In TSOTA’s first piece from Birmingham, Connor Christie attends the final gig at The Bull’s Head, once among Birmingham’s mainstay music venues.
BAD GIRLFRIEND // DONG FANG // TABLE SCRAPS // SUNSHINE FRISBEE LASERBEAM @ THE BULL’S HEAD, MOSELEY
For its final night as a venue, The Bull’s Head in Moseley beckoned four local favourites onto the stage. The masses arrived – bearded men, women with full fringes and the mandatory gig stereotypes. The party started. The promoter Mat, the main man at This is Tmrw, walked around confidently and seemed familiar with all in attendance, the acts and sound engineers and bar staff all spoke and laughed and seemed happy to be there.
To start the end of live music at The Bull’s Head, local three piece Bad Girlfriend appeared on the stage, and then sometimes off the stage, and then in the crowd, and afterwards on the smoking terrace. Their exhilarating performance was impacted by a few technical faults but any annoyance this may have caused the lead singer and lone guitarist Connor was admirably channelled into the energy of their delivery. The band chatted to the crowd and amongst themselves between songs, poking fun at the B-town scene and its main beneficiaries: Peace and Swim Deep (Yuck minus Ed).
Maintaining his want for destruction, frontman Connor delivers the final song and then breaks things. It is punk rock, or as wonderful and terrifying as punk rock should be, and the first I’ve seen such attitude in quite a while. Their set is well received, and after they disappear off stage I wished I’d seen them later on in the night, when everything was a bit sweatier and livelier. From what I can tell, there will be more to come from Bad Girlfriend soon, and this communal event of sonic expression and enigmatic performances was only just getting under way.
Second on the bill is a more introverted act. Dong Fang played what was to be their last ever gig. Clearly having a good time but being less vocal about it than Bad Girlfriend, they play their garage rock not with raw energy, but with a warm wave. From their beginnings the band were billed as “ones to watch” and even as everyone is watching them wave goodbye, the band continue to deliver their songs with purpose. Two finales in one night, the audience are up for it and Dong Fang plough through their set with ease, and walk away liberated.
The penultimate act to headliners Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam was Table Scraps, Birmingham’s favourite two-piece noise-makers; there are a few, but Table Scraps are one of the more notable, having been active on the circuit for some time and being regularly name-dropped by most local publications. Scott and Poppy are welcomed and they prepare to make sounds, very loud sounds. The formation of the crowd manoeuvres slightly and now the real Table Scraps fans and friends are at the front. Half-way through the first song and there is a very distinct and pure sonic connection between the band and those really living it at the front. As Table Scraps left the stage, I felt disheartened to think that Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam would be the final band I had seen at The Bull’s Head, and that I would never be able to come to another gig at this important venue.
Within thirty seconds of the headliner’s set I was rejuvenated. Those who were once at the bar, or on the smoking terrace, or waiting for a friend by the bathroom flocked to the floor when the nostalgic and friendly bursts of nineties lo-fi inspired indie-rock came flooding from the main room. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are shutting this thing down. They tell the audience that their first gig was here at the Bull’s Head, and the crowd celebrated that this was the band to close it. The band are akin to the legendary lo-fi heroes of the nineties such as Built to Spill, Sebadoh, Guided by Voices and Pavement, and they waltz around genres while holding interest from the crowd with ease.
Halfway through the set my friend turned to me and asked if the band were signed, I told him I didn’t know, I still don’t know, I don’t know if they need to be. Everyone loved them, they were adored as they smashed through the raucous ‘Auto’ and moved onto bold new songs like ‘Fuck’ and ‘Everybody Sucks’, both from an upcoming album. The crowd demanded more, an encore, a little more live music at The Bull’s Head, but I left for two reasons, firstly because I was tired, and secondly because I felt like a tourist, and thought that this thing should be a party for those who were really in it. It was a party for them, and I assume it went on deep into the early hours for the promoters, the artists, and everyone who had been a vital part of the gigs that took place at The Bull’s Head.
Though it might not be at that venue again, there was an energy amongst the bands that was active throughout all the performances and it was something hard to capture but integral to the overall feeling you get from a good gig. The definitive moment of the night came during the first song in the Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam set, as Connor from Bad Girlfriend leaned in to peck guitarist David on the cheek mid-song, only for David to kiss him back on the lips, inviting a priceless reaction from the crowd. As painful as it is for me to use the phrasing, the overall feeling of the last night at The Bull’s Head was one of “good vibes” players in a thriving musical community were embracing and celebrating each other despite the uncertainty of change, giving the visitors a chance to witness the strengths of the local scene.
I am positive that this sort of wonderful noise-making festivity will continue to take place across Birmingham at The Sunflower Lounge, The Hare & Hounds, and The Flapper, with many of the acts from the night appearing on other stages. Across October the forecast is bright with definite spots of noise in the West Midlands, especially with Oxjam coming up, and Birmingham’s offering to the nationwide charitable event will feature multiple venues and much more artists for fans of alternative such as Swerve, Frank, and Last Light. In other areas, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam will be playing London at the Findsbury on the 23rd of October, and will return to Birmingham to ignite their yearly Halloween festivities with both the SFL Annual Halloween single and video plus a gig supporting new cult-heroes Metz at the Hare and Hounds.
Filed under: Music