Live Report: Milk Teeth, Conjurer and the futility of genre

If you’re going to trek to Milton Keynes – well, Wolverton to be precise – on a frozen Wednesday night in January, you’d want a pretty good reason.

Well, thanks to the fine folk at at the equally fine Craufurd Arms, we had two of them.

Milk Teeth, supported by Conjurer.

Yep, you read that lineup correctly. And, yes, it’s that Conjurer – the ones from the same part of the world as this very website and who created the wonderful album Mire – matched with the always brilliant rock trio Milk Teeth.

It isn’t difficult to guess what the internet thought about this bill when it was announced as part of the offering for 2019’s Independent Music Venues Week. The internet didn’t like it. The internet couldn’t cope. The internet claimed it wouldn’t work.

In short, the internet was talking shit.

Now, that’s easy for me to type; I love Milk Teeth and I love Conjurer. Of course I would want to see them play together. But taking myself out of the equation for a moment, there’s no logical reason to dismiss this bill just because of what genre the mainstream music press would attach to each band.

Milk Teeth have – and always have had – enough crunch, spit and venom to appeal to fans of heavier stuff. Their riffs slam, they don’t take any shit and they’re driven by a powerhouse maniac behind the drum kit.

On the flip side, Conjurer are more than just a blunt weapon; they have melody, their riffs also slam and they’ve got hooks that any butcher on any high street would be jealous of.

Most of all, though, this bill represented two young British bands making fantastic guitar-based music that is full of life, full of energy, and that makes you feel things.

So there was no reason that it wouldn’t work. It was the same as when Milk Teeth took Employed to Serve and Wallflower out with them in 2017, or when Conjurer joined Toy Mountains for Palm Reader’s album launch show last year.

At both of those shows, there was more than enough common ground for it simply to be a cracking bill. Different is good. Better, in fact.

Variety is the spice of life after all.

So, naturally, this rockin’ Wednesday in Buckinghamshire was a roaring success.

Conjurer brought the weight and made the venue’s walls shake. They were as earth-shatteringly heavy as always and their 45-minute set flew by in a blur of blast beats and demonic guitar lines, broken up for brief periods of respite with their flawless melodic interludes.

Sure, there were a couple of points when some of those wearing Milk Teeth t-shirts were a bit out of their comfort zone, but the savagery of ‘Retch’ managed to unite the room in exaltation. Good music is good music.

And so from one to the other, from Conjurer to Milk Teeth – after a faulty bass amp-induced delay. If ever a band can be relied upon to rise to the challenge of following a bastard heavy opener, that band is Milk Teeth. They delivered, with raucous riffing and massive, snarled choruses.

The Stroud punks look firmly settled as a trio and rattled through a greatest hits set that sounded bigger than ever – ‘Owning Your Okayness’, ‘Brickwork’ and ‘Lillian’ all massive highlights that scored top marks on the ‘slap you in the face’ scale of measurement that I’ve just invented.

Oh, and not to forget latest single ‘Stain’ and a brand new number that both hint at the brightest of futures for this trio. Marvellous. Any Conjurer fan in that room who didn’t find something to enjoy from Milk Teeth was simply lying. Good music is good music.

Not only did this bill absolutely work, it should be celebrated. In fact, it should become the new norm, right down to grassroots level.

One of the few positives of the Spotify-dominated era in which we live is that music fans today rarely sit in one box. They’re far more likely to approach musical genres like a pick ‘n’ mix stand and take bits from all over. As such, having a varied bill for live shows won’t put them off – it’s surely more appealing.

So, let’s have more bills like this one, established bands of equal ability playing together regardless of genre. And let’s also have some local promoters brave enough to shake up the unsigned band showcase formula and create diverse bills that offer a variety of shapes and sounds.

It’s 2019 after all. Black and white doesn’t cut it any more. Time to kill genres and focus on quality instead.

Why? Because good music is good music.

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Dave Musson