We’ve already ranted and raved about how much we like In Humor And Sadness, the debut album from Josh Scogin’s new band ’68. As frontman of his former outfit, The Chariot, Scogin had a reputation of being a firebrand frontman, turning gigs into furious maelstroms of flying bodies – can he transform that energy to better suit the less frantic sounds of ’68 though? We sent Hugh Platt down to investigate.
Six things we learned watching ’68 in London…
1) Upstairs at The Garage, the day after Hevy Festival, with Agnostic Front playing downstairs. On a Sunday night. Promoting an album that hasn’t come out yet. Josh Scogin’s new outfit ’68 have certainly stacked the deck against them at their first proper London show (sorry Kingston). That might be why the line-up is stuffed with supports tonight – a five-band bill means the usually excellent Employed To Serve had been and gone before we arrived in the right postcode.
2) The knowledge that we’d missed one of the more reliable up-and-coming bands we’d seen this year made enduring the next band even more trying experience. You’ve seen a metalcore band in the last five years, right? Then you’ve see In Archives. There’s nothing to love about this band. There’s nothing to hate. It’s every standard metalcore cliche worn out, ground down, and peddled through without even a dull glow let alone a spark of inspiration. Nobody came away from tonight with In Archives being their new favourite band.
3) Palm Reader, conversely and perversely, seem to make a whole lot of new fans on what is the last show of their current tour cycle. Fizzling with a get-in-amongst-it energy that their more stoically up-themselves contemporaries lack, Palm Reader catch a lot of people off guard with a set that connects with the sudden shock of a sucker punch but with all the power of a dragon uppercut. The sooner this band comes back with a new record to capitalise on their natural ferocity the better.
4) Baby Godzilla remain a primal force. It might be 80% spectacle, 10% showmanship, and 10% songs, but the music of Baby Godzilla isn’t meant to be experienced while you’re doing your washing up, or on your commute to work, or even played very loud over your stereo. It’s meant to be experienced as you hoist Jonny Hall up and down a venue, or as you find yourself press-ganged into holding a microphone in the face of Matt Reynolds. We’ve spewed plenty of hyperbole about the Baby Godzilla live show before, and it’s still all true.
5) It so nearly, nearly goes wrong for ’68 tonight. A succession of feedbacking microphones, guitars that cut out for no reason, and a crowd that is understandably unfamiliar with material from an album that – while great – at the time of this show still hasn’t been released yet. After the bombsite that Baby Godzilla reduced the venue to mere minutes earlier, the humble shuffle of Josh Scogin and Michael McClellan playing less frenetic, more heartfelt experimental take on modern post-hardcore could’ve fallen very, very flat indeed.
6) Why it doesn’t fail – and why so many bands of similar ilk have failed – is Josh Scogin. Tonight it isn’t the raucous rabble-rouser we knew as the frontman of The Chariot that wins the crowd, but a deep, heartfelt sincerity. Scogin has that rarest of gifts, genuine star power, but he tempers it with a solid dollop of humility and a sharp line of self-deprecating humour when his band is beset with technical issues. Despite the odds being stacked against tonight being a success, ’68 make their debut (proper) London show a definitive statement about what they’ll be able to do when they return later this year with a few more road miles under their belt.
’68’s debut album, In Humor And Sadness, is out now on eOne Music/Good Fight Music.