The 12th July weekend is always a perfect excuse to get away from Belfast.
Why be barricaded in your house doing nothing when you could be taking in the sights of Dublin (including seeing someone with a WD40 can up his nose at half 3 in the afternoon)?
The main part of Whelans has the typical fiddly dee Oirish element to it to appeal to the American tourists. But the real business is the venue room. After seeing Boris play there in December, to say I was looking forward to seeing a seminal American hardcore band obliterate the place is an understatement.
Rats Blood open the event. I’ve seen them twice, and their Swedish style d beat crust mayhem is always a blast in the live setting. This time, they’re a bit flat.
This is due to the PA, which removes the dirt from their sound. But the lads commitment cannot be faulted. Guitarist Al just oozes restrained violence, while front man Eric throws himself about with reckless abandon. Still one of the best bands on the Irish circuit.
Heavily advertised as Loose Nut’s last gig, they go out with a whimper. They take a long time to get going and the impression of ‘going through the motions’ is applicable here. A shame, as their mix of late 80’s Black Flag and DRI is a winning combination. Sadly, this won’t be an appearance that will be remembered fondly.
Negative Approach have been causing a bit of controversy in hardcore circles over this reunion. Allegedly, original guitarist and bassist Rob and Graham McCullough have had their requests to play turned down by front man (and all round scary lad) John Brannon. This has meant some have labelled them a cover band.
Certainly, since the reunion in 2006, there has been no new material. Just some unreleased studio tracks. So you can see why the naysayers have been flinging this insult at them. But it’s obvious they’ve not seen this incarnation live.
Opening with ‘Can’t Tell No One’ (off their legendary s/t 7′), it’s clear from the start that NA mean it, maaaan. The aggression and nihilism is there in spades. That nasty guitar tone that bands like Void clearly ripped off, and John Brannon’s vocals are still as gritty and pissed off, more so than ever in fact.
Playing (pretty much) their entire back catalogue (the aforementioned 7 and the classic ‘Tied Down’ LP with a few unreleased tracks), the band are a whirlpool and woe behold anyone who gets in their way! 5 or 6 song busts of chaotic noise that would stop on the dime, and played by scary cavemen.
Throwing in covers of Sham 69’s ‘Borstal Breakout’ and The Dead Boys’ ‘ (I Don’t Wanna Be No) Catholic Boy’ are delivered in the above style and points are given for the choice of Dead Boys number.
Poignantly, the choice of covers demonstrate that this music didn’t come out of a vacuum. That the roots are in 77 punk rock (often ignored by hardcore/crust aficionados). It’s good to hear.
Replacement members Harold Richardson and Ron Sakowski fill their roles on guitar and bass with precision and menace. But the star of the night is Brannon.
With ten times the belligerence of most front men half his age, you genuinely feared he was going to give you a beating for not slamming.
Christopher Owens ::: 14/07/13