My love of screamo has taken me to some ‘interesting’ locations, including basement shows in Cape Cod, bars where everyone gets frisked for knives, and clubs where all the barmen look like they’re in a Misfits tribute band (and probably are). Although not the craziest, Underworld is definitely one of the stickiest venues I’ve ever been to, making the Roadhouse look like the Ritz. The girl behind the bar calls me a prettyboy, which probably says a lot about their clientele.
The first band, Warsawwasraw, kicks things off to a depressingly small audience. Like literally about fifteen people. I dig the math rock-esque progressions and changes, and the enthusiasm of the drummer (whose inspiration seemed to be The Muppets‘ Animal), but overall it’s not quite my thing. Fans of un-relenting noise rock screamo stuff like Light in the Attic and Pg. 99 will probably like!
After a short and frantic set, Warsawwasraw are followed by Wolves Like Us. Thankfully the audience has grown to about 50 kids who all very much resemble the guys on stage, though none look quite as much like Jesus as the bassist does…see below. Western shirts, flicky fringes and hip facial hair (a phrase that brings a fair bit of traffic to my blog from Google…) are definitely the order of the day.
Big props to Oslo-based Wolves Like Us, who pause briefly to speak about the recent mass shooting in Norway and how its affected them as natives. I checked out the band a week before the show and love their sound, which is reminiscent of a darker Band of Horses and Lifestory:Monologue. The audience doesn’t quite ‘get there’ until the last song, which is a shame. At this point, a heavy set guy with a full beard asks me if I’ll watch his bag while he ‘goes for a tinkle’ and I struggle so much not to laugh I can only nod.
Wolves Like Us
When Swing Kids (performing as Blue Note out of respect for one of the guitarists in their original lineup, who committed suicide in 1998) make their entrance, about 50 kids I can only presume have been hiding in the woodwork somewhere join the crowd and inject some more energy into the proceedings. A guy who’s wearing a backpack and looks like Stephen Spielberg also appears and proceeds to tear shit up in the mosh pit…not even kidding.
But things really hit their climax when Justin Pearson, who looks like a cross between Johnny Knoxville and Jared Leto, takes the stage. His voice is totally different to what it used to be, and is now more in the range of Circa Survive’s Anthony Green and Blood Brothers’ Johnny Whitney. Along with the new name, you get the feeling that you’re hearing the songs for the first time. An obvious exception to the rule is their cover of Joy Division’s Warsaw, during which Pearson’s vocals are barely audible over those of the crowd, and there’s a very real feeling that none of us will hear the words sung with more passion except in old videos of Curtis himself.
The evening ends with the whole room chanting ‘just another kid on the beat’, the closing words of the anthemic Forty Three Seconds. I talk very briefly with Pearson after the show, and he says it’s been an amazing tour – this date is the last of ten back to back shows around Europe. I’m pretty sure I detect a sadness in his eyes, maybe due to the fact that this will most likely be Swing Kids’ last tour, maybe due to the fact that the turnout wasn’t great. I’d love to tell him that tonight has made a real impact on the people that were there, one they won’t soon forget about. Instead I just mutter something lame like ‘it’s been real bro, take it easy’, and head home.