Dead Poet Society Review
by Shaun Battison

Review for Ay Up Duck Radio’s Sugarmill Show

On Wednesday 1st September, three very talented sets of musicians took to the stage to bring in a busy month of gigs at The Sugarmill, and what an opening night it was. Lovers of droning guitars, smashing drums, and mosh pits beware, because if you weren’t here you massively missed out.

Tyler Kent Band

Opening the evening was Tyler Kent Band, a local three-piece band who captured a certain old-school rock and roll classiness and fused it with metal influences, a fusion I was more than happy to experience.

Having already seen Tyler Kent perform in the past I felt as if I had a good idea of what to expect, but my expectations were blown out of the water when the trio of bassist Tom Preston, drummer Danny Shaw, and lead guitarist, singer, and band namesake Tyler Kent exploded into life; Though more laid back than Mercia, Kent’s other band, the high notes of Kent’s voice played well with the variation of theme and genre across the band’s set, performing songs akin to classic rock and others which verged on funky disco.

The cowboy-rocker aesthetic of Stetsons and leather dusters was present both onstage and in the crowd as a sizeable following had come to see Tyler Kent Band perform on the evening, and I am more than happy to say that the band sound fantastic live; studio recordings often restrict those in the rock and metal genres, so the perfect place to hear their music is in a live setting where passion is tantamount to attitude.

Sashay, one of the band’s most popular tracks, is an excellent preview of what they offer, mixing genres in a blend reminiscent of the newer works of Beck. Comparisons to the likes Thin Lizzy and The Darkness are immediate and appropriate, especially in tracks like Lydia and Provocative Movement, two tracks from the band’s debut EP Premature Infatuation. The whole band was given room to flex their muscles with individual solos, most notably in Detroit, a track which felt like the theme to an American Cop TV show from the 1970s.

Kent is an excellent guitar player, delivering fantastic screeching guitar solos alongside composed and tame riffs in a very comprehensive performance; Tyler Kent Band are certainly more than your average rock band.



There are only two places on Earth where a crowd can voluntarily smash into each other as bubbles float above them, one being a riot at a West Ham game and the other being your average Bathtub gig, though these boys are certainly anything but average.

This is the second time Stoke-on-Trent’s duo of Brandon Fiore and Olly Murphy-Tinsley have made an appearance in one of our reviews, and we certainly hope it isn’t the last; having played The Sugarmill back in July, Bathtub have had plenty of time to improve their already stellar sound and they have wasted no time in doing so, playing several gigs both locally and nationally since my colleague and good friend Ollie Hopewell fell head-over-heels in love with the post-punk duet.

One of the most exciting bands in Stoke, Bathtub strip back as much as possible and build on their strengths as musicians, delivering sounds of depth and complexity unrivalled by most of their contemporaries. We’ve already written about how impressive it is that two lads can make so much noise, but this gig showed their maturity and growth as a band having played more gigs and got vital experience under their belts.

Bathtub brought a large following of their own and kicked off with Introduction, how fitting. Murphy-Tinsley has previously stated his disdain for posers in the music industry, urging bands to sing about their own experiences rather than fabricating them and to stay true to who they are individually, a mentality which lends itself well to the DIY and post punk movements which Bathtub capture so well, aptly drawing comparisons to the likes of Slaves, cleopatrick, Motörhead, and The White Stirpes.

Continuing with Oiled Up, the band resume normal service as Fiore’s shirt comes off and the signature duck mask comes on, Murphy-Tinsley of course jumping round the stage with unrivalled energy. The New Era EP has hit over 30,000 streams on Spotify since their set on 1st September and it is abundantly clear why; the spaced out and diverse basslines mixed with the high-octane drumming are an instrumental riot akin to new-age post-punk music, something displayed with gusto in Friday Night, Citrus, and Fallin’ THRU, the latter of which was my favourite track of the evening, merging a high BPM with grunge sounds and potential for moshing.

It is intoxicating listening to Bathtub as they jump from Black Sabbath to Royal Blood as their sound only gets more complete with each viewing. The lads also had one last trick up their sleeve, welcoming former band member and evening opener Tyler Kent to the stage for the monumental finale of Invisible God, Tyler taking the role of lead guitarist and delivering a filthy guitar solo to the stunned onlookers in The Sugarmill. It’s hard to imagine Bathtub as a three-piece, but this was the perfect way to display what the band is capable of and to pay homage to their friend and former member.


Dead Poet Society

Hailing from across the pond in LA, that being Los Angeles and not Longton Area, Dead Poet Society have landed with a mighty splash as they tour the UK for the first time, fitting shows around their performances at the Reading and Leeds festival.

The American punk rockers kicked off their set with .burymewhole., a track which announces itself with American infused Western guitar twangs, the kind you’d hear at the start of one of the classic cowboy films. A softer yet heavier take on rock music, paradoxical though it may seem, Dead Poet Society are unafraid to slow a song right down just before jumping into a wave of noise to keep the flow of the gig at riptide levels, channelling sounds as diverse as Bob Dylan’s folk music to Guns n Roses work.

Up next was .intoodeep., the main attraction from 2021 album -!-. The heavier side of the band was starting to show here as the blazing guitars and heavy drumming shook the whole building, the haunting voice of front man Jack Underkofler echoing around the room as the crowd grew restless and primal instinct took over.

Working through Lo Air, a track from the Dempsey EP, .SALT., .georgia., and single .swvrm. the wider influences and capabilities of Dead Poet Society were making themselves clear; the Californian four-piece take influence from classic bands Green Day, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Linkin Park, and Rage Against the Machine, using the finest elements of each to craft their own distinct yet familiar sound.

Singer and guitarist Jack Underkofler is joined on stage by guitarist Jack Collins, bassist Dylan Brenner, and drummer Will Goodroad, the abilities of each are truly incredible. Dead Poet Society take the best elements of the Shoegaze movement and fuse them with Desert rock, finding a way to make your skull shake through the drum and bass work while those Spaghetti Western guitars cackle like circling hyenas, elevating the live experience to the level where every hair on your body stands to attention.

The band worked through Touch, .AmericanBlood., and I Never Loved Myself Like I Loved You before ending on their biggest tune .CoDA., the finale being a return to the punk-infused Wild West sounds which opened the set. I’ll admit I was pleasantly surprised on the evening having heard little of the headliners beforehand, but they certainly made several fans for life at the gig. While it remains to be seen if Ay Up Duck Radio or The Sugarmill make it big in America, we can be certain that Dead Poet Society are destined for greatness wherever they go, and we can only hope to have them back at The Sugarmill very soon.


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© Shaun Battison 2021
Contact: SugarmillShow@gmail.com







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