Sonic Boom Six: The Duchess, 25/2/13
Sonic Boom Six have been doing the rounds on the UK punk scene for over a decade now. In that time they’ve put out four albums and undertaken numerous tours, supporting the big visiting American punk acts as well as headlining in their own right. In ten years bands tend to mature; they learn more about the art of songwriting, they experiment and head in new directions, they grow up. Sonic Boom Six seemed to have firmly bucked that trend.
On a cold Monday night, midway through a month long UK tour, SB6 found themselves in York’s premier subterranean venue – The Duchess. Hosting a showcase of guitar driven angst on a school night wasn’t the shrewdest move considering the demographic – but a small, enthusiastic crowd had gathered before it all kicked off. First support act Under The Influence delivered a tinnitus-inducing set of bland hardcore peppered with ill fitting bouts of emceeing before main support, Scottish rock/hip-hop outfit The LaFontaines appeared. Whilst maintaining a hard edge, their material was much more interesting and listenable with pleasant harmonies and some catchy songs that got people moving as the night edged closer towards the headline act.
A five piece group with two vocalists, Sonic Boom Six appeared shortly after 10. After swaggering onstage and geeing up the room for the first song, they launched into the first of many heavy numbers which sent the older members of the crowd toward the bar in search of earplugs. Their sound is, according to the band, a hybrid of “punk, metal, dubstep, hip-hop and ska-punk”; ambitious though it is to try and fuse all of these elements, they never quite pulled it off. For the most part the songs came across as jarring and disjointed.
The whole performance was quite energetic but this seemed forced and the air of punk attitude they exuded slipped away as female vocalist Lalia lifted her shades to make furtive glances round the largely empty room. Any insightful social commentary hiding amongst the lyrics was undermined by her overly shrill voice, which somehow managed to pierce through the distorted guitar and unnecessarily grimy synth lines.
Despite all these criticisms, it must be pointed out the tiny crowd gathered round the stage were singing every word and bobbing around like no-one’s business. Clearly within this target audience of angsty teenagers and twenty-something punks, Sonic Boom Six can thrive. However, for the most part it’s difficult to see how they’ve kept going this long.