Saturday 8th Feb. A surprisingly nice day, all considered. A blue tinted sky, a pale, watery sun, a surprisingly heavy and chilled wind, and a lack of rain for once. Oh, and a sold-out gig with the one and only New Rock Mafia at Bristol’s Thekla. It was time for Cleopatrick, supported by Ready The Prince and Sick Joy.
Oh yeah, in case you didn’t know. Thekla’s a reappropriate cargo ship. Unrelated perhaps, but it is an incredibly unique venue.
‘Boasting melodic rock harmonies that, at times, devolved into primal screams, each song was electrifying.’
Opening the night were three-piece Brighton band Sick Joy, who according to Luke Gruntz (of Cleopatrick) “fucking rock” — high praise indeed — and they did not disappoint. With echoing vocals, the three backlit by red and blue lights, and bass reverberating throughout the boat, the trio harnessed the energy of the hundreds of crowd members who’d flocked to the front and put on a hell of a show. Boasting melodic rock harmonies that, at times, devolved into primal screams, each song was electrifying. Notably, each of the trio cast an incredibly nonchalant image, oozing confidence and calm amid the maelstrom of music sent forth from the band — particularly bassist Danny, decked out in some orange sunglasses. The crowd relentlessly banged their heads to the heavy riffs and pounding drums, as well as the at-times Nirvana esque rasps- it was clear everyone was loving it. Not least of all Luke, Ian and Ready The Prince lead singer Steve, who were up at the front head-banging with the rest of the crowd.
“Best band ever”, Luke says, smile beaming across his face when they finish.
You’d presumably (and understandably) think that after such a scarily good opening it would be hard to ratchet up the energy and enjoyment.
Enter Ready The Prince.
From the outset, Steve, Jordan, and Daniel had the crowd hyped. Coming on stage with slow, almost contemplative electric guitar from Daniel, they quickly broke into full blown chaos; shrieks from the crowd, melodically guttural screams from Steve, and all around mayhem; the crowd were in as much of a frenzy as the band. ”Ahoy Bitches”, Steve announced to the crowd, every bit the pirate hijacking Cleopatrick’s naval vessel of the night, as they broke into crowd favourite Cliff Diver; which the band (unsurprisingly) produced a stunning live rendition of.
“You can’t have lightning without thunder; and from the sheer raucous fury spewing from the stage, the band were the thunder.”
But, it was in fifth song, Dead Roads, that the show became theirs. In a few simple words, they were adored.
“We gotta get this motherfucking mosh pit going”.
As if waiting for permission, the crowd went ballistic; each and every song that followed, then, was almost scarily passionate in its violence, as crowd members crashed into one another like waves on a ship‘s hull. Finishing came final song Lightning, that gleefully stole their set. As the adage goes, you can’t have lightning without thunder; and from the sheer raucous fury spewing from the stage, the band were the thunder. Plus, as a new song, everyone was in the same boat- no one knew it. The crowd could have let the sound simply wash over them, but instead they ran at each other as if playing a particularly aggressive game of Chicken.
Saying this, though, they were nothing compared to what was to come.
Luke Gruntz and Ian Fraser are two of the nicest people; they’re passionate, genuinely fond of each other and everyone around them; humble, unassuming, and soft-spoken, even apologising for swearing during our interview before hand. However, playing on stage they seemed to channel the elements themselves with the sheer frenzied, fiery, and almost frantic performance that they gave us.
“[Opening with] Daphne Did It, the duo started with the energy at ten and refused to relent throughout.”
Flying straight into the crowd-favourite, Scooby Doo based Daphne Did It, the duo started with the energy at ten and refused to relent throughout. Cups of beer were launched; scarily sweaty mosh pits broke out for every song; crowd surfing and stage diving was almost commonplace.
By the third track we were introduced to the first new song- The Drake. Backlit by blood red lighting, the two seemed lost in concentration, awash on stage on their own little raft as the crowd smashed into each other. Yet its comparative newness (having been played at other shows yet has not yet been released) enabled the song to come into its own; Luke’s vocals unimpeded by fans screaming along and enabling the track to shine. In comparison Bernard Trigger gave everyone an outlet to release their pent up excitement. Preceded by a special little rendition of the minute-long Calling It Off, and announced by Daniel from Ready The Prince diving into the sea of the celebratory crowd, Bernard Trigger’s slow riffs in the breakdown led to the opening of a huge pit, into which everyone clambered.
“[Burner Phone is] typical Cleopatrick — heavy, dirty riffs and devilishly addictive.”
Burner Phone, the second new song, led to another important request — not to share the new songs, as none were fully complete. Luckily, there’s very little chance of that; the chances of anyone getting good footage with everyone barging into them is low! After a short caution to the crowd that they had no idea how the song would be received, and questioning whether it was even ready to be played live, they launched into it. They had nothing to fear. It’s typical Cleopatrick — heavy, dirty riffs and devilishly addictive.
Cleopatrick put on a setlist of- banger, new song, banger, new song. The final song of the night Youth, the crowd came together. Everyone in the room knew every word, oftentimes at the detriment of Luke, his vocals almost indistinguishable from the passionate shouts of lyrics over the top of him. Everyone was crowd surfing; with the boat moored, they were obviously trying to have the at-sea experience. But most importantly, everyone loved it.
But it wouldn’t be a Cleopatrick set without a cover thrown in at the end for good measure. Last year’s Bristol gig received Brianstorm, by Arctic Monkeys. This year’s Bristol gig, however, got something a little more special. We’ve been sworn to secrecy by the band as to what that entails so as not to ruin it for the other shows. Let’s just say it features a special guest who flew overseas to be with them, as well as dragging Ready The Prince back on stage to join them, both as performers and crowd surfers!
“Ultimately, if Cleopatrick are the future of rock music, we have nothing to fear.”
Cleopatrick played for less than an hour, but unlike many sets of similar lengths we didn’t feel cheated. Rather, we left feeling invigorated- drenched in beer and sweat, maybe, but invigorated. Cleopatrick shows are just something you have to experience yourself to truly understand just how good they are. Ultimately, if Cleopatrick are the future of rock music, we have nothing to fear.