Band – Dillinger Four
Support – Hard Skin, The Arteries, Zatopeks
Venue – Camden Underworld
Beer – night-time robbery
Q: How many bar staff does it take to serve alcohol to several thirsty punters? A: a lot more than three thatâ€™s for sure. Despite the price of a bottle of beer being double what you would usually pay in poorer towns, I sometimes wonder if many bars and clubs in our capital actually want to make money. Next time â€â€œ tinnies on the train and doubling up on orders when I am finallyÃ‚Â served.
Due to time constraints and the aforementioned queues to gain liquid refreshment, I missed The Arteries and Zatopeks but caught the last few songs of Hard Skinâ€™s set. Having a bassist who resembles the Sugar Puff monster with alopecia, songs about beer, fags, being dole scum and the kind of singing voice that only a deaf mother could love, Hard Skin are punk rock through and through. Whilst they may not necessarily (ever) be in tune, their oi-punk, â€œcome-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-your-hard-enoughâ€Â snarls and comedy banter was particularly amusing. What was particularly entertaining from my vantage point was the group of poshos wetting (not actually that would have been hideous) themselves with glee at swear-a-thon antics and the loss of the guitaristâ€™s beer to one over-zealous punter. Props to the penultimate song of the evening; ‘We Are The Wankersâ€™ for itâ€™s complete lack of subtlety, but maximum comedy effect â€â€œ solid band.
The Dillinger Four experience seems incredibly brief â€â€œ I am unsure why, maybe thatâ€™s punk rock for you â€â€œ it rockets past with such force, you can feel your teeth rattling inside your head like dice in the hands of Michael J. Fox and before you know it, youâ€™re outside on the street, struggling to navigate your way home through automated ticket checkers and people who pore wine on their cornflakes. Bassist Paddy (who voices concern whether an Irish-American is allowed to be called Paddy) takes centre stage as the more ‘vocalâ€™ portion of the group, content with splicing witty banter (THANKS DAVE) in-between each song.Ã‚Â Paddy comments on how he desires to be “famous in the UK, like Fat Bob (bassist from Hard Skin) and buy borrowing the big lad’s bass, he hopes that it will give him credibility and and recognition in the UK.
This is fine for a while, but after one particular monologue, I begin to wish theyâ€™d hurry the fuck up. If youâ€™re a D4 fan, you get all the hits: the anthemic gruff-punk barrage of ‘Mosh for Jesusâ€™ raises one of the biggest cheers and surges from the crowd, whilst opener ‘A Jingle For The Productâ€™ from their most recent album is sang back with such force it threatens to drown out main-vocalist Eric Funk and the rollercoaster-shred of ‘Noble Stabbings!!â€™ is the icing on a particularly fine cake made of beer-sweat and beards.
Itâ€™s been a while since Dillinger Four have been on our fair shores, and they seem slightly taken aback by the crowd tonight and indeed the rampant support. I canâ€™t help but feel that they seem somewhat subdued, yet are consummate professionals; crashing through song after song with note-perfect tightness and enough depth in the sound to hear each instrument and not just the muddy hum of a guitar mashing everything else into a pulp. Paddyâ€™s lead vocals on ‘Doublewhiskeycokenoiceâ€™ (which he dedicates to his mum, the big softy) are spot on â€â€œ retaining the right amount of barbed, alcohol-soaked vitality and juvenile aggression.
Thereâ€™s some commotion at the side of the stage, as one punter (obviously arseholed on the ‘no, I only ordered one drink mate, that sounds like the price of threeâ€Â¦ohâ€™) starts to strip down to his boxers and stealing the mic from Funk. Yeah, getting up on stage is ‘hilariously wacky fun great timesâ€™ Iâ€™m sure, but youâ€™re not the band â€â€œ people here paid to see THE BAND on stage, not some meathead plane pointer with his cock out. Thankfully, this is short-lived and the Underworld is then treated to the sight of Paddyâ€™s hairy man-boobs â€â€œ lovely stuff.
For me, the set highlights fall to 2 songs from their fourth full-length, ‘Civil Warâ€™. ‘Gainesvilleâ€™ is so, so good it hurts that this song isnâ€™t ‘Basket Caseâ€™ standards of ‘total fucking awesome songâ€™ â€â€œ itâ€™s pure driven punk-rock excellence, a passionate, uplifting piece with hooks the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex imbedded deep within the chorus. The slow-burn riff on ‘Clown Cars on Cinder Blocksâ€™, followed by the sudden jerk into life, Funkâ€™s melodic, yet rough vocal-lead and the jangled-bounce is exquisite. My only gripe is the paradox of time that seemed to drain 10 times faster than usual as it always does when you’re enjoying yourself, but this is something that earlier start times can hopefully achieve.
â€œIt feels like summer in October, and I hope this day is never overâ€Â sings Funk on ‘Gainesvilleâ€™ â€â€œ trut so pure my friend, come back any time Dillinger Four, we need your sunshine and stupid humour.
By Ross Macdonald