Counterparts + Expire + Landscapes + Knocked Loose + Renounced
6th December 2016 – Camden Underworld
I would like to point out first and foremost that, yes, the picture above is extremely unflattering, but it probably encapsulates the night of debauchery we experienced better than this bulk of words can. Deal with it.
Another week, another chance for Londoners to destroy venues. Whilst I was certainly tempted to share the evening with The Amity Affliction in Brixton, nothing caught my eye like a night of pure chaos with 5 (yep, 5) back-to-back hardcore punk bands, spearheaded by Counterparts and Expire, who unfortunately happened to be playing their last ever show in the UK, period. But thank goodness the other bands, and the almost feral crowd, gave Expire the perfect send off: it was fucking mayhem.
“I found myself onstage, pre-breakdown, once again wiping the blood from my jowls as a bewildered crowd stared at me”
Joined by my good buddy and heavy-gig-newbie Matt, we headed into The Underworld for a casual pint before the inevitable happened. First up were English ballers Renounced. In fairness, the “dancefloor” could, and should, have been more packed-out, but it did allow for the most unbelievable scenes of hardcore dancing that I’ve ever experienced in my gigging career. One guy that looked like Bobby Firmino took to the floor, flailed his arms around like a lunatic, and ended up getting lamped in the face himself. As he raced to the toilets leaving a trail of blood, his fun had only just started, and spent the interval until the next band nursing a broken nose over a trough. Go easy, kids.
Renounced were rowdy, kicking off the night of “London Fucking Hardcore” (this was spouted quite a lot throughout the occasion), but the entrance of Knocked Loose sent the crowd, and myself and Matt, into hysterics, packing out the floor and starting with probably the best opener of 2016: Oblivion’s Peak. Half an hour of blood, sweat and no tears were on the menu, with myself receiving a blow to the face and a subsequent streaming nose river during Counting Worms. It really couldn’t have been any other song, and it was worth it. I looked cool, just like Firmino (“Arf Arf”). The Kentucky natives were easily one of the most successful supports I have witnessed; they killed it.
British band Landscapes took to the stage, delivering some atmospheric hardcore en masse. The intro was genuinely spooky. They had a small cohort of unbelievably loyal fans who went mental just amongst themselves, but once Expire came out to their last ever UK crowd, Underworld responded. We packed in, sending flurries of stagedivers to and fro, opening up circle pits and all sorts of reckless antics, and it was brilliant. “You make me very happy”, the vocalist said. It’s a shame that the Wisconsin boys are going to be leaving us for good.
It’s no exaggeration that Counterparts are in my top 5 bands, and will probably remain there for an awfully long time. Their output is as consistent as it gets, with their unique brand of emotional and technical hardcore putting Hamilton, Ontario on the map. Tragedy was my favourite song of 2015, so please go and listen to it. As we all bopped whilst listening to lead vocalist Brendan Murphy’s fave band The 1975 before their entrance, we knew what kind of night to expect. Opening with riff-centric Compass, I found myself onstage, pre-breakdown, once again wiping the blood from my jowls as a bewildered crowd stared at me. I jumped. That may be what heaven is like…
“RIP Expire, long live hXc”
The setlist was packed with tracks across all of their releases, besides Prophets of course (an in-joke that the band has maintained, much to my amusement), and B-Murph even threw in a few lyrics from The Chainsmoker’s Closer during one song. Fantastic. Also interspersed were a few speeches, commending the other bands on the tour, and most notably a fitting tribute to Architects’ late guitarist Tom Searle, a dear friend of the band. All of this proved why hardcore is the greatest scene of music on the globe. As I told Matt before the set, I’d go absolutely “cray” during The Disconnect and Choke, and I lived up to the promise I made to myself when the songs hit.
This was likely one of the best nights of hardcore music there will be for years, and I was certainly proud to have taken part. Usually you’d have to visit the Baltimore/DC area for shows such as this (their hardcore scene is insanely good), but London knew what to do when faced with such an offering. All the bands smashed it, and I can’t wait to see them again. RIP Expire, long live hXc.
Image: Matthew Butcher 2016