Yr Welcome 3 by Die Das Der - Sunday
Ben Armstrong shows that Birmingham doesn't just do shit gigs, with Yr Welcome 3 a storming celebration of underground music
Dear People of Manchester,
Birmingham hasn’t half got a reputation for shit gigs. I’m not going to start pointing the finger at anyone in particular, but I’ve lost count of the amount of poorly promoted, poorly attended shows I’ve been to in the Second City of late. Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to attend the Yr Welcome festival at the Wagon & Horses in Digbeth, in what has become a yearly celebration of all things not shit about the local scene. Now in its third iteration, Yr Welcome is organised by German pronoun fetishists Die Das Der who have also proven themselves to have a keen eye for talent and have their hearts and minds in the correct places.
Due to gig fatigue of my own, I could only make it down for Sunday’s programme. All I’ll say is that if the Saturday was half as good, the whole thing was a blinding success. I arrived at around 15:15 to the deafening sound of Women  (the band – though there were quite a few real women in attendance too) who pushed the limits of the outdoor stage volume to absolute capacity. I’ve had the pleasure of gigging with these guys before and they bring the thunder, let me tell you. Although a hot, sunny day isn’t really ideal for doom, the Wolverhampton trio smashed through a set which really stood out on the day through merit of its heaviness, and provided a sweet counterpoint to the comparatively lighter music which would follow. Probably not everyone’s cup of tea but a welcome kick up the arse.
The Shogun’s Decapitator  are a band from my hometown of Stourbridge (it’s the nice part of Dudley) and immediately captivated me the first time I heard them. Their unique mix of disco, indie, progressive rock and post-rock is both sharp and fluid all at once; their songs feel like extended jam sessions which have been rehearsed and moulded into fine peaks. In the upstairs room on Sunday, the band were in fine form, playing cuts from debut album Head Hunting including full-party anthem The Bird in Hand to a receptive crowd. The sound was excellent, too (important considering the need to balance two always differing guitar lines) and drummer Bruce came through with some poignant monologues RE The Crabmill pub and its fondness of Corky’s. Top stuff.
What festival is complete without the onset of microphone failure? Unfortunately Night Trips  were on the receiving end of ‘microphone-gate’ as they started their set, but this quickly got sorted out (credit where it’s due to the sound guys). I’d never heard the band before Sunday, but they proved that age really doesn’t fucking matter – good music is good music after all. Dad dancing, 80’s keyboard patches and sunglasses abounded for a solid set of Stranglers-meets-John Cooper Clarke. It’s refreshing to see stuff like this, music completely untarnished by pretension, totally honest and bloody good fun. I’ll be looking out for them on a bill in the future, and you should too.
And now for something completely different. Out of towners Soeur  are a three-piece from Bristol, fronted by two female guitarist/vocalists and hit harder than a lead lined sack of spuds. To everyone who underestimates or belittles female musicians - enjoy a slice of humble pie. Soeur’s set at Yr Welcome was absolutely killer from start to finish, combining the raw energy of crusty, garage rock with polished, angular and progressive passages to great effect. The dual vocal harmonies, especially during the more angsty moments, were on point, and reminded me of classic 4 Non Blondes, PJ Harvey or Nirvana. One to watch, and hopefully there’ll be an EP on the way soon. Please Soeur, can I have some more? (cringe)
Find out more at - www.soeursoeursoeur.com
Unfortunately, I missed the next few bands, including Manchester’s own Sweet Deals on Surgery and the excellent The Double Happy because beer. Although, I have it on good authority that they were sweet.
Downard , a two-piece bass/drums combo from Bristol, were up next. It took me a while to acclimatise to what exactly was going on, as hypnotic bass lines and hyper-processed vocals took centre stage during the opening cut, but then the big riffs happened, and well, who doesn’t love a big riff? The band reminded me of a cross between the ‘put you to sleep and then kill you’ ethos of a Swans with their repetitive and nauseating vocal lines, and something more familiarly 90’s/alt. It’s a combination which definitely works, providing a nice balance between abrasion and pop sensibilities which had me nodding my head all the way to the bank. If you do one thing today, listen to YR BOX’D, that chorus is gold.
On at sunset were Worcester’s The Broken Oak Duet (, playing a half hour set off the back of the release of their debut album Terrain. Though they jumped onto the bill at relatively short notice, the jazz-meets-indie-meets-Meshuggah two-piece proved that they’re seriously big contenders for best band on the underground circuit at the moment. The natural chemistry between the two of them is quite something – they’re tight as fuck – and the range of sounds conjured up by their simple baritone guitar and drums set-up is astonishing. The Broken Oak Duet sound like a band who have cherry picked all the things I love about music, discarded nearly everything I don’t like, and mashed it together into some orgasmically off-kilter riff fest. The performance on Sunday was note perfect, full of energy and a real highlight on which to end the weekend. Go and see these guys as soon as you possibly can – you won’t regret it.
Thanks to the guys at Die Das Der for organising such a killer festival and proving that Birmingham’s music scene isn’t as shit as some promoters’ shows would have you believe. I’ll definitely be heading back there next year and you should too.
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