Cock Sparrer @ To Be Punk 2019, Novi Sad

For the twelfth year in a row, Novi Sad hosted the biggest punk event in the country of Serbia - the two-day To Be Punk festival. With its unique rule that band can play it only once, the festival welcomed somewhere around a hundred bands from all over the world, and this year was no different. The crowd had the chance to see eleven bands from nine different countries. Fair play to everyone else, however, this year, everything revolved around one name - the legendary UK punks Cock Sparrer, who headlined Saturday night.


Even before the festival, it was clear who was the most exciting name on the bill, and it was quickly proven on Saturday night with a packed venue and more than a thousand fans who were ready to welcome the band. On the other side, the band was ready. From the moment they got on the stage and fired 'Riot Squad,' the place went nuts. Front rows went wild with mosh pits, while the back was quickly lit by the light of bengal torch. Song after song, the band took the crowd under their own, and with hits such as 'Working,' 'What's It Like to Be Old,' or 'Suicide Girls,' it wasn't much of the task.


Despite being in their sixties, all band members brought an impressive amount of energy on stage, playing their heart out like they're fighting for fans, rather than celebrating more than four decades of career. That amount of commitment was rewarded by non-stop sing-alongs, and quite a few more torches. As the set was getting closer to its end, the five-piece delivered a few more bangers in the form of 'I Got Your Number,' the absolute highlights of the night - 'Because You're Young' and 'Take 'em All.' The most impressive thing about those songs is their timeless value. Written decades ago, songs still hit all the right places, and easily get fans of all generations, as was easily seen on the night.

The encore brought three more songs - 'Argy Bargy,' 'England Belongs to Me,' and 'We're Coming Back,' but also one almost comical moment. As the final tones of 'England Belongs to Me' went silent, the crowd kept chanting it for quite a few minutes, causing the band to literally tell everyone to shut up, so they can keep playing. Of course, with the big smile on their faces. And that was probably the most important thing about this show - the positive vibes it brought.


Cock Sparrer are on the scene for decades, and it's easy to think of them as dinosaurs or fossils, but it's certainly not the case. The band still enjoys being on the stage, playing music, and they don't mind flying half a continent away to do it. They still share the same messages and the same ideas to the people who are still willing to listen. And it's not only their older fans, their music still applies to some of the younger generations, who were there taking over the torch. Literally and figuratively.


To finish this off, I would once again send a reminder it was a two-day event, and mention night's openers, Portland's Red Dons and Dutch Savage Beat, as well as bands who played Friday night, especially French Youth Avoiders, Italian skate punkers Lineout as well as the local surfcore band Still Bleeding, who were, in my books, the highlight of the day one.

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