Oh, the vagaries of the UK Railway Network. Its unreliability was the cause of a great deal of pain last Sunday night: missed connections, missed meetings, missed opening bands.
We arrived in the attic of Leeds Cockpit nearly an hour after the doors opened, just as the first band, Beasts, were finishing up their set. The three songs I caught were punishingly loud and heavy hardcore jams with just a hint of a metallic edge, most of which were about anger. Vaguely reminiscent of Botch and other UK acts like Your Demise, I stood and cursed the train for making me miss most of a band that I will definitely be looking out for in the future.
After grabbing a pint that was surprisingly reasonably priced, we headed back upstairs to watch the Lock and Keys. After getting over my initial disappointment that they weren't Lock & Key, an old Deep Elm band who had probably split up long ago anyway, I started to enjoy their slightly sloppy and wholly unoriginal brand of thrashy pop-punk, with songs about getting drunk and stuff. Annoyingly, there was a girl with a microkorg on the corner of the stage, adding irrelevant synth parts to each song, whereas a second guitar would have really fleshed out their sound.
As Polar Bear Club began setting up, the crowd surged forwards, and the long and usually boring process of changing over instruments was made endlessly more interesting by an incredibly drunk sound guy who did his job perfectly, but kept shouting about the Gaslight Anthem and sexual innuendos involving drums whilst I entertained myself by creating a ranking order of who was wearing the best T-shirt. I went for Dag Nasty in first place, with Sundowner, Lemuria and Lifetime battling it for second.
As soon as they started playing, with the thick, pounding intro of "Eat Dinner, Bury the Dog and Run," the crowd was hooked, yelling along with every word, fists in the air, feet on the stage, grabbing for the mic, swallowing me up along with them in a wave of positive aggression. Singer Jimmy Stadt patrolled the front of the stage, with the moves of Adam Lazzara and the voice of someone twice his size (and endlessly better than Lazzara, I might add), inviting everyone to join him as the rest of the band powered through a flawless set with barely a pause.
Halfway through, they gave me a shock with a perfect cover of "Ten Minutes" which, having never seen the Get Up Kids, rates as one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Being a show full of UK punks born in the late `80s and early `90s with similar frustrations, the place understandably went completely insane for about three minutes.
The show reached its peak, however, towards the end with "Burned Out in a Jar" as an increasingly sweaty crowd gathered together to sing along with the intro before the Club took us through their last few numbers with more and more energy, inspiring crowdsurfers to spring up from nowhere.
As with all the best shows, it was over too fast. After being denied an encore, the crowd headed downstairs to the merch table before spilling out in to the street, a happy mess of punk rock kids heading back to the uncertainty of the trains.