Kent punk duo Slaves held up their pledge to headline a gig on the Kent coast this weekend when they once again took to the Hall By The Sea stage at Dreamland in Margate. Isaac and Laurie were due to headline the main stage of the Wheels & Fins Festival on the same day, but, quickly re-arranged a new venue when it was announced that "due to financial constraints" Wheels & Fins would have to be cancelled.
Returning to the theme park that had played host to them two years earlier, Slaves this time around brought a small slice of the Wheels & Fins line-up that they had helped curate. Para Fiction and Lady Bird made up the riotous three band bill topped out by Tunbridge Wells' finest proponents of incendiary Punk.
Brighton Boys Para Fiction were first onto the Dreamland stage as the Hall By The Sea welcomed the ever growing audience. After they'd untangled their guitar wires and settled themselves the East Sussex foursome, who have drawn lofty comparisons to The Beastie Boys, treated the crowd to their blend of Surf-Punk-Rap as they did their best to energise the room in the early evening. Laurie, his son Bart and Isaac stood to the right of stage to enjoy an impassioned set that included Para Fiction's new single 'Time Debt' and last year's release 'Wavey Days'.
Slaves own label signing, and fellow Royal Tunbridge Wells band, Lady Bird were next up and in very excitable mood, with guitarist Alex Deadman and drummer Joe Walker giving a particularly animated performance. New single 'Shag Tally Tastic', last year's 'Boot Fillers', a poignantly dedicated 'Love' and as yet unreleased track 'Political Wasteland' got the gathering crowd in a whirl as Alex cavorted about the stage and Joe trashed the living daylights out of his kit.
The Hall By The Sea stage was cleared of all but a six speaker stack, two mic stands and the monitors. An elaborate rug was rolled out, Isaac's custom drum kit carefully placed upon it and Laurie's guitar given a final tune before Slaves played out their headline slot. The first track from 2018's 'Acts Of Fear And Love' album, 'The Lives They Wish They Had', immediately grabbed the audience's attention with an immediacy and energy that few bands can match. 'Magnolia' followed, with an equally fired up performance from both Slaves men.
It was track three however that really got the evening into top gear. As Isaac drew breathe and briefly paced the stage you could hear Laurie playing with the opening notes of the song they were about to unleash. Isaac approached his mic and shouted out, "Come on Margate, let's be having you". The pair then ripped into crowd favourite 'Sockets' with more venom and intent than you could possibly expect from a band who must have played it live a thousand times before tonight. Isaac's unrelenting beat, his customary running on the spot as he delivers his percussive brilliance, and Laurie's biting guitar combined superbly to deliver up a super-charged frenzy.
There was barely any let up to the pace throughout the entire evening. Aside from Laurie's relaxed, and comically cynical, version of 'Photo Opportunity' where he laughed off people taking pics or videoing him, and an extended break where both men at one point left the stage to confront an aggressive idiot tearing through the crowd, the velocity was exhilarating and exhausting.
Taking a quick moment to explain how Slaves had become the band they are, "No one else wanted to join our band", and inviting the crowd to a pre-song sing-a-long, the Kent duo gave a blistering rendition of 'F**k The Hi-Hat', a crowd pleasing 'Where's Your Car Debbie' and a brilliant, pumped up 'Sugar Coated Bitter Truth'. Two more songs from 2015's album, 'Are You Satisfied?', closed out a succinct, spell binding and raucous set. A magnificently manic, extended, version of 'Beauty Quest' tore the hall apart before a spectacularly intense 'Hunter' finished Slaves set in a suitably powerful fashion.
In The Hall By The Sea Slaves saved the day for many of their fans who had been due to see them at Wheels & Fins. Isaac, Laurie and, for a large proportion of the night, a dancing Bart (With suitable ear defenders) played a set that had the large crowd engaged and enthralled. Tunbridge Wells finest purveyors of potent Punk didn't hold back and didn't disappoint.