Monday 9th June 2008 – Zebrahead w/ Sherwood at The Brook, Southampton

This show was my first time going to The Brook venue in Southampton, but far from my first time seeing Zebrahead, a perennial support on ska and punk tours throughout the 2000’s and beyond. In fact, I don’t think this was even the first time I saw the play a headline show. We’ll get to that in time I’m sure.

Amazingly it would be another 13 years before I went back to The Brook. This is by no means a comment on the venue, it’s a lovely, friendly and comfortable space. It has more to do with the sort of shows that get booked into here versus the other Southampton venues, think more tribute bands and classic acts. They currently have good beer on tap and a pie kitchen, I’ve really very little reason not to go there more often.

Back on that debut visit in 2008, I watched the show from the balcony with my friends of the time, a couple were at University in Southampton during these years and the city was starting to feel very much like a home from home. It was a packed turn out and the balcony provided a view of the show we wouldn’t have got downstairs.

The only downside being that old physics chestnut of hot air rising. It was a June night to be fair, but by the time of Zebrahead’s set it was absolutely sweltering. When frontman Ali Tabatabaee took his shirt off, much to one of my friend’s delight, I did consider joining him.

By this point I’d already started to fall behind on the band’s musical output. I don’t think I ever listened to their 2006 album Broadcast to the World in full, but remember the title track sounding great live. I’m even less familiar with the album that came out shortly after this tour, Phoenix. They’ve released another 5 albums since and despite line up changes, are still going strong today.

The main support for this tour was a band called Sherwood. They always stood out to me because they share the surname of one my oldest friends and early gig-going companions, Phil. There were a sort of Motion City Soundtrack from an alternate reality, with a very similar sound but it was the keyboard player who looked like Justin Pierre (with big hair and thick rimmed specs) not the frontman.

Another for the category of ‘albums were quite hard to find’ in this era, I definitely knew a few tracks, likely from their MySpace profile (Song In My Head is a banger) and enjoyed their set. I would’ve been playing synths in Canada Water myself by this point and do remember being entertained/impressed by their player, Mike Leibovich’s moves. Much like brass sections in ska bands, this role included a fair amount of downtime and you had to do something with yourself on stage. Mike’s trademark was getting down below his keyboard stand. If I ever did that move myself, I totally did it in homage to this guy.

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