Sometimes you just know gigs are going to be legendary, all the signs, portents and experienced intuition are there. But this isn’t down to chance either, the ingredients and the organisation are brought together by people with faith in their own underground scenes and the people who make it up.
So when Mick from Leeds based punk grinders The Afternoon Gentlemen sets up a series of shows featuring classic hardcore bands from the U.S. who are happy to come over and play a one (or two or three) –offs for the first time in aeons in a marvellously artistically converted industrial unit oop North as opposed to something soulless in the spoiled South, I and many others are happy to make arrangements and travel from far and wide to these amazing opportunities. Getting a ticket was an achievement in itself with the capacity only being about a couple of hundred but again having friends in the local scene was an assistance, and there was a lot of people frustrated with missing out on the online sales despite there being two consecutive nights, so we were already set to savour what was to come.
Had a car load to take up and arrived there well before the start (not taking any traffic hold-up risks) enabling us to enjoy the building bubbly atmosphere and catch up with loads of gathering friends. Also visit the merch and thank Ben from Dropdead for stocking the Emissaries of Syn / Spam Javelin split in his Boston and Providence Armageddon Shops in the States. As we are milling out the back socialising we have to keep reminding ourselves to head in to check the bands in the main room, but we make it in time, things are going to be fast and furious, blink and you’ll miss it.
Locals Ona Snop are completely unfazed by their heavyweight forebears in attendance, and slap us to attention with their blistering short and super tight explosive outbursts of hyper hardcore. A roving singer on the floor up front, and George Gents demonstrating his multi-talents on the drums, it’s a lot of insane unrelenting fun.
Marked for Death I didn’t know but I’d heard were old school UK hardcore reformed, and they certainly had kept that vicious, cranked Discharge approach in what I saw of their set. Seeing Nik Bullen of the original Napalm Death up front enjoying it was maybe testament to the reputation the Middlesbrough men had back in the day, and they could definitely still cut it today.
I had seen EGS (above) a couple of times before, once on their travels from their home town of Nottingham they graced the Dirty Weekend Festival in Wrexham and were pretty stunning. They retain a focused feral intensity, anarcho punk with pace, but are not without an undercurrent of groove, partly provided by the Rickenbacker bass played from the Lemmy school of sonic attack. Their appearances might be relatively rare but they are held in high respect, they deliver the goods.
The first of our foreign friends, our New England immigrants, Dropdead (below) (who took their name from a Siege song) take a while getting set up due to some hiccup with the bass, but his moustache looks superb in the meantime. I’ve got a nice spot plastered to the side wall close to the stage and am grateful for physical support as when they blast off its triggered chaos, bodies flying everywhere. The music is far from it though, super precise and pummeling hardcore delivered at frenetic speed, refined to a killer strike with no fat or waste, these not so young guys show no sign of letting up. Vocalist Bob has quite a high harsh tone but takes lengthy breaks in between songs to voice his opinions and share the scene love, which is returned in spades. A genuine jaw-dropping show that is inspirational, this is how it should be done
And we still have Siege (top) to come. They hardly did much back in the day but their limited output was thrived upon and influenced no end of seminal hardcore acts of the late 80’s and through to today. Only reformed in recent months, with a couple of original members and some more than capable friends, they instantly convince of their value and power. The pit mayhem continues, Johnny Doom is in the thick of it, it’s a grind party. Break down relief is provided to the stomping intro to “Conform”, and they are joined by a guest saxophonist as this was a big feature of their jazz-grind free styling of their origins. We are lost in a maelstrom of raging and swirling noise, it’s over in no time and we are left reeling from an amazing experience. Wow, what a celebration of the vibrancy and unity of the underground. Apparently a whole weekend of Infest to follow this probably even topped this but in terms of performance this was one that was scorched on the fertile soil of my mind!