Saturday, 27 May 2017

Gig Review: Jeff Rosenstock at The Camden Underworld 23/5/17

Every so often a gig is announced where I immediately shout "Yes!" and excitedly tell Emma that we're going here to see whoever without really thinking too much about it. This was without a doubt the case when Jeff Rosenstock announced a run of shows in the UK as part of their European tour. The London part of the tour would be happening at The Camden Underworld with support from Doe, Triple Sundae and Iona of Shit Present. Much fun was to be had.

Iona, who also booked the tour, was first up. There was already a decent sized crowd gathered to see the former Great Cynics bassist and she did not disappoint. Playing a selection of newly written songs, a Shit Present song and a Great Cynics song, seeing her perform live you quickly see what a special talent she is. Lyrically the songs all have quite a sad undertone but the way they are performed is so unbelievably captivating. I loved Iona when she was in Great Cynics, I love Shit Present and I love her solo work. A great start to the show.

Up next were London pop punks Triple Sundae who were arguably playing the biggest show of their careers… so far. I say so far because I can only imagine they'll go from strength to strength based on this performance. Starting off with a high energy track, they immediately got a big portion of the crowd dancing, moshing, crowd surfing and singing along. If they were nervous about playing a show at the Underworld with Jeff Rosenstock then it certainly didn't show as the four piece put in a slick and confident performance, completely undeterred from the madness that was happening in front of them. Triple Sundae definitely earned some new fans after this show, I am looking forward to catching them again - hopefully soon.

Doe are one of the hottest bands in the UK's indie punk scene. Emma and I have seen them a few times now and we both agreed this was the best we've seen them. Personally I find Doe a little hit and miss but this night was definitely a hit. Something really clicked tonight. It's hard to put my finger on exactly what is was but it just felt Doe had stepped things up a notch and I now understand a bit more just why they are so loved. Despite saying at the start of the set that her throat was sore I thought singer Nicola's vocals were superb throughout and drummer Jake's backup vocals really were on point too. I'd never even noticed him do vocals before. Playing a selection of older material, along with some new tracks, it's clear that Doe are a band that will continue to grow and grow.

Finally it was time for the legend that is Jeff Rosenstock. Seeing him perform live for the first time last year was one of my highlights of 2016 so, like I said when this gig was announced, I was excited. It seems that I wasn't the only person who was excited about Jeff Rosenstock's gig as the Underworld was now packed. As full as I've seen it in a while. After a brief chat with our new pal Sarah from Shout Louder Punk, we got ourselves a good viewing spot for what we expected to be a set full of brilliance from Jeff Rosenstock. Despite a few issues that I'll get to later, the set was absolutely superb. Rosenstock's music has always had a chaotic charm to it and it's definitely best witnessed live. His records are great but it's clear that he writes for a live crowd. Playing mostly songs from his previous two albums, We Cool? and Worry, every song gained huge sing-alongs from the Underworld crowd. Highlights for me were Festival Song, Wave Goodbye To Me Tonight, Nausea, Serious, I'm Sorry and You, In Weird Cities but in truth I was over the moon with every song that was played. Jeff Rosenstock gets a lot of great press for his strong DIY ethics in his approach to his music but I always think he deserves more recognition for what a fantastic live performer he is as well. Because of the chaotic nature of his music you'd think the set would be littered with mistakes but if there are it doesn't matter at all. Like Jeff said "If it sounds a bit different; see it as a special, limited edition performance." I feel like that's the case with every Jeff Rosenstock show - it's a special one-off performance that will never be repeated. Jeff is the best!

Now to a slightly negative part of the evening. There was a very small minority of the crowd that weren't as pleasant as the people you'd normally bump into at a punk show. One incident happened at the beginning of Doe's set where some moron shouted something sexist towards Nicola, she dealt with him brilliantly and really put him in his place. The second incident was during Jeff's set. One member of the crowd got a little too rambunctious for the people around him and was causing people to not enjoy themselves. Jeff noticed this and stopped playing a song midway through to try and sort things out before they escalated. Nobody likes to see things like this at any show or event, especially with all the terrible things that are happening all over the world. Gigs should always be a safe space. I thought both Jeff and Nicola handled these incidents perfectly and made me have even more respect for both of them.

This gig review was written by Colin Clark.

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