We were at the Devolution Unsweet Sixteenth Birthday Party
We were there to cover everything, what a party
Devolution Magazine was founded in 2003 by Nickie Hobbs and is the only magazine in the UK that features Indie and alternative music, fashion, tattoos, and lifestyle. It is run by passionate people, for passionate people. WildSpiritz music were invited to document the event, review the bands and speak to the people. We arrived early to be greeted by Nickie herself and received a very warm welcome. Beer in hand we settled down and waited for the first band of the day Spreading the Disease.
What better way is there to get the party started than with some brutal, ballsy, in-your-face heavy metal? Spreading the Disease kicked the party off with a savage set, which was energetic from the off… Having made their way from playing a gig in High Wycombe earlier that afternoon, their energy and enthusiasm was through the roof! Not only do the guys write some killer riffs and vexing lyrics, but they also throw themselves around the stage, making it impossible to take your attention elsewhere.
Releasing their next album ‘Mindcell’ later this month, it was a pleasure to watch the guys bring a number of the listed tracks to life, including their latest single ‘Voices’. It’s always unnerving adding new songs to a set, but in true Spreading the Disease style they made it look effortless.
As an opening band, it can sometimes be difficult to get the crowd moving and participating but the atmosphere was electric and only a sign of things to follow. Crowd participation was prevalent throughout the set, as we were encouraged to clap and sing along with vocalist ‘Midnight’. Spreading the Disease are a band who take their music and performance seriously, and themselves? Well not so much! Their charismatic energy and banter between themselves and the audience makes you feel enmeshed in their music and really fuelled the party atmosphere which they’d already ignited.
Overall, their set was a pleasure to watch! Their music is raw and organic, yet passionate and polished…
Which brings us nicely onto the second band of the evening, the mighty Tormenta. Fresh from the success of their latest single, ‘Tattooed Scars’ and their album ‘Chapter 2: The Storm Is Here’ we are treated to a brutal assault on the senses as can only be expected of a band such as this. They use their instruments to their maximum effect and songs such as the latest single and indeed ‘War Cry’ were breathtaking. Top of the tree, however, were personal favourites ‘Crimson’ and the mind-blowing finale that was ‘Lifes Duality.’ Tormenta are indeed a band to be reckoned with and are definitely in the ascendancy.
As the place was rapidly filling up with some very colourful people it seemed only prudent that we speak to some of them and ask them what drew them out to the event. First up was the feisty lead singer of Pretty Addicted, Vicious Precious.
“I have a great deal of respect for Devolution magazine and women are killing it at the moment. I love Nickie to death and she always puts on great events.”
Hells Gazelles took to the stage next with their own brand of mayhem and we were treated to an excellent set which included tracks ‘Stone Cold’ ‘Take your Medicine’ and ‘She-Devil’ all of which can be found on their 2018 ep ‘Take your Medicine.’
Whilst waiting for Hell Puppets to get set up we managed to speak to a family of which Mr Rod Pember was in charge.
“I’m here with my family and am particularly keen to see Mr Strange who I think are brilliant. I dressed up for the occasion and why not. It's an event. Ward and Sulpher are probably my favourites but I think that Hell Puppets are also amazing.”
“My partner Tina is very into metal and pretty much likes all of the bands on the bill tonight but for my daughter Lauren, this is one of her first gigs and although right into heavy metal has not seen any of the bands before.”
And so, sticking with hell, we launch into the set by Hell Puppets who are a very visually striking band. It was almost a wall of noise and the crowd got right into it straight away. ‘Hung drawn and slaughtered’ and ‘Project Mayhem’ were probably the best tracks of the set and although some of the vocals did not quite hit the mark, the band are musically very tight, and their songs are very well put together and very very infectious. On a side note, we have to say that the most impressive member of the band was the lead guitarist who would not have looked out of place on The Walking Dead.
We next caught up with the very striking Roodle who was sporting some amazing tattoos.
“I came to see Nickie who is one of my very best friends and I always like to support her. I came for a good time also. I always come to Nickie’s events as she puts on a great show with excellent music and its nice to be able to catch up with friends. I also want to see Ward who I think are amazing.”
Another person that caught the eye was a guy named Dex, aka Scott Donnie. One could be forgiven for thinking that one of the members of Kiss had taken a wrong turn but as Scott explains,
“It's my birthday today and I am good friends with Nickie. I am close with Vicious Precious and I wanted to come out for the Devolution party. I dress like this a lot and am very into the horror punk scene. Its escapism and all about being different, being your own person. I tailor what I am going to wear depending on the venue and the bands on the bill. Tonight, I am particularly keen to see Hell Puppets."
This brings us very nicely onto Mr Strange. They are also an extremely visual band and their lead singer Saul is exceptional. He is a consummate frontman with stunning vocals and using the backing track to great effect are a three-piece band that take absolutely no prisoners at all. There was a feeling that they might have benefitted from a lead guitarist but that is just by the by as the show they put on was stunning. Their crowd engagement was excellent, and they appeared to be one of the most photographed bands in attendance. Much to their credit they also took the time to thank every band on the bill. The guys have recently released ‘WTF?’ which is a best of compilation and we were treated to tracks such as ‘Wonderful World of Weird’ ‘Disco Bitch’ and ‘My addiction’ to name but a few. This is a band that continues to go from strength to strength and it was a pleasure to see them on stage.
We managed to catch up with Kat, Angela and Sheri who are all talented individuals in their own right. They all cited a love for Nickie, Devolution and the bands on the bill. They also attend as many of the events as possible.
It goes without saying that there is a great depth of affection for Nickie Hobbs not only from the attendees but from the bands themselves. Within the music industry, this is something that is a rarity and excellent to see.
And so, to one of the big guns. Ward XVI.
Taking to the stage for the penultimate set of the night were the wayward, yet whimsical WardXVI, fresh from the Whittingham Asylum. If you like Emilie Autumn, this is it with an added dose of gore…
First and foremost, the aesthetics of WardXVI is certainly not something to be ignored… After all, we all know that psychopaths dislike it when you don’t feed them the attention they so crave.
Their theatrical stage performance is complementary to their self-described concept album ‘The Art of Manipulation’ and it’s clear that their concept has been depicted from every aspect of their imaginations…
The music tells the story of Psychoberrie, a female psychopath who used her feminine charm to lure a man into killing for her. When the guilt became too much for him, she developed her charm into something more sinister.
Taking this to the stage, just like Psychoberries feminine charm, the music lured the audience into WardXVI irresistible madness. It was difficult to take your eyes off Psychoberrie, her performance was as dominant and as erratic as the story she was telling. However, the rest of the band did not go unnoticed.
Throughout the set, WardXVI engaged with the audience, creating a sense of community - perhaps there’s safety in numbers or as the saying goes ‘we’re all made here’… After making her way into the audience, Psychoberrie encouraged the crowd to join her in some uniformed Cossack dancing, this was a great asset to the community spirit and vibe which was already prevalent within the Devolution party.
Interestingly, the theatrical elements of their performance did not distract from their musicality. WardXVI have created an eclectic sound which is accompanied by strong female vocals. Taking influence from a number of genres, they have created a cocktail of sounds which is probably as potent as their fellow inmates’ medications.
One of my favourite tracks was Toy Box which began with a sinister yet playful off-beat, ska-esque melody hypnotising the crowd to move together in unity. The dynamics of their set was quite unnerving, which is very fitting for an asylum. The track which followed was WardXVI and it was interesting in that it began with a macabre and melancholic piano melody which created an entirely different atmosphere. These atmospheric changes brought by the music might also be expected if you’re experiencing wild mood swings.
All in all, this was a very well received set and even the chainsaw had an unusual charm.
And so, it came to pass that the final band of the night made their way on stage to round things off. Sulpher are a three-piece band who are musically superb. The vocals are fabulous, and their crowd engagement is second to none. ‘No one will ever know’ is a stunning track. The band are very tight indeed and give everything they have on stage. ‘Misery’ and ‘Follow you down’ were the highlights of the set and it rounded off what had been a superb night of music.
All that was left was for the lady herself to have a few words.
“I feel that this has been one of my most successful events since 2009. There was a good crowd and the support was very enthusiastic. This thing at the end of the day is me and I am very happy with the ticket sales which were more than ever before, and I am very grateful to everyone who came out.”
As events go this one was up there with the best and can easily be seen by all the smiling faces. Devolution magazine, after sixteen years, still has a lot to say and is still growing. The pleasure was ours and we look forward to more to come.