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Billy Childish And Buff Medways - Gillingham Parklife Festival, 17/8/2002

  by Benjamin Howarth

published: 8 / 8 / 2002

Billy Childish And Buff Medways - Gillingham Parklife Festival, 17/8/2002


The godfather of garage rock, Billy Childish has put 100 albums under various monikers. Ben Howarth watches his latest band , the Buff Medways, put on an electrifying performance at a free festival in Kent

Anyone who lives in a part of the country where there are very few gigs is likely to get very excited when an established act comes to town. Kent is one of the most deprived areas due to its relative closeness to London. Although there is a thriving local scene that has produced a series of cool bands recently (like Rydell, Winter In June, One Day Elliott, Longplay and Urotsukidoji), very few established acts bother with Kent on the gig circuit. Furthermore if you want to venture out to see any of the above bands you often tend to have to put up with some abysmal nu-metal bands, some of whom have appeared on today’s bill as well. So the world may have gone slightly mad recently because the new garage rock/ no-name/ future rock ‘n’ roll kids have decided to adopt a forty-year old man from Chatham as their godfather. Wild Billy Childish has put out 100 albums of this garage rock stuff under various monikers, and has decided to name his latest group after an extinct breed of chicken. For some reason he decided to play a free festival below Sugacoma, who are famous for doing a Britney Spears cover, and this, therefore, makes them therefore the first nu-metal band in the whole world to cash in on Travis’ success. The set begins with Billy checking with the police if it’s okay to start early only to find its them calling out. Billy plugs in a vintage sixties guitar into vintage sixties equipment and puts on a Victorian army jacket (which he wears “for a bet”). You may well already know about these gimmicks, kinda like the Strokes’ ties and the White Stripes’ red and white. But you will rarely hear rock and roll music as invigorating as this music. The band are phenomenally tight, managing to both gel as a unit and churn out individual wizardry. Childish is a superb vocalist able to put life into the simple lyrics and melodies. As the band kick out song after song of classy garage rock, the audience realise that they may have seen it before but for some reason this is better! Childish is such a charismatic performer that the lack of innovation is irrelevant. After twenty years of playing shows, he has clearly become one of the most accomplished live performers on the planet. As the band finish a cover of Hendrix’s' Fire', the band put down their instruments. But as the clapping dies down the calls of “more” don’t. I’m among them. So the band launch into one more number the crowd go berserk, and my fellow Pennyblackmusic writer Mark Rowland heads for the moshpit. I’m chatting to a man who says that this band is better than the Beatles. Not too sure about that but lets make it clear: if the Buff Medways come anywhere near your town you would be a fool to miss them, even if they do play below Sugacoma.

Picture Gallery:-
Billy Childish And Buff Medways - Gillingham Parklife Festival, 17/8/2002

Billy Childish And Buff Medways - Gillingham Parklife Festival, 17/8/2002

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