20th April 2018, El Muelle Punk Bar, Illescas
Until Mark from Transmision N told me about this gig, I’d never even heard of Illescas. Friday afternoon still feeling a bit tired from my Thursday night out at the Mujeres en Musica gig, I jumped on a train out of Atocha on the Madrid-Caceres line. I made sure I didn’t drop off on the train, not wanting to wake up miles away from my stop. I watched Madrid fall away, the blocks of flats turning to fields and industrial warehouses replaced by farmland.
A while later a got off the train at a station that looked more like a derelict outhouse. The ‘platform’ a narrow strip of concrete alongside the track. I follow the few others who were also getting off, hoping they knew which way to go following Dirk Gently’s Holistic Navigation philosophy and hoped I’d get to where I needed to be. We crossed the tracks, no signals to help us and I walked slowly into town to find my hotel. It all worked out well. After a good siesta and a long hot shower, I got a call from Mark saying they’d arrived at the venue. Pick me up on your way, I pleaded, still not having found the venue on google maps. No problem. A much-appreciated door to door service provided by the guys from Transmision N gave me a chance to listen to a couple of tracks from Nacho’s EP with his other band ‘Entretiempo’. Tonight would be his last gig with Transmision N as he was going to dedicate heart and soul to his other project.
We got to the place, which was actually back next to those lonely train tracks in another building which looked like it had seen better years. A small door opened onto the street through which I could make out a tall staircase lined with punk graffiti. So this was El Muelle Punk Bar. Inside and at the top of the stairs a dark bar, more graffiti and a long concert space. Equipment was being set up, beers being drunk and table football being played by those who weren’t needed yet for the sound check.
“Can you hear the mics?” Mark asked me. “No, eso no se escucha” I jumped up on stage to help out. A few cables later and the noise came pouring through the amps and PA system. A couple of songs to make sure that the levels were more or less right and a chat with the owner to make sure that they weren’t too loud, the soundcheck was done. A couple more beers and another round of table football, I took the opportunity to interview Nacho about his new project. (Article to follow) I was introduced to the other band Lucky Strikewalker, who handed me a copy of their CD (another article to follow) and we were close to starting time. The venue was filling with Illescas’ finest punks and partiers and the boys just needed one more beer and then on with the show.
Lucky Strikewalker went first. Heavy punk guitars and bass by Andres and JuanFran accompanied by Angel’s dynamic rhythms filling the aptly decorated room. Posters peeled from the walls as the levels rose and the crowd began to move. Daniel is a perfect frontman, not afraid to leave the stage area and plant his mic stand in amongst the crowd. Each song bringing the audience closer and closer. A couple of covers I didn’t know and the audience participation rose as to did the camaraderie amongst the two bands, with moments of mic borrowing and stage invading. Lucky Strikewalker is underground punk at its best. A no holds barred attitude to performing and every note played an outpouring of emotion, passion and feeling. Fast guitars with groovy rhythms it was hard not to dance but the set had to end at some point and despite shouts from the audience to carry on, the band bowed out after their encore and freed the stage for Transmision N.
I knew this second band was going to give a good show. I’ve been following them since Mark first got in touch with me back in January and I interviewed him. Their EP ‘Todo Ha Cambiado’ is pretty tight. Good strong melodies sang with a perfect rough rock voice. They didn’t disappoint. Again, the pinnacle of underground punk sounds, this time with raw emotion and depth. The guitar riff the defining feature of this band who can only go from strength to strength. In the many conversations I had with Mark during my weekend in Madrid, I got the impression he’s the quiet man of music who is happiest walking his dog, meeting with friends or sitting playing his guitar.
But any element of ‘quiet’ disappears when he’s on stage. The band give it their all and the end of the set sees Mark’s guitar on the floor, still being blasted on. The rest of the band and members of the other bands in the room on stage together living every moment to the maximum, happy faces and hugs all around. Highlights from the set that will stay with me were the moments dancing to ‘Las Voces del Invierno’ and singing along to ‘Todo Ha Cambiado’, but there were other surprises in the set too. Altogether a brilliant night out.
And as an extra treat, we pack up the equipment and sat out in the car park for another beer and listened to some new material that they are working on, but the early morning breeze was rising and it was getting cold. I think I made it back to Madrid and into bed by sunrise, thanks to a lift off another band ‘Jake Mate’, who I’ll be reviewing soon too. Enough time to sleep and dream of tomorrow when I would be seeing one of my absolute favourite bands, Fausto Taranto.
For now I’ll leave you with a couple of vids from the bands.
(C) Stephanie Burgess-Arteaga, 2018 (Marina is Red)