Wet Nuns, Dry Heaves and Hangnails: The Harley, Sheffield

Why is Christmas about rock ‘n’ roll? Slade, Wizard and the rest can be heard from a radio at any given time, and The Harley’s putting on gigs with likes of Rolo Tomassi, Blood Sport and now Wet Nuns, Dry Heaves and The Hangnails. Festive staples and today’s Northern lights might be worlds apart, but they all irrefutably rock.

There must be something about the season. You don’t want to stand stock-still this time of year, so now’s the time to mosh… seems legit. Many never forget their first guitar brought for Christmas, the bitter taste of Boxing Day turkey mixed with the triumph of playing ‘Come As You Are’? That shit sticks. Whatever the reason, Christmas is a time for people of all backgrounds to come together and get a bit deaf and sweaty.

This review is full of shit, truthfully. For starters, the headliners smear their bass drum with ‘Wet Nuns are shit’. Leeds, they offer, is a ‘shithole’. Why’s there dangling feet hung in a line or skulls atop mic stands? Because shit ‘appens (stolen Halloween gear).

There must be something about the season. You don’t want to stand stock-still this time of year, so now’s the time to mosh… seems legit. Many never forget their first guitar brought for Christmas, the bitter taste of Boxing Day turkey mixed with the triumph of playing ‘Come As You Are’ – that shit sticks. Whatever the reason, Christmas is a time for people of all backgrounds to come together and get a bit deaf and sweaty.

This review is full of shit, truthfully. For starters, the headliners smear their bass drum with ‘Wet Nuns are shit’. Leeds, they offer, is a ‘shithole’. Why’s there dangling feet hung on a line or skulls atop mic stands? Because shit ‘appens (stolen Halloween gear).

Why are first act The Hangnails so good at being brazenly shit? These guys are musically closer to Wet Nuns than Dry Heaves, but Wet Nuns are square and tune their guitar. Happily, tuned instruments rarely sound this cool. There’s a lot of solemn yelling and choked riffs, wrapped up with glacially languorous ‘slow bits’ that are hard to keep a straight face through. The singer almost sniggers. I can’t remember down-tempo this hilarious since Team America’s ‘America, Fuck Yeah’. Then they get back to the real business of tinnitus. In summary, The Hangnails have the extreme boom-tick of hardcore with misshapenly noisy brass knobs on, just what they need to win a few new fans tonight. Black-and-blues rock, m’lady?

Dry Heaves are on next, the singer in a Pudge tee and standing his ground in the audience, two-stepping like his own band’s biggest fan. His in-the-minute flailing is actually at odds with the tight musical ship Dry Heaves keep, even with one of their crew lost at sea, adrift in parts unknown (sea what I did?) A long haired punk is in front of me wearing a studded leather jacket. ‘Shitlickers’ it says. He’s wearing alabaster shoes, sans shit. Pretty sure he’s Dry Heaves’ biggest fan.

Wet Nuns walk on. Our editor (Hi Guys! – Ed) brought a set of man-nappies (ahem) along for Wet Nuns to wear, which never happened. They still nailed the gig, somehow. The Nuns rely on the juiciest hooks going around and round without outstaying their welcome, every last groove a low-strung IED. Sheffield’s answer to Motorhead have the chops and tonsils to match, while going several steps beyond by having a proper conversation with the crowd. “Are there any dickheads in?… Fackin’ hell…” retorts the frontman, his future career as the gobby Northerner in a Channel 4 dramedy assured.

Here’s the touching bit. Wet Nuns make a show feel so homely. It’s like they could be sharing a mince pie with you over dangerously-distilled alcohol at their bedsit; like you’re one of the guys who’s stumbled along to band practice. The set-up feels logical; the guitar needs drums, drums need guitar, and they both need an audience. The Harley is open, full of people dodging the office party, so why not just stage a gig. What we’re left with is Wet Nuns doling out Blossom Hill to the front row like a boozy Communion while wearing diabolical cowboy shirts.

Aside from the odd song dragging slightly, the duo have enough crude magnetism to keep The Harley transfixed. They’re preaching to the choir of course. No one here would dare drop the guitarist as he crowd surfs the room twice over, only to be planted back where he took off. Let’s hope he can continue the luck, as Wet Nuns have a nationwide tour and their first US dates planned for the new year. When will Sheffield see them again. Well, that’ll be Detestival…