The Camden Underworld is one of my favourite venues; it represents everything that a music venue should, great sound, good views, excellent atmosphere and it always has brilliant bands from all over the world. This trip to the Underworld (which amazingly was my first since seeing Gnarwolves in December) featured a band from France, one from America, one from England and one all the way from Australia. It was a bit of an international punk rock summit.
The first band on the bill were Maladroit from Paris, France. After checking the out for one of my Euro Punk blogs last year I was quite excited to see this four piece live and I have to say that I was very impressed. Playing gruff pop punk reminiscent of bands such as Dear Landlord and Red City Radio. As you would expect from a band like this everything was done at 110%, whether it was the pounding of the drums, the relentless strumming of guitar strings or the passionate vocals, Maladroit held absolutely nothing back. Speaking of vocals it was brilliant to learn that the band use two vocalists, something I'd never picked up listening to them on my iPod. Having more than one singer adds so much to a band, especially live. It gives the band more than one focus point, more things on stage to watch and can give more of a feeling that you don't know what's going to happen next.
Next up was the band that in all honesty was the act I was most looking forward to seeing,from Milwaukee, America it was Direct Hit. In my humble opinion these guys are one of the most underrated bands around, playing some of the most intense and fast pop punk music around. With songs about Satan and Sci-fi lyrically they are also one of the most unique bands going. I've seen clips of Direct Hit playing live on the YouTube and I've always been impressed with the ferocity that they play with but experiencing it in the flesh was something else. The band played a set so fast and powerfully and to my ears never missed a note, an impressive feat. Direct Hit played a set largely taken from their last album Brainless God but did throw me a couple of older songs as well as a brand new one from an upcoming release which sounded as good as anything they've ever done. The highlight of the set for me was hearing Werewolf Shame, that was the song that really made me fall in love with Direct Hit. Hopefully they will be back in the UK again very very soon.
The final support came from long running UK pop punks Mike TV. After getting over the initial disappointment of them not coming on stage to the acapella intro from their excellent last album Sausage Hospital we were treated to an incredibly fun and entraining set. The set was mostly comprised of songs from Sausage Hospital and it was so good to hear them live after listening to the album so much. Live they were perfect pop punk songs, it sound like they had a bit more edge to them than you do recorded and I loved that. I don't believe that there is a single band on the planet who can do harmonies as well as Mike TV. As a fun surprise they played a couple of old Pickled Dick songs including the bonus track from debut album Pandamoanium which was done completely acapella and sounded outstanding. It was also fantastic to hear classics such as Ship Ahoy and Salamander played live, for me it was my first time hearing them and put a huge grin on my face. I thought the crowd had quite an interesting mix of people in it for Mike TV. It seemed to be either long time fans who have followed the band since their Pickled Dick days or people who had never heard of them and didn't really have any idea what was going on. I think that by the end of their set though they had managed to get the majority of the crowd on their side. Mike TV don't play anywhere near enough shows so having the opportunity to catch them live is always a very special event.
Speaking of special events, the opportunity to catch headliners Frenzal Rhomb live in London is an ever rarer occurrence. The Australian punk rock legends were returning to our shores for the first time in eleven years! You could really sense the anticipation within the crowd as we waited for them to appear on the Underworld stage. As soon as they did the front of the crowd area was just a pile of bodies going absolutely nuts for the band. I must admit I was kind of surprised by just how popular Frenzal Rhomb were considering how long they hadn't been away. I was so impressed with just how good they were live. Starting out with the hilarious Russell Crowe's Band the set-list is mixed with classics from the bands extensive back catalogue as well as some newer songs from their last two albums Forever Malcolm Young and Smoko At The Pet Food Factory. It was a really enjoyable set of fantastic punk rock songs. There were no thrills to the set, just good old fashioned punk rock songs combined with some excellent between song patter. Let's hope it's not eleven years before they come back to London again.