Saturday, 4 February 2012

Bedford Don. America Nil. Don Broco Live at The Koko with some pop punks

Four Year Strong*****
A Loss For Words*****
Don Broco*****

The Koko, Camden, 1st  February 2012

Right, I’ll declare my slight bias before I start crapping on: I’m not really a pop punk fan. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some brilliant stuff kicking around within the genre, but generally, I find it all a little samey and predictable. So it was with more than a little scepticism that I wandered into a heaving Koko to tuck into tonight’s buffet.

As a livener, first up were Marmozets. Anything but pop punk. Thank the lord.
Apart from making me feel even older than I already feel by all looking about 7, I was immediately swept away with their fierce and energetic pop/mathcore mélange.

Technical playing, challenging time signatures, a ridiculous tightness for ones so young and a brutal, Eva Spence-like delivery of diminutive singer Becca Macintyre. No wonder there’s a buzz around these tyros. They certainly produce a complex, compelling and beefy noise.

Marmozets - and you thought policemen were getting younger.
The mathcore cornershop is not blessed with groaning shelves and certainly doesn’t attract too much of a queue at the moment. But along with the likes of the phenomenal Rolo Tomassi and the ridiculously talented and fresh Rosa Valle, there’s a fascinating genre gathering speed and hopefully going to burst out to a wider audience in the not so distant future.

Apart from some sketchy vocal tuning in the not so screamy bits, Marmozets certainly did a splendid job in giving the already impressive crowd an engaging and fun maths lesson.

Don Broco*****
I bloody love Don Broco. Having seen them on many stages of all manner of shapes and sizes, I was really looking forward to seeing the mirth making chappies in this revered and hallowed venue.

However, as an interesting selection for ostensibly a Pop Punk tour, I feared a little that the back-pack wielding, big bastard baseball cap wearing, skinny jean sporting punksters wouldn’t take to the Beds boys with open eyes and open pits.

I needn’t have worried. The venerable Koko was packed to the rafters by the time the Brocans were due on.  For what will surely be the last time for these lads this low on a bill, the turn out was insane.

So, nose gripped, legs up, breath held; time to bomb into the delicious Don Broco pool of love. The lads took to the stage to a frenzied and über enthusiastic tumult. Bobby D bayed at the crowd to get involved before the first chord of Top Of The World had left Simon Delaney’s cultured fretboard. Boom. We were off. Paaaaarty time.

Looking around the heaving, partying throng, everyone was smiling. Every single mouth turned up at the corners. Even the coolest punkster couldn’t resist a grin. Every pair of eyes bulging and wide open. Feel good doesn’t come into it. This was almost group orgasm. Thankfully without the mass ejaculation. Meanwhile, on stage Bobby and the boys were smashing it. The syncronised moves, the jumps the almost tangible electricity. The smiles. Fuck, the smiles.

Onwards and upwards, the anthemic Do What We Do was next to peel the layers of paint from the walls. The crowd had dissolved into a writhing mass of  love and monsieur Damiani did his circus ringleader act with aplomb, inciting, cajoling and urging the masses to get on each other’s shoulders transforming the floor into a freak show of grotesque tall people with beanies swaying and staggering.

The delirium was as catchy as the songs themselves. More and more people eagerly flooding towards the stage to get involved.

Walk this way
Within the sadly short support set, there was even time for two new numbers. The superb and already addictive Priorities and, later on, the sublime Fancy Dress. Complete with the walk. Yup, the walk. Let’s just leave it there. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it; suffice to say, the feel good, jizz-free group orgasm moved up a notch bordering on hysterics. The year of the Broco maybe upon us. But the the walk is going to be a major part of it.

The set closer, was predictably, the rifftastic Dreamboy and as the trademark wall of death descended into a hadean circle pit (furnished firmly with smiles naturally) everyone present realised they were in the presence of something truly wonderful. Original. Fun. And, well, bloody brilliant.

The world needs more Broco. And I can’t wait to see them gracing festival stages this summer and for the new album. And as Dan Lancaster has had his fingers all over it, it’s destined to be a work of genius.

Talking of Mr Lancaster the driving force behind peerless geniuses Proceed, as a footnote, his bass player Tom Doyle has fitted into the band seamlessly and even though the thought that there may be no more Proceed (or Brieseed) is almost too much to bear, his faultless and sophisticated playing and verve is a welcomed addition to team Broco. It was lovely to see Luke, the original bass player having a beer with the lads afterwards and is obviously still very much a much-loved member of the family. He is much missed, but has handed the keys over to a more than worthy successor.

Fabulous stuff. How the hell could they be followed?

A Loss For Words*****

Oh dear. A real case of after the Lord Mayor’s show. The crowd, having gathered it’s collective breath wedged in for the first installment of an American pop punk extravaganza. Given my ignorance and general intolerance of the genre, It wouldn’t be fair to lay into them too much, so I’ll be brief. Generic, relentless, predictable and monotonous. There, I said it. There was absolutely nothing new or challenging here. The singer Matty Arsenault looked and acted like Lee Evans. One of the guitarists looked like Mark Zuckerberg. They briefly lifted the monotony with a jaunty Michael Jackson cover. The crowd liked them. I didn’t. 

Four Year Strong*****
Ok, they’re hewn from more or less the same pop punk seam as the likes of A Loss For Words, but they’re several rungs up. Thankfully. File under the likes of Such Gold and add in an infusion of Title fight. Saying that, they are pretty much walking anachronisms. The US seems to have stalled in terms of pop punk. The guts seem to have disappeared. The predictability and lack of light and shade is becoming tedious. Contrast that with the crop of exciting new bands broadly inhabiting the genre on this side of the pond including the fabulous Polar and upcoming starlets Real Adventures and the feelings of ennui and deja-vu are underscored. In red.

So FYS? What did they actually serve up? Gutsy guitars, monster riffs, beards, whiney de rigeur Hoppus/DeLong esque yanky-doodle vocals but, in fairness, tempered with tight harmonies, catchy hooks and melodic pop sensibilities. They played a lot of new stuff. They played most of their big ones. The crowd went wild. I didn’t. But, despite a muddy sound, I enjoyed it. Rather more than I thought I would. In short, they're bloody good at what they do.

However Don Broco were on another level.  But, in the words of Mandy Rice-Davis, I would say that, wouldn’t I.

Let's make sure this year does indeed become the year of the Broco. The world could do with some big fat smiles.

AWOL nation and the always amazing, best band in the whole world Arcane Roots next.

More tunes soon. Bwoooar!

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