There are only a mere handful of bands that we never fail to see when they play live in London, and in case that bloody great big promo photo up above isn’t enough of a clue, Bastions are one of them. Seeing as this was the band’s final last jaunt around the UK before knuckling down to record their debut full-length, Hospital Corners, for damn sure we weren’t going to miss out on hearing some new material….
Six things we learned when Bastions, Nitkowski, Good Time Boys and Plague Riot In Moscow played the Camden Unicorn:
1) The Unicorn is one of our favourite venues in London, but we’re willing to bet a good chunk of our readers – even those in London itself – will have never even heard of it. Lurking high up on Camden Road, well away from the tourist traps of Camden Lock, it has free shows nearly every night of the week. If you’re reading this and you live in London, check the listings and get on down there for a show.
2) Although there’s a core of something interesting there, Plague Riot in Moscow aren’t quite there yet. Maybe it’s how frustratingly fresh-faced they seem, or maybe it’s the niggling feeling we have that they’re throwing the shapes they do because they feel they ought to rather than because they need to, but right now they need a little something extra to push them out of the early opening slots.
3) Given that they are labelmates with Kerouac, The Long Haul, and tonight’s headliners, Goodtime Boys are already moving in auspicious enough circles that we’re expecting something seriously impressive tonight. Their spiky take on hardcore did not disappoint, being sufficiently difficult to pigeonhole that it will irritate the shit out of people that like their rock music easy to categorise. Incorporating ska rhythms, post hardcore song structures, and out-and-out old-skool hardcore snarl as it goes along, we bet their forthcoming EP is going to surprise a lot of people when it arrives at the end of the month.
Bastions @ London Camden Unicorn - 11 May 2011 c/o Shaziya Niamh
All photos c/o Shaziya Niamh.
4) Similarly, Nitowski couldn’t care less what genre you might try to label them – in fact, they probably couldn’t care less if you turned up to see them play live or not. Nitkowski’s don’t-give-a-fuck-never-did-never-will attitude extends to the trio’s intense and almost jazz-like math-rock. London all too often loses out to the regions when it comes to excelling in the field of avant garde noise, but as long as Nitkowski are there, we’ve got nothing to worry about.
5) Bastions are still probably the best live act in the country that you’ve never bothered to go and see. Eight songs, no mess, no compromises. The many weeks this band has spent on the road over the last 12 months has focussed the band’s already-impressive eyebrow-scorching live-performances into a retina-scarring blowtorch intensity. And nobody dislocated an arm this time.
6) If we hadn’t already pegged Hospital Corners as one of the albums we were most looking forward to in 2011, then the new material that Bastion’s showcased tonight would be enough to make it so. Even with half of tonight’s set being unreleased material, the paint-stripping power that caused us to fall in love with this band is no less there than the first time we saw them. Spanning from hard-paced all-out aggression to slower, more intense numbers than we’ve heard from them before, the width and breadth of Bastions’ sound continues to grow.
Bastions @ Camden Unicorn 11/05/11 setlist
Warmth of the World
In The Shadow of a Mountain
All photographs used with the kind permission of Shaziya Niamh. To see more of her work, go check out her blog.