DISCHARGE + CONSTANT STATE OF TERROR – THE CON CLUB, LEWES 29.10.23
So it’s not stopped raining for days, blowing a gale and a Sunday night, so I’m pleasantly surprised when local punks Constant State Of Terror start grinding through their 40-plus minute set as they open for punk legends Discharge at the excellent Lewes Con Club to see so many already through the doors and out of the wet.
Their 10-song set wasn’t the quick punk jabs you might expect but more of a slow burn, resonating with a heavy intensity. They are not the kind of band I’d have blasting out from the car stereo, but for a live band, they are entertaining, and the crowd are certainly behind them, giving a good cheer after each song. They pave the way perfectly for the headliners, getting the punters dried out and warmed right up.
In the pantheon of punk rock, few bands wield the influential clout of Discharge. Born in the industrial town of Stoke-on-Trent in 1977, Discharge emerged as a ferocious voice of dissent, capturing the angst and unrest of a generation. The band’s original lineup featured Terry “Tezz” Roberts (vocals), Royston “Rainy” Wainwright (bass), Tony “Bones” Roberts (guitar), and Akko (drums). Despite several lineup changes over the years, each member left an indelible mark on the group’s sound and ethos.
Discharge’s discography is a testament to their raw power and innovative spirit. Their early releases, including the ‘Realities Of War’ EP, set the stage for their 1982 full-length debut, ‘Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing’. This seminal album not only defined the band’s signature blend of ferocious punk and heavy metal but also inspired a myriad of other genres, most notably the d-beat subgenre of hardcore punk, named after the band’s distinct drumming style. Tracks like ‘The Nightmare Continues’ and ‘Protest And Survive’ encapsulate their blistering speed, incendiary riffs, and searing social commentary.
Discharge’s legacy is more than just a collection of albums; it’s a narrative of rebellion, of challenging the status quo. Their lyrics, often politically charged, tackled issues ranging from war to the disillusionment of the working class, themes that resonated deeply during the turbulent late 70s and early 80s. While many punk bands of the era flirted with political themes, Discharge embedded them in their DNA, intertwining music and message in a way that was both confrontational and cathartic. Through their distinctive sound and unwavering ethos, Discharge not only pioneered a new musical direction but also solidified their place as one of punk rock’s most vital and enduring acts.
Discharge hit the stage bang on 9pm and, for the next hour, treat the fans to a relentless set with fast pulverising guitar from brothers Tezz and Bones, an unforgiving backbeat from the coolest of punks, Rainy on bass and that famous d-beat from Dave Caution on the kit but the renewed fire and anger and intensity comes from vocalist Jeff “JJ” Janiak who barks the vocals out and is a spitball of energy as he menacingly prowls the length and breadth of the stage barely standing still for a moment of the set. “If you don’t know this one, then why are you even here?” he growls as the band smashes into ‘Protest And Survive’.’ Hatebomb’, ‘Drunk With Power’ and ‘New World Order’ are my favourites from the set, but to be honest most of it is a blur.
The crowd is a mix of old and young punks with plenty of black leather jackets adorned with studs. I see a few members from young local punk bands in the crowd, including members of “The Damn Shebang”, “Electric Cowboy Club”, “Phat Problem”, and “Pussyliquor”, and most of these are leading the mosh pit at the front. “Are there any conservatives in here tonight?” Enquires JJ to plenty of boos “I thought not”, he smirks, and then we are off again. (For reference the “Con” in Con Club means “Constitution”!). Without a se list tonight, it’s hard to know how many songs they play as one just merges into the next, so it could have been 20, but it could have been more. One thing is the energy never lets up, and they wring every last drop from the moshers at the front and then some.
Discharge in 2023 is still a vital, brutal and uncompromising band on the punk scene, and I, for one, can’t wait for them to head back to our neighbourhood again soon. Discharge isn’t just another punk band. They’re a legacy, a testament to punk rock’s undying spirit. And if tonight was any indication, they’re far from done. The Damned might ‘Smash It Up’, but Discharge? They obliterate it!
More info on Discharge HERE.