My first time at the Redrum in Stafford, and what a wonderful venue it is. The semi-grimy, semi-charming upstairs room of a bar, with walls adorned with posters of upcoming punk gigs and punk stickers; I’ve heard of this place for a while, so it was nice to finally visit. I would love a place like this in Cov. It was very quiet early doors, but as soon as opener Death of Rats started to play, it began to fill out. I hadn’t previously heard of Death of Rats, an acoustic punk project from local guy Alex James. I believe he sometimes plays (and has recorded) full band, but this was a solo set and it was pretty great to be fair. Super heart-on-sleeve, romantic and mid-tempo acoustic pop-punk. On his bandcamp, Alex refers to his sound as ‘if Billy Bragg really liked Alkaline Trio’ and that’s pretty accurate. There is a lot of Billy Bragg’s storytelling and heart in Death of Rats’ sound, but the lyrics are more emo/confessional. I am also reminded of the vocal melodies of Leeds-based Andrew Cream. Would listen again, top stuff, etc, etc.

Next up was Fraser Murderburger doing his solo stuff, which is a mix of new stuff, covers and acoustic versions of ‘Burgers tracks. His first collection Serious Musician was put out earlier this year and it’s pretty great to hear some Murderburgers material stripped back; some of them, such as “Christine, I Forgive You” or “Another Way out of Here” sound more powerful than ever. I have been to a few Murderburgers gigs previously, but this was my first time seeing Fraser doing his one man band thing and I was pretty captivated from beginning to end. Even more than a full-band set, a Fraser solo set feels like a therapy session. Highlights included covers of Freddy Fudd Pucker (“Funeral Food”, which, as Fraser rightly says is one of the best songs ever) and The Putrid Flowers (“Young for the Last Time”), “Bohemian Rhapsody Part 2”, a great unreleased Murderburgers track (although I think it has now come out on the Punk Rock Raduno Compilation) and what I think is the highlight of Serious Musician, an original acoustic track, “The Day Everything Died”. The Murderburgers have since announced an indefinite hiatus, so this was one of the last chances to catch ‘Burger material live.

And onto the headliners, the wonderful Ogikubo Station. Due to tinnitus, they toured without Mike Park. So playing as Ogikubo Station were Maura Weaver (Mixtapes/Boys) and Megan Schroer (Boys) who played a set of pure hits. I’m a little late onto the Ogikubo Station train I guess, with the latest EP (‘Okinawan Love Songs’) drawing me in, but I’m now fully on-board. The vocal melodies from the duo were wonderful, the lyrics touching and the atmosphere perfect for this kind of acoustic gig; it was very cosy indeed and felt like a bunch of like-minded people tapping their toes to some quality indie-folk. I think everything was great but the super-posi “Take a Piece of All That’s Good” and the ear-worm-y and melancholic “Drowning at the Watering Hole” (despite a funny stop-start opening!) particularly stood out. Covers of “Dr. Worm” (Guided by Voices, from their recent 7”), including some kazoo action from Maura, and “If I could Talk, I’d Tell You” (Lemonheads) were great, too. It was a short but sweet set that left you wanting more!