So Europe's yearly punk rock festival makes its way into England again for a two-day stop, the first of which is in the capital. About 10 bands squeezed into a 9-hour stretch within a venue that is probably the smallest to hold Deconstruction yet, the Charing Cross Astoria.
The first two bands were both from England, Tribute To Nothing and Captain Everything! The former peddled pretty routine post-hardcore and looked nervous throughout, which is perfectly understandable, whereas the latter are an established live band and got the majority of the crowd going with their rapid-fire skate punk tunes and random stage banter, the highlight of which was "There's No I In Scene," a song about the glut of emerging bands that sound exactly the same.
Next up were Only Crime, who surprised me by playing so early, but their set was of a high standard, as you'd expect from a band full of veterans. Even though Russ Rankin wasn't particularly mobile on the stage, Bill Stevenson pounded the fuck out of his kit with gleeful abandon and really carried the performance. Obviously, with only one album under their belt they were limited as to what they could play, but despite some of the songs being a bit too Good Riddance-esque, it was enjoyable.
Smoke Or Fire, another recent Fat signing, were on next and the crowd thinned out considerably, which frustrated me a little bit as I believe this band have the potential to go a long way. Their brand of emotive punk (not emo though, not even close) may not be really original, but Above The City is a terrific album and the songs sounded brilliant in a live setting, especially "California's Burning" and "Culture As Given."
I didn't have particularly high expectations for From Autumn To Ashes because their sing-scream formula is not really my can of Special Brew, but they weren't as bad as I'd thought they'd be. The singer was a ball of energy, despite being a little on the heavy side and most of the crowd responded positively to them.
Strike Anywhere played this same festival last year and their set really had an impact; it was the performance of the day by some stretch. This year they weren't as incendiary, but still delivered a solid set, which leaned more towards Change Is A Sound, which is very much a good thing. They also played "Chorus Of One," which was much appreciated by yours truly.
The next band was Capdown, a relatively local band who were higher on the bill than I'd imagined. They play a brand of punk/hardcore with occasional saxophone interludes from front-man Jake. They played a rousing 30 minutes and got the crowd going with anthems like "Act Your Rage," "M4V" and set-closer "Ska Wars," five years old but still with an impact on a crowd. There were few stationary bodies in the building, a mixture of skanking and full on circle pitting taking place, and it was a pretty awesome sight.
The penultimate band of the night were Boysetsfire, who I found tedious despite all the praise that's been showered on them in the last few years. They never really seemed to get going, and while they had an army of fans going crazy for them, they never quite hit home like they should've. "Last Year's Nest" provoked the biggest reaction from the crowd, but they were lacking that something special tonight, which was a shame.
The headline slot was provided by Santa Barbara's finest ska band, the one and only Mad Caddies, who replaced No Use For A Name after they randomly cancelled a month or so beforehand. They were very impressive despite Sasha having a few problems with his guitar, and played all the songs guaranteed to get even weakened and battered bodies moving like crazy, including (the obvious) "Monkeys" and "Road Rash," as well as "Villains," "Just One More," "Leavin," "Contraband," "Mary Melody," "Macho Nachos," "Silence," "Drinking For 11," "The Gentleman," "Bridges," (a song they've never played in this part of the world before apparently) and that pirate song, amongst others which I can't recall at this time. They were a lot of fun, as always, and it was a pretty awesome ending to what turned out to be a fine day out, save for a few complete dickheads in the crowd and some overly pricey merchandise. Same time next year then...