May kicked off with an Antifa benefit at The Cowley Club.  Thanks to an endless supply of Old Rosie, my memory is a little hazy, but I remember Half Boy/Half Rat being entertaining in a pretty terrible ska-punk way, and Primeval Soup being as good as always with their Culture Shock inspired anarcho-ska.

A week or so later saw the inaugural Punk n Pasta night at The Hydrant.  Delicious free pasta and a punk show seems like a winning combination - I Saved Latin bored me senseless with their droney self-absorbed emo sound, but 95-C from France picked things up, sounding a bit Bouncing Souls and even finishing on a cover of ‘True Believers’ which was met with a two-man circle pit.

May concluded at The Hope with Moral Dilemma’s first Brighton show in ages, supported by Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Blatoidea and Brutal Regime.  Every band belted out a blinder with the audience going crazy for it - unfortunately I was spending too much time staring forlornly at a very empty cash box to properly enjoy myself.

The first weekend in June saw a double bill of Punk Project shows.  Egos at the Door played techy prog-punk at The Cobblers Thumb which failed to entirely capture me, though Richie Blitz and The Last Laugh both played excellent support slots.  Then Sunday night saw a criminally under-attended show at The Hobgoblin headlined by Tyrannosaurus AlanRichie Blitz’s set was either ruined or drastically improved (depending on your perspective) by inappropriate crowdsurfing, pyramids and culminated in Richie being carried around the venue for his final song.  Tyrannosaurus Alan’s blend of ska-core and hip-hop got everyone moving, even if there were only nine of us, I think we made up for the lack of numbers.

Chris Murray returned to Brighton for a mid-week acoustic ska show supported by the consistently brilliant Babar Luck, deceptively talented Chas P-W (ex-Lightyear) and Nottingham’s Liam O’Kane who, while talented, failed to grab my attention - I think I’ve seen him play far too many times to be honest.

In the run up to the Brighton Punx Picnic, there were a regular bunch of benefit shows as The Cowley Club.  The first featured a selection of the heavier side of things including Blatoidea’s haircuts and ‘up the punx’ style punk, surprisingly good oi from Oiz II Men and crushingly good d-beat out of Farnborough in the form of Greed Force on their first Brighton show.  A week later was another benefit with some youthful hardcore from Lack of Joe, Primeval Soup who despite playing constantly, I genuinely don’t think I could tire of seeing, Richie Blitz (ditto) and Sexy Underage who I missed.

I got a last minute call (mid-Critical Mass) asking me to DJ at June’s Schnews benefit featuring The Fish Brothers, Anal Beard, Eastfield and Richie Blitz.  I’m pretty sure the horror/majesty of The Beard clouded my memory of the night as all I can remember was their chaotic and discordant set incorporating all their ‘classics’, oh, and Richie playing two sets, which I wasn’t expecting, but can’t complain about.

The next day was close to being a write-off, but I managed to make it down to Cafe Metro for the Love Music Hate Racism acoustic afternoon where The Last Laugh played a multi-instrumental set with the addition of fiddle and drums.  I would provide more of a description, but Mig keeps complaining when I do.  Richie Blitz played once again, with accompaniment from The Last Laugh, and despite me not being able to stand without hitting my throbbing head on the ceiling, we still managed pyramids and to get Richie and myself crowdsurfing - amazingly everyone has been invited to return to Cafe Metro in spite of that.

The highlight of the past few months was without doubt the Brighton Punx Picnic.  There were too many great bands and too much fun to fit it all in here, but I’ll try.  Kicking off at The Cowley Club, I caught a stunningly improved Half Boy/Half Rat, and probably some other bands, I can’t quite remember.  Saturday’s plans for a gig on the beach were somewhat scuppered by torrential rain, requiring relocation under the arches much to the confusion and amusement of the passing tourist coaches.  Later in the day things got a lot sunnier and louder at Hector’s House where I caught Dirty Rotten Scoundrels fresh from playing Guilfest and plotting against Peter André, amazing anarcho-punk from Contempt who I’d never seen before, but now wish I had sooner.  Saturday was brought to an amazing close by Headjam - if you’ve never seen or heard them before, stop reading this now and check them out, they’re one of the best dub-punk outfits I’ve ever seen, and I can’t wait for them to return in November.  By the time Sunday came around, everyone was starting to look (and smell) a little worse for wear, myself included.  It takes more than that to stop the Punx Picnic though.  The first band of the day I caught were locals The Barracks, followed by Primeval Soup who keep getting better and better.  Stand Out Riot tore it up with their energetic ska-punk sound, inciting yet more chaos and crowdsurfing from everyone.  As the day wore on, numbers thinned as tiredness and last trains got the better of everyone.  Coming to a slightly earlier finish than I expected, Jakal closed the weekend with their dubby-London-ska-punk, bringing to mind Mouthwash, but much better.  One defining moment of the weekend was the food, I don’t know who was behind it, but they did a bang tidy job of keeping everyone nourished with delicious burritos, pizzas, burgers and cake.  Something else I particularly enjoyed was the attitude of everyone there.  Despite a few notable exceptions, it was a consistently friendly ego-free and inclusive weekend - something which is all too often missing from punk shows.

Despite the mounting tiredness, I still made it out the next night for Chewing in Tinfoil.  I shouldn’t have bothered, thanks to crap organisation from the ‘promoter’ they only played four songs, one of which I missed anyway.  I really didn’t rate the support either.

Later that week Anti-Vigilante returned to Brighton.  Once again, I was staring depressed at an empty cashbox, but each band was so good it was worth the worry.  Richie Blitz gave up on his idea of playing a ska set about one verse in, which was probably for the best.  Brain Jelly stood in at the last minute with some raucous street punk, I’m not a big fan, but they were alright.  Code 11 are a band I’ve wanted to see for ages, being a big MSPR fan, and I wasn’t disappointed by their melodic, mandolin driven ska-punk, it’s just a shame that it was their last ever show.  I’ve never seen Anti-Vigilante give less than 100%, and tonight was no exception.  I’m not lying when I say these guys are one of the best bands on the scene at the moment, mashing up quality ska-core with good old-fashioned shouty hardcore and intelligent, incisive lyrics.

A week later I caught Chief at The Albert, they were great, even if they’re not exactly ground-breaking.  On the subject of breaking, I did manage to break my sternum mid set, so that’s a good sign right?  I got there too late for Luvdump, and sure as hell wasn’t going to watch The Liabilities.

July closed with Capdown returning to The Concorde.  I skipped The Junk, and arrived just in time to catch The Have Nots who mixed up melodic punk with ska to nice effect, even if it seemed very ‘American’, though being from Boston, that’s kind of inevitable.  Random Hand are another band who seem incapable of doing anything by halves, it took all my strength to stay sensible and out of the pit, regardless of how much Codeine was coursing through my veins.  I had a sense of trepidation waiting for Capdown, it’s been a long time since I saw them, and even longer since they were good.  I had no need to fear though, despite a shaky start I was suddenly transported back in time to their glory days as they tore through a set heavily reliant on material from their first two albums (the good ones).  It’s a joy to see they’ve still got it, and I’ll be interested to see what they have planned for the future (if anything).

Finally we hit August, and Brighton seemingly emptied entirely for more northern pastures in the form of Rebellion Festival.  I stayed south, and despite being disappointed, I could console myself by catching World/Inferno Friendship Society at The Hydrant.  With the band arriving just in time (the show was seconds from cancellation) they hit the stage an hour late, but it was worth the wait, despite shockingly bad sound quality, and by the looks of things, only two original band members, their cabaret-punk show was as good as always, and went some way to stop me seething with jealously at everyone in sunny Blackpool (and you don’t hear that every day).