By Isabel Williams, Second Year English
If there is one thing that Wargasm have mastered as a band, it is the art of performance. Playing at the Marble Factory, Wargasm delivered what can only be described as an explosion of raw energy.
Created in 2018 by the faces of the band, Sam Matlock (son of Sex Pistols’ guitarist Glen Matlock) and Milkie Way (Rachel Hastings), Wargasm have rapidly established a space for themselves in the metal scene as one of the pioneering young bands of alternative music.
As somebody who does not usually enjoy music of the metal or hardcore variety, I was persuaded somewhat reluctantly to view the band’s surprise set at Reading Festival earlier this year. The show was like experiencing the heat and light and power of a star burning up close - I was hooked instantly. When I heard they were playing in Bristol, I found myself rushing to buy tickets.
Now, even before the band has stepped onstage, the crowd is humming with anticipation. Already, the opening acts Knife Bride and Scene Queen have succeeded in getting the crowd riled up. The final song of Scene Queen’s set, 'Pink Rover', is a merge of high energy electric pop and bouts of heavy metal, inducing the audience members to throw themselves enthusiastically into small mosh pits, as if to practice for the main event.
As Scene Queen leaves the stage a friend of mine in the audience bounces over, announcing proudly that he has already been punched in the ribs and face, “and they haven’t even started yet!” In the short interval before Wargasm come on stage, the lights dim gradually from a warm yellow to an ominous, smoke-heavy red, and the hum of anticipation within the crowd grows to a momentous roar. The volume is turned up to max. The stage is set. Let the chaos begin.
Opening with the song 'Super Fiend' from their latest album, Wargasm’s entrance is accompanied by a wall of sound. Mosh pits appear like great cavernous sinkholes: the sea of piercings and dyed hair is parted as people are shoved to the sides in a desperate frenzy to clear the space. Suddenly, the beat drops and the masses descend in a wave: leaping, shoving, and punching out of sheer unadulterated energy.
Whilst the atmosphere is intense, this scene is not an execution of mindless violence; it is a shared experience of euphoria. Every face is glowing with exertion, and when a person inevitably trips and stumbles to the ground they are immediately pulled to their feet by a sweaty hand. The opening song is fast paced and packed with anger, fluctuating from a torrent of drumming and throaty screams that threaten to overpower the senses, to angst ridden lyrics that are spat into the microphone. Then, a few tense seconds of silence, before we are thrust back into the momentum of the chorus once more.
The band’s stage presence throughout the set is utterly electrifying. With every song, Milkie Way and Matlock are throwing themselves into the air, across the stage, seemingly propelled by the force of their own sound. The idea of rest seems offensive to them: they barely pause to breathe between each song, stopping only occasionally to swig desperately from a water bottle before the thundering guitar begins once more. At one point, their back up vocalist comes to stand at the very edge of the stage, screaming passionately into an upturned microphone, before throwing his arms up and toppling into a hoard of outstretched hands.
After their supposed final song “Backyard Bastards” - on which Milkie leads with great gusto, hammering the lyrics into the air like a war cry - the band prepare to perform their encore: the fan favourite single called “Spit”. The techno inspired beat and rapid drums threaten to shake the site to its foundations, combining with screams from both Milkie and Sam to create a sound that is at times surprisingly dancelike; almost ecstatic in its rage. Milkie’s bitter cry of the song’s hallmark lyric, “It’s so disgusting”, sends the crowd into mania.
And suddenly, before the dust has time to settle back upon the high metal beams, the final song is over. Milkie and Sam wave to the crowd as they leave; the stage and auditorium are cleared in mere moments. Immediately there are queues formed for water and for fresh air.
The atmosphere is one of jubilant exhaustion. The whole warehouse is bathed in an afterglow, as if shining from within. I am sure I speak for everyone in the audience when I say it was an unforgettable night.
Featured Image: Isabel Williams
Have you seen Wargasm live?