Last Updated on March 5, 2023
Originally published in Beat Motel issue 7
All day shows have a very special place in the musical calendar of Ipswich, they are a chance to spend all day among friends exercising conversation, the ears and the drinking muscles. Whilst there are currently around six all dayers taking place throughout this soggy Suffolk summer the Red Flag 77 all-dayer is easily the longest running and most established. People travel from far and wide, glancing around the packed Steamboat Garden this afternoon I was spotting friends old and new from mainland Europe and even from as far away as New Zealand!
More so than for any other all day music event ‘Flag Day’ sees everyone crawl out of the wood work, everyone commits to making an appearance. The garden today is like a who’s who of the alternative Ipswich musical community of the last thirty years, all here not only for the music but also the punk quiz and even the booze laden raffle table. Top tunes were provided outside by Ippo DJ LunaJunkie, all fuelling what is increasingly a very family friendly event. After all, as the alternative community broadens and ages there is now a generation of kids growing up among this fun and viewing it as utter normality, fantastic!
Unfortunately due to other commitments (I had to get the washing in before the rain) I entirely missed Dangers Close. Suspect Device were my musical introduction to the day’s proceedings as they snarled and postured through their set of polished punk covers. Although they are playing other people’s songs they give a unique and very personal breath of life to each punk classic they mount and ride braying into an increasingly appreciative and attentive crowd.
After another lap of the garden to greet friends I squeezed myself back indoors to watch The Ballistics. After the release of two albums and the conquering of many local stages its fair to say The Ballistics and their brass splattered ska tracks are well and truly established in this town. It’s a testament to the song writing of the band that the more shows they play; the larger the percentage of the audience feels compelled to sing along. The interaction of the audience at Ballistics’ shows gives every performance the air of mass celebratory jubilation, one that ensures nobody is left with a sullen face by the end of their set.
Considering the many years that punk stars Red Flag 77 have been stomping the boards of Europe they still play with all the urgency and defiance of spotty teens coming to terms with a world that seems alien, greedy and cold. The difference with the way that Red Flag 77 write and perform (compared to some other more clichéd punks) is that they evade entirely the alienation that voicing anger at injustices can instil in between a band and their audience. When you watch this band you very much get they feeling that they are on your side, they understand and will stand by your side fist in the air in undying comradeship until every wrong is righted. This is why Red Flag have such dedicated fans, this is why people make pilgrimage from far and wide at least one day a year to the Steamboat Tavern for ‘Flag Day’ in order to stand in the church of the flag and pledge their allegiance, not to their superiors, but to their comrades.
London’s Inner Terrestrials are a band that I have been looking forward to seeing for quite some time, they appeal on not just a musical level, but on a political and ethical level as well. The Inner Terrestrials started their set with some subtle dub that appeared to catch the audience by surprise, almost as if the room as a whole was unsure as to whether the band had started or were still line-checking their instruments.
The second song left us in no doubt as the band launched into a song broaching the first of many subjects the band would attack, discuss, define and declare tonight. The Inner Terrestrials have the ability to switch between vitriolic hardcore guitar pounding punk to chilled out water tight reggae and dub seemingly at the drop of a hat. It’s a remarkable skill that they make full use of to the exhilaration of everyone in the crowd. Watching Paco and the rest tonight felt spiritually nourishing, there are people out there that fight for what we fight for and celebrate all the same pleasures in life that we revel in.
These impassioned Londoners inspired a hearty demand for an encore (only the second I have ever seen at the Steamboat), which included (at the insistence of Rikki from Red Flag 77) a cover of The Guns of Brixton, which served as a perfect end to a day celebrating the community inspired by this thing we call Punk Rock. Roll on next year!
- Andrew Culture