On the surface, this was definitely a Hardcore show. However, this line-up was so diverse that sonically each band could not be more different from each other. So, assuming they had a large hand in putting the tour package together, you have to respect Deez Nuts for the confidence and, quite frankly, the progressive thinking to put together a bill like this. We had Louie Knuxx with his take on Hip Hop/Rap/Trap, Astroid Boys covering Grime/Metal/Hardcore, Expire with balls out, straight up Hardcore, Nasty with some extra heavy Beatdown, and then Deez Nuts with their Rap/Punk/Hardcore crossover. Got it? Yes. Does it make sense? No, not really. It may sound extremely confusing, but for the most part this line up really worked and it was a highly enjoyable gig…
Unfortunately I missed Louie Knuxx, but he is definitely worth checking out. All the other bands on the bill took time out to mention him, and how awesome they all thought his music was, so that should be enough of a decent endorsement…
I haven’t caught Astroid Boys live since they were first starting out and they had a support slot with Trash Talk in Liverpool. They sounded so weird, and they were still so rough around the edges that I have never really bothered with them since. However they came to the stage full of shit-eating smiles and confidence, and it soon became apparent why. As soon as they kicked into first track ‘Dusted’ the whole place went crazy, the whole room shouting the words back at them, and there was a sea of gun shaped hand gestures being thrown around at the Cardiff lads as they delivered a bizarre mix of Grime, Nu-Metal, Hip Hop and Hardcore. It was an intense rave/party/gig atmosphere, and the band were drawing the crowd in closer and closer to the stage, before all of a sudden there is an explosion of limbs as people start a circle pit to what is best described as Astroid Boys version of a breakdown. The genre bending continues, with tracks like ‘Minging’ even throwing in Glitchy, Dubstep style drops and bass wobbles. I can’t always take them entirely seriously, partly because the accents and vocal delivery occasionally remind me of Goldie Looking Chain, but then I don’t think they take themselves entirely seriously either, which all adds to the mystique. Set highlights were the particularly grimey ‘Posted’ and set closer ‘Wake Up’. I wouldn’t say they have completely converted me yet, but it was an extremely entertaining set!
Expire, despite being the most ‘traditional’ Hardcore band on the bill, were perhaps also the most out of place. But you aren’t given any real chance to contemplate that too much as they kick things off with ‘Bark’ and waste no time taking it up another notch with ‘Pretty Low’. They are an extremely pissed off band on record, but seeing them live on this occasion their music sounded as though it was on steroids - the whole sound was heavier, weightier, meatier, and crunchy as fuck; they don’t really employ pummelling double bass kicks or really down tuned guitars, but that doesn’t stop their sound packing one hell of a punch. It’s a blistering, non-stop set and everything is a highlight, but stand out moments are ‘Reputation’ which delivers a marvellous breakdown and sees everyone snapping their neck and shouting along. ‘Forgetting’ has everyone piling forward and clambering for a microphone to back up Zach for the line “I want to live like I never met death!” The introduction to ‘Pendulum Swings’ is met with a frantic, if short lived, circle pit. ‘Old Habits’ with that extremely mean, jarring riff gets the whole place moving, with Josh Beltings main vocals being the perfect set up for guitarist Zach Dear to scream the breakdown/bridge vocals. Perhaps they feel the pressure of being on before a band such as Nasty, or maybe they are becoming more and more angry as they mature, but the whole set is gleefully mean and heavy sounding. They end the set on a triple series of high notes, playing ‘Pills’, the always fantastic ‘Just Fine’ and finishing with firm favourite ‘Abyss’ which sees the entire room get involved with throwing their bodies and flailing their limbs in every direction. An absolutely great set.
Sonically, Nasty well and truly lay waste to The Key Club. Everything is heavier than everything else, yet it is still a technically accomplished sound and you can pick each instrument out of what could easily just turn into something that sounds extremely messy. ‘Shokka’ is absolutely pummelling, the double bass drum hits you like a freight train. Nasty are capable of unleashing one of those sounds that makes you scoff or giggle at just how ridiculously heavy they can sound and still deliver something enjoyable. That final beatdown for ‘Shokka’ is a prime example, and everyone collectively loses it at the lyric “This is where the terror starts!” I have to admit, I do occasionally get lost when Nasty play, I can’t always pick out the particular songs very well, but it is an absolutely crushing set, and they are mesmerising to watch live. My personal highlights included ’No’ which is another example of an absolutely pummelling breakdown, the drummer portraying himself as a machine, and genuinely sounding like we have the T1000 delivering those double bass kicks. ‘Fire’ is a furious slab of brutal, technical beatdown, with it’s extremely crunching guitar riff and venomous vocals. Unfortunately, ‘Beatdown Fever’ does take over, and vocalist Matthias has to attempt three or four times to stop fights going on in the pit, and generally has to do his best to calm everyone down. He pauses just before the end of the set, commenting “If you think you are better than someone because of the way you look, the language you speak, the colour of your skin, or because of your sexual orientation, then you are not welcome here. This scene isn’t for people like you, we are an anti-fascist band and that behaviour will be met with Zero Tolerance” before they end the set with the track ‘Zero Tolerance’ from their album ‘Love’. Despite the insanely heavy Beatdown style of their music, and the type of behaviour that it sometimes inspires at their shows, Nasty are an extremely socially conscious band, and behind all the furious riffs and insane kick drums they have some real substance to their music. Can’t wait to see them again.
Coming on after the heaviness of Nasty, Deez Nuts almost sound like a pop band for the first couple of tracks!! However they start with ‘What I Gotta Do’, one of the singles from their newest album ‘Word Is Bond’; a speedy, punk orientated track that has a memorable, in-your-face main hook. They maintain this pace and tear through the first few tracks at a breakneck, non-stop pace, ending their introduction with ‘Face This On My Own’, which results in a circle pit towards the end. ‘Popular Demand’ was one of the set highlights with its ‘fuck you’ attitude, and whatever your opinion is on the band, that 2pac inspired bridge/breakdown is still a stroke of genius, and always goes down great at a gig.
To be honest though, Deez Nuts are always hit-and-miss live. I have seen them a few times, and they have the potential to be a really great watch and hugely entertaining. On this evening however, the Deez Nuts set was a bit of an anti-climax after all the great performances that preceded them. Several tracks just feel like they chugged along, and occasionally even the band didn’t seem entirely into it, perhaps realising their support acts were outshining them this time round. The crowd were all seeming to lag behind, but the band managed to remedy this by playing ‘Stay True’, which seemed to pick the whole room back up, and people started moving and getting involved again. The maintained this energy with a blistering version of ‘Shot After Shot’, which if you are in the mood to party, is always going to be a great track. They faltered a couple of more times, but once again salvaged some of the energy in the room with tracks like ‘Don’t Wanna Talk About It’ and set closer and old-school crowd favourite ‘Your Mother Should Have Swallowed You’. Underwhelming for some of us it may have been, but it wasn’t a bad set by any means, and the crowd still wanted more, to which Deez Nuts obliged with an encore of ‘Band Of Brothers’ which almost turned into crowd karaoke, as the DN faithful all scrambled for the microphone to chant and sing along.
This was an intense, high energy evening and although the headliners were perhaps not the best band to grace the stage, this fact isn’t to their detriment, but rather a favourable reflection on all the energy and diversity that was buzzing throughout all the support acts.