The Victoria, Old Town, Swindon

Wednesday, July 9

Punk has flirted on the edges of mainstream music since its crusty beginnings, but it's bands like Gnarwolves which are van-guarding the increased interest in sweaty, one-minute outbursts being played to huge audiences.

This particular show was stressed as an apology to the Swindon punk scene for misprinting that the band would be playing in Swindon earlier in the year, when actually the gig was in Salisbury. Multiple times through the set, Gnarwolves admitted they had made a mistake, but added that they were overwhelmed with the attendance and the energy that the tiny Swindon punk scene had to offer.

The supports, With Ghosts and The Rebecca Riots, were suitably angsty and vicious, but the show was nearly stolen from the headliners by local punks, 2 Sick Monkeys. The band's repertoire of politically-charged tunes concerning all matters Swindon, as well as lead singer Peter Towers' incredible frontmanship, got the crowd chanting, cheering, laughing and singing along (when they could make out the words!)

When Gnarwolves finally took the stage, the audience were fired up and ready for the barrage of punk rock the band had to offer. The Brighton three-piece have never looked so much at ease as when blasting through hits such as Melody Has Big Plans and History Is Bunk.

It was a treat to hear three new songs, including the upcoming single, Smoking Kills - all three sounding like they could be Gnarwolves' best material yet.

The band's fan base has grown exponentially in the past year - I remember watching them perform to 30 people at 2000 Trees last year, and now they're opening the Main Stage on the Saturday at Reading Festival. Yet, unlike many small bands thrust into the spotlight so quickly, Gnarwolves are as charming and energetic as when they started, as well as being keen to play down their fame.

If it's furious, intense, witty punk, with a touch of thoughtfulness and the occasional Aldous Huxley reference you’re after, Gnarwolves are a band you need to check out. - GEORGE TOMPKINS