Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Gig Review: The Menzingers at Koko 19/4/17

How often is a line up announced that makes you go "holy-moly, I have to go to that show!"? That's what happened when The Menzingers announced a week of UK dates with special guests The Flatliners. Two of the most beloved punk bands of the past ten years on tour together, this was surely going to be pretty special. Both bands had just released new albums in the past couple of months as well with The Menzingers dropping After The Party and The Flatiners putting out Inviting Light, this added an extra element of excitement to the night at Koko in Camden.

First up were a new band who have been making waves in the punk scene. Like almost every other great new punk band that appears on my radar lately, The Dirty Nil are a band from Canada. The three piece have been making a name for themselves on the live circuit with their high energy, loud and fast rock n roll, drawing high praise from everyone who has seen them. Taking to the stage, I thought that The Dirty Nil had a bit of a swagger about their band. These three gentlemen knew they were about to rock the very quickly filling up Koko's world. And that they did! Barely pausing for breath throughout their half hour set, this was a fantastic, hard hitting and passionate performance. They had a few diehard fans in attendance as well who were singing along excitedly to every word. The Dirty Nil started the night out right. It surely won't be too long until they are headlining venues in London by themselves.

Next up were fellow Canadian's The Flatliners. This was my first time seeing the band in pretty much a year to the day after they headlined 2016's Manchester Punk Festival. Having only listened to Inviting The Light one time (whilst hanging up some washing, so I wasn't completely focussed on the melodic gruff punk stylings) I didn't really expect to know a great deal of the songs in the Flatliners' set. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they played more of a best of set with some sprinklings of new stuff thrown in. This was a fantastic ploy from the band to keep the crowd hot for the classics, whilst getting us pumped for new songs as well. Hearing some of the new tracks live definitely gave me the itch to listen to Inviting The Light some more. Highlights of the set for me were Count Your Bruises, Monumental and Eulogy. Eulogy in particular got a massive reaction from the Koko crowd. I could be wrong but I believe that this was the only track the band played from what is my favourite (non ska) Flatliners album, The Great Awake. Performance wise The Flatliners were as good as ever. Putting everything into their songs and looking completely stoked by the reactions they were getting from the crowd. The Flatliners are loved in London and all over the UK - this is why they are coming back for a massive headline tour in October.

Now it was time for who I think are the most loved punk band on the planet - The Menzingers. They seemingly strike gold with everything they do. After The Party is another absolutely superb album by the Philadelphians and I, like every single person in Koko, was extremely excited to hear some of the new material live. They wasted no time at all when showcasing the new material by opening with the brilliant Tellin' Lies. A song that starts with a fantastic guitar part and has a huge, high octane chorus of "Where We Gonna Go When Our Twenties Are Over" that got everyone in Koko singing along. Despite the fact it's a relatively new song it's incredible to see that many people singing their hearts out along with the band. This is a huge testament to the band's abiltiy to craft perfect punk rock. It's so superbly catchy and you can tell the song means a lot to so many people. It's not just a room of people just singing along because it's fun to sing along, it's a room full of people who have genuinely relate to the lyrics. You could use this description for pretty much every song in the Menzingers set and this is why they are so universally loved. Seven songs were played from After The Party and all got positive reactions but perhaps none more so than the album's title track. This song, about being whoever you want to be, has many massive sing-a-long moments but "Everyone Wants To Get Famous, But You Just Wanna Dance In a Basement" and "After The Party It's Me And You" particularly stand out. Of course, the classics from The Menzingers past two albums On The Impossible Past and Rented World are also massive highlights in a set which falls between the incredible and perfect in my opinion. I've now seen The Menzingers on nine different occasions at various sized venues and they've managed to outdo themselves on every occasion. You'd think, law of averages and all, that one time they would disappoint but I really can't see them ever being anything less than amazing.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark