Haggard Cat made sure no one regretted missing out on the fireworks for their show in the Bodega on Bonfire Night, bringing their signature blend of grungy energy to a performance which showed why they are an iconic underground Nottingham band – their level of local fame demonstrated by almost every hand going up when frontman Matt Reynolds asked who had seen them before, while drummer Tom Midsch berated the lone man in the front row who was witnessing his first display of the two-piece’s unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll for not coming out to see them before, and judging by tonight’s unbelievable show I can guarantee it won’t be his last experience of Haggard Cat. Their setlist was mostly taken from this year’s sophomore album ‘Challenger’, with opener “American Graffiti” and their cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings” being particular highlights, both inspiring huge singalongs from the crowd that hung onto Reynolds’ every word.
Whilst Haggard Cat differs wildly from the mathy sound and wild stage antics of the duos previous band Heck, their stage presence is just as intense, and their live show as energetic even if both band members remained on stage at all time, which is merely a testament to the aura surrounding these two – they truly feel like rockstars when they begin playing, despite being two of the friendliest people you could ever meet while chatting at the merch stand afterwards, there is a certain frantic look in Matt’s eyes which gives the impression that anything could happen throughout the show – making every Haggard Cat performance a must-see event as no two shows are the same.
Support band Drones and co-headliners Bitch Falcon were two new bands I had never heard of before this show, but rest assured I will not be forgetting either of them quickly, with Drones reminding me of Anti-Flag (who they recently supported in Europe) and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes with their brand of punk and their stage antics – with frontwoman Lois McDougall leaving the stage for the mixing desk and embracing their sound technician during their last song. This is a band that all fans of all types of rock and punk should be checking out for sure. Bitch Falcon’s Lizzie Fitzpatrick’s voice and stage presence blew me away to the extent that the only person I could think to compare her to would be Joan Jett, and there is no doubt that this band will erupt in the future – especially with the ‘About to Break’ tour heading to their homeland of Ireland in the next few weeks, they are certain to receive a raucous reception.
Bodega played host to three relatively unknown bands who are all certain to rise to great heights and all three need to be checked out before they inevitably begin playing much larger venues, and Haggard Cat should be a recognisable name to all discerning Nottingham music fans – arguably one of the leading names in the local scene. They certainly produce a live show on the same level as (and potentially better than) many of the much older bands playing the arena, and I can’t wait to chart their rise to success.