If you've been following Astroid Boys for a while you'll already know that it's not been the easiest of years for the group. Earlier this year it was announced that founding member Traxx had left the band followed by DJ Comfort and drummer Big H, leaving only vocalist Benji Wild now carrying the banner of Astroid Boys. For obvious reasons, this triggered the band to do some re-shuffling to make their material work again in a live setting - with Benji also having to shoulder all of the vocal responsibility from now on. The Astroid Boys hit Manchester's Star & Garter to give fans old and new a taste of things to come from the new lineup and play some old classics alongside a few new surprises.
The first of the two special guests joining Astroid Boys on this tour is the excellent up-and-coming hip-hop artist Sonny Double 1 (6), who released his debut full-length album City on My Side back in August this year, and who Astroid Boys fans may already know from his feature on the track 'Foreigners'. Over the course of his relatively brief set Sonny played some of his most popular tracks that feature on his new album such as 'Mo Farrah', 'Catch a Vibe', and 'Spare Change' – the crowd responding so well to the set that they instigated a Sonny Double 1 chant to show their appreciation before the final song.
The second and final supporting act were London three-piece PENGSHUi (7), who ignited the room with gritty electronic basslines and vicious, thumping drums underpinning the raw, grime influenced vocals. The band's music fuses a mixture of hip-hop, grime, metal, underground bass music, and the infectious energy of punk – this creates a live atmosphere that is bursting with savage ferocity. It didn't take long for the band's energy to permeate the room and soon the place was bouncing from wall-to-wall. As the bands set progressed, more and more people were drawn into the room, each wanting to witness the brutality happening on stage and to be a part of the wall-to-wall free-for-all. PENGSHUi played a monstrous set which whipped the crowd into an intense frenzy – the energy of which maintained at a ten until the very end. By all accounts, PENSHUi had gone above and beyond to make the whole room buzz in anticipation of the main act, and now it was their time.
As soon as DJ ONI dropped the beat for 'Posted' and Astroid Boys (9) took to the stage, the room exploded with activity as all the fans who have been with the band the longest expressed their excitement at the throwback to the band's much loved CF10 EP. As 'Posted' is an older track from the band's catalogue, Traxx features heavily on the recorded version; Benji made it incredibly clear from the start that he's more than capable of shouldering the full weight of the vocal responsibilities, performing both his and Traxx's verses arguably better than Traxx did himself.
Playing a succession of tracks from Broke, the room erupted as the band went from 'Dirt' to 'Mask', then into 'Cheque'. This flurry of the bands newer material was perfectly capped off by bringing Sonny Double 1 back up to the stage to perform his feature on 'Foreigners' with them. At this point in the set the room was absolutely bouncing, with everyone in the room shouting every single one of the band's lyrics back towards the stage in a passionate frenzy.
Astroid Boys played a set crammed with classic tracks from their earlier releases CF10 and Bacon Dreams, all the way up to heavy-hitters from their major label debut Broke. The set also wasn't without a few surprises which gave a reassuring insight into the future of the new Astroid Boys. The debut of an as-yet-to-be-released track called 'Loose', created post-lineup change, gave fans an insight into what can be expected in the future of the band. The new track left no doubts that Benji is going to take Astroid Boys to exciting new heights in the coming years; and if there were any doubters in that room, the powerful performance of the excellent new material was sure to silence anyone who still questioned if the band's best days were behind them.
On this tour, Astroid Boys ushered in an exciting new era in the band's history and brought to a close the band's pivotal previous chapter – capped off perfectly by ending the night with another classic: 'Dusted'. The future of Astroid Boys is in the safe hands with Benji Wild, and the show did nothing but prove to existing fans that the new era of the band is going to be absolutely massive. While recent times have been hard on the band, the incredible tact wielded during this performance does everything to indicate that it's going to be an exciting journey ahead for the new Astroid Boys.