Exeter Queer Punk Fest

by Oliver Rose

“I’ll never be, as strong as my mother,” sing members of the Spook School on the opener to their 2015 LP, Try to Be Hopeful. The song is called Burn Masculinity; the guitars are dialled up to eleven; the record cover shows a staggering sketch of a skeleton, whose incongruously textured spine bears a beyond coincidental resemblance to an erect cock. Safe to say – this is the most excitingly veracious Scottish export since Mhari Black walked into Westminster.

Using seemingly throwaway, but ultimately sharp, short remarks, the Spook School exist to disseminate emotional prejudice. Politics of sexuality, taste and intelligence are suspended by their songs, stamped as they are with all the hallmarks of extreme northern post-punk: unobscured accents, noisy toned-up bass guitars and scratchy rhythm with a jangly undercurrent (compare with very early Orange Juice for instant results). Their lyrics serve to disassemble the heartfelt wrongs of forever; patriarchy and homophobia are among the evils quashed by such excellently titled take downs as Richard and Judy, Vicious Machine and Books and Hooks and Movements. Better still, they reserve space for the sentimentalities that overly militaristic or out-of-touch, abstract anger so easily can: on Everybody Needs to Be in Love, they channel the earthed scepticisms I so love much in Charly Bliss and Mitski’s music – scepticisms that will admit to still rather fancying romance.

On May 12th, the Spook School brings their liberal values and sharp-witted anarchists’ skillset to Exeter’s very own Bike Shed Theatre, as one of many bands on a bill that commemorates Exeter Pride, including Badmoves, Jesus and his Judgmental Father, and one currently unnamed other. And that’s not all… for not only is the line-up sharp as you bloody like, but No Seatbelt D.I.Y. are curating. They’re all about the very finest in emerging musical anger, both at home and further afield – they do merch, they do beyond fair ticket prices and they do a damn good time.

If you like punk, that which came before it, that which came after or just high-octane complaint in musical form from the northernmost reaches of the British Isles, then get your universally loving arse down to Bike Shed for a night of the brilliantly and very justifiably aggravated.

 Check out Billy Brooks’s feature here.