August brings the annual multinational and multi-cultural grindcore festival to north London. And I love it for its sheer variety, warmth of welcome and downright DIY crust credentials. We had politics abound with European bands (and some from further afield) discussing the rise of the far right, the terms of Brexit and the plight of refugees as well as the less serious take on the world with many a tune about anuses from the likes of Gout and Birdflesh.
Herida Profunda from Poland took time to drape their Antifa flag over the speaker stacks and blistered in to a full frontal grindcore assault. I think the singer is based in the UK, but the other ¾ of the band came over from Poland as part of a tour. With the music of Heresy and the vocal approach of Carcass they don’t mess about! ‘Refugees Welcome’ is a stand out one and a half minutes of grind bliss. And chants of Alerta! Alerta! Are met with the crowd response ‘Anti-Fascista’…. The weekend’s stall is set out early tonight on the Friday!
Hello Bastards continue this politico hardcore with their Saturday set – anarchy, freedom… as the singer whips us up in to a revolutionary frenzy with tunes like “Zapatistas!” he climbs the speakers in triumphant energetic zeal: ‘please don’t stand on the speaker stacks’ says the Soundman and we delay the revolution a few days! But I think their song ‘Making Hardcore Punk Again’ sums up their sentiment and I tend to agree!
Los Revolucianarios continue this rock n roll craft as their bassist channels Hendrix through his stage presence swinging his guitar around and strutting the stage whilst the lead guitarist scraped his plectrum along the fret – a really energetic performance indeed. They deliver some fearsome chug n roll with their set as it moves like a juggernaut through the venue, and unfortunately, I cannot understand a thing they say as they hail from Mexico City, but I can empathise as body language and tone speaks volumes. Finishing on a cover by Los Crudos which underlines their raison d’etre.And it is saddening to think that we still have festivals like this with messages and campaigns on the similar lines that Civilised Society? sang and demonstrated about in the mid-80s but here they are, Bev fronting a classic line-up is reminding me of listening to tracks like Treedoom in my bedroom worrying about the state of it all, and here I am now seeing them play live! Something I never expected! ‘Is there life after work’ still resonates as we are yet to achieve this Star Trek post capitalist future and the ever relevant ‘Violence Sucks’ is a reminder and cautionary tale.
Saturday was due to be the day of bastards, Hello Bastards, Panzerbastard and Hellbastard, and if the bookings had been planned accordingly Wolfbastard maybe could have swapped their Friday for a Bastarday slot instead. Panzerbastard pulled out, but Wolfbastard did well in setting the scene and opening proceedings on the Friday evening with their blend of blackened death crust and had us all shouting ‘Die Bastard Die’ along with them…. Chatting with them later we hatched the plan for Bastard Fest, not much thinking was required on how to arrange it….
Hellbastard crowned the Saturday night with another historic viewing for me, having bought their Ripper Crust demo in the 80s and legend has it that the term ‘crust’ was born. They are a band or at least a brand that have stayed with me. And the politics continued, warnings of the far right on the march, Brexiteers aiming to divide and rule summed up in the epic tune ‘Fuck the Right’ which lasted as long as it takes to say those words!
A loud one, which Scruff apologised to the soundman for, had many of us reminiscing, reliving long lost days or just continuing the anarcho thrashing punk ethos jumping in to the pit! Scruff looking a lot like Seasick Steve tonight!
There was a fair amount of gore drenched grind on show, Embryopathia, Abnormyndeffect and Pulmonary Fibrosis to name a few! And the powerviolence of Birdflesh, Gout and Afternoon Gentlemen at times borders this gore with their songs about bottoms, vomit and bodily fluids. I cant get in to powerviolence as it’s often over before its begun, however these bands pulled a great crowd for their sets, so I am obviously missing something!
Gout frontman appears wearing a white tracksuit whilst band members adorn Hawaiian shirts and cover themselves in fake blood. The tracksuit is missing a goldie chain to finish off the look he is aiming for!
Another fastcore band on show this weekend was Prisoner 639, which informed us it is their last ever show, which saddened me as I did get in to their two-piece bass and drum grinding mayhem!And I will leave you with one of the main reasons I got my ticket. Meinhof. A multi-European band, well as multi as you can within a three piece! Channelling Discharge via Motorhead is a simple and probably overly used term, but is so precise for Meinhof. And like a lot of bands, it’s the brand that hits you, their name is very powerful, the three piece always seems to speak louder in photos and stage presence. They come on stage and Rosy the bass/vocalist says ‘We are Meinhof’ and the chap next to me says ‘…..and we play rock n roll’ homage to Lemmy. Self termed ‘Brexit Crust’ and a tshirt that states ‘music for scum made by immigrants’.
My new favourite band is Meinhof! And they play d-beat crust n roll!
Chimpy Fest encourages the melting pot of humanity to turn up the heat and blend together. The rise of political division and Brexit may spell the end of this as freedom of movement for many of these bands will be reduced. I sincerely hope not!