Live Reviews

Stretch Armstrong

Camden Barfly

There’s nothing like a good hardcore show to perk you up after a tiring day’s work. Let’s not forget that beyond the legions of in-vogue,’metalcore’ bands, there are still plenty of bands doing things in the true spirit of
hardcore – not least the likes of South Carolina quintet Stretch Armstrong, whose current two-week UK tour involves local promoters, intimate venues and – best of all – dirt-cheap merchandise prices.

On record, With Honor play excellent melodic hardcore in a similar vein to Rise Against; alas the Barfly’s PA doesn’t do them many favours, reducing much of their sound to tuneless bludgeon. Still, they’ve clearly got several fans here tonight, and therefore give it their all anyway.

It’s left to Stretch Armstrong to show how invigorating stripped-down hardcore can be. There’s no recycled old-school metal riffs or macho posturing here, just shedloads of enthusiasm (from both band and crowd) and a clutch of hard-hitting anthems that bring to mind Sick Of It All stealing a few notes from Hot Water Music’s book. Frontman Chris McLane is obviously happy to see so many people here on a cold Wednesday night, and frequently offers the mike to the fans going crazy at the front, as the band rip through old favourites and gems from new album Free At Las’.

It all ends in suitably chaotic style, with a stage invasion for the last song. With their current profile, it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing Stretch Armstrong on the likes of the Taste Of Chaos tour in the near future, but on tonight’s evidence, they more than deserve their small-but-loyal UK following. for all the trimmings.

Alex Gosman