FLAG live at the Underworld, London

FLAG
The Underworld, Camden, London
August 1st

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Respect. That’s the key word here. Respect to Flag for choosing to spread their London debut over two nights at the Underworld rather than spending one night in a larger venue with half the required atmosphere. And respect to the members of Flag for pretty much inventing this thing we call hardcore punk rock, and so much more.

You’re in the presence of true legends here. No, it’s not Black Flag. That’s Greg Ginn’s band. He pissed all over his legacy a couple of years back with that dreadful new album and appalling live shows. I know, I witnessed it at Ieperfest in Belgium three years back – slow, sluggish, terrible rhythm section. Awful. Flag, however, (that’s Keith, Dez, Stephen, Chuck and Bill) play the music right, with energy, passion and power. You’re watching true legends at work here. All of the people involved, minus Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton who replaces Ginn, lived, breathed, wrote and performed this legendary material and when the band come out onstage tonight and Keith whispers into the mic…”it’s not my imagination,” before bellowing. “I’VE GOT A GUN IN MY BACK!!” and the whole band lurch into ‘Revenge’, the years melt away and the true power of the music is unleashed, knocking the crowd sideways.

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And from that moment on, they fire off bolt after bolt of perfect hardcore punk rock. It’s a total joy to watch these true masters of the art. The way Chuck Dukowski screws up his face and hammers at the strings on this bass like his totally despises all four of them. The way Keith’s unmistakable vocals are both pitch perfect, snotty, sarcastic and drawling. The way he holds his space on the stage, his small frame shielding off endless stage dives and attempts to steal his microphone and scream along with the songs (he does not like this). The way Bill plays with precision and power, lagging on the beat so the songs never run away with themselves. The way both Dez and Stephen’s guitars manage to summon up the undeniable genius of Ginn’s original vision and noise. It’s perfect.

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There’s no need to list all of the songs they played. They performed everything that was important, going as far as ‘My War’ (written by Chuck) and although you can feel the band tiring a little towards the end (‘I’ve Heard it Before’ isn’t quite as intense as it should be), the stamina they hold until that point is totally impressive. These are not young guys. These are people that started it all. Show them some fucking respect.

James Sherry

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Gallows Live at The Underworld, Camden

GALLOWS
w/ Feed The Rhino, Brotherhood of the Lake

London Camden Underworld
19th October 2012

Brotherhood Of The Lake’s recent ‘Desperation Is The English Way Vol. 1’ debut is a dark-hearted, brooding beast indeed – but whatever fuels their rage, they’re not shy to vent it live. The likes of ‘You’ll Never Dream’ are shot through with the kind of grit and determination that saw Andy Dufresne through to the end of that 500-yard sewage tunnel in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, and though their precise, Helmet-esque metallic attack falls on all too few ears, it’s a fine start to an evening that can only get louder and ever more chaotic.

A case in point: Feed The Rhino, who provide a lesson in how to utterly dominate a stage. The guitarists lurch around like a hardcore tag-team, whilst Lee Tobin is a larger than life frontman, less likely to exhort the crowd to greater efforts than to jump in and show them how it’s done. Oh, and they sound amazing – punishingly heavy, yet also anthemic, and with some killer grooves to boot. The closing ‘The Butcher’ heralds a wall of death worthy of a headline act, and amidst the ruckus, you can’t help but wonder if you’re witnessing the start of something big for Feed The Rhino.

All that remains is for Gallows to take any lingering ‘new guy on vocals’ doubts and smash them into dust before our eyes. Back in their natural environment – with no barriers getting in the way – that glorious sense of chaos is there from the off, with guitarist Lags and bassist Stu frequently to be seen rocking out in (or on top of) the maelstrom of a pit, and a steady stream of stagedivers eager to help out on backing vocals.

The new self-titled record is rightfully given a good airing, with ‘Depravers’, ‘Outsider Art’ and ‘Everybody Loves You…’ among the best things this band have ever done. Throughout, Wade cuts an imposing figure; having not only brought his own brand of fury to the Gallows table, but also – like the audience – taking his band’s older songs of discontent and doomed romance in as his own, and then blasting them out again with complete conviction.

‘Abandon Ship’? Tonight, they damn well torch the fucker, and make sushi out of the shark’s belly into the bargain. Gallows 2012, then – still as visceral as ever and, more importantly, still a band to believe in.

Words: Alex Gosman

Negative Approach Live at The Underworld

Negative Approach
w/ Blasted
The Underworld, Camden
15th October 2012

Boasting former members of Winnebago Deal and Do Me Bad Things amongst their ranks, Blasted’s high pedigree kicks off tonight’s proceedings in an incendiary manner. Their furious, two minute, hardcore rock n’roll songs are face-rippers delivered with a sweat soaked brilliance that bodes well for the future.

Detroit hardcore legends Negative Approach return to London for the third time since their 2006 Thurston Moore approved reunion, and despite a heckler calling them a ‘covers band’ (only two of the four original members remain) they are greeted with a suitable maelstrom not often seen on an autumnal Monday night.

Vocalist John Brannon’s face is a picture of hate and distain as he bellows through a set of classics that includes ‘Sick Of Talk’, ‘Ready To Fight’ and the pit enraging ‘Tied Down’. This band may be over thirty years old but they still play with a fire and conviction that would put their younger contemporaries to shame. Guitarist Chris Moore stands with his back to the seething crowd for the duration of a set, perspiration pouring from his brow. Like the bands original three year career, their set is short and sweet, climaxing in a rousing gang vocal of Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’.

Shows like these are largely based upon nostalgia or the term ‘heritage bands’, but for 45 minutes tonight, it was 1982 again in the Underworld. More bands should take a leaf out of NA’s reformation book.

Words: Miles Hackettt
Photo: Greg Wheeler

Pierce The Veil Live at The Underworld

PIERCE THE VEIL
w/Crown The Empire, The Getaway Plan

The Underworld, London
21st September 2012

It’s a great feeling when you can sense excitement in the air. Tonight’s show at Underworld sold out long in advance and every punter inside this dungeon like venue is experiencing the same static charge that makes neck hair stand to attention. Senses are heightened as the show kicks off.

First on are Australian rockers The Getaway Plan. After a short hiatus the boys are over on our shores to seduce with their impressive melodies. Definitely the most mainstream of all acts on the bill tonight, but there’s no shame in that when the sophisticated ‘The Reckoning‘ is delivered to perfection. The Getaway Plan perform solidly, and will most definitely have drawn in a few new fans with their set.

Crown The Empire are what many dislike about metalcore these days. Their gimmick laden nonsense wins the hearts of the crowd but would see metal gods of the past turning in their graves. Random dustup elements, generic riffs and mock brutal breakdowns with dual clean and screamed vocals defines their music. Imagine The Blackout combined with Asking Alexandria finished off with an overdose of American sleaze. In their matching suits and styled haircuts Crown The Empire are every scene kid’s wet dream. Fair play to the band, they know what is working in the market currently, they will develop a loyal following from younger metal fans, but their musical integrity is questionable.

Just like with Crown The Empire, the average age of a Pierce The Veil fan at the Underworld tonight seems to be about 16. But the difference with Pierce The Veil is that their music can appeal to a much wider audience than those screaming in front of them; their music isn’t made to target a particular market, their sound feels sincere and a genuine combination of heart-felt cultural and musical influences.

With tracks from ‘Collide The Sky‘ now making a welcome appearance on PTV’s set list, their repertoire has been turned up a notch. The fast paced ‘Hell Above‘ makes for a triumphant opener that instantly portrays the bands intent to make this show a great one. ‘Bulls In The Bronx‘ contains one of this years sweetest solos and proves to be song structure excellence in a live environment. Old favourites like ‘Caraphernelia‘ and ‘Bulletproof Love‘ result in mass sing-alongs and crowd surfing frenzies. Ending with ‘King For A Day‘ sums up Pierce The Veil’s dominance, they own this show and have performed impeccably tightly in this crowed sweat box.

Pierce The Veil provide a masterclass tonight. Although they could be battling in an over saturated market, they are carving their own way, breaking out and away from stereotypes with something unique and undeniably special.

Words & Photos: Emma Wallace

Stream New Basement Track Here


Much loved emo/post-hardcore group Basement have announced details of their forthcoming -and final- album as well as publishing a track for streaming.

Lead single ‘Spoiled‘ -which can be heard below- is taken from their sophomore full length ‘Colourmeinkindness’, due out 22nd October 2012 via Run For Cover Records.

The band are due for an indefinite hiatus after the album release and two final sold-out shows (November 16th at The Well, Leeds
and November 17th London Underworld). The young band quickly developed a cult following and will surely be missed. Expect a full review of ‘Colourmeinkindness’ to follow soon…