Despise You at The New Cross Inn: Live Review

By on 16 July 2013
Photo courtesy of Justine Jones - www.facebook.com/justinejonesmedia

Photo courtesy of Justine Jones – www.facebook.com/justinejonesmedia

There’s a real sense of anticipation in the air tonight, as all manner of punks, crusties, hardcore kids and grind freaks brave the scorching blaze of the hottest day of the year to bare witness to some real powerviolence royalty, in the form of the mighty Despise You, on their first ever UK tour.

After I Like Bugs (Facebook) open up the proceedings with some noisy d-beat fun, Shut-In (Facebook) get to work rousing the crowd with a short, sharp and nasty set that ticks all the right boxes. Unfortunately, the announcement that this is going to be their final show leaves those of us who are just discovering these guys now kicking ourselves. Props to the mic grabbing shirtless guy who’s determined to start a circle pit, even if no-one else is… There’s always one, isn’t there?

Harrowed (Facebook) put in a solid set of dark, crusty hardcore. You could hurl a stone at the UK underground and hit at least three bands that sound like this, but thankfully Harrowed have enough interesting things going on (read: RIFFS!) that they manage to escape the glut of second rate Trap Them clones. They might not be on the same level as, say, Hammers or Razoreater just yet, but give them time and we’ll probably be seeing some great things from these boys. They may not open up that pit, but it’s a real challenge to try and spot a head that’s not nodding by the time they’ve finished their set.

lich

Lich. Photo courtesy of Justine Jones.

Lich (Bandcamp), on the other hand, are a real force to be reckoned with. Their dense, cathartic sound makes the place go off like a nuclear bomb, and there’s not a dull moment to be found in their all too brief set. Lich’s caustic hybrid of sludge, powerviolence, and grind casts a pretty unique shadow over the English hardcore scene right now, and on the basis of this showing, there’s absolutely no doubt that they can deliver the goods on stage either. Keep an eye on this band, if there’s any justice in the world we should be seeing a lot more of them soon enough…

jackals

Jackals. Photo courtesy of Justine Jones.

It all starts so well for Jackals (Facebook) ; furious, severely grindcore infused punk rock with dual vocalists who are determined to keep the pit as violent as possible – what’s not to enjoy? Unfortunately, a pair of dodgy microphones put a quick halt to the fun, and after a handful of songs (so, around a minute and a half in grind terms), they’re cut short because of the dreaded “technical difficulties”. The band look gutted, as do most of the crowd. Thankfully, after a quick break, the lads are back in action, and this little technical hiccup has clearly got them pissed. Wasting no time at all, the band launch straight back into their set with twice the vitriol they previously mustered, ensuring a thorough beating is delivered to everyone who resisted the urge to head out for a smoke break while they were recuperating.  Within minutes, it’s clear that they’ve won back the crowd, and go on to deliver an absolute belter – any set that ends with a crowd surfing guitarist is a winner in our eyes!

What can be said about The Afternoon Gentlemen (Facebook) that hasn’t been already? If you call yourself a fan of contemporary grind and you don’t know these guys yet, I’m sorry, but it’s time to leave the hall. By now, the Gents are a tightly oiled grinding machine, busting out crowd favourites like “Stupid Dickhead”, “Thrash Potato” and “Rusty Axe Through Aaron Turner’s Head” with aplomb. The place goes suitably ape shit, and the Gents don’t let up at all, even for a second. These guys are without a doubt one of the finest bands on the grind circuit today;  a real national treasure!

But nothing can prepare us for the sheer, untamed fury of Despise You (Facebook). The cheer that greets Chris Elder’s modest opening statement of “hey, we’re Despise You from California” is almost as deafening as the wanton racket the band is about to unleash. What follows is an absolute master class in powerviolence, as the five piece hurl out classics like “No More Feelings”, “Culpa Mia” “Hand Me Down Existencia”, “My West Side Horizon” and even their cover of Fear’s “I Don’t Care About You”. If there was anyone who resisted the urge to throw down during any of the previous bands, they sure as fuck haven’t been able to restrain themselves now, as the entire building is enveloped in a seething mass of sweaty bodies. Of all the original powerviolence bands, Despise You seemed to most successfully encapsulate that feeling of sheer, blind rage, and their songs reflect this by being short, chaotic bursts of unbridled energy. They feel even briefer in the live setting, but this doesn’t blunt their impact whatsoever. In fact, it kind of exaggerates their potency, as the idea of a mid-set lull seems preposterous tonight; there’s not a single song that fails to elicit anything less than absolute carnage from the assembled throng. Time doesn’t seem to have tamed Despise You’s temperament one iota, and after one of the most intense hardcore shows the capital has seen in some time, it’s incredibly gratifying to report that they’re STILL the angriest band in the world.

WORDS: Kez Whelan

 

 

About Kez Whelan

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