Static Shock Records are currently cleaning house when it comes to London hardcore gigs, hosting top notch bands from around the world on a regular basis and stoking a fire within the scene in the process. This weekend they outdid themselves with a Camden line-up headlined by the surf-drenched hardcore punk of New Jersey’s Night Birds. I’d seen them smash it a few years before in a Leeds basement and subsequently start to gain a well-deserved bit of recognition with each new tour and release, so their one UK date of the tour wasn’t going to be one to miss. Adding to the carnage, a Sheffield invasion in the form of Detergents and Dry Heaves brings some welcome Yorkshire hype – the Northern hardcore scene has always produced stellar bands, and these bands both carry that tradition on with style. Detergents open proceedings with a crunching UK82 style raucousness that has people moving from the start. No turning up late for this one, the line-up is strong throughout and the early throng shows that people have realised this. No frills punk music that reeks of spit and cider is exactly what’s needed to kick off proceedings nicely, as is the cold beer which loosens my concrete-battered muscles. Dry Heaves have been honing their biting hardcore under the radar for a few years now and, knowing they can draw a crowd in Yorkshire, it’s great to see the same response in London. Everyone is going off, beer is spilling and the band are ripping through songs from their back catalogue interspersed with a good few new tracks which already sound impressively tight, roll on the new record!
Unfortunately due to a pressing need for non-alcoholic sustenance we miss Atomic Suplex and their garage hardcore madness, which I can only imagine to be next level in such a small space, but make it back just as Night Birds thrash into the first chords of full speed surf instrumental ‘Escape from New York’. From then on things are complete chaos; with no time for niceties such as between song banter they blast through what feels like half of their back catalogue like it was one continuous raging beast. Everything is speeded up a notch compared to studio recordings and the result is one of the most intense punk shows your likely to see, an endurance test that both band and audience are very much ready for. While their recordings are incredible, this is a band that needs to be seen live to appreciate in full force. Singer Brian Gorsegner gurns and twitches like a caged lunatic in a Victorian asylum, while the band up the aggression levels as far as they can take them and still maintain that musical tightness which makes each song stand out. The mic spends as much time in the hands of audience as band members, with songs like ‘Modern Morons’, ‘Born to Die in Suburbia’, ‘Prognosis Negative’ ‘Killer Waves’ and ‘Born of Man and Woman’ clearly imprinted on the brains of every person down the front. Nothing quite tops off a solid day’s skateboarding like a good hardcore show - tiredness and aches washed away in a tide of beer and loud, fast music - and this was as good as it gets. Props all round to promoter, bands and crowd, a solid contender for gig of the year!