We arrived a little late and missed the opener, Oliver John Ward. Another band pointed him out in the crowd later, though, and he looks so much like the guy from Into It. Over It. that I assume he has to at least sound similar.
Leagues Apart were on stage when we entered--well, tucked into the little corner of the room designated as the performing area or whatever. Tiger Lounge is perfect for shows like this, with the ceiling barely two feet above your head and so little space that 60 people can make the place feel packed when they all swarm to the front. Leagues Apart did a pretty good job of sounding like a vaguely trashier version of so many of their favourite bands, which almost definitely includes Dillinger Four. It's impossible to fault them, but there's not a whole lot making them stand out, either.
Just Panic, on the other hand, definitely stood out. Their opening songs were drenched in Castevet-style mathy guitars but had much weightier basslines and it was great to hear--so many American bands are adopting this style, but this was the first example I've heard over here in the UK and they pulled it off so well. It's clearly a new development for the band, though, as their set soon settled into shorter and sharper blasts of more standard punk rock. I'm definitely looking forward to hearing more from these guys.
Although they were a really good band and played a solid set, Calvinball failed to really make any real impression on me, possibly because they had to follow the surprisingly good Just Panic, and were on stage before the absolutely awesome Apologies, I Have None. Apologies are quite clearly one of the best-loved bands in UK punk right now, because the crowd really went off for the first time, with crowd-surfers, human pyramids and a ton of enthusiastic kids singing back every word. Tagging them as the English Against Me! wouldn't be completely unfair, especially considering the acoustic beginnings that they have now come so far from, growing into an incredible full band playing painfully good melodic punk rock. Check this band out, seriously.
Maybe it's a testament to how good Apologies are, or maybe it's a sad statement that the headliners haven't quite broken over here yet, but a sizeable chunk of the crowd seemed to have disappeared by the time the Menzingers started playing. Thanks to the Tiger Lounge's tiny interior, though, the place still seemed full and the crowd gave an incredible welcome to the band on their first UK tour. As soon as they sadly complained a few songs in that they hadn't had any crowd-surfers yet, a steady stream began, and they all suffered the strange custom of being forced flat against the venue's low ceiling and being held there for as long as possible before being sent flailing towards the mics to scream some lyrics in to the band's faces. Opening with "I Was Born" from Chamberlain Waits, the set was nicely balanced between older and newer material, with the crowd reacting with equal enthusiasm to everything on offer. Slow number "Rivalries" was an awesome highlight towards the end of the night, but to call something a highlight kind of suggests that the set lagged elsewhere. It didn't. The Menzingers, quite simply, destroyed.