as a bit of party gig seeing as it was their last of the year so they threw in a cheeky cover of Lipps Inc's Funky Town. If you want to start a party bring Häxan, there I said it.

Everything in full swing, crowd suitably inebriated, it was time for the Norwegian trio to get on stage and do their thing. Bokassa (9) have supported Metallica in the past, so they are honed to a tee but they never let that spoil their, wildness and raw energy. After their first song they asked if we wanted the full set or their truncated support set, of course we opted for the former, one of the Häxan lot suggesting 84 songs but was voted down as Bokassa had a plane to catch.

I said they are called stoner punk and that's exactly what they are a fusion of groove driven stoner riffs and punk rock aggression, the fact that their guitarist was wearing a Fu Manchu shirt not lost as Bokassa share musical cues with the stoner veterans, as they do with The Atomic Bitchwax, especially with the trio of vocalists. Ripping through the set, with a few stops to thank the hardcore that came out to see them on a Sunday night after the initial issue with their tour.

They crank out riffs like nobody's business, giving lots of movement to the Fuel stage while their sound was top notch (all the bands had great sound), it was their lighting that will linger in my retinas for a week (all strobe). Playing some deep cuts and a few newbies including a song with some synthy parts, their rip roaring Let's Storm The Capitol and the Motörhead grizzle of Lost In The Ozone, put together with stuff like Molotov Rocktail and So Long, Idiots.

Have you ever seen a band kick the shit out of 21 people? I have and it was like prying victory out of the jaws of defeat, this my friends was the real Ballroom Blitz in Cardiff that night!

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