Sonntag 16:00–16:40 @ Alternastage
It’s a down and out, smashed and shattered world that Welsh five-piece Astroid Boys present on their exhilarating debut album Broke. Phil “Traxx” Davies, Benji Kendall, Elliott “Dellux” Brussalis, DJ Comfort and Harry Williams make music that suggest it is not beyond saving. Broke is an album with a clenched fist and gritted-teeth defiance, documents of the worst times crowbarring open the door to better times. Astroid Boys throw themselves deep into the abyss in the belief they will come out cleaner on the other side.
Like their meld of hardcore and grime, the group are an intoxicating mix of personalities. They come from Newport in South Wales. Davies, an MC who excels in bringing people together whether they specialise in making videos or beats or clothes, was the driving force in their formation. He was a regular at a youth centre in Newport where young DJ Brussalis had a drum’n’bass radio show and the two immediately clicked. They had a similar musical background, growing up listening to the snarling hard rock of bands such as Slipknot, Korn, Marilyn Manson and Sum 41 at the same time as revelling in the groovy swagger of Missy Elliot, moshers who would also be known to don full-body tracksuits to grime nights. They would go to hardcore events at TJs in Newport at the same time as hanging out with leading MCs in Newport and Cardiff. This mix of genres is key to Astroid Boys, but there is more to them than a zeitgeist-y “oh, we’re into everything." There is an old school tribalism to them, their songs infused with the deep bond of a band who've been taking the long way round.
Their approach has been slow and steady, their sound honed on the road and in bedroom studios over the last few years. They marched on as the grime scene they grew out of in Cardiff and Newport ebbed away. But they continued undeterred and their increasingly thrilling live show brought in a growing crowd of diehard fans. Hardcore kids, emo scene kids, skaters and urban fans, the sort of people who are supposed to be fighting each other in the playground, are meshed into one at Astroid Boys shows. The band soon realised they were unique enough to make a mark on the world.
They released two EPs, 2015’s Bacon Dream and CF10, themselves, not as a DIY statement but because they had no other choice. They had no money but Davies hustled to make it work. Brussalis, now out of school and old enough to attend his own band's gigs, was becoming a mercurial beatmaker and producer. The youth centre where they’d met had closed, another sign to the band that they could rely on no-one else. This was on them. The acclaim that greeted the EPs left them buzzing and they hit the road, slogging it out on the hardcore scene, trying to swerve any pigeon-holing. They want to be a hardcore band who spit bars, a band who can play anywhere on the spectrum from Will.I.Am to Slipknot with Skepta nodding in appreciation in between. They say that they are making music that’s cool rather than relevant: “you make yourself relevant, you don’t chase it.”
Galvanised by a frenzied appearance at Reading festival last year, they graduated to proper studios to make Broke. It has been a long, hard and educating process for a band used to keeping it low-key and DIY, but the stage is set for bigger things. Broke is a mix of grime bangers, thrash-rock explosions and politically conscious anthems. Astroid Boys are a band for 2017, and beyond.