Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Gig Review: The JB Conspiracy at The Camden Barfly 14/5/16

Saturday the 14th of May had me the most excited I'd been for a gig in a little while (and I'm always pretty excited for a gig so that explains how excited I was). The Bennies are a band I have loved since hearing their 2013 album Rainbows In Space and were currently on their first UK tour with Throwing Stuff. They had a gig at the Camden Barfly supporting one of the UK's finest ska punk bands - the ever amazing JB Conspiracy. And as an added bonus - Shit Present were also playing. What a smashing line up!

Opening the show were Throwing Stuff. It felt like ages since I had seen the four piece who now reside all over the UK so I was quite looking forward to seeing them again. If you've never seen Throwing Stuff before you'll be in for a bit of a shock. This is some of the loudest, fastest, in-your-face punk rock going and it's a lot of fun to watch. Particularly lead singer Ben Small who spends just as much time in the crowd as he does on the stage. It's like a switch in his brain flicks when the music hits; he loses it and it's brilliant to watch. Throwing Stuff don't play a whole lot of gigs anymore due to "real life" but when they do play it's a joy to see them. They all clearly had a fantastic time playing together and that really added to the charm of their set. The set flew by and before I knew it they were on to their awesome set closer Steve Jobs where Ben was joined by The Bennies’ Anty to sing/scream the song.

Up next were Shit Present, who I'd seen ten days earlier supporting Iron Chic at DIY Space For London. It's been fun over the past year watching Shit Present grow and progress as a band. They get better and better every time I see them and they always have the crowd's attention throughout their set. No talking at the bar when they play. Like at DIY Space, the band played a set full of new material that will be on a new EP they will be recording soon. Though we couldn't sing along to the new songs they sound great and have given me really high hopes for the eventual release. To quote Jamie from Throwing Stuff "Shit Present should be called Great Future."

The Bennies were up next and it was immediately clear as they were setting up that a lot of people were very excited to see the Melbourne four piece. The floor around the stage was packed as soon as the band opened the set with Party Smashers. Before the song even started lead singer Anty proclaimed that he had dreamed of playing the song in London ever since he wrote it due to the lyric "Mother Fucking London." Of course that lyric got a big reaction as did the entire song. The Bennies were so completely stoked to be on this tour. Early in the evening I bought the Rainbows In Space vinyl from the merch table and bass player Craig was so lovely and cheerful. As they were getting ready for the set I saw Craig and Anty exchange a high five with some massive smiles. They seemed to be pleasantly surprised by just how happy everybody in the Barfly was to see them; the dancing was rowdy and the sing-a-longs were loud. I was pleasantly surprised by their set - I was expecting a set list heavy on songs from their new and excellent album Wisdom Machine but in fact they played a best of set with songs from all of their releases. Favourites included My Bike, Heavy Disco, Party Machine, Detroit Rock Ciggies and, my personal favourite, Anywhere You Wanna Go. I had extremely high expectations for The Bennies set but they smashed all of those expectation - they were just phenomenal. I've always said that Less Than Jake are the best live band on the planet, The Bennies have definitely made me rethink my opinion on that.

The headliners, The JB Conspiracy, had a big job on their hands to top The Bennies' performance. If the long running ska punk band were phased though it really didn't show. I've seen the band eight times now and I'm sure that they've had a different line up every single time but this doesn't stop them always putting on a fantastic show. From the outset the Barfly's crowd were skanking into a frenzy and singing at the top of their lungs with lead singer Lank. A JB performance is always full of energy and that transfers brilliantly into the crowd. Playing a selection of songs from their last two albums This Machine and The Storm as well as some new songs - which was a fantastic surprise. They sounded fantastic and I'm looking forward to hearing them some more (perhaps at Slam Dunk in a couple of weeks?). As always I had a lot of fun during their set but I did have one minor gripe with the set. Certainly not with the band, they were completely fantastic. My gripe was with a couple of people at the front of the stage, one who decided to film the whole set on his Go-Pro and basically shoving it as close to the band as he possibly could. The other with a chap who spent more time taking selfies than watching JB. Both were really unnecessary and got on my nerves. I understand taking photos at gigs, it's a fun reminder of the night and it's fun to share on social media (you can see my rubbish gig photos at @ColinsPRW on Instagram - Emma, the better photographer, took the photos in this post) but you shouldn't need to take more than a couple. Live in the moment. The JB Conspiracy continue to prove why they are one of the best of the UK's ska punk bands, fantastic as always.

What an amazing gig. The JB Conspiracy, The Bennies, Shit Present and Throwing Stuff were all on top form. This is a strong contender for gig of the year and we are only in May!