Monday, 17 April 2017

17/3/2017 The Garage Flowers @ Guns & Smoke

Regular readers may have noticed things have been a bit quiet here of late? Well the New Year often gets off to a slow start on the gigging front, and 2017 has been no different - if anything even quieter than normal. There just wasn't all that much going on in the first couple of months of the year. The other major factor is that I've been really skint! I just can't afford to go out much - bar prices at venues continue to go up at a far higher rate than my meagre earnings and my constant gig-going just wasn't sustainable... Therefore, I had to either stay in - or go to gigs that are cheap or free - meaning mostly just cover bands in local pubs. At least I get home quickly and cheaply and don't get ripped off at the bar. However, this tends to mean I only get to see cover bands as there hasn't been a scene locally for original bands for years. Not that I don't like seeing cover bands in local pubs too, as long as they are rockin'. Although most of them are good musicians it does get a bit 'same-old-same-old' though - a bit like listening to Absolute Classic Rock radio - which I don't BTW.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised recently to find something refreshingly different happening locally. My good friend Mr Dave Renegade tipped me off that there was a good band playing at a local venue. Guns & Smoke has a very dodgy reputation locally for a variety of reasons and normally only books cover bands playing pretty safe middle of the road material. However, this Friday night they had turned things over to an independent promoter booking original underground rock bands. I can't remember who the other acts on the bill were and I turned up later to see the last band on Mr Renegade's recommendation. I was pleasantly surprised. Sometimes when you just see a band setting up something about them - their look or their general attitude and demeanour make you think they have something different about them and they will be worth checking out? This is one of those bands. The band in question were The Garage Flowers and I wasn't disappointed - they turned out to be really good.
This was a dirty sleazy rock 'n roll band with plenty of attitude - not the sort of thing you expect to find in Barnet these days. They had the look and the swagger that told you they are the real thing. This wasn't a band of kids jumping on the latest rock bandwagon trend - these guys meant it. Good catchy pop/rock/punk tunes too. They had a punk attitude mixed with a Stones/Johnny Thunders swagger - if you like the Libertines and early Manic Street Preachers then The Garage Flowers might be right up your street. I doubt you'll be lucky enough to see them in Barnet again, but they can often be found playing in and around Camden.

I have been to this venue quite a bit in the year or so since it opened, and have performed on that stage countless times but I have never seen a night like this as this venue. The vibe was quite different to what it normally is at Guns & Smoke. Normally the emphasis at this venue is on being an American style bar & grill and live music is secondary. For this night they had cleared away the tables and chairs in front to the stage to create more of a dancefloor - and it made all the difference! There was much more of a 'club' atmosphere and many more people were actually dancing than normal. It was a whole different vibe and a different and younger crowd than usual here - it was much more lively than it normally is. I'd love to see more nights like this at Guns & Smoke, but I'm not holding my breath.... This sort of thing encourages me and my friends to go to this venue more often - you could get a pint for only £2.95 as well. OK - it was only Coors Lite but at those prices you can't complain and although 'Lite' beers are little more than soft drinks is does quench your thirst.

PS: I've been to this place a couple of times recently and enjoyed being able to get a (admittedly not great quality) pint for only £2.95 - cheaper than Wetherspoons. However, on my last visit to Guns & Smoke I made a point of asking at the bar before ordering (I've been caught out before by their constantly changing prices) - what was the cheapest pint? It was suddenly £4! Be very careful and check the price before ordering anything here - even advertised prices can change at a moments notice and they often say they have 'no change' at the bar so you end up paying more than you expect! Beware....