With the midwinter blues kicking in hard, the Gnargore crew decided to stick two fingers up at the weather and put on a skate event at Stourbridge's Unit 3Sixty indoor skatepark. With 22000 square feet worth of obstacles to build jams around, alongside A Third Foot's giant beer can for good measure and a bunch of local bands capable of making a solid racket, this one was bound to inject some hype into a dreary January and did not disappoint.
Arriving in Stourbridge Town on a one carriage train with room for twenty people to find a town centre which consisted of a Tesco express and a Subway, it was a disarming experience to walk five minutes up the road to find a huge indoor skatepark. The skate jam begun at two and I was early, so the first hour was spend dodging scarily oblivious scooter kids in the bowl as people slowly rolled up, cracked cans and started to get the blood flowing.
Things kicked off with the A Third Foot Beer Can Jam, with the can halfway down the stairs and alcoholic prizes for those with the pop to send tricks over it. Plenty of people lined up ready to hurl themselves over the can - Rasheed Osman, Jordan Sharkey, Jess Young and more walking away with tricks and beers in the bag. The rail next to the stairs was sessioned just as hard, as was the Erection Police's singer Dan Jordan. The second of the day's bands to play, they got on some next level crowd participation shit with Dan laying down and offering himself as the next obstacle for the session to hit. Seeing a frontman shouting 'Being a Dickhead's Cool' into the mic while a train of skate rats try and pop tricks over him is one of the many experiences the day had to offer and, while many took him up on the human clearance challenge, surprisingly everyone made it over without leaving a wheel imprint in his chest.
A successful human jam always brings the hype so people were ready to go off once the session hit the doorway transition in the corner. This may look fairly straightforward to skate in the footage above, but a particularly awkward line both frontside and backside coupled with a mellow transition means that it was actually a fucking nightmare to hit. Luckily this didn't phase most people (except me), with lines quickly being deduced and tricks getting banged out. Between Ryan Price and Joby Adams alone there were probably a solid 20+ tricks in the bag, and with the amount of people shredding not many possibilities were left untouched. After charging a number of doorway manoeuvres, Kris Vile decided to throw a wallbash off the smaller quarter as high as he possibly could, making it after a solid number of slams and some near death 'James Hewett at Flo' experiences. Watching the footage back he actually gets a front truck onto the top of the wall, making it a frontside willy stall grab out, which is even better than a wall bash really.
Onto the bowl and the Gnargore lads were nailing in the day's piece de resistance, a diving board jutting out into what amounts to the bowl's deep end. The bowl is definitely laid out with BMXers rather than skateboarders in mind but the lines are there if you work it out - Ryan Price, Joby Adams and Kris Vile were proof enough of that, as were the hordes of padded up mini rippers who all have a scary amount of talent. With skaters dropping in from all points of the bowl and honing in on the board collisions were happily scarce and plenty of gnarliness went down - Joby Adams' frontside fastplants and floated stalefishes, Rio O'Byrne's ollie over to frontside pivot and to frontside disaster and Ryan Price's andrecht revert were all high points.
This rounded off the day nicely and let everyone concentrate on the serious business of getting pissed and listening to the rest of the bands. Feeling mid-level crippled for the entirety of Sunday is the sign of a properly good day out, and The Battle At The Black Country felt like a proper throwback to the mid-2000s when War of the Roses et al would go off and see people travel from up and down the country.
Props to Gnargore, A Third Foot, Unit 3Sixty, Jamie Brewer, Tom Gillespie and all the bands and skaters who showed up to make for a killer session to kickstart the year. If you missed it, you blew it! Check out the Pixels edit courtesy of James Harris while you're at it;