Sick Rose // Honeybadger // pushkick – 21st June

Andy reviews a lively gig at Troubadour, where Sick Rose captivated with their dynamic stage presence, Honeybadger impressed with their powerful rock sound, and pushkick showed promise despite needing refinement.

Location: Troubadour, Old Brompton Road, London

 There really is nothing that quite matches that feeling entering a gig. Heading down the sticky black stairwell, adorned with graffiti and posters from gigs gone by, feeling the bass reverberating through your feet, emerging into an exposed brick dive bar cavern – my anticipation ratcheted up. The vibes were absolutely immaculate. Everybody in the venue is chatting to each other, smiling and there seems to be a buzz around Sick Rose and a genuine excitement. 

I’ll start with the essentials for this gig breakdown – I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was an eclectic mix of young musical talent, stagecraft, & a palpable potential, provided at a fairly reasonable price. All of the musicians on stage have a shot of making a career in music, and it was great to see. 

 I’ll take this review in running order rather than skipping right to the headliners. I remember from my days as an opener, that you’ll be lucky to get petrol money and a free beer out of the night, so you might as well take pride of place at the top of the review – and those of you waiting with bated breath to hear about Sick Rose, can hopefully stick around until the end! 

Disclaimer: I’m not here to write a fluff piece. I’m going to genuinely review the music, so if I don’t like something, I’m going to say. I always aim to be constructive in criticism, and respectful with feedback. Going on stage in front of a room full of people is a brave undertaking, and everyone that took the stage should be proud of what they’ve put together.

pushkick

There’s something there! Very clearly quite a new band on the scene. There was talent on stage, but it’s clear that they need to spend some time in 

Pushkick
Pushkick giving it a good crack!

 the lab perfecting it. With some tweaks, there could be a really nice core of a band – at the moment, it’s a little disparate, and lacking finesse. 

 The vocalist at his best gave me shades of Jamie T with a stage patter that was endearing, despite the sound engineer doing him slightly dirty with a muddy sounding microphone (an issue that was fixed before the next band). The bassist was also a very talented player – accurate and stylish with complete control of his instrument. When pushkick hit the more upbeat stuff (the song that I think was titled “Should I Stay, or Should I Go”, but not that one) they really hit a Strokes / The Hives vibe, and at points I also got a taste of Living Colour, especially when the guitarist took a solo.

 A bit more space left for one another to perform, some focus on tone (I’m looking at you lead guitar!) and a bit more energy from the rest of the band would see these guys on the right track, and please, please, please tighten up or drop the Killing in the Name cover, it was uncomfortable viewing!

Rating: 4/10 – but I’m looking forward to coming back and watching again in 6 months, standing smugly at the back, telling anyone who will listen that “I knew they’d be good”.

Honeybadger

You absolute bunch of naughty filth wizards!! This is a GREAT band! Coherent style, wonderful musicianship – it gave me solid Temperance Movement vibes. This was a punk infused, heavy rock tour de force!

honeybadger
Is it Kurt Cobain in disguise?! Nah it’s Honeybadger and they kick ass! (© @disturbiaart)

 The guitar riffs early in the set with a song that sounded a lot like “Black Dog” by Led Zeppelin (in style, rather than sounding like a rip off) grabbed my attention and I just had to move closer to the stage!  As the set wore on, our skinny lead singer with the mop of Cobain style blonde hair demonstrated his virtuosic control of his guitar, smashing out a delicious smorgasbord of chunky riffs, squealing solos and all-around powerful playing. 

 Now a problem that can afflict power trios, is when the guitar takes off a on a solo, you often find there is a gap left, as the guitar is the only instrument playing chords. In this case, our stone-faced “contestant for most stereotypical looking bassist” bassist was more than up to the task, showing an almost telepathic understanding with his rhythm section companion on the pots & pans! Speaking of the drummer, who smashed up the kit like it had called his mother something, played like a rock and roll hero – the song with the intro on the toms was absolutely class drumming – a great job all round!

Towards the end, the set did get a little samey, although Honeybadger’s members all seem fairly young, and I’m sure their songwriting will grow and mature. They already have some absolute bangers (Back Home sounded like a QOTSA B side and has triumphantly made it into my Spotify rotation!). It would be nice in their next evolution to hear a bit of variation, possibly a slow song? Maybe some audience interaction? 

Rating: 8/10 – Would absolutely go and watch again and can’t wait to see them headline their own shows – keep it up Honeybadger, you’re on to a winner!! 

Sick Rose

Now! On to the main event! The excitement level had risen in the room, and as I nipped out for a quick toot on my vape, I ran across the lead singer, who played her cards very close to her chest when quizzed on what I was about to see… And boy am I glad she did!! 

Sick Rose. Sick Set. 

Sick Rose
Sick Rose: I’m obsessed. (© @alexanderhansez)

 This band is an unmitigated success. The lead singer was an engaging performer – and doubling that with her unquestionable beauty and shockingly small amount of clothes, it was very difficult to look away! “Break Me” was the first song that really grabbed me – a cover but was made their own, and you got to see the lead singer interacting with the lead guitarist. The chemistry between the two was captivating – the lead guitarist’s hands flying up and down the fret board, with they were really giving me the female version of the Slash / Scott Weiland dynamic in Velvet Revolver, and I was also getting shades of The Kill. With a lead singer so captivating, the fact that this guitarist could pull eyeballs away was a testament to her playing and her whole Janis Joplin / 70s style. It all felt authentic, well-practiced and very, very cool!

The band have a great brand, a great gimmick (handing out black roses to the crowd) and a dedicated contingent of fans, which is a massive boon for a band so early in its career! 

Sadly, there was a small bumblebee in the chardonnay… and before I continue to wax lyrical about how much I enjoyed Tonight (both renditions), how the singer at one point lead on the floor on her back and still managed to remain at the centre of the room, I have to address the other half of the band. 

The rhythm section was functional – the robotic but passionate style of the drummer was a fun change of pace after the animal on the kit for Honeybadger, and the bassist didn’t miss a beat. However, you’ve got 2 girls up front, selling this band for every penny they can get. They couldn’t have put much more into the performance, and the rhythm section have got to up your game and match their energy and stagecraft. If the whole band was as involved as the two leads, then there is literally nothing that could stop Sick Rose. 

Rating: 8/10 – leaving it at 8, because like Honeybadger, there is potential there, but this is not Sick Rose’s final form! Great job!! I can’t wait to watch you guys again! 

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed this gig, and I’m excited to see heavier and more provocative bands are still going strong!

Picture of Andy Hughes

Andy Hughes

Andy has been a musician since he was 6; playing his first gig at 14. With over 10 years experience on the festival circuit, he's played with acts such as Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove, Blackelvis & Carmen Costa. Andy has performed all over the UK & Europe and on BBC2, and even once ended up performing on the West End due to an injury crisis! Andy's love is with rock music - enjoying the pleasure and excitement that a big, thick wall of interesting sound can give you - for him, there is no greater joy! Follow them on Instagram.
Picture of Andy Hughes

Andy Hughes

Andy has been a musician since he was 6; playing his first gig at 14. With over 10 years experience on the festival circuit, he's played with acts such as Johnny Cage & The Voodoogroove, Blackelvis & Carmen Costa. Andy has performed all over the UK & Europe and on BBC2, and even once ended up performing on the West End due to an injury crisis! Andy's love is with rock music - enjoying the pleasure and excitement that a big, thick wall of interesting sound can give you - for him, there is no greater joy! Follow them on Instagram.

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