It must be nice to be in a band where coherency isn’t necessary, or even expected. Such is the case with England punks Palma Violets.
The band put on one of the messiest shows you’ll ever see. That’s not so much a critique as it is a truth. They’re dictated by chaos: the more the audience is up for it, the less they really have to do and the better the show actually is. Their recent sold out appearance at Toronto’s The Garrison was proof of this. From the opening notes of “Secrets of America” to the finishing encore of Hot Nasties’ (more on that later) “Invasion of the Tribbles”, their 14-song set was all ramshackle and flailing limbs. Three songs in and a mosh pit had already formed: beer flung through the air, soaking everyone in the first few rows.
While Palma Violets was late to take their already late midnight call time, they were quick to up the energy. Not that it took much to engage the already jubilant crowd, clearly aware of what they were in for. Frankly it didn’t matter what Palma Violets sounded like or what they played. Just so long as the four-piece made noise, they made for a good time.
Thankfully any criticism against the shortness of their sets can now be waylaid: their performances have gotten a little longer since they last toured thanks to the May 2015 release of their sophomore record, Danger in the Club. Despite the fact it’s a new album, however, the majority of the night’s material was actually lifted from their 2013 debut, 180. And as could be expected, single “Best of Friends” was a highlight thanks to its sing along chorus.
Beneath the chaos, though, is some evidence of their development. “Matador”, from 2015’s Danger in the Club, had a slow start but developed into a “Bohemian Rhapsody” like guitar progression near its end. It’s also worth noting that some things in their set are quite clearly calculated. Their roadie, for example, knew exactly when to raise a microphone at just the right song on the other side of the stage to allow bassist Chilli Jesson a visit.
The band ended with a cover of the aforementioned Hot Nasties’ “Invasion of the Tribbles”. Releasing their version of it in 2013, it’s nice to see there’s some sentimentality to Palma Violets. They’re clearly a fan of the Calgary group and even had Hot Nasties’ bassist Winkie there to help out – opening the night with his punk outfit SFH (Shit From Hell).