Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Gig Review: Forever Unclean at The Unicorn, Camden 17/5/17

What is the best way to cure a rubbish day at work that involved walking around in pouring rain for eight hours? Going to Camden for a punk rock show, of course! Danish skate punks Forever Unclean were in town to celebrate the release of their newest EP Float, which was released on Disconnect Disconnect Records in March. The show was at The Unicorn pub and had a stacked line up featuring Cereal Box Heroes, Fastfade, On A Hiding To Nothing and The Run Up. And the show was free! Result!

This was the first time either Emma or I had made the trip to The Unicorn and neither of us were completely sure where exactly it was. After a quick check of Google Maps we soon discovered The Unicorn is a twenty minute walk from Camden Town station, in the rain. (Google didn't tell me about the rain, I could tell that from the drops of water that were falling from the sky onto my head). When we eventually arrived at The Unicorn, we were fairly soggy and opening act Fastfade had begun their set.

Approaching the stage, I was excited to hear that Fastfade were playing a Lagwagon cover. Being the day after Lagwagon Day (May 16) the band played Mr Coffee and sounded fantastic. I like to think that if they had played a day earlier they would have played May 16. Fastfade also did a cover pf Green Day's When I Come Around. These covers were fun but I was most impressed with Fastfade's original material. This was fast, snotty, 90s-style skate punk that was full of attitude and great fun to watch. These three guys all looked quite young so it was kind of refreshing to hear them play such a style, especially as they probably weren't alive when it was at its peak. What was even more refreshing was that they played it really, really well. Fastfade are a really talented young band who, with a lot of hard work, could make a good name for themselves. I will be watching out for these boys.

Next up were Cereal Box Heroes. Cereal Box Heroes are a three piece band from London who I've been aware of for a while but have never seen live. This was a mistake - I should not have waited so long. Cereal Box Heroes were just completely ace. The band played fast paced, in-your-face pop punk with bassist Dominic and guitarist Conor sharing vocal duties. Tonight's set list was comprised of mostly Conor songs, something he wasn't too keen on and jokingly complained about throughout the set. The entire Cereal Box Heroes set went by like a whirlwind which is also how I would describe their presence on stage. There isn't a moment when any of the three members of the band are stationary of stage and they put everything they have into their performance. Fantastic set.

Following Cereal Box Heroes were another London based band I've been aware of for a while but never seen - On A Hiding To Nothing. The four piece are one that CPRW's Dan Peters has been raving about for a while and now I really understand why. Playing 90s influenced USA skate punk with a British charm, I found myself wondering why exactly this band aren't on more line-ups in London. They played a selection of songs from their previous two EPs, 2015's self titled and 2017's Formaldehyde, all of which sounded fantastic live. There was also a funny moment where bassist Jack's strap came flying off. The lovely Mark Bell of Umlaut Records and Müg who was in the crowd quickly jumped on stage to assist and ended up holding Jack's bass for him for the majority of the song. Only at a punk show! If you've not seen On A Hiding To Nothing you're really missing out. Go listen to them as soon as you finish reading this and then find out where they're playing next and go see them!

The penultimate band of the evening have just released one of my favourite singles of the year, The Run-Up. The five piece from Bristol recently released the brilliant follow up to 2015's Scared Of Everything - Sink or Swallow/North. The Run-Up actually started their set with Sink or Swallow which really eased me into their set brilliantly. When I reviewed the single I mentioned how the sound reminded of bands like Iron Chic and Red City Radio. Live there was definitely a sense of these bands but The Run-Up's songs are so good it never comes across that they are ripping anybody off. Their sound is melodic with fantastic gruff vocals. I'm constantly amazed by all of the great bands that are in the UK scene. I think The Run-Up are up there with the very best. These guys are going to be massive!

Finally it was time for Forever Unclean. I've been a big fan of Forever Unclean since hearing their debut EP, Shreds, which was awesome but with Float the Danish three piece have really upped their game even more. I was fortunate enough to see them a couple of years ago (which I think was their first UK tour as a band) at Book Yer Ane Fest in Dundee and was blown away by them as a live band. Combining fast skate punk with a bit of a scratchy, indie sound, Forever Unclean had the entire crowd at the Unicorn hooked as they stormed through songs from both EPs. As good as the tracks from Shreds are it was the songs from Float that really got the best reactions from the people watching. It's safe to say that that EP will be on a lot of end of year lists. It was great to see the band having such a fun time on stage as well. It's clear that Forever Unclean are aware of how lucky they are to be able to go and tour another country and to be adored wherever they go. There's a playfulness about them on stage but also a lot of humbleness. Forever Unclean finished off a fantastic night of punk rock!

It felt like ages since I've gone to a small punk rock show so it felt fantastic to be back in the back room of a small pub. All five bands were fantastic and all got great reactions from the crowd. This was our first time at the Unicorn and I was really impressed. The floor space was a decent size, the stage management was superb with all the bands getting their allotted time without the show overrunning - considering there were five bands playing this was some feat and the sound for each band was superb. This was such a great night and one of my favourite gigs of the year so far.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

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