Grade 2 put on a blistering punk performance at London’s Boston Music Room as part of their UK headlining tour. With support from Slobheads.
Grade 2 – Slobheads
Boston Music Room, London – 12 November 2023
Words and Photography: Aggie Anthimidou
According to vocalist and bassist Sid Ryan, it is nine years since Grade 2 played their first London show at this very same venue. They had to skip school to do it. Since then, it has been a remarkable journey for the Isle of Wight born Grade 2, which saw this mighty punk rock band releasing four albums.
Since 2013, the band has toured Europe, the US and Canada, supporting a number of heavyweights (The Interrupters, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid, Generation Sex) along the way. Grade 2 also made a special appearance at Hyde Park’s BST this summer. “No rest for the wicked,” Sid jokes.
If you ask me to ‘draw’ the definition of a current punk rock band, I would draw Grade 2. A lot of bands claim to be punk, but this trio truly is and is honouring the genre. A blend of raw sound and melody, influenced by classic British punk rock as well as American skate-punk, they bring their own unique take. Grade 2 form their individual identity and bring in a fresh sound. There is gritty energy, aggression, and playfulness blended together, and it’s truly indulgent.
This was my third time in the last year seeing the band live, and it is only getting more thrilling every time they put on a show. Sid Ryan (vocals, bass), Jack Chatfield (vocals, guitar) and Jacob Hull (drums) have some of the best chemistry I have seen in an up-and-coming band.
That chemistry is getting bigger with every show, the performance tighter. Sid and Jack interchange vocals seamlessly while Jacob’s drumming is binding everything together. They are acting as much as a single unit as an explosive blend of individualities. Tonight’s show is no exception to the band’s exceptional musicianship.
Grade 2 have already a loyal crowd, and by chatting to a number of fans around me, a mix of older punks and younger genre fans, they have been following the band for a while. This isn’t a gig to sit and relax. Each and every song from their setlist is a highlight. Each one is an explosive burst of old-school punk.
With a setlist spanning across all albums but mostly focusing on the last one, their fourth self-titled album was released earlier this year. The band effortlessly move from one exhilarating tune to another.
Murder Town is a riot and gets the full venue jumping. “Let’s get people moving, feel the rhythm,” Sid says before launching Fast Pace, a track from the band’s latest album.
Brassic, also from the latest album, results in a mosh pit.
“This is the part of a gig that gets an acoustic song, but we never managed that slow part,” says Sid before proceeding to speed things even more with Bowling Green Lane. It’s a track that maybe is as slow as it would ever get for this band when the song’s melodic guitar solo kicks in.
Midnight Ferry is an impressive demonstration of the band’s polished output.
Grade 2 had a road adventure leading to the London gig with their tour van being taken off the road. Sid, during his jokingly so-called ‘charity speech’, tells the story and asks for the crowd’s support through merch sales to help the band out of their transportation challenge and eventually back home.
There are no encore ’embellishments’ as any punk show should really be. Grade 2 finishes the setlist on a high with the liberating Under The Streetlight.
You know when you listen to a song and feel you have been loving it for a while? This is how I feel with Grade 2 material, and, for me, it’s a sign we have something special here. Grade 2 are one of the most exciting bands in the punk scene right now.
Their tour continues in the US during December. In truth, no rest for the wicked.
Tonight’s support, Slobheads, is a dynamic guitar and drums duo from South West London. Harry Jarvis (vocals, guitar) and Macey Sherman (drums) are relentless on stage, blending aggression and high-octane energy. They win us over straight away.
You can’t help but just love the explosion they bring on that stage. Belting out songs like Andy’s Got A Gun (latest single), Rotten Habit, groove fuelled The Big Stink, and Rothman Blues, an eclectic mix of crunchy punk and ’60s blues rock, earn a great reaction from the crowd and an impromptu encore. This is a band to watch.