Gig Review: Wargasm / Scene Queen / Knife Bride – The Garage, Glasgow (24th October 2022)

Knife Bride (c) John MacKinnon

It’s great seeing the live scene get back on its feet again. It was too long without gigs, and now I find myself at the Garage for the second time in a few weeks. Judging by the queue outside, Wargasm have sold the place out just as Machine Head did recently. It’s been longer than that since our photographer, John, was in the Garage. Several years since he attended the club nights as a student!

Because of those club nights, the Garage hosts a lot of them each week, band curfews are 10pm which also means that the openers are on stage sharp. As such, apologies to Knife Bride as we missed the start of their set – which is a shame as the handful of songs we did catch were pretty good. I get the feeling that given more room to play, the band would be a lot more active. However, restricted by the headliners’ kit, they made the most of both their time and the limited area.

They’re proudly emo and know how to throw down a decent track. The venue was maybe half full (and filling rapidly) as they played and the response was very positive indeed. Check out their video for “Grenade” to get an idea of their sound. Now crank that to eleven and imagine being in a lovely, small, sweaty venue while they play it. There you go.

Scene Queen (c) John MacKinnon

By now the venue was pretty much packed. Set change times were fast with barely 15 minutes before Scene Queen came on to a very wild reception. I’ll be honest, the set did very little for me. Just not my thing, but I was woefully outnumbered by the very large number of people in the crowd who were obvious fans.

Scene Queen (real name Hannah Collins) started off on TikTok and raked in far more followers than we have on YouTube by creating, or at least popularising, “bimbocore”. This seems to be rap / screamcore with tons of bad language and a pro-feminist stance, which likely explains why it was so popular with the attending masses. With a large amount of backing tracks plus two live musicians (guitar and drums), she ranted, raved, posed, danced and joked her way through a set that had a significant portion of the Garage losing their shit. Someone stood behind me even had a huge light-up “Scene Queen” banner that they were waving around.

I could appreciate the spectacle, but otherwise Scene Queen’s set just wasn’t for me. An enjoyable enough way to spend half an hour or so, but I spent most of it watching the crowd and soaking up the atmosphere.

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Unusual for a gig, the lights went down a few minutes early for the headliners who obviously decided they needed an extra bit of time with the early curfew. My only previous experience with Wargasm was when they ran riot on the main stage at Bloodstock 2021’s “British Invasion” due to the travel restrictions affecting most of the overseas acts. A few people had warned me off them for whatever reason (“not real metal” and that kind of crap). However, that absolutely put that nonsense to bed with a hugely energetic set which had the RJD crowd going mental.

Tonight’s show took that festival sized energy and somehow crammed it into a ball the size of The Garage. Holy shit.

Wargasm (c) John MacKinnon

Opener “Superfiend” had Matt stomping around in a hoodie while Milkie / Rachel set the beat with her bass. Absolutely no time was lost and the whole venue erupted. Absolutely went apeshit. Let me focus on the band for a while – I’ll return to the audience later. One song in and we already had chaos. Matt had been standing on the drumkit (not the riser… the kit) and Wargasm looked like they’d peaked too early. I mean, they were doing all the stuff that a band usually does about halfway through their set as the atmosphere has built. But not this lot, oh no. Coming on stage to create bedlam they started high and stayed there for an hour and a quarter with zero letup.

Matt ditched the hoodie (sensibly, it was bloody roasting) and grabbed a guitar for “Drildo”. This was a common theme over the evening as both Matt and Milkie cover vocals and instruments on and off. It’s all very fluid. Matt and Milkie are officially Wargasm, but let’s not forget their touring band and how much a part of the show they are. Huge credit has to go to them, and I apologise for not having their names. Wikipedia names two drummers (Adam and Ryan) and a guitarist (Edison), but we also had someone on keys tonight. I’d not want to namecheck the wrong people! All three were a full part of the show, though, definitely not just standing still and earning a pay packet.

Honestly just watching the whole thing was exhausting – in a good way. The band shouted, screamed, posed and danced their way through the entire show with seemingly no need to pause for breath. There was no need to urge the crowd on as they were there to party and they gave back every bit as much as they were given. The energy in the room was simply incredible. Hell, if they’re worried about power blackouts over winter then I have their solution: Wire Wargasm up to the National Grid, they’ll keep the whole thing ticking over with power to spare.

By the time we hit “Scratchcard” and “Lapdance” the warning signs downstairs about crowdsurfing had been well and truly ignored with half a dozen surfers at a time sliding stagewards, and the Mad Crew having to draft in extra hands to keep everyone safe. It was absolute, mind blowing, wonderful, wonderful chaos.

Wargasm (c) John MacKinnon

For various reasons I opted to stay out of the pits tonight, and got myself a nice spot on the raised seating area where I could watch the band and, just as importantly, the audience. As I said, the last gig I’d been to at The Garage was Machine Head where the average age of an audience member was maybe 40. If more than 10% of tonight’s attendees could get served at a bar without ID then I’d be surprised. Barring the head of the Mad Crew (security) I’m fairly certain I was the oldest person in the building.

Almost the entire of Glasgow’s alt / LGBTQ+ under-25 population seemed to be in attendance and it was a beautiful thing to behold. There were so many people here just being themselves and, more importantly, feeling safe and comfortable doing so that it made the evening even more special. Pardon the “old fart” moment, but I’m a dad and a teacher and this means a lot to me. Back when I was the age of most of the audience tonight I pretty much had to deal with nothing more than being called out for having long hair. Today’s youth are dealing with more openness regarding sexuality and lifestyle, and the inevitable small-brained arseholes who are fighting back against this.

I absolutely loved being a part of the audience tonight. Seeing so many young people just losing their shit, creating what is the biggest pit I’ve ever seen at the Garage (yes, bigger than Machine Head’s), slamming, surfing… and smiling. All while looking out for each other. Honestly I had goosebumps. These people are the future of rock and metal, and with audiences like this I feel a lot happier about music as a whole going forward.

Wargasm may be a hell of a live band, but what they do best is bring out the passion in their incredible audience. And there’s no higher praise than that.

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Pics by John MacKinnon

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