Municipal Waste

The Horror
The Dome, London
20/10/05

‘The eighties are over, get over it,’ someone shouts from the front as Municipal Waste steam into yet another slab of prime thrash metal from an era before things were Nu and metal was metal and metal was fast. Yes, the eighties are over but the crimes that have been committed against metal over the last few years by bozos like Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park and Alien Ant Farm means that it’s time to start looking back to a time when metal was at it’s most vital and start drawing on the energy and enthusiasm and injecting it back into the music today. Municipal Waste draw their inspiration from a period in heavy music when the extremes of metal, hardcore and punk merged to create a genre then described as Crossover. By fusing the raw attitude of punk with the speed and simplicity of hardcore and power of metal, bands like Agnostic Front, Corrosion Of Conformity, Crumbsuckers, D.R.I. and Nuclear Assault created a whirlwind of energy as the bands played faster and faster. Combine this with the influence of speed/thrash metal like Exodus, Megadeth, Slayer and the like and you had a scene that rivalled the first wave of punk in the energy and attitude stakes.

But first, the incredible Horror lay waste to the entire venue tonight, showing us all exactly how this hardcore thing should be, and used to be done before somehow lame chugga-chugga metalcore started getting passed off as hardcore. From the moment they hit the stage they are lightning fast, stupidly tight and just so fucking powerful it makes you want to grab every other two bit hardcore band in the UK roughly round the back of the neck, shove their faces in it and scream ‘look, this is how it should be done!’ One minute they’re so fast you think they’re going to become air-born, then the next they kick into a comparatively more mid-paced stinging riff that just makes you wanna go wild and break stuff. The Horror are as good as any band from the golden age of eighties UK hardcore (Ripcord, Heresy, The Stupids) and their next album will peel your skin off. You have been warned.

Municipal Waste’s sense of fun is utterly addictive. They hit the stage amongst a barrage of flying bodies, lager and sweat. At one point someone surfboards off the stage before trying to surf across peoples heads as the band bombard us with crisps from their rider saying we all look too skinny and need fattening up. And all around everyone is thrashing and smiling and just getting off on the fun and energy of it all. This is how metal gigs should be. This is how metal gigs used to be. A riot. Thank you Municipal Waste for bringing the feeling back.

James Sherry

We Are Scientists

93 East – London
17th October 2005

The venue is rammed meaning that the current single The Great Escape has done it’s duty and turned heads, not really difficult though when you have a tune that good but hey, better ones have not even touched the sides in the past but these guys are lucky, they were in the right hands at the right time.

3 piece bands that play high temp disco indie sounds like hard work for all members involved but tonight, these 3 guys make it look easy. With tunes like the classic Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt and This Scene is Dead the band roll through this set with ease with a sense of humour thrown in for good measure. For some reason though this set is not likely to hit arenas in the future, or at least you could not imagine them playing to crowds of that size but for now, even at this dodgy east London venue they have already started to climb capacities. The debut album that just came out is one to have, check them out live when they next visit, you will not be disappointed.

Finnan Crispy

Test Icicles

The grapevine has been telling us that this band are meant to be like a fire in the hole by all accounts, so myself and Sherry were not gonna miss them. The show was organised by www.myspace.com so the crowd was full of fashion drenched punk kids who were allowed a free night out courtesy of the website and there were no support bands, a DJ that played Black Flag in his set and a bar full of cold beer…it was looking good!

It’s not often a band with no drummer pull it off but “tonight Matthew” this was an exception as this is certainly NOT Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – thankfully.

Their stage presence reminds us of the energy of bands like The Stupids, basically cranked to 11 and totally out of control, but they totally pull it off. Just think of all of those great bands like The Stupids, Brainiac, Beastie Boys, At the Drive In, Slayer and Butter 08 all mixed into one live and you could be closer to this stage than us on the night.

The last single Boa vs Python was the most appreciated by the crowd for obvious reasons but brand new tracks from the debut album out in November like Your Biggest Mistake attacks you like Shellac and Brainiac in a fight with swords! Basically, this band do not fuck about, they go straight in for the kill and laugh with it. It’s punk infused violence mixed up in a snotty overdose of pandemonium and just what the doctor ordered…

Other stand out tracks included the mammoth Maintain The Focus that has a chorus you will be singing all the way home in between the anarchy that rains around the rest of the track and also Circle Square Triangle that writhes in a disco rhythm but screams at you if you don’t pay attention to it. This is the next single out on Domino and knowing that this track is the most straight forward it will serve well as a song that travels the airwaves on the right stations. But if you like chaotic discord for your aural pleasure then the rest of the set is something not to miss on the next tour that kicks off on October 16th in the UK. Check www.testicicles.com for all the info…

Zac

King Biscuit Time

Cargo – London
26th September 2005

It’s been a while since Steve Mason stepped into London for a show but without The rest of the Beta Band behind him, the question is “would he be able to pull it off”? King Biscuit Time was his side project whilst in the Beta Band and with only one EP under his belt selling out East London’s Cargo venue was no mean feat. The venue was packed to hilt with expectation and anxious bods awaiting a set full of brand new KBT tunes and they were not disappointed. In fact, Mason’s aura won them over even before he opened his mouth.

With producer C-Swing at the helm keeping the beats tidy on the a-dat machine and the keys flowing beautiful patterns the show was anchored and never sank. Mason’s second anchor man Pete (or “yes man” as he called him on stage) provided bass, guitars and various percussion instruments whilst his cheeky smile lit up the audience. The set kicked off with new songs from the up and coming LP bringing beautiful, mellow pop tunes to the party such as the wonderful Left Eye and Way You Walk. The one thing that was apparent is that Steve’ds voice is absolutely spot on. As he sang through I Love You that was lifted off the No Style EP,he really meant every word and you could feel the entire audience taking it in. With some custom Beta Band renditions thrown in, both Doctor Baker and Simple got mammouth applause before the new single C I AM 15 kicked in. Mason took to the miniture drumkit set up at the front of the stage and also dabbed at the african drums in time with his henchmen but i felt it lacked Top cat’s toasting live and sounded like it really missed him.

With time running out and a hungry crowd, his encore included a dub reggae version of Anarchy in the UK which was simply splendid followed by another blast of the single to leave people singing on the way home. After watching this fine set, the album is set to be a wonderful record and Mason can hold his head high after setting himself up a solo career that looks as though will take the biscuit in the end….

Zac

Mudhoney

Koko Camden

Friday 16th September

It’s hot and sweaty and Koko has just witnessed the wrath of the Immortal Lee County Killers who came, rocked and left a crowd thinking of who cool they were with their screeching blues tinted rock and roll. Quote of the set was from the drummer Doug “The Boss” Sherrard at the end when he said, “this song is about the Rolling Stones, if you got acid drop it, if you got a coca cola, drink it!”. He also makes slashing gestures with his sticks as he drums, cool as fuck!

Talking of cool, when we heard Mudhoney were to visit London and play their legendary album Superfuzz Bigmuff from start to finish, it was a no brainer that we had to be there. I remember seeing them 2 nights in a row at The Hibernian club in Fulham as Mudhoney played with various Sub Pop bands back in 1992 covered in sweat blood and beer. Mudhoney are remembered for their electric live shows but 13 years on, was it going to be the same?

Well, nostalgia kicked in, we smiled, laughed as the band ripped through the album kicking off with the monster that is Touch Me I’m Sick, Hate the Police, In and Out of Grace and everything in between but the band seemed to be very relaxed about the whole thing making jokes in between songs and generally goofing around. Nothing new there but once the album was out of the way and early 7″ tracks kicked in, the night seemed to resemble something that did not really have a crescendo ending knowing all the so called “hits” were already done.

With Suck Me Dry and some new stuff thrown in at the end, it was apparent that we should have cherished the good old days as this show was a gig not to look back on as it actually said on the advert…

Z

Thrice

Evenings such as this are often daunting events for the self-respecting metal fan. Not necessarily as a result of the quality of music on display, but more due to the fact that the audience of which bands such as Thrice attract have an uncanny and almost frightening ability to look almost identical. An endless stream of youth size shirts, waist crushing jeans and ghastly chequered slip-ons; one can only hope that tonight’s headliners produce a performance capable of making such a daunting social experience worthwhile.

As the lights dim and the band stride onstage, deafening screams reminiscent of a thousand boiling teapots ring out from those in attendance. Almost immediately the opening chords of ‘Betrayal is a Symptom’ wash over the venue to be met with sheer jubilation; the crowd rolling back as one before smashing into the barricade with all the synchronised force of an unstoppable tidal wave. The circle pit inducing ‘Paper Tiger’ is as sharp as a razor and twice as dangerous, while anthem ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ provokes a sizeable majority into screaming along with such passion that their very eyes are in danger of exploding clean out of their sockets.

It’s obvious that Thrice are a band most comfortable when in the presence of fans that are truly tirs and theirs alone. The only question that remains unanswered is whether they can pull it off outside of the spotlight as convincingly as when in it.

3/5

Ryan Bird

The Lemonheads

The LemonheadsThere’s an uneasy feel in the crowd at Shepherds Bush Empire as we wait for The Lemonheads to come on. Tonight’s reunion could go either way – will they still have that magic? Will Evan Dando be on time, will he even be coherent or in a crack induced mess – would this all be a horrible mistake? You almost want your idols to stay in your memories in case they shatter your illusions. But bang on 9.30, a tall figure lopes on to the stage, a wry grin in place and an appreciative nod to the crowds, and the crowd seem to breathe a collective sigh of relief. He’s here, he’s smiling..and he’s wearing a reassuringly random outfit.

In the early ’90’s The Lemonheads were riding the wave of their success with critically acclaimed album, a talented frontman popular for his boyish teen-idol hippy looks and song-writing alike, churning out tracks ranging from the harder grunge through to alt-country – they seemed to have it all going for them, until Evan Dando’s drug habit spiralled out of control. Erratic performances, losing his voice, and no-shows followed until he woke up at an airport one morning, with no idea how he’d got there or what he’d even been doing the day before. The band disintegrated post Reading ’97, and when Atlantic released the ‘Best of’ album in ’98 it only confirmed suspicions that this really was the end. Now years later, The Lemonheads are back, bought together by ‘Don’t Look Back’ for a two night stand.

Standing tall on the stage, his good looks and boyish charm very much intact, Evan Dando looks endearingly self conscious at first. Stand-in bassist Josh Lattanzi and drummer Bill Stevenson follow him out, but it’s very much Dando who the crowd have come to see. . In his floaty red shirt and needlepoint white drainpipes, his trademark blonde hair as unfairly shiny as ever, it’s like we’ve stepped back in time, and from the word go, it’s clear that this is going to be a night to remember.

Without so much as a ‘hello’ they slide straight into the set with ‘Rockin’ Stroll’. The first lines of a ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ are drowned out by the crowd, and Dando allows himself a smile. ‘Confetti’, ‘Drug Buddy’ (allegedly about Juliana Hatfield) and ‘Kitchen’ are lovingly reinstated, he dedicates ‘Hannah and Gabi’ to ex-bassist Nic Dalton, and ‘Alison’s Starting to Happen’ keeps that little bit of grit in the closing verse.

There’s no banter or chat in-between songs, they glide through the ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ album, until Dando is left on the stage alone, to pick away at some tracks on his own, they seem to merge into one, like he’s just picking up whatever tune comes to mind. It’s with this section that the alt-country quality comes to the forefront, Dando’s love of Gram Parsons shines through, especially with the breathtakingly beautiful ‘Outside Type’ and ‘Being Around’ , Dando’s haunting voice full of melancholy and regret. A cover of Mike Nesmith’s ‘Different Drum’ is a high point; standing there, guitar in hand, and a break to his voice, Dando is the epitome of the tragic hero, his lyrics floating across the crowds, who are literally hanging on his every word. And so the hour long set ends all too soon, and it takes the drum tech to actually start taking the drum kit away to convince the ardent front rows that this really is the end.

Rumours abound that, like The Pixies and Dinosaur Junior, The Lemonheads are going to give it another go together. Evan Dando certainly appears to have his demons under control, and with tonight’s life-affirming set, it’s clear he’s made it back from the brink to be every bit as talented as he was. Goofy and modest he may, but then it always was the quiet ones you had to look out for wasn’t it?

Dee Massey

The Misfits

05.09.05 – The Underworld, London

The chances of many people reading this right now who saw the original Misfits live are slim to say the least. They only made it to the UK once as support to The Damned in 1979 (a tour which was cut short when then frontman Glenn Danzig wound up in jail after a bar fight) and appearances on their homeland were sporadic to say the least. Thanks, however, to Metallica’s endorsement of the band long after The Misfits disbanded allowed their legend to grow and when bassist Jerry Only won the right to use the Misfits name, he didn’t let the small matter of being the original member left get in the way of his career.

The Misfits that greets us tonight feature pre-Rollins Black Flag singer Dez Cadena on guitar, original Misfits/Black Flag drummer Robo and Jerry taking lead vocals and bass. The fact that this isn’t really The Misfits doesn’t stop an unbearably hot and crammed Underworld from slamming seven shades of shit out of each other as Mr Only charges his motley band of aging US punk legends through every Misfits song you could ever want to hear, plus a few you didn’t (anything post-Danzig). This is immediately a far superior performance to their dismal display in Camden a couple of years back when, with Marky Ramone on drums, they play a scrappy set of apparently barely rehearsed Ramones, Misfits and Black Flag songs. Marky’s weak and decidedly basic drumming style made the band sound painfully thin, but tonight, Robo hits the skins with the power of a man half his age and the splattering of Black Flag classic like ‘Thirsty And Miserable, ‘Six Pack’, ‘Jealous Again’ and ‘Rise Above’ are the highlights of an extremely hot, sweaty and entertaining night.

Reading Festival 2005

Clinging onto the side of a gazebo as it makes a break for freedom in wind I’m hit with a sense of deja-vu. The rain, mud and the smell of burning plastic in the air is back! Yes..it’s that time of year again already..it’s Reading.

Having survived the first two nights, sat through the mother of all thunder storms, fallen over twice in what I’m still hoping, almost garrotted myself on a low flying rope and eaten enough meals made out of potatoes to last a lifetime….FRIDAY is finally upon us.

I’d love to say I was up and at ’em as soon as the first band came on..but an introduction to tequila jelly the night before made things a little hazy, and by the time I’ve crawled out of the sauna like tent , the DROPKICK MURPHY’s are doing what they do best on the main stage.. Consistently entertaining with the american-irish banter and bagpipes, the mosh pit goes into overdrive. ‘Amazing Grace’ punk style is awesome, here’s a band that’ll bring a smile on most faces. GRAHAM COXON is next on, sliding unassumingly onto the stage. Cited by some as the best thing about Blur, Coxon’s solo project has gone from strength to strength. Today’s set is tight, Coxon taking centre stage as he wraps himself around his guitar producing awe-inspiring sounds. Impressive.

Next it’s a dash over to the NME Radio 1 stage to check out widely hyped THE SUBWAYS. Despite their youth, the trio from Welwyn Garden City really impress with a set that literally fizzles with intensity and excitement. Frontman Billy Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper curl themselves around each other, the tension tangible – ‘Rock n Roll Queen’ was the first track Lunn ever wrote about Cooper, and ends the set on a high. They’ll be higher up the set list next year for sure.

ELBOW and THE CORAL aren’t particularly awe-inspiring…and memories of their sets are pushed to the back of your mind with QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE. Father-to-be Josh Homme commands your attention, ever for non QTSA-fans (that’d be me) it’s a great performance, picking and choosing the right mix of tracks to keep your attention on them. They’re doing great things and don’t seem to be missing Nick Oliveri much.

One thing bothers me about THE KILLERS… and that’s how damn clean Brandon Flowers looks in his pristine white blazer. The set is slick, producing the first real singalongs of the day with ‘Somebody Told Me’ and ‘Mr Brightside’, it gets people dancing in the twilight, after the rain and mud it’s the perfect atmosphere rolling off the stage to lift you up. It’s good to see a band make such a big deal out of a festival slot, and their enthusiasm creates a really chilled out vibe in the crowd. Shortly afterwards we’re joined by THE PIXIES. As with their V slot last year, the set is solid, no drama or histrionics, good, dependable and honest. Despite the fact they remind me of my parents, the give another vintage performance, with all the crowd favourite thrown into the mix, and good humoured banter between them, the first night headliners end Friday with a solid performance..but unlike The Darkness last year..no damn fireworks. Pfft.

SATURDAY

Saturday dawns slighty soggy, but warmer, and the rain finally gives us a break. FROM AUTUMN TO ASHES scream out good morning from the main stage, just what you need to shift your hangover. Their frontman screeches out lyrics, crouching down and hurling out tracks upon track with vitriol. The set is angry and aggressive, the tone moody, so the next band on THE ALL AMERICAN REJECTS juxtaposed next to the misery guts FATA have never seemed perkier! The Rejects bounce through their set, grinning and strutting, their saccharine sweet punk-pop actually a really tonic for anyone feeling a little jaded. Frontman Tyler Whitter appears to have gone from being a little kooky to clinically insane, but its with relief that I notice guitarist Nick has finally got rid of his mullet. ‘Swing Swing’ is the first mass singalong of the day and as the band bounce off stage, they leave smiles behind.

This is the first year for a while that Concrete Jungle hasn’t visited Reading, and instead we get the Radio One Lock Up Stage, which is mostly ska punk/hardcore and the works. Personally I hope they bring back the Concrete Jungle, with the indie/pop punk/emo.

DINOSAUR JUNIOR are one band you have to see live. They made be old, and grey haired ( and even bald in some cases) but their slot is a must-see. Some complained it was a little self indulgent, with long winded waaa-waaa guitar solos, and the set list did admittedly seem a little all over the shop…but these guys are the real deal.

THE ARCADE FIRE are one of the most anticipated slots of the weekend, with an eclectic group of band members swapping instruments, they quite literally light up the tent with their brand of folk-edged punk pop indie melodies, it’s engaging, exciting and more importantly different to the same same brand of hardcore that’s being thrown around in Lock Up stage. Beautifully layer melodies and stunning instrumentals make this one of the highlights.

RAZORLIGHT take the sunset slot on the main stage and Johnny Borrell exudes confidence, strutting around the stage Jagger-stylee, lapping up the attention from the crowd. ‘Somewhere Else’ is sublime, as the sets over Reading, it’s a goose bumps moment. They may not be everyone’s cup of tea, with their mass-appeal indie, but they’re good live, tracks like ‘Golden Touch’ and ‘Vice’ are crowd pleasers, and so Razorlight do a good job, and are not, as some suggested, ‘Razorlight.. pile of shite.’

I miss the hairy Kings of Leon as they clash with the discovery of the vodka jelly stands, but we’re back for FOO FIGHTERS who are without doubt the highlight, personally, of the weekend. Dave Grohl just slides onto the stage, calm and laid back, nonchalantly chewing gum as he greets the festival. What’s so clear is that he’s bloody happy to be here. The set is perfect – every track’s a singalong in the crowd, from Learning to Fly, Stacked Actors, The Best of You, Everlight – and Grohl even takes a turn on the drums, having last played drums at Reading in 1992 with Nirvana. An awe-inspiring green lazer light show is just the icing on the cake for a truly memorable show from a band who are arguably one of the greatest rock bands of our generation.

SUNDAY

Having paid £4 for a cold shower in some car park, I get back to the main arena just in time for THE CRIMEA. Fresh from their US tour with Billy Corgan, The Crimea play a criminally short set jam packed with some great tracks from their forthcoming album’ Tragedy Rocks’ – Ex Crocketts frontman Davey has a soaring, captivating voice, especially in ‘Lottery Winners on Acid’ which has people dancing with its swaying, meandering melody. The tracks are catchy, full and intriguing with melodic keyboards and harmonica seduce your ears, as they filter through into another beautifully written hook. ‘Somebody’s Dying’ is a bit overkill for a last song, with its angsty screams, but all in all, it’s a great showcase for them.

Ex One Line Drawing frontman Jonah introduces his newest band ‘GRATITUDE’. It’s honed American, emo/screamo rock on offer, Jonah is immediately leaning over the barriers to be with ‘his people’..alarm bells start sounding in my head, and he ruins a good set with his preachiness, and his ant-war lecture. Yes we get it – he hates George Bush..but enough already.

FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND have leapt up the Reading set lists from an afternoon slot on a smaller stage two years ago, to headlining the Radio One stage last year, and now they’re onto the main stage in the late afternoon. With a second album out they’ve gained waves of new fans, and it’s an impressive crowd out front to support them. They don’t overwhelm us with new tracks, and it’s a comfort blanket of crowd favourites that makes their set great. They always seem to raise their game at Reading, and this year is no exception.

One quick snooze later and we’re back in time for MARILYN MANSON’s full anticipated slot. Rumour has it this will be his last show ever (but then rumour also has is at this year Reading that Robbie Williams has, again, died). They start the set in the daylight, which seems to take away from Manson’s brilliant freak show, they do seem a little subdued at first, maybe all a little half hearted? Whilst the hardcore fans lap it up, it doesn’t seem the kind of set to engage the wider audience. Classics like MobScene, Tainted Love and The Beautiful People are almost carried by the crowd, and when they leave the stage without so much as a ‘good night Reading’ we’re left feeling a bit..unfulfilled?

Ah IRON MAIDEN. What better way to end a weekend of mayhem than Bruce Dickinson et al? Fresh from the egg throwing Ozzfest Incident, the veteran rockers seem yolk-free as they charge headlong into their set with “Murders In The Rue Morgu”‘, and follow it with all the old school favourites. Bruce Dickinson seems to be happy just chatting to the audience and reminiscing, but once he actually gets down to it, it’s quite a show. It’s 23 years since Maiden last played Reading, and the crowd is a mix of curious indie kids, and old rockers, lapping up ‘Run to the Hills’ and ‘Number of the Beast’.

Over on NME stage BLOC PARTY are the polar opposite of Maiden, but just like the current Maiden line-up was cemented at Reading eons ago, it was here at Reading that Kele Orekeke and guitarist Russell Lissack first met back in 1999, and here, just 6 years later, they’re headlining their own stage. Not bad going for the critically acclaimed Londoners, this is a set that rinses through their album, blasting waves of sound out at the audience, layering up guitars to create an electrically charged atmosphere in the overspilling tent. I’m struck by how great it is to have such amazing diversity from two great British bands closing the last night at Reading.

And so it’s over for another year, what else is there to say but..roll on 2006, it’ll take until then to recover I reckon…

Dee Massey

Bad Religion

London Astoria
29/8/05

The new millenium seems to have brought some much-needed good fortune for Bad Religion, the band who were arguably pivotal in the creation and growth of the Californian punk rock scene. After a slew of sub-standard releases and inter-band problems in the mid-to-late 90’s, the quintet finally returned to form with 2002’s ‘The Process Of Belief’ album, which compares favourably with early classics such as ‘Suffer’ and ‘Generator’. Last weekend saw storming performances at the Reading and Leeds festivals, and tonight they’re finishing a brief UK tour with a return to London.

Emanuel are clearly happy to be on supporting duties; however, their scream-laden, discordant rock n’ roll is a lot more fun to watch than it is easy to remember. They receive only half-hearted applause from a largely disinterested crowd, of whom several people are clearly nursing their post-Reading festival hangovers.

Tonight is unquestionably Bad Religion’s party, and their opening gambit of ‘Sinister Rouge’ (from last year’s excellent ‘The Empire Strikes First’ album) is enough to blow away the remnants of even the worst hangover. There’s little left for the SoCal veterans to prove in terms of their live potential, so they get on with doing what they do best: blasting out raucous yet intelligent melodic hardcore anthems with no shortage of conviction. From the old (‘Generator’, ‘Anaesthesia’, ‘Do What You Want’) to the new (‘Sorrow’, ‘Los Angeles Is Burning’), there’s no shortage of classic songs to keep the crowd singing along with their fists in the air. Vocalist Greg Graffin’s light-hearted banter contrasts with the gravity of his band’s message, whilst often-talkative bassist Jay Bentley is largely content to provide backing vocals and show off his new moustache.

They close with ‘American Jesus’, accompanied by the whole venue chanting along to the “One nation…under God” refrain; a memorable end to a great show from the elder statesmen of US punk rock. Let’s keep believing in this Bad Religion.

Alex Gosman