For those that don't know about Deconstruction, it's a punk show akin to the Warped Tour but that travels around different places in Europe and normally culminates with a date in England, and this time it was at the Brixton Academy in London. Last year it was tacked on to a shitty festival called Download, so I was glad it was a seperate thing this time around.
The whole thing started with a skate demo which included Ali Cairns and Pete King but the bands started at about 1:30, which is far too early for punk gigs to start. However, first on were a female-fronted UK ska-core band called NO COMPLY who played to a venue that was only about a quarter-full at the time. They recently released their debut full-length called "With Windmills Turning Wrong Directions" and had an undenibale energy and passion, which probably is related to the fact that they embark on huge tours in small venues throughout the UK regularly. They were not used to a venue of such size but they pulled it off reasonably well.
Swedish three-peice THE MOVEMENT were next and I had never heard anything of theirs prior to the show and I now feel compelled to not investigate any further, as they were quite monotonous and dull after a while, their mix of mod and rock 'n' roll not really doing a lot for me, or most other people there it seemed, as most of the crowd didn't show much interest.
Epitaph's 1208 were next and they disappointed slightly, their uptempo pop-punk becoming boring after a while. The fact that their singer is related to Greg Ginn bears no significance on their sound, and only "Outside Looking In" and "My Loss" really caught the attention, the rest being a substandard clone of Pennywise and worryingly enough, hints of Sum 41 were prevailent in some songs.
The first great set and rowdiest crowd reaction of the day was due to STRIKE ANYWHERE, who have cemented a reputation as one of the best hardcore bands around at the moment, and they justified that hype tonight with an absolutely blistering set. Justin and Chris #2 of Anti-Flag (who played later) joined them for a song as well, and the band really made an impression on me. They didn't shove weightless politics down our throats as much as I imagined they would but played "To The World" from the recent Rock Against Bush compilation. Being a late starter I have yet to purchase anything by them but rest assured on this evidence it'll be well worth the money.
PULLEY didn't get quite as frenzied a response as SA but played a set full of their classic songs ("Gone", "Cashed In", "Runaway" and "Hooray For Me" each got an airing) as well as some new material from their brilliant album "Matters" which went down pretty well with the majority of people there. Singer Scott was acting pretty odd which led me to believe he was drunk, but he seemed to enjoy himself on stage which put a smile on many faces. A truly underrated band which warrant your interest should skate-punk be your type of thing, if you haven't got into them yet then you probably should start.
Another Epitaph band (the third of four tonight) were up next: Germany's BEATSTEAKS, a band never afraid to broaden themselves and make their music as original as they can possibly get it, be it from ska to garage rock to straight up punk - they played most of their faster songs, such as the fantastic "Panic" and "Let Me In" as well as stuff from latest releases "Smacksmash" - they talked about their love for the late, great Joe Strummer and pulled out the surfboard for their now renowned crowd-surfing skit, but again the crowd warmed to them quickly and they delivered a gutsy and extremely impressive display.
THE SLACKERS are great. A Specials-esque reggae group from New York who always had a grin on their faces and from the very start of their set the crowd was in their pocket. Everyone seemed to be skanking or dancing, and the band were really enjoying themselves. If there was any justice in the world they'd be more succesful but they were probably the best band of the day, simply for their uplifting songs and crazy stage antics (a dance routine between two members of the band got a very positive reaction) and the way they made a weary crowd get on their feet and thoroughly enjoy themselves, which I guess is what they intended to do.
ANTI-FLAG annoy me. I don't mind their music as I am a big fan of hardcore punk but they really should stop talking so much. They continually berate George Bush and Tony Blair and give examples of what is wrong with the world today...killing is wrong, the government's fucked up etc etc...which we all know is true, but to be honest I'd rather hear the music instead of lengthy political rants. The even made people in the crowd shake hands with one another which to me was a bit weird, but there we go. They perform their songs well enough, with Thomas from Strike Anywhere returning the favour to join them on set-closer "Die For Your Government" but next time I'd prefer it if they wouldn't go off on tangents about what an idiot the President is.
MXPX hardly ever play in the UK, so it was pretty cool getting to see them play, even if it was only for 30 minutes. Their latest album was a huge letdown but any fan of pop-punk (there must be some of you left) would agree that MxPx have produced some classic stuff in the past, reaching their pinnacle with the awesome "Life In General". They didn't play as many of their more well-known songs as I'd have liked but we did get "My Life Story", "Chick Magnet" and the so simple yet so good "Punk Rawk Show" which all went down extremely well with the masses. MxPx may be releasing increasingly bad albums but there's no denying the spirit is still there, which is nice to see.
I personally love LAGWAGON, and have done for a while now, however the pretty muted crowd response was a big surprise. The band themselves didn't look happy with such a low level of interest and even commented on the lack of enthusiasm and energy displayed by the crowd, claiming that the German crowd was a lot better. To be honest there were a bit sloppy, despite Dave Raun's fierce drumming, which Joey Cape lazily going through the motions, occasionally gurning or pretending to fight his bandmates. They played, among others, "Sleep", "Raise A Family", "E Dagger", "Violins", "Falling Apart", "Bury The Hatchet" (apparently a song they rarely play live), "Never Stops", "Making Friends" and "May 16", but for the most part a lot of people didn't seem to particularly care, which I think could've affected Lagwagon's performance as I know they are capable of better.
PENNYWISE headlined the whole thing and got a huge response, which extremely contrasted to the one Lagwagon had got just before. They get a lot of criticism these days from many people who brand them as has-beens and boring, but there is no denying they are an energetic and crowd-pleasing live band, with frontman Jim interacting with the crowd a lot, taking requests and pulling people on stage, which shows that they care about their fans having a good time. They also did two covers: "Blitzkreig Bop" and also a punked-up version of Outkast's "Hey Ya" (Fletcher also claimed Outkast were punk rock) which everybody loved. They played mostly older material including "Pennywise", "Perfect People", "Same Old Story", "Fuck Authority", "The World" and also "Bro Hymn" which they obviously closed with, because if it ain't broke, you don't fix it, and they really fed off the crowd's rabid appreciation for them. They put their all into it despite being men who are appraoching 40, and long may they continue to do so.
Overall a great day out, only hampered by over-expsnsive food and merch, and the fact that it would've been better outside rather than a huge indoor venue, but most of the bands went beyond my expectations, especially Strike Anywhere and Pennywise, so I went home a happy man.