The Joiners, Southampton

Wonk Unit

It’s a mild Thursday night in Southampton as The Joiners is graced by four Punk bands, led by kings of the “new breed” Wonk Unit.

Opening tonight are H/C Punks and local lads The Faux. A frightfully early start means we only catch half their set. They are loud, brash and energetic. Vocals are split between Sam (bass/vox) and Russ (guitar/vox). Pete (drums) keeps the beat and a pounding one it is too. Their songs are hard n fast generally and while it’s not my favourite strain of the genre, they clearly have something. Sadly; if you’re new to them, this may be your only experience of the band as they announce it is potentially their last ever show. They plug the free merchandise and leave to good applause.

The Faux
The Faux 

Sometimes when attending gigs you come across a band you’ve neither seen nor heard who simply blow you away. Step forward local boys Bitter Self Exploitment. These local lads have a passion for skateboarding and Punk Rock and deliver songs about daily life. In vocalist Jordan they have the most consummate frontman – he has everything; energy, strong vocals and a confidence way above his station. Symposium come to mind with that brash, energetic style as he covers every inch of the stage while spending time in the pit area too. Nat (guitar) is head down in concentration almost throughout while Jack (bass) is patrolling the stage and sharing the vocals with Jordan. He too is energetic and never keeps still for a minute. Ben (drums) is the engine room and keeps a loud, heavy beat going throughout and I for one wonít forget this band in a hurry. “Lanky Self” and “This Is My Life” are their standout tracks, but they simply have no poor songs. Definitely ones to watch.

Bitter Self Exploitment
Bitter Self Exploitment 123

Main tour support Manchester’s Aerial Salad are up next, personally invited by Alex (Wonk). Again it’s a brash, loud strain of Punk. I’m reminded of very early Green Day but you the listener will no doubt find other influences within. In Jamie Munroe (vox/guitar) they have a singer with a huge voice; gravelly in places but never lacking power and while they aren’t the most energetic band, they make a big noise. Jamie tries a bit of between-song banter, with added Manc humour which goes down well and this crowd appear to like them. But, for me I’m afraid I’ve heard it all before as I retreat to the bar and engage in conversation with Alex (Wonk).

And so to the headliners. No strangers to this venue but on this their 3rd visit they are headlining. And so they should be – they’ve put in the miles and 2nd headline at Rebellion this year should show you where they are career-wise right now. Alex (vox) announces early doors that they have a 30 minute set list, then its open house to the crowd for song shouts. This room now three-quarters full respond with dancing and singalongs.

Most of the main set is culled from 2016’s “Mr. Splashy” LP including highlights “Awful Jeans”, “Je M’Appelle Alex”, a rampant “Bin Him” and “We Are The England”. Alex asks are there any couples in the room who do ‘Silly Voicesí. One couple smile somewhat embarrassed! There’s no keyboard tonight and this means an altogether tighter unit for me. Alex and Pwosion (bass) are like a comedy double act at times while Kenny (guitar) just looks on. Tom (drums) is powerful yet unfussy throughout and it’s much straighter up Punk with no gimmicks; no bells and whistles, just an all-out musical assault on the eardrums.

Wonk Unit
Wonk Unit 1

With set one over, the requests come thick and fast. “Lewisham” is an early highlight, for people who like “pissing out of train windows” (Alex’s words)! “Nan” isn’t too far away, bettered only by “Nagging Wife”. “Kings Road Sporting Heroes” rightly gets the singalongs and reaction it deserves, and is the set highlight.

Wonk Unit really are the real deal right now and at the top of the tree. Great songs, explosive live set and a band totally in tune with one another. While I canít remember the exact setlist I do remember this crowd going ape for “Go Easy”, which is where it ends. For less than a tenner this has been a great night of differing styles of Punk, to suit all tastes. One cannot magnify how good Wonk Unit are right now and bigger stages surely cannot be too far away. Alex on finishing goes and mans the merchandise stand; giving punters his time not just for sales, but also for chat.


Words and Pictures by Ross A. Ferrone.

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