Bringing the hardcore fury to London are some of the US’ finest established and up-and-comers, from the alt rock, -core rooted Soul Blind to the snarling punk rage of Scowl, all topped off by the incendiary Stick To Your Guns.
Making their UK debut are Soul Blind, opening the evening with a grungy take on alt rock that’s rooted in hardcore but expands past it through shoegaze and even flourishes of indie. Unfortunately for them, it’s a small crowd, likely not helped by the conflicting info provided about when doors were. They’ve got a knack for those morose yet anthemic choruses, even if still clearly in its infancy, but it gets heads nodding nonetheless.
They’re the most exciting hardcore band right now and the name on almost everyone in the queue’s lips; Scowl are nothing short of outrageous and brilliant. That indefinable “it” factor? They’ve got it by the bucketload. Tearing through their set and the crowd alike, they’re simply untouchable. From the screeching, visceral Dead To Me, Fuck Around’s an outright challenge, and closer Bloodhound’s full bore punk assault, they give no quarter and demand crowd movement. The only lulls are livewire vocalist Kat Moss thanking the crowd, seemingly incredulous people still turn up to see them even when they’ve opened at Madison Square Garden. Onstage they’re all fire and brimstone, bringing snarling punk to a rabid crowd that laps it up with glee. They’ll be a hard act to follow and are destined for huge things.
French metalcore outfit Landmvrks have the unenviable task of being up next and frankly, don’t meet the bar. Hardly their fault when it’s been set so ludicrously high, as they’re by no means bad – bar some ill-judged rap and nu-metal moments – and musically they’re tight. The crowd love it too, singing back the choruses and the pit swelling with the first song. Vocalist Florent Saifati is no slouch either, with an impressive range he uses to great effect as he switches between cleanly sung choruses, raspier yells, and guttural growls. It’s all just a little too clean musically, but the impact on the crowd can’t be denied – even if they certainly can’t sing back in tune.
At last though, Stick To Your Guns charge onstage and begin their barrage of politically charged hardcore. There’s a sense of easy camaraderie beneath the pile-driving riffs and chest-beating breakdowns, one that ensures the crowd amplifies the chaos onstage tenfold. (My Heart Is A…), followed by Weapon sounds colossal with the gang vocals echoed throughout the throng going wild for them. The snare during its breakdown sounds (suitably) like a shotgun as it’s pummelled mercilessly. The pit surges over and over again with every mosh call, the air in the room supercharged with cathartic release and fury. When you’ve got surefire ragers like Hush, though, it’s not surprising they get such a rapturous reception. Stick To Your Guns has done exactly that for years and tonight they reap the rewards.
Photos by Jos