Static Shock Weekend
It feels weird to be writing this review now. Just days after returning from London and Static Shock Records annual DIY hardcore punk festival Static Shock Weekend, Europe and other parts of the world started shutting down due to the Corona virus. Whilst there you always felt in the back of your head that something serious was about to go down but at least for a few days you could let that go and just mosh to some amazing bands from all over the world. Without having any stats to back this up I’d wager that this was one of the last gigs to even take place in a European capital before all events started getting cancelled en masse. But took place it did, and what an amazing happening it was. It’s underground to it score and all the better for it. It’s for those that love small club and pub gigs because that’s where you will normally see these bands. Ever heard of ASID? What about S.H.I.T? Or Muro? Yeah, Dropkick Murphys this ain’t.
The fest is usually spread out over four days. As I only attended Friday to Sunday I will only mention bands that played those days but judging by social media commentary people very much enjoyed Thursdays shenanigans too.
It all takes place at New River Studios in North London, an arts centre, studio, bar and gig venue in a converted furniture warehouse. The set up is this: five to six bands at a pop that each play a twenty minute set, with a ten minute break between each act. Friday kicked off with fairly new London hardcore punks The Annihilated, who plow through a set of ferocious 80s-inspired US hardcore that doffs its cap to Negative Approach. The singer could be seen in the mosh pit for almost every band for the rest of the festival. Following them were Italian anarcho punks Lucta and London’s feminist hardcore crew Lekra.
Next up were ASID, whose fuzzier hardcore with big meaty riffs were an altogether darker proposition than the previous three bands. It’s amazing stuff but it doesn’t really put you in a good mood. Chubby and The Gang’s does though. You might have heard of these guys by now. The debut album Speed Kills camke out in January and has already received quite a bit of hype. It’s hardcore punk with melodies and great chorises and it’s when these guys came on that can’s and plastic mugs full of beer started flying through the air.
Closing out Friday night were New York’s Murderer and Toronto’s S.H.I.T. While the former are definitely the most different sounding band of the night, with atonal, repetitive and almost gothic sounding punk, the ”headliner” ripped through some breakneck hardcore and got to enjoy a sick mosh pit.
Saturday’s evening show gav eus eight bands to enjoy: Muro (Colombia), Disguise (Ireland – Last ever show!), Dark Thoughts (USA), Idiota Civilizzato (Germany), Subdued, Minima (Spain), Irreal (Spain) and Sniffany and the Nits. Instead of going through each band I’ll pick out the two that stood out for me on this night. Dark Thoughts with their melodic punk rock reminiscent of the Descendents and Colombia’s Muro. Muro were the band of the weekend for me, hands down. The rabid, relentless hardcore attack of the music was fantastic in itself but live they were simply unstoppable. In such a short space of time they delivered possibly the best live experience I’ve had from any band, let alone a hardcore one, in at least five years. Not since seeing Negative Approach in Stockholm in 2015 have I been left so physically drained from a concert. Sickest mosh pit of the week, hands down. It left me with a cut on my forehead, a torn jacket and the knee that had surgery was pretty sore the day after. Check these guys out, post haste.
And so we come to the last day. For the Sunday all the five bands played in a smaller room in the main New River Studios space. It was an early show with an early finish and was wrapped up by 7 pm after six bands blitzed through some prime hardcore energy. Game was probably the pick of the bunch here with something that brings to mind British cult band Sacrilege, due to both the tempo and the female vocals. But props have to go out to Loose Nukes for even finishing the event. Their gig wasn’t even supposed to happen as three quartters of the band didn’t make to the UK as their van broke down on the way to the airport. The only reason frontman Jim Shomo made it was because he played the night before with the already mentioned Dark Thoughts. So instead of cancelling he assembled an impromptu line-up consisting of the guys from Game, S.H.I.T. and Dark Thoughts. They only played four songs but seing as they learnt them the day before and still had to play with their other bands at SSW it was no mean feat. Short but sweet and a great finish to a great weekend. The other bands on Sunday – Saliva, Koma and Imposter are also well worth checking out.
And shortly after this the cultural world, along with most of society was pretty much put on a standstill for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to think that it migt be some time before we can see some bands live again, so massive props to the Static Shock gang for giving us something great to hold on to until all this very strange situation blows over and things are at least approaching something normal.
Photos by Mirza
Pictured Game (top) and Loose Nukes (rest)