Old. It’s the new young (some say). Like some deranged sequel to the 80’s classic Cocoon, this collective paroxysm of undimmed rage from a couple of bands who really should know better by now was something to behold. And that was just the undercard… The main event (Crucial Section) had travelled halfway around the globe to play above this pub in Worcestershire. And deserve their own special attention. More on that later.
King of Pigs are as simple and as direct a proposition as their name implies. “We’ve got three songs left, so reckon that’ll be about five minutes” says the vocalist as the set claw-hammered towards a close. And that’s about the length of it – fast, nuts-tight gobbets of saw-edged noise that left nothing at the door. Get in, do the thing, get out. Having just got back from playing across Europe with some truly horrific Croatian Hard / Grind core outfits, this was probably a quiet day at the office for these boys. But a gig’s a gig – and they played hard.
Geriatric Unit have a combined age greater than the occupants of a GP’s waiting room on a wet Thursday morning. But the intensity of their collective and individual existential fury belies the fact that they have been plying this trade in various bands – not least Heresy and X-Rays – for well over quarter of a century. “Fookin hell…” goaded their grizzled front guy after the second track or so, “back in the day we’d be four bars in and people would be going fookin mental…” This challenge was naturally enthusiastically taken up. Surprising it is how much heat and bodily fluids a relatively small number of people can generate in a relatively small space.
There was even a bit of politics. Railing in between songs against societal corrosion by social media, rentier capitalist PR and mass delusion – this lot gave out everything you’d kind of want from old school H-core. Remember Napalm Death’s Scum era? Or anything from the good god almighty Dead Kennedys (remember them too, people?) This scene was always about counterculture, thinking for yourself and speaking out – and these boys haven’t forgotten that. Power to your thick, arthritic elbows, gents. Rage on.
And while all this was kicking off, a crew of unassuming and extremely polite Japanese dudes in bandanas and skate wear were quietly limbering up in the background… Crucial Section take this seriously – and purvey some of the finest, sharpest and most spirited skatecore punk you will ever hear. Being of around the right age to be doing this daft sort of thing in the first place, the sheer wall of energy these guys threw out could knock out the power grid in a medium-sized city. There was a whole lot of leaping into mid-air. The lead guitarist repeatedly charged the punters, axe first. The drummer played hard and angry. The line between band and audience pretty much blurred away to nothing, and most people in the room had a bit of a dance. Neither audience nor the band fully understood what was going on – cue flurries of sign language between the band and the promoters on basic things like set start times and the encore. But the music – razor sharp edged, and struck through with an honesty and a poke that makes many current UK bands – young or old – look slovenly and insincere by comparison – blasted clear across any language or cultural barriers… and unified the whole damn room in a sweaty mass of rough love.
Or something. Domo Arigato, lads. I hope you smashed Bristol as thoroughly as you did this one.