If you went down to the pier yesterday, you’d have been sure of… well, if not a big surprise then at least some thoroughly unconventional seaside proceedings.
For one night only, everyone’s favourite (only?) Tunbridge Wellian hard rockers Slaves have taken residency in the Horror Hotel ride – yep, literally inside it – and they’ve brought along some mates for the evening, too. Yep, it’s DIY’s first ever Pier Party and not even twelve hours of solid, torrential rain can bring us down.
Kicking off proceedings at end-of-pier boozer Horatios, openers Superfood are fully revelling in the fresh tricks of forthcoming album two. Tonight’s half hour is, bar a final run through of their namesake debut single, entirely comprised of new material and the short-but-sweet set feels like a wholly different proposition to the band that introduced themselves back in 2013. From the dubby bounce of ‘Unstoppable’ (think Gorillaz’ more dystopian moments, with a dash of The Specials thrown in) to the giddily infectious, sample-heavy romp of ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’ through to the sun-drenched reggae lilt of current single ‘I Can’t See’, there’s a melting pot of influences on display that extend far beyond the remit of your average indie band. Led by core duo Dom Ganderton and Ryan Malcolm, Superfood do exactly what you’re not meant to do at a festival, dishing up newie after newie and only giving into their past at the final track. It couldn’t be better.
Hull boys LIFE, meanwhile, channel an altogether more direct and unrelenting kind of kicks. Equal parts Mark E Smith-esque ragged railing at the establishment and mid-00’s twitchy art punk, the quartet deliver the kind of 100mph bullets that prove you can still bust a move while sticking it to the pricks. In the likes of debut LP title track ‘Popular Music’ and live favourite ‘Rare Boots’ (an ode, we’re told, possibly sarcastically, to going shopping and finding some new footwear), LIFE do a line in dry, Northern danceability that owes a debt to Pulp’s lyrical eyeball rolls and angular posing as much as it does their more obvious punk predecessors. By the time singer Mez Green jerks and dances a path through the crowd, LIFE have given the rain-drenched crowd a whole new lease of it.
And so to our headliners, who bring the party outside for the most wet and wild show this side of spring break. It’s, let’s be honest, chucking it down, but Slaves have the kind of fervent and adoring fanbase that couldn’t give two shits. Tonight, too, they’ve got a true spectacle to justify their love with. Having turned the second level of the pier’s Horror Hotel into a temporary stage, Isaac and Laurie emerge face-painted and bathed in eerie half-light to stomp and rage their way around Brighton’s most ghoulish of attractions.
If the glorious anarchy of ‘Where’s Your Car, Debbie?’ and ‘Take Control’ are a force to be reckoned with on your bog standard stage, then on the rickety pier in the throes of some Serious Weather, Slaves feel apocalyptic. When it looks like the sheer power of the duo’s set might quite literally bring the pier down, safety sadly necessitates that the pair end early. But even with a slightly untimely finish, Slaves still know exactly how to throw a more than memorable night.