With barely a week’s notice, it was announced that Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes were to hold 3 intimate evenings of acoustic shows exclusively for Snakepit members, in Manchester, Edinburgh and Brighton.
For the uninitiated, the Snakepit is a very closely knit, almost cult-like community, made up of the most dedicated Rattlesnakes fans.
It was a rare chance to experience an intimate set of seldomly aired songs and the opportunity to explore the Rattlesnakes’ music on a deeper level. Whilst I’m sure any Snakepit member would have been happy to pay admission to such gigs, to top it all off these evenings were completely free.
I was fortunate enough to attend the event at Brighton’s St Bartholomew’s Church. St Bart’s church was built in 1874 reportedly using the dimensions of “Noah’s Ark”, giving it an ominous looming presence over Brighton. Around 5.30pm a stream of punk rock renegade Snakepit members descended into Ann Street, condensing outside the church into a jubilant gang of rainbow haired, tattooed disciples. The church’s interior was ladened with golden sculptures, stained glass windows and burning candles as though it were built all those years ago for this very gig.
Such a venue added an incredible amount of weight to an already deeply meaningful and emotional setlist, with Frank recalling to the audience how he exclaimed, ‘Holy Moly!’ as he entered the church for the first time earlier in the day.
The evening was opened with an anthem of despair, ‘Anxiety’ from the band’s third album ‘End of Suffering’, made all the more poignant by the eerie echo of the church’s 41 metre tall walls. At this point tears had begun brewing in the eyes of many within the Snakepit, though these quickly dried as Frank’s friendly humour introduced the more cheery ‘Acid Veins’.
A song all about the invigorating injection of confidence that performance gives Frank, to hear ‘Acid Veins’ sung so calmly and contently displayed his ability to convert a fiery performance of fast pace punk into a passionate consideration of internal glory.
Throughout the performance, there was a sense of openness and exposure around the band that only a gig so intimate such as this could provide.
As the band progressed through the set list to ‘Beautiful Death’ and ‘Bleed’ it seemed the whole audience had been worked up into an emotional wreck. With Frank’s heartfelt raw voice and Dean’s stunning piano playing, even the most hardcore of fans surely felt a new level of intimacy with the band.
During the Q and A session, the subject of the Rattlesnakes’ new album, ‘Dark Rainbow’, was a very popular talking point. Each album feels as though it’s a shedding of their previous personas, perhaps a development and realisation of the band’s true personality, embarking their music in a new direction whilst maintaining the unique sparkle which fans know and love. Frank described their forthcoming album as being “for anyone that’s been through some shit. It’s all about finding your authentic self”, which appeared to resonate with many members of the audience.
Telling the tale of the new album’s development, it seems ‘Dark Rainbow’ has been on an unexpected genre journey. Frank recalled the initial genre description given by Soundcloud after they first put the demos of the album into a playlist.
‘at one point it was Ska Punk and we started stressing out’.
‘Then it went Dark Wave, it went Dream Pop at one point’
‘When we finished the album it just said one word and that was Rock’
The band made it very clear that “Dark Rainbow” would not be an album similar to the likes of their 2021 heart pounding beauty, ‘Sticky’ and suggested it was to ‘pick up where “End of Suffering” left off’. Whilst this may come as a slight disappointment to fans like myself who enjoyed the slick fast punk of “Sticky”, Frank did his best to reassure the audience that the album contained more than its fair share of ‘bangers’.
The finale of the evening was the band’s latest single, released on the 26th of September, ‘Man of the Hour’. The Rattlesnakes sailed through the harmonic and soothing acceptance of self in a song written all about Frank’s discovery of his true self. Speaking about the single he suggested that ‘maybe the idea of the rockstar should die’, recounting his own struggle living up to expectations of the version of himself he believed people wanted. It’s fair to say that this evening with the Rattlesnakes allowed for possibly the purest, most human version of the band that fans could ever expect to see. The stripped back vocals, stunning venue and most importantly the warm community of the Snakepit crafted an atmosphere in which the band appeared anything but rockstars. There was no star persona or manufactured personality about the band, they appeared completely at ease and happy to bask in the vulnerability they found themselves in.
Normally I leave a gig with my ears ringing, boiling hot and a hangover in the making. This evening however I was left with nothing but gratitude for being part of such a unique and intimate gig.
There was not a slither of tokenism about these evenings. The Rattlesnakes truly wished to give back to the community that has built and supported them over the last 8 years.
For a band of the Rattlesnakes’ calibre to hold free intimate gigs for members of their fan base around the country demonstrates a highly admirable dedication and love for their supporters which is arguably unmatched by any other band.
Thanks to the members of the Snakepit who provided the photos within this article.