Quite perfectly, Kicker started their set while their vocalist, Pete the Roadie, was still swigging down a beer. But, always a man of accountability, Pete took the mic just in time to spit out the first lines to the brand new “You Can’t Take Me Anywhere.” Of course, he was just on the boundary between tipsy and mildly drunk, showing that you can actually take Pete the Roadie places, you just have to be careful where you take him. The band's explosively fun show at Oakland’s Merchant Saloon on August 10, 2013 was the perfect place to take him that evening.
Clearly, Kicker are pushing forward, focusing a good deal on new material. After the intro, the band kicked into the aforementioned "Anywhere.” While Pete called out all the reasons he is a menace in his wonderfully scratchy, Cockney accent, the band chopped out classic slabs of hard punk informed by classic anarcho and UK82 bashers.
Guitarist Mauz (also of Dystopia) kept the new songs simple but sharp, focusing more on energetic, thick riffs than guitar theatrics. Likewise, drummer Toby (ex-Filth) chopped forward with rapid drumming that had the energy of American hardcore, by style and remnants of soul heard in the classic UK punk recordings. Perhaps one of the best moments of the evening was on “Broke” when bassist Dave Ed (also of Neurosis) used a beer bottle as a pick while playing a sort of slide-bass. And of course, after the trippy bass-squealing, Ed took a healthy gulp from what he was just moments before using as a musical tool.
Pete (who as we all know roadied for Amebix, Conflict, the Subhumans and a million other bands), as always, was in top form. Indebted to the original wave of English punk vocalists, Pete was animated, marched back and forth across the stage, while making signals ranging from the two-finger salute to the evil eye. Clearly having a blast, Pete would frequently push his way through the audience and grab hold of the nearest person. Tellingly though, in contrast to the American style, he rarely handed the mic off to anyone, instead keeping the vocals to himself. Perhaps after seeing so many other handle mic duties for the last 37 years, Pete is relishing his own 15 minutes.
The set was heavy on new tunes and with good reason. The new songs seem slightly more complex then the first round of songs, but they still focus on classic song structure. “Anywhere” has Kicker’s classic self-deprecating and self aware humor. “Shit at Kicker” thrashes along with a chorus that almost resembles Oi! Soccer chants. The heavy hitter might be the hilarious “Seventeen Years in Hell” which comments on the English drinking age and has a booming, heavy chorus that has the slightest touch of Amebix rumble in the lower ends.
Kicker is just straight up fun. Impressively, they make some social and political points underneath their wisecracks. But the way the band deliver this music, with such a genuine joy for the form, is refreshing as well as a true testament as to how wonderful punk can be.
Kicker Set list:
-Kick Off (instrumental intro)
-You Can’t Take Me Anywhere (new song)
-Shit at Kicker (new song)
-You Suck (new song)
-Soggy Dad (new song)
-Lager and Chips
-Rendered Obsolete (new song)
-Seventeen Years in Hell (new song)