The Velcro Teddybears

EP Release Party @ Leaf

Unexpectedly for the passerby, Leaf Tea Shop is a gorgeous place for a deafeningly loud punk show. Hosting THE THESPIANS’ debut EP release party, TWENTYTHREE/FOUR/ELEVEN, the place was buzzing with the addictive afterglow of vicious rock and roll that left everyone’s ears ringing on Bold Street.

Openers THE VELCRO TEDDYBEARS delivered a soulful set, rich with the bucolic feel of their rural hometown, Penistone. The duo, Chaddy (Vocals, Guitar) and Griff (Guitar), met in grammar school during a time when the music of the Spice Girls and Take That were dominating the charts, and their music is a spirited, jaunty kind of rebellion rife with schoolboy charm. Singing tales of corrupting posh young girls, the acoustic plucking lulled the listeners into a full fledged experience of the eclectic countryside and the mischeif that sometimes happens there. One particularly bluesy song, Mad Man by the River, had vocalist Chaddy crooning about the local drunk who provided endless entertainment for the village children. Despite his slender frame and boyish good looks, Chaddy’s powerful vocals sounded like something that could have been belted out by a 20 stone trucker.

Headliners The Thespians are a different breed altogether. The Liverpool punk quartet shredded it with their special blend of revolutionary fervour and intellectual spirit of rebellion that somehow gives off an air of composure and nonchalance all at once. Self-described as “young ruffians making music,” the band channels the intensity of vintage UK punk, but with a brazen social consciousness and sensitivity far beyond their years.

Frontman and rhythm guitarist Paul Thespian’s voice, despite the oft-abrasive lyrical content, remains velvety and rich, bringing to mind the lusciousness of Julian Casablancas. With contemplative lyrics like “am I too young to fight/ too young to die/ too young to fall in love,” The Thespians are deeply self-reflective and sensitive of their social context. While it’s almost expected for a brooding punk group to express apathy and the feeling that life’s just “so so,” The Thespians escape the cliché by remaining instrospective and socially aware.

Guitarist Jess Branney, who also provides melodic vocals, brings a sexy feminine touch to this otherwise testosterone-heavy outfit, with Danny Hall drumming furiously like a machine and bassist Phil Gornall not being afraid of getting a bit crazy. Alltogether, they are a great-looking band and have a natural synergy onstage despite the fact that they’ve only been together for a year.

Coupled with huge talent and a tendency for chaos, The Thespians are sure to garner even more attention with their honest, emotionally charged music that defines this time in Liverpool music.