Propagandhi, Comeback Kid and Shai Hulud playing on the same bill is as good a punk line-up as 2013 gigs are likely to see. With that in mind, we sent Tom ‘You Are Not Better Than Pop Music‘ Doyle along to review said line-up when it came to London earlier this week.
Six Things we learned when we saw Propagandhi headline in London:
1) Shai Hulud are too clever by half for this crowd and their brilliant, complex, powerful sonic assault is met with an apathetic response but for a few stalwarts up front. A genuine metalcore band from before that was a dirty word they still play with an energy that belies their years. The shitty sound in the Electric Ballroom does them no favours (CAN WE HAVE SOME BASS PLEASE?!) but touring vocalist Justin Kraus gives it his absolute all, spitting out old classics like ‘A Profound Hatred of Man’ and excellent newies including ‘Reach Beyond the Son’ with equal venom.
2) The Ballroom’s dance floor is considerably fuller by the time Comeback Kid arrive, bristling with the intensity and laser-guided precision that only years of touring can provide. Their brand of melodic hardcore is a revelation tonight as they knock out song after song of top grade, ultra-catchy punk from across their exemplary back catalogue.
Watch the video to ‘Do Yourself A Favour’ by Comeback Kid:
3) The Winnipeg native’s setlist has something for everyone, from the cut and thrust of ‘False Idols Fall’ to the raging sing alongs of ‘GM Vincent and I’ and mandatory closer ‘Wake the Dead’ to ‘All in a Year’, for those who insist that Turn it Around is still their best record. Dripping with energy, and resplendent in the glow of some truly brilliant songs they are an absolute beacon of how hardcore of this sort should be done. Superb.
4) After a brief speech by a representative from direct action ocean conservation organisation Sea Shepherds (a charity which Propagandhi are obviously and actively supporting) the punk veterans launch into an opening brace of ‘Dear Coach’s Corner’ and ‘Fuck the Border’ which sets the tone for the evening from the word go. The first of those tracks is as beautifully realised a punk song as you can imagine, a tribute to family and a profound love of sport all marinated in the band’s pervasive politics; it goes down a fucking storm.
Watch the a live video of ‘Stick The Flag Up Your Ass’ by Propagandhi:
5) It is hard to overstate how important to punk music Propagandhi are. They rarely receive the public accolades or acclaim they deserve but you would have to go a long LONG way to find a more engaged and politically intelligent band. It all comes through tonight, ‘Lotus Gait’, ‘Human(e) Meat’ and ‘Failed States’ are exercises in erudite musical protest delivered with the understated charm of a band who you know have unshakeable conviction in what they believe in.
6) By the time they wrap up with ‘Back to the Motorleague’ and ‘Stick the Fucking Flag Up Your Goddam Ass, You Sonofabitch’ Propagandhi have made this crowd do everything a good punk rock band should – sing their voices hoarse, pump their fists and most of all stop and think a little about the world we live in. There really aren’t enough superlatives for a group whose outspoken integrity shines through in everything they do. A brilliant gig by an absolutely essential band.